Welcome to August!
In the heat of the summer, especially if you have a pitta body type, your body will potentially overheat or dry out.
Scientists call this “thermal accumulation,” which is the tendency for the earth, along with its inhabitants, to heat up during the second half of summer.
In Ayurveda, this is known as upward-moving vata. As a result, around mid-August, you may begin to feel the accumulation of this inner heat.
The heat in your body rises, which can result in dry skin, sensitive, irritated and dried-out sinuses, or looser stools.
You may notice your sinuses beginning to run a lot. Creating reactive mucus is the body’s response to this dryness. You may experience looser stools – the body’s response to the heat. Your intestinal villi might be irritated and inflamed.
This month, particularly, is an important time of year to not let the heat take over and let yourself dry out. Take this seriously.
If you don’t get rid of the heat now, the heat will turn to dryness and you may suffer this winter. Going from hot/dry this summer to cold/dry in the winter will leave you susceptible to creating the perfect breeding grounds for undesirable, opportunistic bacteria.
So, What To Do?
Especially if you missed the cleansing train this past spring, summer heat can bake the heavy winter fare onto the intestinal wall, turning it into hardened mucoid material if not flushed out each spring.
You can mitigate this by eating the cooling fruits and vegetables along with some whole grains from the summer harvest. They have specific microbes on them that we need during the summer, and will help to cool the body and dissipate the heat, protect the intestinal mucosa, and prevent irritation and reactive mucus.
Our body’s digestive acid reduces in the summer as a way to avoid overheating, resulting in weaker digestion and reducing our ability to properly digest heavier foods. If you do indulge in those popular summer foods, such as burgers, fried chicken, barbequed wings, French fries, chips, pizza and ice cream, here are some things to remember:
Enjoy these foods as a larger mid-day meal when digestion is stronger, rather than in the evening or late at night when the digestive fire is less efficient.
Yes, it is OK to eat some of these harder-to-digest foods in the summer. Just do your best to eat smaller portions of the barbecue and much larger portions of the salad, fruits, and veggies.
Look at our Summer Grocery List, which offers suggestions on how to limit heat-increasing foods (or pitta) and increase heat-reducing foods. Circle the foods you like and simply make a point to eat more of them. Luckily, the foods that are harvested in the summer are very easy to digest and don’t require a big furnace to be properly cooked and therefore, digested.
Think, “What can I eat more of?” rather than, “What can I not eat?”
I challenge all of you to eat a ridiculous amount of summer vegetables this month. This is what your plate should consist of:
- 1/2 veggies of each meal should be veggies (fresh, raw or lightly steamed).
- 1/4 protein
- 1/4 starch
We want to be eating foods off the vine, foods that have already been cooked by the sun. We don’t want to have to cook them once we eat them.
Easy-to-digest summer fruits and veggies from the garden, farmer’s markets and at CSAs are in such abundance – take advantage of this!
The Start of Grain Season
According to Ayurveda, grains are cooling and harvested at the end of summer and into the fall. In small amounts, they are fine as part of your August diet.
In certain areas of the northern hemisphere, cooling grains like wheat, barley, millet, oats, and rice are being harvested.
I suggest that you eat the majority of these starches at breakfast and lunch, as these are the times when your digestion the strongest.
Excess grains, starches, or sweets at night can raise morning blood sugar levels and increase the risk of glycation—which is when sugars in the blood stick to proteins. Glycation has been linked to a host of health concerns.
As we move into September and October, we will see the harvest change again, allowing for more grain which I will discuss next month.
Want to get a head start? Read my book, Eat Wheat and learn how to safely re-introduce wheat and dairy back into your diet.
Vitamin D Needs
Are you getting enough sun exposure this summer to optimize your vitamin D3 levels?
Remember, the UVB rays even in the summer are only strong during the mid-day hours. Morning and evening sun rays, while delightful, carry very little UVB or vitamin D3-making rays.
To get adequate vitamin D3 in the summer, we need about 10-15 minutes of direct mid-day sun 3-4 days a week, without sun protection (sunscreen). Sunscreen blocks the UVB vitamin D-making rays.
