Eastern medical philosophy teaches us that summer is the most Yang of the four seasons. Days are long, fruit and flowers flourish, animals and birds are busy and abundant. Continuing the surge of growth that began in spring, this is a time for expansion, activity and creativity.
For a healthy, seasonal transition, make the most of the extended daylight hours. Walks after dinner are wonderful this time of year. Go to bed later and rise early as the sun does. If you can, take a rest in the middle of the day. Be active in the outdoors: walk, run, dance, swim and stretch. Allow the sunshine to invigorate your body and heart.
As the weather is warmer, keep also warm in spirit. Practice relaxation and meditation. Avoid feelings of resentment or angst. Instead, let the Yang of summer lift your spirits, especially on days of extreme weather when anger or frustration might surface.
In summertime, health imbalances may present as heat accumulation inside the body. You may be prone to pimples, mouth ulcers, cold sores, nosebleeds, rashes, insomnia, agitation, irritability, UTI's, cystitis, fever or thirst. If your system is retaining phlegm, you may also find asthma, allergies or colds and flu flaring. Acupuncture and herbal medicine can treat these conditions and help maintain the balance of good health.
The principle of harmony between what we eat and the season is based on hundreds of years of practical experience. Chinese nutritional therapy is an important component of Chinese medicine and truly believes that you are what you eat. The food that we consume has a profound effect on the body, affecting our health and wellbeing. Foods become part of the body after being consumed (internal) and the weather and environment have an effect on us externally. Chinese dietary philosophy suggests that you embrace native foods along with eating locally grown, organic and chemical free foods that grow in season. According to TCM the thing about the modern diet which is the most unhealthy is that we are able to eat foods all year round that may be grown unnaturally with the use of pesticides rather than ones grown naturally for only part of the year. This is the way nature intended us to eat. Eating natural foods that grow in season is what our bodies are designed for and prefer. This is one of the main ways that Chinese Medicine guides us on how to remain healthy all year long.
There are many foods that are beneficial for us to eat during the Summer season, these being foods that naturally grow in this season. On very hot days eat small and light meals, incorporating some cooling foods such as: watercress, cucumber, bean sprouts (especially mung, soy and alfalfa), tofu, apples, watermelon, lemon and lime.
Enjoy the quality and variety of summer’s fruit and vegetables – a colourful plate is a healthy plate. Stock up on seasonal fresh produce and think about energising your body for the year ahead. Cook lightly and often, with small amounts of pungent spices such as fresh ginger, cayenne pepper, horseradish and black pepper. This cools the body by bringing heat to the surface and dispersing it. Make a conscious effort to eat in moderation. Overconsumption of sweets, cold, raw, greasy, fried and spicy foods can weaken digestive energy and make it more difficult to cope in the heat.
In summer, indigestion can easily occur, so a light and less-greasy diet is strongly recommended. It is the perfect season to introduce some cool, yin foods into your diet. Chinese nutrition classifies food according to its energetic qualities of temperature, taste, and ability to moisten and strengthen the body. Food with cool and cold properties can clear heat, reduce toxins, and generate body fluids. In general, cooling foods tend towards the green end of the spectrum – lettuce, cucumbers, and watercress are some of the coolest. Few vegetables are warming. Fish and seafood are also cooling, while most meats are warming.
Here are some suggestions to keep you cool and balanced all summer long. These fruits and vegetables will help your body adjust its temperature and protect you during the long, hot summer days: Watermelon, Apricot, Cantaloupe, Lemon, Peach, Orange, Asparagus, Sprouts, Bamboo, Bokchoy, Broccoli, Chinese cabbage, Corn, Cucumber, White mushroom, Snow peas, Spinach, Summer squash, Watercress, Seaweed, Mung beans, Cilantro, Mint, Dill.