Ayurveda, the ancient science of life celebrates the concept of food and its impact on our overall health. It suggests that eating in alignment with the seasons or observing ritucharya can help to rejuvenate us, detox our body, boost our overall immunity and strengthen our agni or digestive fire. The seasons we experience are characterised by three bodily metabolic types or doshas – vata (air), pitta (fire), and kapha (earth, water).
Summer is the season of the fiery pitta dosha. For all of us, especially those whose metabolic type is primarily pitta, it is important to understand how summer affects our immunity and know how we can keep our internal system cool and not allow the dosha to exasperate.
Summer: Pitta (Fire and Water) Season Prescription
Summer means long days filled with sunshine, sharp, dry intense heat that can make our digestive system weak. The perfect summer pitta prescription is aimed at promoting a diet and lifestyle that can keep the digestive system strong and the pitta dosha balanced by staying cool and increasing relaxation. Summer also has some vata characteristics, so it is important to stay well hydrated and take time to rest.
During this season, many of us will find that we crave light, small meals that are easy to digest. A good way to keep our immunity strong and in balance is to favor sweet, bitter, and astringent tastes, and enjoy cooling liquids and light food.
Favouring fresh in-season salads, fruits, light mung bean, rice kichadis along with cooling mint laced lemon and coconut water, light buttermilk, aloe vera juice, and herbal teas, such as peppermint, fennel or rose are all wonderful during this fiery pitta season.
One word of caution – when enjoying cold beverages in summer, adding ice is a complete “No”. This is because ice tends to upset the body’s natural digestive fire or agni, which can create a buildup of toxins in our system.
Other foods that can reduce the heat in the body are superfoods, such as sattu, roasted pulses, pomegranate, watermelon, fenugreek leaves, and amla.
Excess heat generating veggies and spices, such as carrots, beets, garlic, ginger, and mustard seeds are best avoided during the hotter months. It is a good idea to avoid chilies and remember to consume raw foods at lunchtime when our digestive fire is at its peak.
Some Ideal Summer Foods
- Collard Greens
- Green Beans
- Basmati rice
- Wheat chapattis
- Kidney Beans
- Black Beans
- Garbanzo Beans
- Mung Beans
- Split Peas
- Coconut Oil
- Olive Oil
- Sunflower Oil
Spices, Flavours and Herbs
- Maple Syrup
Additional Summer Health Tips
Summer time is often celebrated as the season of vibrancy and energy. Most of us may find it naturally easier to rise early in the morning and embrace this fabulous rhythm of nature.
Waking up early and taking a walk in nature with some form of soft detoxifying yoga is perfect for summers.
A nourishing body massage (abhyangha), with a pitta cooling oil like khus or jasmine laced coconut before your bath, can be a magical way to cool the body and calm down the nervous system.
Jasmine, khus and rose laced body mists are perfect spritzers to cool the body during the hotter months.
Staying out of direct sunlight during pitta time (10 a.m. to 2 p.m.) and practicing sheetali (cooling) pranayama will keep the mental and emotional energies in balance. Some form of meditation is always recommended no matter what time of the year it is.
Just because the weather is warmer does not mean those springtime colds, coughs, and allergies are over. In fact, a change in weather can mean a weakened resistance to germs. To keep the summer flu, headaches and allergies at bay, all of the above is strongly recommended. So are prebiotics and probiotics as they go hand in hand in maintaining digestive health and boosting immunity.
One practice that I swear by – Nasya is very helpful in keeping those germs away. In Ayurveda, the nose is considered the direct route to the brain and some practitioners also say it is the doorway to consciousness – the welcome in for prana, or life force energy which is carried into the whole body through our breath. Smooth healthy undisturbed and uncongested breathing is most vital to ensure the proper flow of prana throughout our body. This in turn has a vibrating effect on the health of our entire body-mind. Along with Nasya, remember to wash or sanitize your hands often especially in these trying times.
Summer Drink for Immunity
Cool Me Down Lime Mint Sikanjvi
- 1 large lime
- 2 glasses water
- 5 fresh mint leaves
- ½ teaspoon roasted cumin powder or bhoona jeera powder
- 2-3 pinches black salt or kala namak
- Maple syrup to taste
Just blend up all the above ingredients, pour and enjoy.
Picture Credit : Wesual Click on Unsplash