Having a Healthy Summer – Part 2

stream in summer

 

 

We spoke in the first article about healthy lifestyle tips for the summer. Here we’ll look into foods that help us thrive during this time of year.

 

The qualities of the summer and pitta are hot, sharp and light. In Ayurveda we heal with opposites and so for most people the best foods will be cooling, sustaining and nourishing. For people who react to the heat of the summer with high pitta symptoms like redness of skin, inflammation, ulcers, loose stools, criticism, anger or perfectionism, this diet is ideal and important for living optimally and in balance with your inherent constitution and seasonal environment.

 

We are all different so for people who have a tendency to having high vata, which is characterised by the wind; fleeting, changing thoughts, dry skin, nervous disposition, tics, anxiety, worry, constipation, bone related problems, it’s best to continue with warming, nourishing and grounding foods. For those who have a tendency to having high kapha which essentially means lots of water, symptoms being congestion, mucus, slow demeanour, excess weight, lethargy it’s best to continue with a light, stimulating, drying diet. More can be read about balancing vata in the article on Autumn and on balancing kapha in the article on Winter.

 

It can be hard to know which one we are and most of us are a mix of the doshas. Usually we are a mix of two with one predominating. If you feel you are a mix, one of which is pitta, then have a pitta pacifying diet over the summer. If the other part of your constitution is vata, it’s best you follow a pitta pacifying diet and lifestyle over summer and a vata one over autumn. Likewise for pitta-kapha folk, look after pitta in the summer and kapha over the winter. For the rest of the year it depends which dosha predominates and you look after that one. Simple. And if you have a lot of pitta then you can follow a pitta pacifying diet for most of the year.

 

 

lime mint water

 

 

Foods Principles for Balancing the Heat of Summer

 

One of the reasons we are drawn to lighter and more easily digestible foods over summer is because the fire contained within, which is responsible for a strong digestion, is more dispersed to our periphery. In winter we see how the periphery is colder and the fire more contained within, and we can quite adequately digest more wholesome meals. Here we will go over some of the guiding principles with some examples.

 

Cool over Warm

This is a great time of year to enjoy the sweet fruits as well as salads and vegetables. If you have a strong digestive fire eating more raw vegetables is beneficial at this time of year but in general it is good to mix with cooked, sustaining foods which we will discuss.

 

Sustaining over Light

Though salads are a great source of good food in hot weather, to balance the light quality of summer, stabilising and sustaining sources of energy and nourishment are good. The light quality lifts and spreads the heat within, for example lifting it to the surface of the skin, or helping it rise in a volatile outburst. We are also usually up to much more in the summer and the sustaining foods such as grains, light dairy, cooked vegetables will give us the energy to do all these things as well as not burn out at the end of the season.

 

Mild over Sharp

Intense, sharp and penetrating qualities heat the body. They are found in foods like chilli, vinegar, pineapple, sour cheeses and certain fruits. Instead favour mild, gentle, pacifying qualities like cucumber, soft cheeses, sweet fruits, some lime juice over a meal or in water.

Spices that help digestion but don’t heat the body are cumin, coriander and fennel. Also fresh ginger and turmeric can be used to a certain degree.

 

 

salad

 

 

The six tastes are one of the main starting points in ayurvedic herbalism as well as dietary health. Typically tastes we want to emphasize are sweet, bitter and astringent. These pacify heat and cool the body. The ones to avoid are sour, salty and pungent as they increase pitta.

 

Sweet

This means most fruits and most grains, squashes, root vegetables. Not M&M’s.

The sweet flavour is anabolic, and builds tissue in the body while also maintaining a cool, stable and nurturing environment. It’s also the best time of year to enjoy the sweet dairy products such as milk, butter, ghee, light cheeses and yoghurt.

 

Bitter

The bitter taste is found in green leafy vegetables, most salads, spices such as cumin, turmeric and the best news of the day, dark chocolate.

The bitter taste cleans the palette and improves the sense of taste. It cools the body, cleans the blood, and clears the mind when used in moderation.

 

Astringent

This is the drying taste – like a strong cup of black tea in the mouth, it draws in and tones tissues.

It is exemplified in most beans, grains like millet, corn and oats, apples, cranberries, broccoli, cauliflower, coriander, fennel, turmeric.

Sour, salty and pungent (spicy) tastes heat the body and mind. They are best avoided over the summer to keep pitta in balance. Pungent means most spices other than the ones mentioned above. Sour means sour fruits, strongly fermented foods, aged cheese. With regard to salt, less salt is better over summer and rock salt over sea salt for it has less pitta provoking tendencies.

 

Jasmine-Meaning

 

Some may have heard the term ‘hangry’ – this is usually when a pitta person hasn’t eaten and just needs to eat before they can have a normal conversation. It is the high fire within a pitta person. As such it is good to eat regularly. Over time this helps to balance an overactive digestive fire. Likewise, we are all aware of the importance of eating in a peaceful manner and with attention on our food, and most of all to enjoy ourselves!

