How to stay Healthy this Summer
Light. Fire. Heat. Intensity. It’s summertime! Do you worship long days of bright sunlight? Do you welcome a renewed feeling of lightness and expansive consciousness? Maybe you just can’t get enough of the hot summer temperatures. Or, do you dread the heat and go out of your way to avoid the summer sun? Perhaps a dark, air-conditioned cinema is more your place of choice on a hot summer day.
Summer, like each of the seasons, arrives with its own distinct personality. Depending on your constitution, summer may increase your internal sense of harmony, or it may aggravate one of your innate tendencies. For example, a hot-natured individual who prefers a cool climate may love the winter, but will feel hotter than most—to the point of discomfort—as the heat of summer intensifies. On the other hand, someone with chronically cold hands and feet, who never seem to be able to stay warm in the winter months, will experience exactly the opposite: long, cold winters will be a challenge and she will relish the heat of summer. But the seasons need not be an intrinsic source of fluctuating dread and euphoria.
One of the fundamental principles of Chinese Medicine and Ayurveda is that our habits, routines, and dietary choices should ebb and flow with the seasons. We can support an improved state of balance throughout the year by making a conscious effort to live in harmony with the cycles of nature and by regularly adjusting our lifestyle and habits to accommodate the arrival of each new season. While this idea may at first seem daunting, many people find that the recommended seasonal adjustments come quite naturally and that a few simple changes can dramatically increase health and vitality.
Our Top Tips to stay healthy in Summer time
In Western Medicine the heart is responsible for pumping oxygen rich blood around the body. In Chinese Medicine the heart/Fire element is associated with mental activity so therefore our memory, thought processes, emotional well-being.
When the fire element is in balance, the heart is strong and healthy, the mind is calm and sleep is sound.
When the fire element is imbalanced, we may either lack joy (depression) or have an excess of joy (mania). Indicators of an imbalance in the fire element include agitation, nervousness, heartburn, and insomnia.
A summer seasonal routine is aimed at fostering diet and lifestyle habits that will help to prevent the over-accumulation of summer qualities and allow you to enjoy the unique gifts that summertime has to offer.
- Awaken earlier in the morning
- Go to bed later in the evening
- Rest at midday
- Drink plenty of fluids - enjoy cool or room temperature water infused with mint or lime and a little raw sugar, a sweet lassi, cooling herbal teas such as peppermint, liquorice, fennel or rose (Iced drinks are best avoided; they disturb the digestive fire and create toxins in the body)
- Eat light foods and smaller meals that are easy to digest (Keep in mind that raw vegetables (as in salads) will be better digested if they are eaten at lunch, rather than at dinner)
- Nutritional adjustments
Summer is a time of abundant foods, being the best time to get as much variety into the diet a possible. Time to eat foods that promote energy and activity as well as use cooling foods to balance the summer heat. Summer is the perfect time for spices, flowers and leaves that have a floating or outward energy.
All food in Chinese Medicine have a temperature and energetic properties so in Summer we eat cool, yin foods that are moistening to balance the heat. Being fully present with your meals while savouring the flavour and texture of your food will help minimise the risk of overeating. Summer is a time to favour the sweet, bitter, and astringent tastes and to relish in cool, liquid, even slightly oily foods. This is the best time of year to enjoy fresh fruits and salads. It is also a great time to indulge in sweet dairy products such as milk, butter, ghee, cottage cheese, fresh homemade yogurt, and even ice cream on occasion. All unrefined sweeteners except honey and molasses are cooling and can be enjoyed in moderation during the summer months.
Try to avoid extremely spicy foods like chilies or cayenne pepper altogether. Also keep in mind that raw vegetables (as in salads) will be better digested if they are eaten at lunch, rather than at dinner.
Below is a list of some ideal summer foods:
Store those herbs and spices at the back of the cupboard!!
Summer can motivate improved physical fitness and it is generally a great season to be active, provided you exercise at appropriate times and at an appropriate intensity. Exercise is very heating and, at this time of year, is best avoided during the heat of the day, especially from 10 a.m.–2 p.m.
Instead, try exercising early in the morning, when the atmosphere is crisp and cool. It’s also important not to push too hard. Ideally, exercise at about 50–70% of your capacity, breathing through your nose the entire time, if you can. Follow your workout with a drop of rose oil to the third eye, throat, and navel to help the body cool down