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Frostbite Weather Calls for My Favorite Gut-Friendly Drink and Hygge Hibernation.... 5 tips to stay warm!

Turmeric Chai, Saunas, and More: My Top Picks for Staying Warm This Winter (While Keeping Your Digestion Happy)

Bundled and drinking tea at home during below zero degree weather
Author Kelly Greenway warming up with tea

Brrr! The temperatures lately in my little mountain town of Sandpoint have been downright frigid. I’m talking subzero cold that cuts right through your warmest layers.

On days like these, my mind goes straight to comfort. I crave cozy sweaters, fuzzy socks, and mugs of steaming hot tea.

As I write this from the comfort of my cozy home, mug of steaming turmeric tea in hand, I'm aware that many are not so fortunate during these bitter cold spells. My heart goes out to all those struggling with frozen pipes, inadequate shelter, and lacking provisions during this difficult season. If that's you, I hope you're able to find refuge in a warm, welcoming place until the harshest weather passes. Please know that you are not forgotten.

While I am fortunate to have a nice wood-stove and functioning utilities at the moment, I am still bundled and working harder than usual to stay warm. What's getting me through these frigid days?...

Here are 5 tips to stay warm

First: Tea - But not just any tea...

Don't get me wrong... all warm beverages help but the perfect winter drink that not only warms me from the inside out, but also provides some therapeutic benefits - turmeric chai tea! This bright yellow spiced tea is anti-inflammatory, soothing to digestion, and the perfect answer to bone-chilling temps.

My go-to is a turmeric chai blend called Blue Lotus Golden Masala Chai. It contains warming spices like cardamom, cinnamon, ginger, and clove, plus the added gut-friendly bonus of turmeric. The anti-inflammatory properties of turmeric can help calm an upset stomach while bringing warmth and comfort on cold days.

While most people drink chai tea lattes with milk, I often prefer mine with just hot water and a bit of honey. But when I want a creamy, nutrient-dense version, I make what I call “bulletproof” chai.

To make it, I blend my chai tea powder with hot water, then add 1-2 tbsp of butter or ghee (clarified butter with the milk solids removed). The fat helps extract even more anti-inflammatory compounds from the turmeric and spices. It also provides a smooth, creamy mouthfeel without the additives found in some dairy-free milks.

I opt for butter or ghee over regular dairy because the lactose and proteins in milk can irritate sensitive digestion. Clarified butter provides the richness without the irritants. This makes my bulletproof chai a gut-friendly, luxurious treat!

Here are a few more teas that offer the dual benefit of warm hydration and promoting gut health:

  • Peppermint tea helps reduce bloating and gas.

  • Ginger tea eases nausea and digestion. 

  • Fennel tea beats bloat thanks to its carminative effect.

  • Marshmallow root tea coats and soothes the GI tract.

Second - Sauna!

Another way to warm up is by hitting the sauna. Sauna therapy provides whole-body warmth while also delivering detoxification benefits. The exposure to moderate heat creates a short physiological stress that boosts metabolism - a concept known as hormesis. Studies show regular sauna use can lower systemic inflammation and may be helpful for gut conditions like IBS.

If you're new to sauna, start slowly with 5-10 minute sessions and be sure to hydrate well before and after. The goal is to induce light sweating without overheating. Saunas are a simple way to warm your core temp while giving your digestion a gentle boost.

What if you don't own a sauna? I don't ....yet. We HAVE been toying around with the idea of converting a bathroom into a sauna! I really hope we get around to that. But in the meantime, I have used the sauna at my gym, and we are lucky enough to have a company in town called Toasty Mobile Saunas which I have used more than once! In fact, Geof and I are going there on a double date tonight!

Wanna sauna at home but don't have the room or the budget for an actual sauna? A portable sauna or a sauna blanket are also great options.

In a study published by the Journal of Human Kinetics, researchers found that regular sauna use significantly enhances immune system function by increasing the production of white blood cells, lymphocytes, neutrophils, and basophils, which are crucial for fighting off infections and maintaining overall health. This research highlights the sauna's potential as a beneficial practice for boosting the body's natural defense mechanisms against illness.

Third - Castor oil Packs

Might as well add some therapy while you spend time under your covers reading a book!

When I'm feeling intestinal discomfort, I'll apply a warm castor oil pack over my abdomen. This traditional therapy increases circulation to soothe cramping and stimulate your digestive system.  It's even nice as a periodic detox support even if you arent feeling crampy or struggling with digestion.

To make a castor oil pack, simply soak a cloth in castor oil and lie down in a comfortable position. Place the cloth directly on your skin over your stomach. Put a hot water bottle or heating pad on top and relax for 30-60 minutes. The gentle warmth helps your body absorb the anti-inflammatory and laxative properties of the castor oil. If you want a tidier experience you can purchase castor oil packs in kits. Make sure your castor oil is organic and hexane free.

Once again if you are new to this, start with less time and work your way up gradually and check in with a health practitioner if you are are unsure if it is right for you.

Four- Embrace Hygge

Speaking of getting cozy, I also make an effort to embrace the Danish concept of hygge during cold winter months. Hygge (pronounced hoo-gah) is all about cultivating contentment through simple comforts and pleasures. It's used to describe the feeling of belonging and joy from activities like lighting candles, baking, having meaningful conversations, and snuggling under a warm blanket.

During harsh weather, I try to take inspiration from hygge and carve out time for small indulgences with big comfort payoff. Some of my favorite hygge rituals include:

  • Family game nights with hot cider

  • Cooking warm stews and baking (gluten free) bread

  • Lighting candles and reading a good book

  • Sipping tea while journaling

  • Curling up to watch movies under a big blanket

Finding little moments of warmth and connection helps me stay grounded when it's frigid outside. Hygge reminds me to slow down and appreciate simple joys during winter.

Finally - Deep warmth and relaxation with Epsom Salts

Treat yourself to a relaxing Epsom salt bath to warm up from head to toe. Allow your body to soak in a tub filled with hot - but not scalding - water for a deeply warming experience. The heat eases tension in muscles and joints while increasing overall body temperature. For extra digestive benefits, add a few drops of ginger or peppermint essential oil to the bathwater. As you soak, the magnesium in the Epsom salts gets absorbed through your skin, providing a dose of this soothing mineral. Magnesium plays a role in gut health and proper digestion. It also promotes calm by activating the parasympathetic nervous system. Dry brushing your skin before your bath can further boost circulation. Afterwards, be sure to drink some herbal tea or electrolyte water to stay hydrated. An Epsom salt soak is the perfect way to provide internal and external warmth this winter.

Conclusion: Listen to Your Body's Needs

This winter, my advice is to listen to what your body is craving and respond with natural remedies that provide warmth, comfort and support digestion. Sipping therapeutic teas, using saunas safely, and applying castor oil packs can all be nurturing acts of self-care during the cold months. Mother Nature may be harsh lately, but you can be gentle with yourself. Stay cozy, my friends!

Author Bio:

Kelly Greenway, Dig Nutrition, Sandpoint ID
Kelly Greenway, FNTP, MRWP

Kelly Greenway is a functional nutritionist based in Sandpoint, Idaho, specializes in gut health, food sensitivities, and holistic approaches to chronic conditions. With a passion for empowering individuals in their health journey, Kelly combines her expertise in nutrition with a deep understanding of the body's intricate systems.

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