So here we are in summer, which means we have changed into another season, weather and activities. Summer is the time of year when the temperature outside begins to reach its maximum and with the nice weather comes the opportunity to get outside and get more active.
It seems like all of a sudden the hibernating masses get full on into sports, hikes, camping, and the like and all the outside quietness of winter that was present for so many months has given way to a flood of outdoor go-getters.
This seasonal change doesn’t come without its challenges, especially with how and what to eat with the change.
The problem with most diets that are out there is that they are kind of dogmatic about their way being the best way to eat. Yet have you ever noticed how many different diets there are out there? How can they possibly ALL be right?!
Perhaps the best answer is that they can’t and that may be a seasonal approach to eating might be a better choice for most people. Unfortunately, seasonal eating takes a bit more effort than just eating what you always eat, no matter the time of year, because it is easiest, safe and most convenient, but by choosing that model you may be doing yourself a big disservice.
From a TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine) perspective, summer is considered the most Yang season. Yang, for those who don’t know, can be looked at as the hottest and most active energies that move through our bodies. This compared to its complement, Yin, which are the softer, cooler more chill energies that we experience.
From a 30,000 ft. perspective, you could say that all our organs, cells, biology and even emotions have Yin & Yang components to them.
Getting back to summer and the TCM perspective, the Yang energy of summer is broken further down into two parts, early summer and late summer.
Early summer is looked at as heart season, with late summer being looked at as spleen and stomach — this blog will focus on early summer and taking care to support matters of the heart, both physically and emotionally.
Here are a few things you can do to optimize your wellbeing in the time of early summer.
TAKE CARE OF MATTERS OF THE HEART
There has been an ever-increasing amount of studies researching the effects of our emotions on our biology and it would be surprising to think there is anyone out there in the world who doesn’t deep down know the importance for taking care of matters of the heart.
Early summer turns out to be the time when our physical bodies best support our decisions to take care of unresolved emotional matters of the heart. By making the decision to forgive something unresolved that happened to you and ‘burying the hatchet’ of old pent up grudges, you can best align yourself to optimize the health and wellbeing that is available.
Going back to Yin/Yang, just imagine how lighter you would feel if you just decided to finally put down the (emotional) weapons or baggage you have been hauling around that take your energy and heat you up.
Maybe this summer there is an opportunity to lay those weapons down and enjoy a nice cooling breeze next to a babbling brook, both literally and metaphorically.
LESS STARCH MORE FRUITS & VEGGIES
Believe it or not, it turns out our bodies can digest and derive nutrition from starches WAY better in the winter than in the summer. This is due to our bodies knowing the importance of seasonal eating any many thousands/millions of years of evolution telling our DNA to act differently in different seasons as different foods become available.
In winter, our bodies demonstrate an increase in the amount of an enzyme named amylase, which helps us digest difficult-to-digest starches. In spring, amylase production recedes as fruits and veggies become available in ever-increasing amounts.
Focus instead on eating fruits and veggies that you would imagine as being cooling to the body, thus supporting the Yin effects that offset the summer tendency to go Yang. Make smoothies, eat more berries, cucumbers and melons*. Our research shows watermelon to be the top choice from a TCM perspective when it comes to cooling our Yang systems down.
EAT MORE RAW FOODS
Summer is not the time to be consuming soups and stews, it is the time for salads and smoothies…
WARNING: This is NOT recommended if you have pre-existing digestive issues. If that pertains to you, be sure to seek out the proper professional help to help your digestive system return to health.
Ever notice our almost involuntary and unconscious attraction to bodies of water in the summertime? It turns out that this is no coincidence as water is essential for the cooling Yin aspects of ourselves to offset any overly Yang system.
But going and playing in the water, as fun as it is, is only part of it, you must consume water as it will not only help cool you down but also help clear out the metabolic residues from the hot Yang processes happening in the body.
SUPPORT WITH SUPPLEMENTS
Some amazing supplements you can take to support the needed cooling aspects of Yin energy are Schisandra and Reishi.
In short, Schisandra has powerful anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant properties (cooling and clearing), especially with the skin… (hint, hint, sun exposure and acne prevention). Reishi is balancing to the brain and has a tremendous calming effect on our emotions.
Do an internet search to learn more about these amazing summer supplements and be sure to read the last bonus tip.
Eat ALL melons on their own. Melons are chocked full of water and simple sugars and this is exactly why you don’t want to combine them with other foods high in protein. When you eat a melon those simple whole sugars are going to be utilized by the body quickly and easily.
When you combine a melon with more complex-to-digest foods what happens is those simple sugars don’t get the opportunity to be hit full force with the digestive fluids and they then ferment with the other digestive processes often causing gas and bloating. If you are someone that suffers from gas and bloating take advantage of melons nutrients on their own or in a fruit salad, but not mixed with high fat or protein.