Here is the catch: If you take a shower or jump in a pool within an hour of getting your rays – you can wash off the pre-vitamin D3 that sets up on your skin. The UVB rays on the skin react with the natural oils on the skin to make pre-vitamin D3, and then begin to absorb into the bloodstream – where it becomes active vitamin D3 in the liver and kidneys.
If you are avoiding the sun and not supplementing with 2000-6000 IU of vitamin D3 per day, your immune system may be subpar, and your intestinal villa and mucosa are at risk for getting dried out.
Ingesting vitamin D, even during the summer, is a good idea. That way it absorbs directly into the intestinal mucosa.
Topical Vitamin D
In my article on topical vitamin D, I discuss how your skin is the last organ to receive the vitamin D3 circulating in your blood and, thus, the last to receive the benefits of vitamin D3.
Here is what happens when you are out in the sun:
- UVB radiation from the sun combines with the natural cholesterol on the skin and creates pre-vitamin D right on the skin.
- Within about an hour of sun exposure, this pre-vitamin D converts to vitamin D3 or cholecalciferol, where it is transported and stored in the liver.
- When needed, it is shipped to the kidneys, where it is converted into the super-active form of vitamin D3 called calcitriol, where it then re-enters the bloodstream as the active form of vitamin D3 to be used throughout the body.
So, even though it comes in through your skin, converts in your liver, and finally into active calcitriol in the kidneys, your skin is the last organ to get any.
The cool thing is that now studies show that vitamin D can be absorbed through the skin topically, so you can apply vitamin D directly to your skin! (1)
Do you notice your skin drying out as the summer months push on? Do you see your skin wrinkling in an accelerated way? Feeling your skin becoming tough and non-elastic?
Here is one of my favorite tricks: Add some liquid vitamin D to your favorite skin moisturizer.
Even though my Royal Glow Facial Moisturizer has vitamin D in it, in the summer and winter, I’ll add a full dropper of my Liquid Sun Vitamin D3 to the bottle of Royal Glow.
This is a great way to feed the skin directly with the vitamin D it needs to be healthy and radiant through the summer and winter.
Seasonal Grocery List
When we adjust our diet and lifestyle to match the season, health-promoting digestive microbes dramatically change. Summer microbes support balanced immunity, digestion, mood, energy, blood sugar, weight, sleep – and much more. Summer is also associated with the qualities of ‘Pitta,’ which are hot, light and dry. To stay balanced, focus on foods and activities that are cool, moist, heavy and oily. Experiment with the flavors and enjoy!
August Seasonal Posts
Superfoods for your Body Type: Summer Edition: The long days of summer provide more daylight hours to eat ourselves into balance… or eat ourselves out of balance. Understanding the importance of summer fare and following certain summer digestive guidelines are the keys for a healthy fall and winter. In this article, I will list my top preventive tips as well as my favorite summer foods we should all be seeking out. Let’s reap the benefits that summer was originally meant to bring us!
Balance Your Pitta This Summer: Do the words burn-out, hot head, fired up, irritable, rage, anger or rash spark familiarity in you? All of these words reflect imbalances that are caused by excess heat in the body. Ayurveda calls this heat “pitta.”
Why You Should Eat Cherries This Summer: The bright, hot days of summer are upon us, and what better way to beat the heat than with nature’s bounty: cherries! I think of cherries as half berry and half fruit – the last berry of the spring and the first fruit of the summer.
August Seasonal Recipes
These fantastic recipes are gifted to us by the lovely Emma Frisch: cook, blogger, freelance food writer, and former farmer. She is Co-Founder and Director of Culinary Experience at Firelight Camps and was a top finalist on Food Network Star, Season 10. Emma’s recipes fall right in place with the rest of our diet and seasonal eating recommendations.
All photos and recipes by Emma Frisch.
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Introduce yourself to your new community! Let us and your fellow challengers know why you’re looking forward to the next year of living and eating with the seasons. Post inspiration, photos, recipe ideas, and more to social using hashtag #3SeasonDiet.