As the days have gotten hotter have you noticed your food cravings are different than in other seasons? How about when the humidity increases during hot Summer months? The Chinese associate the Summer season with the Fire element for reasons that are quite obvious, especially to desert dwellers. The Fire element is not only associate with the Summer season but also to our body because every season has an affect on our system; Summer being associated most with the heart and small intestine. To quote the article, Summertime! Chinese Medicine and the Summer Season:
The heart’s main function is to pump oxygen-rich blood through the body. In Chinese medicine, mental activity is associated with the heart and therefore our memory, thought processes, emotional well-being, and consciousness are also attributed to the heart and fire element. This is a time to nourish and pacify our spirits, and to realize our life’s greatest potential as we find joy in our hot summer days and warm summer nights. When the fire element is in balance, the heart is strong and healthy, the mind is calm and sleep is sound. When the fire element is imbalanced, we may either lack joy (depression) or have an excess of joy (mania). Indicators of an imbalance in the fire element include agitation, nervousness, heartburn, and insomnia.
The humidity in the later Summer months can add some heaviness as discussed in the article, Summer and Traditional Chinese Medicine:
Because summer is humid, the pathogenic factors, which cause diseases in this season always mix with dampness. The symptoms include abdominal pains, vomiting, intestinal spasms, diarrhea, lethargy, aching joints, and heaviness in the chest – are characteristically heavy and sluggish in nature and tend to block the flow of energy throughout the body.
So how do we stay healthy and keep our tempers under control during the hottest months? The best habits we can have include:
- Wake up and go to sleep with the sun with short naps or rest periods in the middle of the day.
- Wear sunscreen and keep shaded.
- Limit bitter foods and increase pungent foods.
- Drink plenty of fluids.
- Avoid a lot of sugar and replace salt and minerals that you lose when you sweat.
So what foods do Western and Eastern nutritionists agree are the best and worst for Summer? Here is a small list with links to more detailed lists below:
- Fried Foods
- Processed Foods
- Macaroni and Potato Salad
- Alcohol (Including Daquiris)
- Corn (GMO-Free)
- Mung Beans
- Cool fresh fruits and vegetables, especially greens.
- Herbs, especially Cilantro, Dill and Mint
See also: 17 Best and Worst Summer Foods and Summertime! Chinese Medicine and the Summer Season