With July 4 weekend here, it really feels that
summer is in full swing. Here are some tips from a Chinese Medicine perspective
to keep you healthy and feeling your best this season:
- Drink plenty of room-temperature fluids. You
know that with the hot weather, you sweat more, which means you need more
fluids to keep yourself hydrated sufficiently. Many common symptoms of heat
stroke, heat sensitivity, and dehydration – such as headaches,
light-headedness, nausea, and trouble regulating body temperature – can be
prevented by ensuring you stay well-hydrated. Even though the summer is warm,
don’t turn to ice-cold beverages if you can help it. The digestive system does
not do well with ice cold foods and drinks – drink room temperature beverages
to ensure your digestion doesn’t suffer. If you are exerting yourself more than
usual – through exercise, a lot of walking outside, or more time than usual in
the sun, consider supplementing with natural sources of electrolytes, such as
coconut water. We also like nuun electrolyte tablets, which you can get at most
health food stores.
- Stay cool. Don’t overheat! In Chinese Medicine
theory, yin represents the cool, watery, passive aspects of our physiology and
the natural world. Yang represents the hot, fiery, active aspects. Summer is
the season of pure yang energy – hot, active, abundant. Take care to balance
this hot and fiery energy so as not to overheat or deplete your reserves too
much. If outside for a long day, spend time in the shade when possible, drink
plenty of fluids, and include naturally cooling (and moistening) foods in your
diet such as cucumber, mint, bamboo, sprouts, lettuce, and watermelon.
- Eat in moderation. Overconsumption of foods,
particularly greasy foods (ie, backyard BBQ food), dairy (ie, icecream), or
even the above-mentioned cooling foods can lead to indigestion or diarrhea.
(There is a whole category of herbs in Chinese Medicine that treat diarrhea due
to “Summer Heat” so this phenomenon is well known, even in ancient times.)
- Add pungent flavors to your diet. Mildly pungent
foods – such as onion, garlic, pepper, cilantro, cumin, and fennel help to
regulate sweating, which is important in the summer as it is the body’s natural
cooling mechanism. Also, the pungent flavor relates to the lungs, which can be
overtaxed during the summer months as the body’s yang energy moves to the surface,
so the pungent flavors can help keep some internal balance.
- Stretch and move! During the summer months, the
body’s energy is most at the surface, most vibrant, and most easily accessible.
Stretching and gentle exercise helps all that vital energy to circulate
effectively and nourish all your tissues.
- Live from a place of joy and vitality. The
season of the summer is related to the Heart, from a Chinese Medicine
perspective, and the emotion of the Heart is joy. The Heart, and our whole
physical and emotional system by extension, is nourished by the people, places,
and activities that bring us the most joy. 'Tis the season for exploration,
adventure, and relaxation. (Summer vacation, anyone?)
For more information about living in harmony with the
summer, check out these articles: