Ayurvedic Diet & Digestion Made Easy
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While you're out having fun and enjoying the exuberance of June, it's important to keep your cool. With the hustle and bustle of summer activity, it's easy to overdo it. These tips for keeping balanced will help you thrive during the most playful time of year.
Resist the temptation to crank your air conditioning in response to the sweltering heat. The constant change of extreme temperatures taxes your body causing sudden, intense biological changes as your body struggles to adapt. You are meant to experience heat in summer, and cold in winter. Your body carefully calibrates and adjusts itself to each season. Part of each seasonal adjustment is a natural change in diet. Air conditioning scrambles these ancient biological programs. If you live in air conditioning, you'll crave foods that are inappropriate for your climate.
At times the heart can be a whimsical organ. June is a month of daring and courage. With all this heart heat, summer breeds increased passion, enthusiasm and joy. So, take a moment to reflect before making an impulsive decision, especially if it will have big consequences.
The weeks around summer solstice also mark the longest days of the year. It can seem like the fun never ends. Exuberance is also a heart based emotion. Sleep seems like a distant dream, and near impossible with all the excitement and hot nights. Overexertion is a sure-fire way to create a deeper, systemic exhaustion and imbalance.
Along with the heart, Pitta dosha is most likely to be provoked by the heat of summer. Anger, frustration and irritability easily creep up when Pitta overheats. Be sure to keep your thirst and hunger quenched and to avoid heated topics - especially around midday.
June purges the last bit of water from the body as the weather really heats up. While Vata's dryness leaves them especially prone to dehydration, everyone needs to be mindful of water intake and electrolyte balance. Though there's lots of heat and moisture in the air, sweat easily pours from your pores when under the scorching sun. Be sure to keep water on hand and drink when you feel thirsty. Don't suppress the urge to hydrate! Some overdo this as well, guzzling water all day long. This waterlogs the body, overworks the kidneys and weakens digestion. It makes the stomach feel heavy. Instead, be attentive to your body's thirst as soon as it arises, and drink then.
Depletion, dehydration, and an overworked liver can leave you sleepless and with a restless mind. If you find yourself tossing and turning, restore your electrolytes with a Banana Lime Cardamom Smoothie. Sweet and sour berries like blueberries can also cool the blood and liver while going easy on your digestion.
For Pitta individuals, the heat thoroughly exhausts the liver. An overworked liver may not be able to process internal toxins as well. These toxins are then released by the skin, causing rashes and acne. Keep your liver cool with bitters like aloe vera and bitter greens. Rinsing your eyes and spritzing your face with rosewater gently soothes your liver. Lying out under the moon (moonbathing) also serves to unruffle Pitta's feathers. Learn more about fostering a radiant summer complexion here.
As summer swelters, Kapha's may find themselves feeling lethargic and heavy. Kaphas would be wise to favor cooling diuretics like cumin, coriander and fennel tea, watermelon, chamomile and mint.
For Vata's, the equation is simple - moisture + heat = bliss. Summer is the favorite time of year for most Vata folks, who've been waiting all year to express their extroverted nature at summer festivals. With all the activity and stimulation, they need to be careful not to run themselves ragged. Vata is most at risk for dehydration due to heat. Vata individuals who keep themselves well hydrated and their routine tempered in summer will enjoy an excellent and flu-free autumn.
Moderate increased sun exposure, and the natural increase in blood flow during summer may actually improve complexion in summer. For others, face acne, rashes and flushed skin increase with the heat of summer. This may be due to sweat and stickiness irritating your skin. Exfoliating may help to keep your skin to feel fresh. Be sure to rinse off before bed so the day's sweat doesn't seep into your pores overnight.
Overall to beat the heat, favor sweet, bitter and astringent tastes. No one wants to cook over a hot stove this time of year and fortunately, you don't have to. Cool, fresh salads and smoothies are a go this time of year as bitter greens like dandelion, arugula, kale and chard reduce liver heat and Pitta dosha. Cilantro is a Pitta person's best friend - generously top your dishes with its coolness. Cabbage and fennel are both astringent and cooling, perfect for your salads and barbecue sides. Cucumber is juicy, light, cool and bitter - providing a perfect summer diuretic for Kapha and coolant for Pitta.
Smoothies are a sweet refreshing way to rehydrate. They make for a quick yet satisfying midday meal when it's too hot to cook. Keep your smoothies simple with five ingredients or less. Although your smoothie may be packed with superfoods, that doesn't necessarily mean you will actually be able to digest it. Digestion is actually weakest in the summer and especially around midday. At Joyful Belly we've simplified smoothie making to ensure you'll get out of it what you put in.
