- At the end of summer, especially if you are a hot (pitta) body type, your body will potentially overheat or dry out. Take this dosha quiz to find out your Ayurvedic body type.
- Summer superfoods are cooling seasonal antidotes to stop heat in its tracks.
- Watermelons are naturally cooling and hydrating.
- Apples support blood sugar and are heat-removing.
- Pomegranates are one of the most powerful antioxidants.
- Fall is detox season: eat as many of these foods as you comfortably can to support the body’s natural seasonal detoxification.
Summer + Fall Thermal Accumulation
What should we be eating in the hot days of summer, end-of-summer, and fall? As summer winds down, our body actually heats up, according to Ayurveda. Scientists call it “thermal accumulation,” the tendency for the earth, and the people on it, to heat up during the second half of summer.
As a result, around mid-August, you may begin to feel accumulation of inner heat. You may notice your skin starting to dry out, your sinuses beginning to run, or your digestive system slowing down.
If you experience any of the following, make sure you eat primarily off the Summer Grocery List and make sure to get plenty of the summer-fall superfoods now through October:
- Dry skin, even rashes
- Hay fever or seasonal allergies
- Slow digestion
- Bloating or gas
Remember Your Nature!
According to Ayurveda, at the end of each season, there will always be an accumulation of the properties of that season. For example, at the end of winter, the body becomes more cold and dry. At the end of spring, the body is more prone to congestion. And now, at the end of summer, the body will potentially overheat or dry out.
So, if you are a hot body type (pitta or summer body type) in the hottest part of the hot season, your tendency to overheat is high. The end of summer is a critical time for preventing excess heat in your body. If you have any pitta in your constitution, these summer-fall superfoods are your best medicine right now!
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Challenging Foods in Summer
While I am a big believer in focusing on eating more good foods in season, rather than avoiding certain foods, it’s good to be aware of the foods that can overheat you. Reduce or avoid the following foods if you have a strong pitta constitution:
- Spicy foods
- Red meat
- Yogurt or cheese
- Fermented foods (i.e. pickles, sauerkraut, soy)
Luckily, as summer heat builds, nature begins to harvest its superfoods: cooling seasonal antidotes to stop heat in its tracks. I encourage everyone to print out the Summer Grocery List of cooling foods, circle the foods you enjoy, and begin to eat as many of these as you comfortably can. However, there are three foods I especially favor this time of year: pomegranates, apples, and watermelon (think “PAW diet”).
Superfood #1: Watermelon
Summer-harvested watermelon is 92% water and extremely cooling by nature. It helps remove heat due to its sweet taste, ability to hydrate, and mild diuretic properties.
Watermelons originated in Africa and are said to be sacred in Egypt, most likely due to their ability to provide water in arid regions. Watermelon is rich in one particular carotenoid, called lycopene, a powerful antioxidant.
Watermelons are a very good source of:
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin A
- Vitamins B6 + B1
- Citrulline (a precursor to arginine)
Watermelon + Arginine
Watermelon is an exceptionally high source of citrulline, which the body uses to make another amino acid, arginine. Arginine is very popular today as a supplemental precursor to human growth hormone (HGH) and nitric oxide, whose discovery won the Nobel Prize as the body’s own “panacea.”
Increasing nitric oxide and/or HGH naturally in the body has been a subject of extensive research for years. In one study, subjects who drank three eight-ounce glasses of watermelon juice a day increased arginine in the blood by 11%, and those who drank six eight-ounce glasses increased arginine by 18%.2 Any increase of arginine in the blood, since it is a direct precursor to nitric oxide and HGH, is a significant finding.
Health Benefits Arginine Supports
- Healthy blood pressure levels1
- Balanced blood sugar levels1
- Healthy blood vessels
- May help protect against erectile dysfunction1
Note: High arginine foods can trigger herpes or cold sore outbreaks so if you are prone to cold sores take lysine or high lysine foods along with your watermelon. Lysine and arginine foods must stay in balance to prevent cold sores in many people.
Superfood #2: Apples
Apples are natural heat-removing purgatives. They are harvested in abundance at the end of summer, as if nature is sending a message to eat a lot of these now.
The body’s natural way of dispersing heat out of the body is purgation, the promotion of loose stools. This is why a fever is often followed by diarrhea. Eating enough apples from August through October to just slightly loosen the stools can be a therapeutic dose.
Apples Balance Blood Sugar
While apples are thought to be problematic for those with blood sugar issues, research has shown that apples have numerous phytonutrients that actually support blood sugar.
Benefits of Fresh or Freshly Juiced Apples
- Quercitin in apples may slow breakdown of carbs into simple sugars in the gut, supporting blood sugar.3
- Polyphenols in apples may help lower rate of glucose absorption, decreasing blood sugar spikes.
- Apples support the pancreas to produce more insulin to help support blood sugar.3
Apples Lower LDL Cholesterol
Pectin in whole apples (while not an extremely high source) has been shown to interact with other phytonutrients and may lower bad fats in the blood without having to take high dosages of daily fiber. Apples may also decrease breakdown of good fats by damaging free radicals, called lipid peroxidation.3
How to Eat Apples
Eat only organic apples! Apples are in the top 12 foods contaminated with pesticides, called the Dirty Dozen.
The magic of apples seems to be the combination of phytonutrients and pectin. The best way to get these is from eating the whole fruit. Apples freshly juiced still hold onto many of these beneficial properties. Store-bought apple juice, however, will have significantly fewer of these benefits. During the end-of-summer days, try to eat two to four apples a day.
Superfood #3: Pomegranates
Pomegranates have been used in Ayurveda as an anti-pitta and anti-heating agent for blood and lymph. In one study, pomegranates showed that their antioxidant properties may far exceed those of blueberries, grapes, red wine, vitamin C, vitamin E, and others.4
Pomegranate’s Many Benefits
- Cardiovascular: Pomegranates may offer benefits for the cardiovascular system by helping to protect arterial walls, promoting healthy blood pressure levels, and also may improve blood flow to the heart.4 In one Israeli study, with only two ounces a day of pure pomegranate juice, blood pressure fell by 21% after one year and plaque lesions in the carotid artery were reduced in size by 35%.4
- Blood Sugar Levels: Pomegranates may help blood sugar levels and support the cardiovascular system from blood sugar-related damage.4
- Supports Prostate: Pomegranates may show promise in supporting prostate health.5
- Supports Cholesterol: Pomegranates may lower lipid oxidation, a leading cause of high cholesterol levels.5
- Antioxidant: Studies show pomegranates may increase production of one of the body’s most potent antioxidants, the Nobel Prize-winning nitric oxide, by a whopping 130%.4
- Anti-Aging: Pomegranates may protect the brain against stress-induced changes that may lead to cognitive concerns associated with aging.5
Based on my research, I suggest drinking at least two to eight ounces a day of pure pomegranate juice for maximum benefits. You can mix those ounces of juice with just about anything (like apple and watermelon!) if the astringent taste is too strong for you.
The PAW Diet: End-of-Summer Support
Make a special effort from August through October to eat as much of these three fruits (pomegranates, apples, and watermelon) as possible.
This is detox season and these foods are responsible for natural seasonal detoxification. For more information about seasonal detox, check out my Colorado Cleanse.
What do you eat at the end of summer? Do you enjoy the PAW Diet?