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. The longer days provide more sunlight which gives us energy causing movement and action.
According to the wisdom of Traditional Chinese Medicine’s ancient healing system, 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 to every cell in your body.
In this post you’ll learn ways to cool your body from the inside out; how to replace electrolytes; keep your digestion strong; some lifestyle tips; and ways to create emotional harmony.
Summer is dominated by heat and, when it becomes excessive, generates too much internal heat that causes or amplifies many health issues. I’ve listed some of them.
Summer Heat Ailments
- Inflammation, swelling and pain
- Difficult urination
- Skin eruptions – red rashes, hives, welts, acne
- Tension Headaches
- Poor circulation and heart disease
- Scattered, confused mind; unclear communication; and poor memory
- Mental illness (from depression to mania); irrational behavior
- Insomnia and fatigue
- Excessive sweating and hot flashes
Eating health-supportive summer foods can prevent many of these issues and, if you’re already experiencing some of them, can help to heal them. Professional herbal formulas can speed up the process.
Minimize Foods and Substances that Contribute to Heat
Too many warming foods, especially in a hot climate, contribute to excessive internal heat leading 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.
This list reflects some of the most heat producing foods:
- Excessive hot spices
- Too much animal food including meat, poultry, cheese and eggs;
- Fried foods
- 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 reduce the side effects.
- Overwork, toxic relationships, resentment, and endless worries also contribute to heat and its related health conditions.
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. Fresh vegetables are abundant in the summer.
Minimize or avoid using the oven in the summer. The longer you cook food, the more heat is produced within you when you eat it. 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. My Quinoa Protein Salad is a delicious, hearty summer main dish.
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 or lime 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 plant proteins and vegetables
- Eat some naturally fermented vegetables daily to promote good digestive health
Foods classified as the bitter flavor are 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 classified as the bitter flavor: 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
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 Wakame Seaweed Salad.
If your digestive system is strong and healthy, by all means eat some raw foods in the warmer months.
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 homemade 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. Real Pickles is another excellent brand of fermented vegetables.
Keep in mind that chewing your food well mixes it with alkaline enzymes in your saliva for good digestion and assimilation. Practice chewing each bite of food until liquid. Doing so requires a conscious effort.
Enzymes and Probiotics
Supplement with a high quality probiotic. I prefer Megasporebiotic, the first 100% spore-based broad-spectrum probiotic. Spore-based probiotics are more effective than conventional probiotics.
Taking digestive enzymes can help you digest a wide range of food and eliminate bloating, cramping, diarrhea, constipation, and other digestive issues. I recommend Enteromend, Chzyme, and Quiet digestion. The latter two are herbal formulas with high enzymatic activity.
Wheat Rescue assists in the breakdown of glutenin and gliadin proteins and alleviate symptoms associated with gluten intolerance.
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. Seaweed us a potent way to get electrolytes. 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 added salt, oil, sugar, milk, ethanol, and other unhealthy ingredients. Natural Import Company sells therapeutic grade, high quality sea vegetables. Search for them online.
Don’t be fooled by high-sugar sports drinks many of which also contain artificial ingredients. You don’t need them. Coconut water is an excellent alternative and contains more potassium than gatorade. 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 me using the principles of Attitudinal Healing, a Psycho-Social-Spiritual approach. You’ll feel lighter, more 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 to yourself and others 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.
some of these remedies are in your kitchen
I’ve witnessed the struggles of countless people in my 3 decades counseling practice. 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 balanced health, vibrant energy, a fit body, a focused mind, 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 a Holistic Health and Nutrition session with Deborah Barr, 35-year Holistic Health and Nutrition Counselor. You’ll be on your way to better health. Sessions can be done by zoom, phone, skype, or at Pittsburgh office.
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