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!
5 Reasons to Eat Summer Superfoods
Digestion is Weaker—Not Stronger in the Summer
It’s important to get as much fresh food as possible from the garden this time of year. Too many hard to digest barbecues can overwhelm the weaker summer digestion.
As summertime fruits and veggies are “cooked” on the vine all summer long, they are very easy to digest and don’t require much of the stomach’s digestive heat to process.
Remember, as an attempt to dissipate heat from the body, the digestive fire is naturally weaker during the summer, and stronger during the winter months. (1-4)
Perhaps this was part of our ancestral way to not overheat in the summer and a way to ensure the consumption of cooling foods during the hot months.
Gut Bacteria Call the Digestive Shots
Each season, there is a shift in the type of microbes that reside in the soil and, in turn, on the foods grown in the soil.
If you eat seasonal foods, the microbes in your gut will change from season to season as well! (5)
Summer-harvested, organically-grown foods inoculate the gut with summer food-digesting microbes.
Our gut microbiome shifts from being better equipped to digest easy-to-breakdown carbohydrates and starches during the summer to dense, fibrous foods like nuts, seeds, and grains in the winter. (1,2,4)
Heat Rises in the Summer
During the summer months, there is a thermal accumulation effect that can bring heat up into the liver, stomach and respiratory tract.
By the end of summer, when the thermal accumulation intensifies, this upward-moving heat (called udvartina in Ayurveda) can dry out the respiratory tract, causing sensitivity to heat, certain foods, environmental irritants, and pollutants.
Summer’s cooling harvest is the antidote to the extremes of summer. Download my Summer Grocery List here.
Occasional Summer Constipation
For the same reasons described above, the large intestine—which is governed by downward-moving vata (air)—is pulled up through the enteric cycle to the liver, where the intestinal air or vata fans the digestive fire.
This has the potential to not only overheat the stomach, but also leave the downward flow of (apana) vata weakened, causing occasional bouts of constipation that can be worsened with air travel.
Instead of toxins leaving the body through the digestive system as they should, they can be re-absorbed to the liver and gallbladder where they can create bile sludge. Bile is the regulator of healthy bowel movements. Poor bile flow can further complicate the summer constipation.
End-of-summer superfoods, like beets and apples, are powerful bile-movers or cholagogues that boost downward-moving digestion and healthy elimination.
The Antidote to Summer’s Heat
Ignoring these natural laws and eating lots of dry grains, meats, hot or spicy foods or acidic drinks (coffee, beer, and wine) will easily dry out, irritate and inflame the body’s delicate mucous membranes, where the good immune-boosting microbes live.
Excess dryness in the gut and respiratory tract can compromise the immune strength that is much-needed during the winter. These mucous membranes must stay moist in order for healthy immune function.
Summer’s harvest is loaded with cooling fruits and veggies that act as antidotes to the dry, hot season.
Early Summer Superfoods
- Baby kale
- Salad greens
- Some berries and cherries
- Coconut and coconut oil
- Green peppers
- Leafy greens
- Olives and olive oil
- All of the early and mid-summer superfoods
- Sweet ripe fruits
Superfoods by Body Type
Pitta Types: Eat the superfoods listed above.
Vata Types: Eat the foods that are on both the Summer Grocery List and the Winter (vata-balancing) Grocery List.
Kapha Types: Eat the foods that are on both the Summer Grocery List and the Spring kapha-balancing) Grocery List.