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Using Food To Beat The Heat
As the earth finally tips toward the sun ushering in the season of sunshine, I think we should celebrate as it has been a long winter for most of us in the US.
Cherries Usher in the Summer
Cherries are always my signal that spring is over and summer is here. Their presence signals us that this is the last chance to get spring detox benefits. This doesn’t mean you cannot detox in the summer, it’s just that with each season nature preps different tissues for cleansing, such as the skin and liver.
Cherries are unique because they are half berry and half fruit. They look and grow like a fruit, and act like a berry in the body. Like all berries, cherries are major lymph and fatty tissue cleansers of the spring. Summer calls for foods that are higher in healthy carbohydrates (vegetables and some fruits) to drive energy for the long days of summer.
Summer is also when we begin to accumulate heat energy. The long days of activity with less rest build heat (pitta) in the body, which reaches its peak at the end of the summer.
This accumulation of heat is represented by the red and orange autumn foliage responding to the summers’ heat rising into the leaves of the trees – drying them out in preparation for fall. Falling leaves fulfill a natural detox process of getting rid of the excess accumulated heat.
Nature’s Super Cooling Foods
Nature’s super cooling foods are harvested at the end of summer to move the maximum heat out of the body. My favorites are apples, pomegranates and watermelons which, if you eat enough of them, will encourage looser stools and/or frequent urination – stimulating the body’s heat-removing channels.
As the summer hums along, nature is harvesting an abundance of naturally cooling, blood, skin and liver cleansing and supportive foods with all its fruits and veggies. These foods are important because of what spring has left us to deal with.
Spring is the time of year the earth holds more water, and we do the same. This manifests as spring allergies and colds that frequent this time of year. If we did not do that great of a job eating the mucus-erasing leafy greens and berries of spring, we often enter summer carrying much of the spring’s mucus with us. Of course, this mucus generally accumulates in the gut and sinuses.
If we allow summer’s heat to accumulate unchecked by cooling seasonal foods, this spring accumulation of mucus can literally bake onto the intestinal and respiratory mucosa, causing further irritation and a major alteration to the environment of our good microbes. So don’t just wait until the end of summer to eat seasonally!
Turn Down Your Oven, Let Your Food Cook on the Vine
Last but not least is the understanding that the digestive fire is weaker in the summer, and thus we will have a harder time digesting heavy, fatty and rich foods. Nature is cooking all the fruits and veggies on the vine all summer long, so from nature’s perspective, the need for us to turn on a big furnace of digestive acid to cook foods that are already pre-cooked by the sun is unnecessary.
This turning down of the digestive fire has been one of our survival techniques for millions of years. As the earth heated up, being able to survive, and even persistence hunt (chase down prey), required an incredible ability to handle heat, and this is just one of our heat-reducing skills.
So think twice this summer about pigging out on barbecued ribs, milkshakes, breads and cheese, as these are winter foods that are a challenge to digest.
Please print out our free Summer Grocery List. It is simple to use: just circle the foods on that list that you like and give yourself permission to eat more of them.
- Do your best to get:
- 50% veggies
- 25% protein
- 25% starch
- For brain, gut and fat-burning benefits, have 1 teaspoon of coconut oil with each meal.
- Add very small amounts of ferments to each meal. Note that fermented foods are heating, so just a couple of olives will do the trick in the summer.
More Summer Tips
- Get outside into nature. Being in nature builds ojas, the precious fluid of vitality, according to Ayurveda.
- Do abhyanga with coconut oil if you are a pitta type.
- Even though the days are longer and we can stay up later, remember the sun is up early as well. So try to get to bed no more than 2 hours after the sun sets and get up with or before the sun rise.
- Get 10-15 minutes of direct midday summer sun per day for your vitamin D3 levels.
- Eat more foods off the summer (pitta reducing) grocery list.
- Eat fewer heavy, hard to digest foods.
- Exercise in the morning or early evening – avoid exercise in the midday sun.