It’s no coincidence that when the heat is on we naturally crave refershing foods such as melon, strawberries, oranges, and leafy green salads more in the summer. According to Chinese medicine, just as our bodies are designed to respond to changes in light and dark, so too, our tastes and appetites respond to seasonal shifts in climate and temperature.
Chinese Medicine teaches that each season is governed by different elemental energies – fire (early summer), earth (late summer), metal (autumn), water (winter) and wood (spring). Fire energy governs early summer (late June – end of August) and is also associated with the heart and small intestine. Earth energy governs late summer (September – October) and is associated with the spleen, pancreas and stomach.
During the hot summer months, the heart has to work harder. The body compensates by retaining more water to cool the system. So, abdominal bloating, swollen hands and feet, and water retention tend to be more of a problem. Too much heat also slows down digestion and elimination, causing further bloating. Eating the right foods – eg: ones which cool and help to disperse heat from the system will help the heart and small intestine to function more efficiently.
Best cooling foods
Light and cooling – these are the key words to remember when choosing health boosting summer foods. These foods will help to cool you down and are easy to digest.
Bitter greens and vegetables help to strengthen heart and small intestine function. They also help clear heat from the body. Green vegetables are also very cleansing. Choose from: asparagus, chicory, watercress, bitter endive, collards, aragula, radicchio, dandelion leaves, spinach, chard, cabbage, artichoke, cauliflower, peas, green beans, sprouted alfalfa. Or, help digestion with A. Vogel’s Centaurium, a fresh herbal tincture of stomach bitters.
Fresh seasonal fruits are rich in health boosting vitamins and minerals. Choose from cherries, melon, apples, apricots, mango, pineapple, papaya, peach, lemon, orange. Also, eat seasonal wild berries – eg: blueberries, gooseberries, strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, cranberries, loganberries.
Summer is the perfect time to experiment with herbs. Add to food. Drink as a refreshing tea. Or, take as a supplement.
- Chamomile has a calming effect. It’s also helpful, if you find it difficult to get to sleep on a hot night. Or, try A.Vogel Stress Relief.
- Mint aids digestion and eases bloating. Steep fresh sprigs of mint leaves in hot water. Drink warm or leave to cool and drink as a refreshing summer tea. Or, mix mint leaves with fennel, chicory and orange to make a refreshing salad.
- Rosemary aids digestion, stimulates circulation and enhances elimination. It’s also high in calcium. Use in cooking.
- Parsley has a diuretic effect. Sprinkle chopped parsley on new potatoes and salads.
- Dandelion is a wonderful cleanser. It has a mild diuretic effect. Add fresh dandelion leaves to salads. Or try A. Vogel’s Dandelion Tincture.
- Ginger aids digestion. It’s also an excellent natural remedy if you suffer from travel sickness. Drink as a tea or take as a supplement.
Foods To Avoid
- Foods that are hard to digest – eg: red meat, and meat generally, cheese, eggs
- Ice-cream, ice cubes – This may sound crazy, especially when it gets really hot, but, icy cold food slows down digestion. This can lead to bloating and abdominal discomfort. A better option is to eat cooling fruits and vegetables.
- Stimulating foods. These foods put an additional stress on your system, especially the heart. So, avoid, or cut down on, sugar, processed foods, and any foods and drinks that have a stimulating effect such as alcohol, coffee, coca-cola.