 

For those wishing to have a little cleanse, mono-dieting on a mung bean soup is very beneficial for it gives a chance for our system to cleanse while also nourishing. This helps rejuvenate our bodies and mind.

 

 

Foods that balance pitta

 

Fruits

Favour- Sweet fruit, Apples (sweet), Berries (sweet), Cherries (sweet), Dates, Figs, Grapes (purple)*, Limes, Melons, Oranges (sweet), Pears, Pineapple (sweet), Plums (sweet), Prunes, Raisins

Avoid- Sour fruit, Apples (sour), Bananas, Berries (sour), Cherries (sour), Grapefruit, Grapes (green), Lemons, Oranges (sour), Peaches, Pineapple (sour), Plums (sour)

 

 

Vegetables

Favour- In general, most sweet & bitter vegetables, Asparagus, Beets (cooked)*, Broccoli, Cabbage, Carrots (cooked)*, Cauliflower, Celery, Courgettes, Cucumber, Green beans, Leafy greens, Mushrooms, Onions (cooked)*, Peas, Peppers (green), Potato, Sprouts, Sweet potato, Squashes

Avoid- In general most pungent vegetables, Beets (raw), Fresh corn**, Aubergine**, Mustard greens, Onions (raw), Peppers (hot), Spinach (raw); (cooked)**, Tomatoes

 

 

Grains

Favour- Amaranth, Barley, Bran, Granola, Quinoa, Oats (cooked), Rice (basmati, white, wild), Rice cakes, Wheat

Avoid- Bread (yeast), Buckwheat, Corn, Millet, Oats (dry), Rice (brown)**, Rye

 

 

Legumes

Favour- Black beans, Chick peas, Kidney beans, Lentil (all), Mung beans, Navy beans, Pinto beans, Soy beans, Soy milk, Soy cheese, Tempeh*, Tofu

Avoid- Miso, Soy sauce

 

 

Dairy

Favour- Butter (unsalted), Cheese (soft, not aged, unsalted), Cow’s milk, Ghee, Goat’s milk, Ice cream*, Yogurt (freshly made & diluted)*

Avoid- Butter (salted), Buttermilk, Cheese (hard), Sour cream, Yogurt (plain, w/ fruit or frozen)

 

 

Meat

Favour- Chicken (white), Eggs (white), Fish (freshwater), Rabbit, Shrimp*, Turkey (white), Venison.

Avoid- Beef, Chicken (dark), Eggs (yolk), Fish (sea), Lamb, Mutton, Pork, Turkey (dark)

 

 

Condiments

Favour- Black pepper*, Chutney (sweet mango), Lime*, Rock salt*, Seaweed*

Avoid- Chilli peppers, Chocolate, Mustard, Mayonnaise, Pickles, Sea Salt, Vinegar

 

 

Nuts

Favour- Almonds (soaked & peeled), Coconut, Flax, Psyllium, Pumpkin*, Sunflower

Avoid- All nuts except for those in the ‘Favour’ column, Sesame, Tahini

 

 

Oils

Favour- Internal & External Use: Ghee, Sunflower, Canola, Olive, Coconut

Avoid- Almond, Apricot, Corn, Safflower, Sesame

 

 

Beverages

Favour- Alcohol (beer; dry white wine)*, Almond milk, Apple juice, Carob, Grain ‘coffee’, Grape juice, Orange juice*, Pomegranate, Prune juice, Rice milk, Soy milk

Herb Teas- Chamomile, Dandelion, Fennel, Licorice, Mint, Red Clover

Avoid- Alcohol (hard; red wine), Caffeinated beverages, Chocolate milk, Cranberry juice, Grapefruit juice, Icy cold drinks, Iced tea, Lemonade, Pineapple juice, Tomato juice

Herb Teas- Cinnamon**, Ginseng, Rosehips**, Yerba Maté

 

 

Spices

Favour- Black Pepper*, Cinnamon, Coriander, Cumin, Fennel, Ginger (fresh), Saffron, Turmeric, Vanilla*

Avoid- Asafoetida (Hing), Bay leaf, Cayenne, Cloves, Garlic, Ginger (dry), Mustard seed, Nutmeg, Oregano

 

 

Sweeteners

Favour- Barley malt, Honey*, Maple syrup, Rice syrup, Natural sugar

Avoid- Molasses, White sugar**

 

 

* OK in moderation

** OK occasionally

 

The guidelines provided in this table are general. Specific adjustments for individual requirements may need to be made, e.g., food allergies, strength of agni, season of year, and degree of dosha predominance or aggravation.

 

 

Next article we’ll look at some specific herbs to fine tune our health over summer. Enjoy!

 

 

good times