Sweet, sour and salty drinks refresh your parched lips and can be a heavenly balm in hot weather. Add a pinch of salt as well, a 1/2 teaspoon of sugar and a wedge of lime to your water. Then shake it up to make a homemade limeade that will replenish your electrolytes, restore your energy, and enliven your spirit when heat leaves you dragging. Coconut water is especially cooling and a great way to replenish electrolytes as well. Sipping on sweet beverages like cranberry juice or rosewater lemonade can help keep you cool and lusciously hydrated. It's a great time for sun teas with astringent herbs like hibiscus or cooling aromatics like mint.
Eat up astringents like legumes, pomegranate and raw veggies which can tone and chill tissues that are lax with the summer heat. Whatever is ripe and for sale at your farmer's market is optimal for June dining. Top your salads with light and astringent sprouts to add an enlivening crunch. Enjoy easy to digest proteins such as sweet peas, green beans, white flaky fish and quinoa.
Acid reflux is common this time of year, especially around noon when digestion is weakened by the heat. It's best averted by avoiding heavy fats and carbohydrates which overburden digestion in hot weather. These gooey foods clog up your lymph, liver and further insulate your febrile tissues. Instead, opt for small amounts of cooling fats such as coconut oil and avocado. Hepatoprotectants such as artichoke, cherries, blueberries and honeydew offer the support your liver needs in June.
Avoid pungent taste as it stimulates the heart and blood, already aggravated by the summer heat. This means that spices should be avoided, with some special exceptions like fennel seed, cardamom, and cilantro.
Avoid ferments. Food turns sour and spoils quickly in June. Bacteria ferment food quickly in the tummy as well. Pitta provoking foods like alcohol and ferments are especially aggravating and overheating in summer. June is already exuberant without the alcohol,so reserve alcohol for winter months instead.
Sour taste, with the exception of ferments, can help keep you cool in summer. A wedge of lemon or lime in a glass of water opens pores and dilates capillary beds in the skin, helping you release heat and keep cool.
Amalaki's sour taste makes it perfectly refreshing as an herbal "lemonade." Meanwhile it has an even higher concentration of antioxidants than blueberries. Famous as a rejuvenating and revitalizing herb, Amalaki also detoxifies, balances Pitta and reduces inflammation of the GI tract. Use it generously in June!
With the heat, your body will naturally crave cooling and soothing herbs. Aloe seems to fit perfectly for June, as it cools and soothes irritated tissues. Keep it on hand for sunburn, or take internally if you're feeling overheated! While aloe cleanses, cooling tonics like shatavari and vidari nourish and restore fluids. Astringent arjuna supports proper function of the heart which pumps extra hard in hot weather, while its astringency help keep your skin toned.
Neem is the most cold of all herbs, alongside cilantro. It's intensely bitter and suited for Kapha individuals who feel angry or irritated in hot weather. Also use neem to purify your blood while protecting you from fungal and parasite infections common during summertime months. Bitter ghee (Tikta grhta) is a classic Pitta Kapha pacifying formula useful during the dog days of summer. Finally, Liver nourish and support is more supportive and nurturing for Vata individuals with an overheated liver. It gently cleanses the liver while strengthening and nourishing it.
Cooling digestives are so important when the cause of weak digestion is heat and high Pitta. Most digestives are hot, and can't be used in summertime. Avipattikar churna and guduchi are both ideal ways to boost a weak digestive fire while helping you keeping your cool. Musta also promotes healthy digestion while it supports regular, comfortable menstruation as well.
Serenity acid reflux tea includes soothing coolant and digestive herbs traditionally used for acid reflux. It is anti-inflammatory and helps move food downward to relieve summertime indigestion. Soothe inflamed intestines tea reduces burning sensations and inflammation commonly experienced in June's heat.
About the AuthorJohn Immel, the founder of Joyful Belly, teaches people how to have a healthy diet and lifestyle with Ayurveda. His approach to Ayurveda exudes a certain ease, which many find enjoyable and insightful. His online course Balance Your Ayurvedic Diet in a Week provides tools for gracefully healing with Ayurveda to thousands. John also directs Joyful Belly's School of Ayurveda , which specializes in digestive tract pathology & Ayurvedic nutrition. John and his wife Natalie recently published Explore Your Hunger: A Guide to Hunger, Appetite & Food.
John's interest in Ayurveda and digestive tract pathology was inspired by a complex digestive disorder acquired from years of international travel, including his public service work in South Asia. John's commitment to the detailed study of digestive disorders reflects his zeal to get down to the roots of the problem. His hope and belief in the capacity of each & every client to improve their quality of life is nothing short of a personal passion. John's creativity in the kitchen and delight in cooking for others comes from his family oriented upbringing. In addition to his certification in Ayurveda, John holds a bachelor's degree in mathematics from Harvard University.
John enjoys sharing Ayurveda within the context of his Catholic roots, and finds Ayurveda gives him an opportunity to participate in the healing mission of the Church. Jesus expressed God's love by feeding and healing the sick. That kindness is the fundamental ministry of Ayurveda as well.