Top 10 Tips to Keep Your Cool This Summer

Summer, the Fire Season, is the most yang of the seasons. It is a time of lush growth, brightness, activity and heat, particularly in the South. In Chinese Medicine, fire is related to the heart, blood vessels, Small Intestine and the emotions (see the February post to learn more about the heart). The heart is in charge of memory, emotions, consciousness, thinking, sleep and speech. 

When Fire is imbalanced, we see symptoms such as anxiety, despair, poor circulation, hypertension, heart palpitations, and insomnia. In nature, extreme heat withers and dries crops, creates drought and blazing forest fires, and we too can easily become overheated during the summer months. Here are our top 10 tips to keep your fire in check during the summer. 

1. 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), and water with cucumbers or fresh watermelon juice.

2. Eat lightly and simply – Prepare recipes using few ingredients rather than heavy meals. Limit meat, eggs, excess nuts and proteins that deplete cooling yin and limit calcium absorption which is needed for proper heart function.

3. Align with nature – Visit your local farmers market to see what is in season and focus on including those ingredients in your meals. We have a great farmers market in Peachtree City, so be sure to check it out.

4. Include many brightly colored vegetables and fruits. Steam or lightly simmer vegetables and go easy on the salt. Some raw vegetables are okay, but don't overdo it with cold and raw foods because they weaken the digestive system.

5. On hot days, eat cool fresh 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 cools an overheated heart. Greens also help to control anxiety.

6. Use spicy, pungent foods such as hot peppers, fresh ginger, and horseradish to bring body heat to the surface to disperse it, but not so much that you sweat profusely. A light sweat will help to cool the body, but heavy sweating creates fluid loss.

7. Don't overdo it on the cold foods either. Iced drinks, ice cream and frozen treats can weaken the digestive system, hold in sweat and heat, and contract the stomach inhibiting digestion.

8. Limit coffee, alcohol, and tobacco which are heating.

9. Rise early, work, play, travel, grow. Be active during the day and cool down at night. Turn your electronic devices off by 8:00 – 9:00 pm and get in bed by 10 to get a good nights sleep (see our blog post on Sleep for more ideas for getting your zzzzz's).

10. Slow things down – calm the heart through slow yoga, qi gong, soft music, mindful breathing and meditation.

Most of all, enjoy all of the life that summer brings!   

Posted in Lifestyle, Seasonal