Many people eagerly await the arrival of summer for the hot temps, vacations and fun social activities. According to Chinese Medicine, each season will have its attributes and challenges. Summer is about expansion, growth, activity, and creativity, moving outwards in nature and in our lives. Here in Colorado, the challenges of summer are heat and dryness. Heat and dryness strain our constitutions by diverting energy to stay cool and moist. Sluggish energy, irritability, a lack of focus, insomnia, constant thirst, rapid pulses, excessive sweating, and even heat stroke can result from too much heat. Dryness negatively affects skin, sinuses, throats, lungs, and metabolism. By putting a strain on our system, it makes us more prone to infections, breathing issues, and low energy.
Here are some Dietary, Lifestyle, Exercise, and Herbal recommendations from Chinese medicine that can make your summer healthier and more enjoyable.
In the summer a lighter diet feels better, and it’s the perfect time for cool, Yin foods. Chinese medicine classifies food according to energetic qualities of temperature, taste, and its ability to strengthen the body. Food with cool/cold properties can clear heat, reduce toxins, and generate body fluids. Cooling foods tend towards green: lettuce, cucumbers, and watercress are some of the coolest. Fish and seafood are cooling, while most meats and dairy are warming. Fresh fruits and vegetables from local farmer’s markets are good choices, while fatty foods, alcohol, or caffeine are heating to the system. Avoid fried foods. Drink lots of clean, pure water! Some cooling veggies, fruits and spices are: watermelon, apricot, cantaloupe, lemon, peach, orange, asparagus, sprouts, bamboo, hot peppers, bok choy, cabbage, corn, cucumber, mushrooms, snow peas, spinach, summer squash, seaweed, mung beans, cilantro, mints, and dill.
Exercise – Being the most active time of the year, vigorous movement is encouraged. It feels natural to want to do more, however, make sure to balance out that intense exercise with more restorative routines such as yoga and Tai Chi. This ensures that one doesn’t over-train and injury the body. Also, consider training in the morning or early evening to avoid the midday heat. Water with electrolytes with help keep you hydrated and replenish necessary minerals lost during perspiration.
The key here is to avoid overheating the body by limiting sun exposure. A little sun goes a long way, so opt for covering up and natural sunscreen if you plan on being directly in the sun. Time is relative to tolerance, so each person must determine what is a healthy exposure. Certainly red and burnt skin is not desirable, but then again Vit. D is created by the sun’s interaction with the skin. At this elevation, exposing the skin of the face, arms, and shoulders to 25 mins of the sun should be plenty of time.
There are many herbs that have a cooling effect on the body. Mints, lavender, chrysanthemum, lemon balm, and yarrow are helpful. They can be incorporated into meals such as salads and soups. Try cool mint tea with chrysanthemum or slices of cucumber in your water for delicious ways to beat the heat.
Remember that as the expansive season, Summer encourages you to get active on your projects. It is the season of doing and so it feels right to be fully engaged in our lives. Chinese medicine can support your health and lifestyle, improving quality of life.
Hopefully, these recommendations help make your summer healthier. If you find that isn’t the case, give us a call and we will get you in for an appointment and make it so!
Look for these ingredients
Warning! – These are some of the ingredients that are found in commercial sunscreens. Fort this reason, I recommend natural versions that use zinc oxide and titanium dioxide as the main ingredient. Remember what you put on your skin can be absorbed into the body, so use food-grade skin products when possible.