Survive and Thrive this Summer
Keep your health on track and moving forward through the Fire Season.
Summer is the Fire Season. It's a time of lush growth, brightness and activity. Quite often, it's also a time of unwelcomed extreme heat - particularly in the South.
In nature, extreme heat withers and dries crops. It brings drought and blazing forest fires. We, too, can overheat during the summer months and experience harmful side effects.
Staying safe and comfortable in the hot summer can be a challenge. In the age of air conditioning and iced drinks, you'd think keeping cool would be easier. But how did out ancestors stay cool in the summer long before modern refrigeration?
How the body copes
In summer, while it's hot outside, our body keeps heat near its surface. Why? To allow the heat to vent outward, which prevents us from overheating.
To perform this cooling function, the body increases blood flow to the capillaries at the surface of the skin. The increased blood flow opens the pores of the skin. Water in the form of sweat then releases and evaporates. As this evaporation occurs, the surface of the body cools off.
In the winter, our primary goal is to preserve our heat. When it's cold outside, our body stores as much heat as far from the surface as possible. During the cold season, more of our heat is in the center of our body.
The role of the circulatory and digestive systems
Our warm blood circulating is responsible for heating and cooling the body. The body's heater and air conditioner are controlled by the body's ability to generate heat.
As we pointed out, in the warm months most of the body's heat is at the surface. This means the middle of the body, and especially our digestive system, has less heat. If the digestive loses too much heat it won't operate properly.
In the clinic, we see that people prone to difestive problems are much more likely to have loose bowel movements and bloating in the summer months. The digestive system is an engine. Just like the engine in our car, it must remain at operating temperature to work effciently.
When the digestive engine isn't working well, it can't generate the blood necessary to operate the heating and cooling mechanism. When this happens, the pores close and heat builds up underneath the skin. This causes heat vexation and is very uncomfortable.
How do we deal with this? Ingest more foods that warm the middle and prevent heat building up at the surface.
Top 10 tips to keep your cool during the Fire Season
1. Use spicy, pungent herbs and spices. Food such as hot peppers, fresh ginger and horseradish as well as spices - like cumin, coriander, cinnamon, nutmeg, and turmeric - help warm the center and allow the body to bring the heat to the surface. In moderation, these foods disperse heat, but too much and you'll sweat profusely. You want to avoid that. A light sweat will help to cool the body, but heavy sweating creates fluid loss.
2. Water balances Fire. Be sure to drink plenty of fluids during the summer, especially if you sweat a lot. With profuse sweating, you may also need to replace electrolytes. Good sources are coconut water (the unsweetened kind), water with cucumbers or fresh watermelon juice.
3. Eat light and simple. Prepare recipes using a few ingredients rather than heavy meals. Limit thick, heavy, creamy dishes that have an excess of meat, eggs and dairy. Too much of these foods are harder to metabolize in the colder digestive system of summer.
4. Eat seasonally. Visit your local farmers markets to see what is in season. Focus on including those ingredients in your meals. We have great farmers markets in the area, so be sure to check them out. Here are a few:
- Alō Farms - alofarms.com
- Peachtree City Farmers Market - peachtreecitymarket.com
- Newnan Market Day - mainstreetnewnan.com/p/events/the-market-day
- Senoia Farmers Market - facebook.com/senoiafarmersmarket/
5. Choose bright colored vegetables and fruits. Steam or lightly simmer vegetables and go easy on the salt. Remember that raw vegetables are even harder to digest in the summer, so don't overdo it with cold and raw foods. They weaken the digestive system.
6. Eat cool fresh foods. On hot days, choose foods such as:
- Sprouts and mung beans.
- Cucumbers and watermelon to hydrate and moisten.
- Mushrooms to improve fluid balance and calm the nerves.
- Celery and lettuces to strengthen nerves and heart tissue. Celery can also help to lower blood pressure.
- Mulberries, lemons and limes to calm the mind.
- Greens - the bitter flavors cleanse the heart and arteries and cool an overheated heart. Greens also help to control anxiety.
7. Learn the make summer pickles. Instead of eating so many raw foods, learn to prepare delicious summer veggies the traditional way. Check out "How to Quick Pickle Any Vegetable" at www.thekitchn.com for easy instructions.
8. Don't overdo it on the cold foods. Iced drinks, ice cream and frozen treats can weaken the digestive system. This holds in sweat and heat, which contracts the stomach and inhibits digestion.
9. Limit coffee, alcohol and tobacco. These substances create heat by weakening the blood's ability to turn on the body's cooling system.
10. Rise early. Work, play, travel, grow. Be active during the day and cool down at night. Turn your electronic devices off by late evening. Try getting to bed by 10 p.m. to get a good night's sleep.
Most of all, enjoy all of the life that summer brings!
Fun Facts about the Summer Solstice
- The 2023 North American summer solstice happens on Wednesday June 21 at 10:58 a.m. EDT
- Summer solstice is the very moment that the sun stands still at its northernmost point as seen from Earth.
- It's the day that marks the official beginning of summer in the Northern Hemisphere.
- It's also the day of the year with the most sunlight, the longest of the the long summer days.
- It occurs at the same time all over the world.
- On the day of the June solstice, the Northern Hemisphere receives sunlight at the most direct angle of the year.
- If you look at your noontime shadow on the day of the solstice, it's your shortest noontime shadow of the year.
- At the Sun's northernmost point in the sky, it pauses for a brief second at the Tropic of Cancer before it appears to switch direction and head south again.
- The word solstice comes from the Latin: "solstitium", sol (sun), and "stitium", (to stop).
- Summer Solstice is the most yang - light, masculine - energy day of the year.
- It can occur anywhere from June 20 to June 22, but June 22 solstices are rare.
- It's the only day that all locations inside the Artic Circle experience 24 hours of solid daylight.
- The summer solstice is traditionally celebrated all over the world with festivals, bonfires, signing and dancing.
Posted in Lifestyle, Seasonal