It has been such a nice change to have cool breezes all the way into June this summer! But I know July brings the heat – that relentless, blazing Texas heat that we know too well. Never fear! There are many effective (and delicious) ways to beat the heat, all while taking care of your body and being mindful of not only what we need this season, but how to prevent dis-ease in the next. How can we effectively and mindfully cool down this summer? Try some of these useful remedies —
by Sarah Senter, LAc, ACN
1/ Watermelon Juice
Watermelon juice has long been a remedy for dehydration and is naturally full of minerals and electrolytes. Drink 1 Cup of watermelon juice (simply drop watermelon in blender and you have a lovely watermelon juice that the body will absorb even faster than eating it whole) when feeling over-heated or under-hydrated. Combine with mint, basil, lime, or a slice of jalapeño for some fun flavors.
2/ Aloe Vera
Aloe vera is a bitter and sour herb that cools more serious heat and inflammation from the body. When you combine it with a fruit or vegetable juice like cucumber, pear, apple, or celery it’s easy to take internally and can be very useful in the hottest summer months. 1 tbsp of fresh aloe gel mixed with 1/2 C juice and a small pinch of black pepper (for balance) is a wonderful remedy for the heat. Aloe is also extremely gut healing so that’s an added bonus!
3/ Fish oil
One of my favorite supplements to amp up in the summer is fish oil. Fish oil is a lubricating, naturally anti-inflammatory substance and makes a great counterpoint to the drying heat we are exposed to in the summers. It can also help majorly with skin issues that flare up this time of year.
4/ Room temperature water
Extreme temperatures can bring extreme actions to feel balanced. When we are unbearably hot, we can easily overdo it on the ice and frozen foods to feel better in the moment, but icy coldness is always a shock to our internal digestive fire and tends to impair our metabolic function over time. Remember, room temperature water is still your best way to stay hydrated and cool this season, and lots of it. It’s normal to crave the ice water and iced coffee as temperatures rise, but keep in mind this advice – don’t freeze your digestive fire more than necessary with iced drinks and frozen foods. Your body will be able to utilize and transform water best if your digestion is working optimally! Our digestion is also at the root of our immunity, and will be a major player in how prepared we are for cold and flu season in the coming fall, so taking care of it now is essential. Chinese medicine advocates the use of water in all forms during summer to stay nourished and cool – so drink more, swim more, bathe more, & steam your foods more!
5/ Cut down on hot-natured foods & herbs
Hot natured foods like cinnamon, coffee, alcohol, red meat, smoked meats, and fried foods are not going to be your best friends during a hot summer. Keep this in mind and if you find yourself feeling hot and bothered this season – consider cutting back or eliminating these groups from your daily routine for awhile. Imbalanced heat signs could be redness, joint swelling, inflammation, anger and irritability, thirst, dry skin or lips, fatigue, dehydration, acne, constipation or headaches.
6/ Add in more cool-natured foods & herbs
There are two types of cooling herbs we want to focus on in the summer to moderately cool the body – refreshing cool foods (like lettuces, garden herbs like cilantro, dill, parsley, mint; cucumber, radish, apple, watermelon, cabbage, coconut, fennel, seaweeds, lemon, lime, green tea…) cool more superficial heat and can be consumed often, and refrigerant coolfoods and herbs (elderflower, hibiscus, aloe, dandelion, lemon balm, rose hips, are some examples) cool heat on the tissue level and can be consumed in moderation as needed. These foods will help cool you down and keep you going this summer.
7/ Moisturize your skin
Your skin is considered your “outer lung” in Chinese medicine, with our pores as the “doors of Qi” breathing and exchanging substances with the external environment. The skin’s healthy functioning is seen as an aspect of respiratory function. Our lungs, as well as our skin, hate to be dry – and during the summer we can easily dry out if out in the sun for too long. Take care of your largest organ by moisturizing daily with body oil or lotion and avoiding sunburn. Hydrating your “outer lung” in this way can protect the body against being susceptible to illness down the line.
Photography by Heather Gallagher