Keeping it Cool this Summer
Our bodies are greatly affected by the changing external conditions of our local environment.
As summer approaches, your body's cravings for the heavy fats and proteins of winter and the pungency of spring naturally subside.
To achieve balance, focus on lighter, calming foods that refresh and cool your whole body, from the inside out.
Potential signs and symptoms of imbalance:
Physically: acid indigestion (heartburn or reflux), puffiness, skin irritations and rashes, inflammation, dehydration, headaches, and midday fatigue.
Emotionally and mentally: you may feel more irritable, angry and impatient
If you are a fiery person, summer can be a tough season for you. You may feel as if your blood is boiling. That can happen from not balancing your fiery digestion with cooling calming foods.
What to reduce when experiencing fiery digestion (hyperaciditiy) or feeling too hot:
Reduce foods of sour, salty, and pungent (heating) tastes to find balance.
Avoid heating spices and foods like ginger, chiles, cinnamon, hot sauce, raw onions, garlic, red meats, egg yolks, orange juice, raw tomatoes, anything fried or excessively oily, coffee, chocolate, alcohol (spirits and red wine are the most aggravating)
Minimize sour foods (heating): sour fruits, sour cream, store-bought yoghurt, vinegar, lemon, soy sauce, pickles, aged cheeses. Can use balsamic vinegar in moderation.
Reduce salt in general
Never drink coffee or alcohol on an empty stomach (acidic and heating)
Try this after-meal spice blend to alleviate symptoms of indigestion. I use it often for hyperacidity.
4 tbsp fennel seeds
In a small skillet, dry toast fennel seeds over low heat until they darken a few shades and release their aroma. Chew 1/2 tsp after every meal (especially after heating or harder to digest foods).
Main foods to increase in your diet:
Foods that are cooling, calming and slightly dry
Light calming qualities of sweet, bitter and astringent tastes are the main focus
Bitter tastes will cool the blood, the astringency of seasonal fruits will tone the tissues, mildly sweet foods like fennel and coconut will balance fire in the digestive tract.
Refreshing and Cooling Foods will alleviate discomfort from the hot, sharp, and oily qualities of heat and humidity
Refreshing and Cooling Foods for the Summer:
Best Cooling Spices and Herbs: Fennel seed, Mint, Coriander, Cilantro, Cardamon, Rose
Vibrant cooked and raw foods of the summer harvest
Great time of year to enjoy fresh salads (best at lunch time)
Top choices: cucumber, summer squash, zucchini, all leafy greens, broccoli, celery, green beans
Coconut in all its variations is a wonderful food to enjoy in summer. (ie coconut water, coconut milk, coconut meat, coconut oil and coconut sugar)
Sweet fresh fruit (always eaten on an empty stomach) such as fresh berries, cherries, grapes, pomegranates, melons (watermelon especially). Any sweet juicy fruit is great!
Fresh lime juice, less heating than lemon actually!
Cool and light proteins such as mung beans, lentils, chickpeas, lean white meats and fish
Enjoy sweet (not sour) dairy products such as milk, ghee, fresh homemade yoghurt, cottage cheese and occasional ice cream
Light neutral grains such as quinoa, white basmati rice, barley
Oils: If fiery digestion, organic virgin coconut oil is best cooking oil (can also be drizzled on hot food - but do not eat it straight out of jar or with raw foods, because cold coconut oil is more likely to cause blockages) If you have irregular or slow digestion, best cooking oil is ghee.
Staying Hydrated is essential!
Fresh coconut water (from young coconuts) is the #1 way to rehydrate. It's the best electrolyte beverage to quench thirst down to the cellular level. In a pinch, you can also try packaged coconut water.
The next best thing is Rehydration drink (prevents dehydration on a hot day). See recipe below.
Cooling teas such as peppermint, licorice, fennel, or rose.
Add fresh lime juice (less heating than lemon) and mint or cucumber slices in your water
Drink room temperature water throughout day
Please note: iced foods and beverages do not fall into the "cooling foods" category. May give you immediate relief from heat, but they put out digestive fire and create toxins in the body.
1/8 tsp cumin seeds (lightly toasted and crushed) or 1/8 tsp ground cumin
2 cups spring water
1 tbsp fresh lime juice
2 tsp chopped mint leaves
1 tsp raw sugar
2 small pinches sea salt
1/8 tsp ground nutmeg (optional)
Mix all ingredients (can use a blender and can strain if you like).
Looking for quick and healthy summer breakfast recipe?
1 cup cooked quinoa
1/4 - 1/2 can coconut milk, can mix with some water if too thick
1 tbsp coconut brown sugar or maple syrup
1/4 tsp cardamon powder
1/4 tsp vanilla
1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup chopped strawberries or other fresh berry
Mix all above ingredients together.
Optional: drizzle with nut butter, seeds, nuts, or raw cacao nibs.
Summer Lifestyle Guidelines
Eat lunch by 12 and finish eating dinner by 6pm
Before or after you shower/bathe, practice oil massage (Abyanga) with coconut oil (unless your body runs cold even in warm weather). You can add relaxing scents such as jasmine, lavender, rose essential oils. Can be practiced morning or evening to calm the nervous system and cool down.
Practice moderation in choosing activities and avoid over scheduling yourself
In exercise, don't push yourself too hard, instead engage in non-competitive exercise like swimming, moderate yoga, walking
Wear light, well-ventilated clothing in cool colours like white, gray, blue, green or purple.
Take cool baths and showers or dips in the pool or lake, avoid hot tubs and saunas
Stay out of midday sun (between 10 am and 2pm), but do enjoy time in nature.
Go for a walk early in the morning and at night - sunrise and moonrise (moon rays are very cooling and calming)
Make a Rose Hydrosol to spritz your face and body
Before bed, wash your feet and massage with cooling oil.
Go to bed by 10pm or 11 pm
Sleep on your right side to encourage breathing through the left (lunar) nostril. According to Ayurveda, this helps cool the system.