The element associated with summer is, not surprisingly, fire according to Traditional Chinese Medicine, and it is the season of the year that is most yang. High yang means heat, maximum activity, and expansion. The sun’s rays are reaching out to warm all that grows in Nature. This is also true of relationships because the emotion connected to the fire element is joy and the sound is laughter. Sounds good, doesn’t it? This philosophy tells us that to live in harmony with nature, it is especially important during the summer months to be joyful and laugh.
Because summer is the hottest season, to balance the heat, you need a diet that is cooling. I have a few suggestions below.
If you’re making ice tea, try green tea. It’s a lot healthier than many other types and yet it still tastes great. Research has found green tea to be anti-carcinogenic and to help lower cholesterol. Green tea is easy to find, there are many fine brands, and it can be purchased in most grocery stores.
Eat more strawberries. These fruits are cooling in nature, making them the perfect summer food. In Chinese Medicine, they are good for dry cough and sore throat. Strawberries lubricate the lungs, promote production of body fluids, and for those regrettable evenings, detoxify alcohol intoxication. It’s best to eat strawberries (and most fruits) at room temperature. Like other foods that are rich in vitamin C, strawberries enhance the absorption of iron from foods and having enough iron is important for nourishing your blood.
Have some watermelon. This fruit was held in such regard that it was placed in the tombs of many Egyptian kings! Watermelon is considered to have many benefits in Chinese Medicine. The fruit (Xi Gua) and the seeds (Xi Gua Ren) are used for headache, nausea, irritability, low appetite, sluggish digestion and sore throat. Watermelon is also an excellent source of vitamin C and lycopene. Lycopene is an antioxidant and has been found to be protective against a growing list of cancers. Plus because of its thick skin, the exposure to those nasty pesticides is much lower than that of many other fruits and vegetables.
Other examples of cooling foods include; asparagus, sprouts, corn, cucumber, spinach, and mint. Summer is not the time to overdo spicy foods, alcohol, or caffeine because all of these foods heat you up rather than cool you down.
Jennifer Dubowsky, LAc, is a licensed acupuncturist with a practice in downtown Chicago, Illinois, since 2002. Dubowsky earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Kinesiology from University of Illinois in Chicago and her Master of Science degree in Oriental Medicine from Southwest Acupuncture College in Boulder, Colorado. During her studies, she completed an internship at the Sino-Japanese Friendship Hospital in Beijing, China. Dubowsky has researched and written articles on Chinese medicine and has given talks on the topic. She maintains a popular blog about health and Chinese medicine at Acupuncture Blog Chicago. Adventures in Chinese Medicine is her first book. You can find her at www.tcm007.com.
*Image of “woman eating strawberry” via Shutterstock