The Summer season is associated with the Fire Element and Heart/Small Intestine meridian system, including the Pericardium, and the Triple Burner/San Jiao. These organs govern warmth, connection, joy, passion and purpose and through embodying ancient Taoist principles, we can bring balance to the Fire Element within us, calming the mind and nourishing the Spirit - the Shen.
With the intention of creating harmony in the Heart/Small Intestine, eating habits are focused on foods that calm and pacify these systems. As we move from the cleansing energy of Spring to the expansive Yang of Summer, consuming a diet that protects the body’s yin and Fluids, supports digestion, calms the mind and promotes general wellness is key.
*We want to emphasise the importance of gently transitioning through the seasons, so these recommendations can be slowly integrated into your daily routine, whilst still focusing on grounding, nourishing and easily digestible meals that keep you feeling healthy and resilient as the weather continues to shift during early Summer.
Eating cooling, moist, Yin foods
Chinese medicine classifies food according to its energetic qualities of temperature, taste, and ability to moisten and strengthen. Food with cool and cold properties can clear Heat and generate body Fluids that moisten and nourish the body. The heat of Summer can impact the body Fluids, directly affecting Yin, therefore it is recommended to incorporate cooling and moistening Yin foods that help to disperse Heat and build body Fluids. In general, cooling foods include lettuce, cucumbers, watercress, spinach, mint, dill, and cilantro. Seafood, tomatoes and barley are also considered cooling. Heavy foods on hot days can also cause sluggishness, so focusing on light, regular meals and eating your largest meal at lunch also supports digestion.
During Winter we focus on slow cooking, however, as we transition through Spring and throughout Summer, we look to change up our cooking methods by using higher cooking temperatures and shorter cooking times, which ensures that foods are not as thoroughly cooked. Through the Chinese medicine lens, too much raw food (combined with Summer heat) can be damaging to the Spleen and Stomach. Coldness causes contraction; holding in sweat and Heat, so although an iced cold drink or dessert such as ice cream can feel appropriate, when consumed in excess can impact digestion. So whilst it is great to begin incorporating more fresh foods into your diet as the weather warms up, shifting your cooking methods is another great way to ensure you are not putting too much strain on your digestive fire and these incredibly important organ systems.
When cooking with water, light boiling or steaming is recommended, and if cooking with oil, it is advised to use a quick high-temperature sauté method.
Staying hydrated all of the time, especially during Summer is a commonly known priority, but of course, is always worth reiterating. Excess Fire and Heat can dry up body Fluids, so staying hydrated and consuming cooling fluids can help to disperse the Heat and build Fluid. If you are someone that struggles to drink enough water, add lemon or cucumber slices with mint to add flavour or drink herbal teas including green or Chrysanthemum tea.
Eating bitter and pungent foods
In Chinese medicine theory, the five flavours each have their own characteristics and functions for health and correlate with specific organ systems. Integrating more bitter foods into your diet can have a harmonising and supportive effect on the Heart and Small Intestine. Eat in moderation of course, as bitter foods when eaten in excess can *affect Yin Fluids within the body and can often be cool in nature. Bitter foods can include rocket) dandelion (root and greens), radish, quinoa, citrus peel and asparagus.
- Chinese cabbage
- Snow peas
- Mung beans
- Adzuki beans
- Green Tea