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Embracing the Real Summer: Tips for Nourishing Your Body in the Heat

Updated: Oct 11, 2023

Introduction As the scorching sunrays grow stronger during the summer (Grishma) season (mid-April to mid-June in India), the pleasantness of spring fades away, replaced by an intense heat throughout the day that drains the body's energy. It's important to understand how the body reacts to this season and make informed dietary and lifestyle choices to stay healthy and vibrant. In this article, we will explore the impact of the summer season on our bodies and discuss practical tips to navigate this time effectively. Understanding the Summer Season:

  1. Rising Heat and Depleting Energy: The increasing warmth of the afternoons and the hot winds that flow in the surroundings during summer can leave us feeling dry, tired and fatigued. The body's energy levels are at their lowest during this time.

  2. Transition from Kapha to Vata: As the heat evaporates body water, the melted Kapha from the spring season starts to dry up, which leads to excessive thirst and diminished hunger. Consequently, the body experiences a shift, with Vata accumulating in preparation for the next season. It does not show major symptoms right away.

Dietary Considerations for Summer: Excess heat and thirst during the summer season can reduce hunger and Kapha, while also initiating the accumulation of Vata. To counterbalance these effects, it is advisable to consume lighter, warm (not excessively hot), oily, and sweet-tasting foods. Sour, salty, and pungent tastes tend to increase heat in the body, while bitter and astringent tastes exacerbate Vata. Therefore, it is recommended to focus primarily on enjoying sweet flavors during the summer. However, it is important to note that sweet foods should be lighter in nature and not heavy. This ensures that the weakened digestive fire can efficiently process them. Lets look at each component in some detail.

  1. Cereals: Opt for lighter, cooler, and sweeter cereals like rice. Avoid heavy rice preparations such as frying with oils, ghee or cheese. A preferable choice would be to include plain rice paired with dal (a soup made from pulses), milk, curd, ghee, or buttermilk in your summer diet. Indian millet bread made from sorghum or rice flour bread are also good options. Consuming wheat may feel slightly heavy during the summer season. Opting for phulka, a type of bread made from wheat (as explained earlier in the spring section), would be a better choice. In European contexts, whole wheat bread or plain lighter rice are suitable choices.

  2. Pulses: While pulses tend to increase Vata and dryness, moderate consumption of moong (mung beans) is less troublesome during summer.

  3. Vegetables: Give preference to sweet-tasting vegetables such as ladies finger and various gourds, while avoiding pungent, sour, bitter, and astringent vegetables.

  4. Milk and Milk Products: Use milk, butter, clarified butter (ghee), and buttermilk in moderate quantities as they cool and lubricate the body, which is essential during the summer. Make sure that you are consuming them at room temperature or only a few degrees cooler. Any kind of chilled food should be avoided. Exercise caution with curd or yogurt, as they are naturally warm in nature (they only seem cold as they are refrigerated). Cheese feels heavier and more challenging to digest compared to the aforementioned items. Sweet treats made from milk should also be avoided.

  5. Oily Products: Clarified butter (ghee) acts as an excellent lubricating and cooling food product for summer. You can use it for cooking as well. Moderation is key when using oils like sesame, mustard, sunflower, or safflower, as they can increase heat in the body. Insufficient lubrication with ghee, creams, and butter during the summer can result in excessive thirst, leading to reduced hunger and potential Kapha imbalances. Therefore, if someone is not utilizing the recommended lubricants during this season, it is advisable to give them a try and assess their level of thirst.

  6. Spices: Reduce the consumption of hot spices during summer, but incorporate spices that have a cooling effect on the body, like coriander, fennel and cardamom.

  7. Water: While water is crucial during the summer, however excessive intake can lead to indigestion and Kapha-related issues. So, avoid drinking excessive fluids without the body's demand. Water can be made cooler and more effective through various treatments, such as storing it in an earthen vessel or mixing herbal powders like khus, rose, sandalwood, or camphor, so the body requires less quantity to satisfy its thirst. Coconut water is also excellent at quenching the summer thirst.

  8. Fruits: Summer is the ideal time to indulge in juicy, watery, and sweet fruits such as mango, watermelon, and sugarcane. You can eat them as is or juice them. In today's world, we have the ability to access a wide variety of fruits throughout the year, thanks to the marvels of science. However, it's important to note that our bodies may not readily accept these fruits when consumed out of season. If you were to eat these watery fruits during winter, for example, your body may react and manifest discomfort. It's worth experiencing this firsthand to understand the impact of consuming fruits that are not in sync with the natural season. Avoid consuming chilled fruits as it can invite Kapha diseases. Sour fruits should be avoided during summer.

  9. Wines: Alcoholic beverages are inherently hot in nature due to their fire element and are not suitable for the summer season.

Creating a Summer Routine:

  1. Keep activity level Low: Summer is a time for rest and lighter activities. Minimize unnecessary work and travel, reserving them for other seasons. As it is easy to be exhausted without doing much work.

  2. Minimal Exercise: Reduce the intensity of exercise or consider taking a break from it al together during summer, as heavy exercise can deplete energy and cause fatigue.

  3. Cooling Baths and Natural Powders: Opt for normal temperature water baths to cool down the body. After bathing, apply powders made from sandalwood, camphor, or khus to experience a soothing effect on the body.

  4. Dress Appropriately: Wear loose cotton clothes in light shades, as they allow the body to breathe and reflect sun rays, keeping you cool. Dark-colored clothes absorb heat and should be avoided.

  5. Protecting Your "Computer": Shield yourself from direct sun exposure by wearing white-colored caps or using an umbrella to protect your brain from overheating. Traditional turbans can also provide effective sun protection. As they are multi layer cotton wraps around your head.

  6. Rest: Take advantage of the smaller nights during summer by incorporating an afternoon nap into your daily routine. This helps replenish energy levels and promotes freshness. Summer is the only season when afternoon naps are recommended. Summer nights offer a pleasant respite from the heat. It is a wonderful opportunity to experience the coolness of the open sky and revel in the gentle breeze. Sleeping under the stars allows you to fully enjoy the soothing atmosphere and find relief from the hot summer temperatures. It is a rejuvenating experience that can enhance your overall well-being during this season.

  7. House and Environment: Maintain a cool environment indoors by adopting intelligent design principles from the traditional houses made from wood, stone or brick. Embrace natural methods to cope with atmospheric changes and build natural immunity. While air conditioning is a popular solution for concrete houses that tend to retain heat. Try to minimize the temperature difference between indoors and outdoors to avoid shocking the body.

Conclusion It is important to note that no major imbalance of Doshas occurs during the summer season. Therefore, specific treatments are not necessary. However, it is crucial to take proactive measures to maintain balance and cool down the body. Occasionally applying oils with cooling properties can help alleviate the effects of heat and nourish the body. By following the guidelines and suggestions provided, you can ensure a harmonious and comfortable summer experience. Remember to embrace the natural gifts of this season, make wise dietary choices, and take care of your body to stay healthy and energized throughout the summer.

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