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Summer Health Tips to Strengthen Body and Mind ©Deborah Barr; all rights reserved.

Summer is in full swing!  It’s the season for outdoor sports and activities, picnics, and beach vacations. Summer relates to maturing, growing, and flourishing as witnessed in nature and in you. With longer days we have more sunlight which gives energy causing movement and action.

According to the wisdom of ancient holistic healing arts, summer represents the fire element and most affects the heart and small intestines. Your heart regulates blood circulation; moves blood; and carries warmth, oxygen and other nutrients to the rest of the body. It works with lungs to gain oxygen, and with the digestive system to obtain nutrients.

Its complementary organ, the small intestine, works to digest foods and absorb their nutrients which it sends into the blood supply and every cell in your body.

Summer is dominated by heat and, when it becomes excessive, generates too much internal heat that causes many health issues:

Summer Heat Ailments

  • Inflammation, swelling and pain

  • Constipation

  • Difficult urination

  • Skin eruptions – red rashes, hives, welts, acne

  • Tension Headaches

  • Poor circulation and heart disease

  • Hypertension

  • Hyperthyroid

  • Stroke

  • Scattered, confused mind; unclear communication; and poor memory

  • Mental illness (from depression to mania); irrational behavior

  • Insomnia and fatigue

  • Excessive sweating and hot flashes

Safe, effective professional herbal remedies are available for these health conditions. Digestive professional herbals can enhance and speed up the effects of healing foods.


Minimize Foods and Substances that Contribute to Heat

Too many warming foods, especially in a hot climate, contribute to heart and small intestine issues. It's best to minimize or avoid heat producing foods and substances during the summer with the exception of necessary medications.

  • Excessive hot spices

  • Too much animal food including meat, poultry, cheese and eggs;  

  • Fried foods

  • Alcohol

  • Tobacco

  • Sugar

  • Strong bitter foods such as coffee and chocolate

  • Some drugs (medicinal and recreational) and certain vitamins are very warming. I’m not suggesting you stop taking your medications, but do counter their warming effects with cooling and therapeutic foods that counter the side effects.

Minimize or avoid using the oven in the summer. The longer you cook food, the more heat is produced internally. Opt for lighter cooking methods such as steaming, boiling, blanching; quick sauté; and grilling. On a very hot day, you'll feel more balanced by eating a chilled bean and vegetable salad instead of a steaming soup made of the same ingredients. Red Quinoa with Black Eyed Peas is a wonderful, hearty summer salad.

Overwork, toxic relationships, resentment, and endless worries also contribute to heat and its related health conditions. Find healthy ways to resolve and transform these states. There is a Higher Purpose for everything. Each experience has gifts within it and is meant to evolve you into healthier, happier versions of yourself. Figure out the gifts and Higher Purpose; forgive; and let go. If you need help talk with a counselor or work with me on Attitudinal Healing.


Cooling Your Body from the Inside Out

The healing value of all food is influenced by its flavor and thermal properties. Power your body for summer with lots of vegetables which are cooling and provide the full spectrum of vitamins and minerals you need to be healthy. There is an abundance of wonderful fresh vegetables in the summer. 

Try my vegan jello for a healthy and refreshing summer dessert.

Emphasize these to help you adapt to warmer weather


  • Vegetables and fruits are cooling; eat lots of them (less or no fruit if cold signs).

  • Peppermint and Green tea are cooling; so is dandelion tea but avoid if on thyroid medication

  • Radishes and daikon radish – cooling and break down fats; reduces toxicity

  • Celery, cucumbers, summer squash

  • Fruit is cooling and removes heat, especially watermelon and pineapple

  • Fresh lemon frequently in water and some of your foods

  • Sea Vegetables

  • Fresh coconut water (unsweetened)

  • Marjoram and white pepper are cooling

  • Fresh sprouts

  • Reduce portions of animal food and increase portions of vegetables

  • Eat some naturally fermented vegetables daily to promote good digestive health


The bitter flavor is cooling and a good antidote for hot climates. Bitters clear heat; cleanse the arteries; reduce cholesterol; dry mucus; rid the body of candida yeast and parasites; reduce inflammation; treat skin eruptions and infections; and reduce bloating, gas, water retention and overweight conditions.

Regularly include these foods characterized as bitter: celery, romaine, arugula, asparagus, alfalfa sprouts, micro greens, broccoli, leeks,  scallions, turnips, parsley, watercress, endive, kale, collard greens, broccoli rabe, burdock, chicory, almonds, and papaya; the whole grains quinoa and amaranth; oregano,; and vinegar.

Small amounts of red and green hot peppers, cayenne red pepper, fresh ginger, horseradish and black pepper can bring excess inner heat to the surface and disperse it. Too much will drive the heat deeper

Replace heavy animal proteins with beans, legumes, tempeh and tofu. Try my Tofu Eggless Salad or Tempeh Reuben sandwiches as alternatives to meat, eggs, and cow's milk products.

Try my Peach Blueberry Crisp or vegan jello for a healthy and refreshing summer dessert.


Keep Your Digestive System Healthy

Raw vegetables can be difficult to digest causing bloating, belly fat, diarrhea, constipation, gas, cramping and a wide range of digestive issues including parasites, yeast and fungal infections. Opt for Blanched Vegetables. They will still have the crunch of raw, but will not create the health issues that raw foods cause.  Or try my cooling Dilled Cucumber and Wakame Salad.

Raw vegetables do provide a lot of nutrition; however, cooking strengthens and energizes by adding heat and partially breaking the food down, which aids digestion. It destroys parasites that enter the digestive tract through raw vegetables.  Proper cooking methods can preserve most of the nutrients. Chewing well mixes the food with alkaline enzymes contained in saliva.  So even in hot weather, it’s best to eat predominately cooked, and therefore more digestible, foods.

Keep your digestive system healthy with naturally fermented vegetables. They contain beneficial enzymes and healthy bacteria that aid digestion. An added bonus from eating them regularly is that bloating and belly fat will disappear. Eat a few pieces daily with a meal. Supermarket pickles are quickly processed and often contain sugar and preservatives; do not contain enzymes; and will be ineffective as a health promoting food. Sugar competes with healthy bacteria.

Wildbrine makes quality fermented vegetables. I like their Arame and Ginger Sauerkraut Salad and Red Beet and Red Cabbage Salad available at health food stores in the refrigerator section.

Supplement with a high quality probiotic.  I like Essential Formulas Dr.Ohhira's Probiotics Original Formula.  this probiotic is vegan, gluten-free, and Non-GMO. Taking digestive enzymes can help you digest a wide range of food and eliminate bloating, cramping, diarrhea, constipation, and other digestive issues.  I like Enteromend, Chzyme and Quiet digestion. The latter two are herbal formulas with high enzymatic activity


Replace Electrolytes

The more you exercise and sweat the more minerals you need.  Electrolytes are simply minerals--sodium, potassium, calcium, magnesium and sea vegetables are a powerful way to replenish them.

Plants from the sea are the most nutritious and little-known food group. You could simply eat ¼ sheet of nori sea vegetable every day. Tear into pieces and add to anything you are eating. Nori is the seaweed used in sushi.  Or try dulse in my tofu eggless salad recipe. There are many other sea vegetables well worth learning about. Sea Vegetable Recipes

Do avoid commercial sea vegetable snacks that have salt, oil, sugar, milk, ethanol, and other unhealthy ingredients. Order therapeutic grade, high quality sea vegetables here.

Don't be fooled by high-sugar sports drinks. You don't need them. Coconut water is an excellent alternative. Buy organic and cold-pressed.


Lifestyle and Emotions

Tune up and recharge your body with aerobic exercise every day especially outdoors. It's also helpful to engage in exercise with a softer approach that is meditative in its movements.  This includes yoga, tai chi, and qi gong. Doing so will insure good blood circulation, deep breathing, and a healthy body and mind. Exercise caution with fast paced exercise, such as running,  outdoors in summer heat. Go early in the morning and avoid doing so on extremely hot and humid days.

Avoid hiding inside yourself and being too serious. Be playful, light-hearted, and relaxed. Having more fun is the order of the season. Avoid being overly conceptual and analytical. Forego being a workaholic. You’ll have a clear, focused mind, more energy, better sleep, healthy digestion, and be more creative and effective at everything you do.

Heated emotions create more fire and pressure within you and cause physical health problems. Please work toward resolving anger, resentment, regret, bitterness, and other heavy emotions. Seek professional counseling, if necessary, or work with Attitudinal Healing. You'll feel lighter, move peaceful and balanced, and live with joy rather than struggle.

Keep an open heart and mind. Being compassionate and giving love freely in healthy ways heals the heart and mind. Forgiveness is a powerful tool that will help to heal many health issues. Summer is an auspicious time to do so.


Natural First Aid for sunburn, bee stings, insect bites, poison oak/ivy

some of these remedies are in your kitchen


A Holistic approach takes effort and education, and can be made easier with professional help.  I've witnessed the struggles of countless people in my 31-year counseling practice and  it has been disheartening to learn the many irrational, extreme, even dangerous methods people have used to recover good health or lose weight.  Many have harmed their health in the process.  You can have it all -- good health, a slender, fit body, mental and emotional harmony, and a life you love.  It depends on you and your choices.

Consider some professional guidance for the right nutrition and holistic health plan for you. You can greatly improve every aspect of your physical, mental and emotional health with a customized holistic approach.   Schedule an Introductory Holistic Health and Nutrition session with Deborah Barr, 31-year Holistic Health and Nutrition Counselor. You'll be on your way to better health. Sessions can be done by phone, skype, or at Pittsburgh office. Client Success Stories

©Deborah Barr, 2000-16.  All rights reserved.


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There are many popular food plans and no lack of internet advice from thousands of people who lack an understanding of food therapeutics and have little or no professional training.  Good marketing sells fads to people who are desperately trying to recover good health and lose weight.  Current scientific findings often contradict previous findings by the same experts.  A perfect diet that will bring everyone good health does not exist and accepting this fact is a good starting point for achieving balanced health.  


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Deborah Barr, 31-year Holistic Health and Nutrition Counselor/Coach, speaker, and author, has helped thousands of clients reverse health and weight issues; achieve emotional harmony, radiant health, passion, peaceful living, work-life balance, and a life they love.  In 1985 she founded Whole Health Resources, the premier Holistic Health Center in Pittsburgh.  WHR’s mission is to promote the healing and development of body, mind and spirit, and to teach an understanding of the relationship between diet, attitudes, lifestyle and wellness. She offers free help through 2 e-newsletters, Holistic Weight Loss, and Whole Health Matters, and free articles.   Subscribe to newsletters

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