From Ayurvedic Nutritionist, Noel Graupner, whose approach to working with patients is education-based, in that she teaches her patients about their body chemistry to give diet and lifestyle recommendations intention or purpose.
Summer, the hottest time of the year, is just upon us, bringing with it longer days, triggering more daily (and outdoor) activity for which we need more energy! Our full social calendars and late nights paired with high temperatures make it easy for the body, and even the mind, to overheat. Excess heat trapped within the body can trigger and increase in blood pressure, acidity, hormonal imbalances, skin problems like acne, eczema, psoriasis, and general systemic inflammation. An overheated system may manifest in hot-headed emotions like irritability, impatience, aggression, anger, and even jealously.
Fortunately, Nature’s seasonal menu offers a diverse selection of foods that support us energetically during demanding days while simultaneously keeping our body temperatures low! Eating seasonally is an important tool to utilize (at any time of year!) to support your body’s ability to function optimally; nature provides the antidote for environmental pressures! Your body may naturally gravitate towards these foods without you even realizing. Have you ever noticed yourself craving lighter foods in the summer, smaller meals that are easier to digest?
The long growing season of the summer offers a high carbohydrate harvest, diverse in sweet hydrating fruits and bitter, astringent vegetables. These foods provide a dense source of fiber which, as it digests slowly, provides sustained natural energy. Full of moisture and rich in minerals, summer fruits and vegetables help the body to stay hydrated. This is the best time of year to enjoy crisp salads, fresh dairy products, and plenty of liquids.
What to eat:
Stone fruits (cherries, apricots, peaches, plums)
Limes (lemon is very heating)
Tropical fruits like coconut, pineapple, papaya, mango
Summer squashes like zucchini and yellow squash
Herbs + Spices:
Mint (esp. peppermint)
Nuts + Seeds:
Pepitas (pumpkin seeds)
*honey and molasses are heating.
Foods to Avoid In the Summer
Try to steer clear of any foods that will generate a heating response in the body, like:
Overly sour or unripe fruits
Spicy vegetables like radishes, onions, peppers, garlic, ginger, and mustard
Spices like hot chili or cayenne.
Root vegetables like carrots, beets, potatoes, sweet potatoes are very grounding and thus warming for the body
Red meats, eggs, and fatty poultry like duck are also warming for the body
Millet, quinoa, corn, amaranth, and buckwheat are all light, dry grains which may aggravate the digestive fire during the hot summer months
In addition to supporting your body and mind during the summer with cooling foods and beverages, it is important to incorporate cooling lifestyle changes as well. Dress in breathable clothing made of natural fabrics like cotton and linens, silk, hemp in lighter colors that don’t absorb heat from sunlight. Enjoy as much time in nature as possible, and remember to pack a hat and sunglasses to shelter yourself from the sun.
Though many of us are motivated to be more physically active in the warmer months, it is wise to choose calming exercise, like yoga or swimming over high intensity spin or high intensity interval training. Shoot for early morning movement, before 10 AM when the sun begins to rise in the sky and heat the air and land. In the afternoon, when the sun is highest in the sky, you may find your energy dropping – give into the afternoon lull and take a short siesta!
Diffuse rose, jasmine, lavender, peppermint essential oils in your home and office, or use them in your cosmetics and as perfumes and refreshing hydrosols. These calming scents help to relax your system, cooling you from the inside out.
During the summer months, make it your priority to appreciate the heat, the bright and intense sun, while respecting your body and mind at the same time. Use dietary and lifestyle choices to your advantage to beat the heat and keep your system cool, calm and under control.