Hot temperatures during the summer can be uncomfortable. Heavy sweating, carrying your hats and umbrellas everywhere, and having access to cold drinks is usually the routine during this period. However, our concentration should not only be on what we wear and drink, but also on the foods that we eat to keep our “cool”.
Ayurvedic, which is derived from the word “Ayurveda”, is a traditional Hindu system of medicine. Ayurvedic foods and fruits, therefore, help us by maintaining our well-being and by regulating our internal and external body temperatures. Sweet, bitter, and astringent foods are important for keeping our body systems balanced. Hydrating foods should be considered over dry foods during the summer. Furthermore, hot peppers and sour cream, among others, should be avoided because of their heating properties.
Foods That Are Naturally Sweet
First and foremost, our body needs to be fed hydrating foods during the hot summer season. This is the reason why we should embrace foods such as rice and milk to encourage moisture in the body. Sweet foods help with building body tissues. These types of foods, together with fully ripened fruits such as watermelon, pears, grapes, and mangoes, help with retaining body moisture, which in turn makes our skin supple. These foods do not include added sugars or anything that is processed.
Moisturized skin prevents it from infections and reduces flares in people suffering from eczema. Other advantages are that it aides the skin’s natural process like exfoliation and a reduced risk of inflammatory conditions. The skin remains hydrated from the inside out.
Naturally Bitter Vegetables
Secondly, eating bitter vegetables increases the health qualities of the body. These types of vegetables suppress heat. Broccoli, leafy vegetables, (kale, collard, dandelion) asparagus, and others, are some of the best examples of bitter vegetables that are at our disposal. Apart from keeping the skin hydrated, taking in bitter-tasting foods is beneficial.
Change in temperatures can affect how our body functions. According to Ayurvedic practices, bitter tasting foods help to cool the body by drying off sweat along with removing unwanted toxins. Consumption of them is, therefore, one of the best solutions to beat the heat.
Consequently, astringent foods are close in line with bitter foods by comparison; with the difference being that they cool off the body in a preventative way. These foods help to stop the spread of heat in the body versus suppressing it when it happens. In addition to that, astringent foods stabilize the joints, and prevent body organs from prolapsing as a person grows old. However, these foods should be minimized for people who are suffering with arthritis. Some astringent foods include apples, cranberries, legumes, (specifically kidney beans and lentils) and pomegranate.
Furthermore, spices such as mint, coriander, cinnamon, and cardamom help to cool the body during a hot summer season. As the summer heats up, many people resort to chilled drinks to feel refreshed. However, they only offer a refreshing feeling for a short time. In fact, after the process of digestion completes, the body generates more heat to regain its normal temperature. Spices work as a coolant by regulating metabolism. For instance, coriander tones down the excess heat, making it one of the best relaxants for anxiety relief. The menthol in mint diffuses the energy given out due to the process of digestion by opening up the pores on the skin.
Foods to be Avoided during the Summer
According to Ayurvedic practices, there are certain foods that should be avoided completely during the summer season. For example, black pepper, vinegar, salt, garlic, and hot spices should be avoided because they encourage heat production in the body. Even though they too fall into the category of astringents, their warming nature is unbearable during the hot months. In addition to that, vegetables with heating properties such as onions, tomatoes, and peppers can dehydrate the body quickly.
Control Your Portion
Lastly, controlling the amount of foods we take in is also important. Too much or too low of consumption of ayurvedic foods and vegetables can cause harm to the body. The heaviest meal that should be consumed during the summer months is breakfast because of its ability to get one through the day without draining an individual’s energy. Making breakfast the biggest meal of the day keeps the body active and ready to tackle the day's activities in a cool and relaxed manner. Dinner, on the other hand, should be taken in smaller portions, but stacked with cooling foods such as mung beans to help cool the body as we sleep.
Valerie lives in New York. As a health advocate, she shares tips and steps on maximizing nutrition, weight, and fitness goals to help others embrace a healthier lifestyle. She blogs at Halfmile Fitness.