Staying in balance and keeping your cool!
We know that one of the key principle to living well is to stay in balance. So when things heat up outside, one key to better health is to find ways to cool down internally – mentally, emotionally and physically. This affects everything we do including what we eat, when we exercise, and how we relax.
Christmas in Australia is typically hot, hot, hot! We wanted to share with you a few tips on how to bring more ‘cool’ to your health during this time and hopefully better balance.
Avoid heating foods - When the body is already hot the last thing you need is to further stoke the furnace with spicy foods. Go easy on the obvious heating foods such as curries, chillies, hot peppers and salsas. Sour foods like yogurt, cheese, sour cream and fermented foods like kimchi and kefir all add too much heat in the summer season. Avoid the excessively salty foods that leave you dehydrated and aggravate the skin. Small amounts of ginger, black pepper and cumin are ok but say no to cayenne. Alcohol also has a heating effect on the body.
Avoid or limit these heating foods:
- Spicy foods
- Red meat
- Yogurt or cheese
- Fermented foods (ie. pickles, sauerkraut, soy)
Favour foods that cool you down - Nature’s super cooling foods are harvested at the end of summer to move the maximum heat out of the body. Apples, pomegranates and watermelons which, if you eat enough of them, will encourage looser stools and/or frequent urination – stimulating the body’s heat-removing channels. As summer moves along, nature is producing an abundance of naturally cooling, blood, skin and liver cleansing and supportive foods with all its fruits and veggies.
So don’t just wait until the end of summer to eat seasonally!
Our top summer cooling foods include:
Summer superfood #1: WATERMELON - Summer-harvested watermelon is 92% water and extremely cooling by nature. It helps to remove heat due to its sweet taste, ability to hydrate and its mild diuretic properties. Watermelon is an exceptionally high source of citrulline, which the body uses to make another amino acid, Arginine. Arginine is very popular today as a supplemental precursor to Human Growth Hormone (HGH) and Nitric Oxide, whose discovery won the Nobel Prize as the body’s own “panacea”.
Arginine has also been found to support:
- Blood pressure
- Blood sugar
Summer superfood #2: APPLES - Apples are natural heat-removing purgatives. They are harvested in abundance at the end of the summer.
Apples Balance Blood Sugar: While apples are thought to be problematic for those with blood sugar issues, it’s been shown that apples have numerous phyto-nutrients that support healthy blood sugar. Here are the benefits found significantly in fresh whole apples.
- Quercitin in apples may slow the breakdown of carbs into simple sugars in the gut, thus supporting blood sugar.
- Polyphenols in apples may lower the rate of glucose absorption, decreasing blood sugar spikes.
- Apples support the pancreas to produce more insulin to help support blood sugar.
Summer superfood #3: POMEGRANATES - Pomegranates are used as an anti-heating agent for the blood and lymph. In one study, pomegranates showed that their antioxidant properties may far exceed those of blueberries, grapes, red wine, vitamin C, vitamin E and others (1).
Like apples, pomegranates may also help blood sugar levels and support the cardiovascular system from blood sugar related damage (1).
Avoid ice cold drinks with your meal - Surprised? While we need to keep cool, it is even more important to keep your digestion strong. When you drink iced-water with lunch, you are effectively putting out the flames of your digestive fire. So skip the ice and go for room temperature instead. The body will assimilate the hydration much faster and you will feel rehydrated more quickly.
Eat at the right time - An important part of balancing heat in the body and keeping cool is to eat your main meal in the middle of the day when your digestive fire is strongest. Skipping meals is also a sure fire way to upset balance – notice how cranky you feel when you miss lunch.
Exercise for cool - If you are exercising, do it at the time of the day when nature is at its most cool – for example in the early morning and the early evening. Running in the middle of the day when the sun is at its strongest is going to aggravate heat in the body. Light exercise is best such as yoga, tai chi, walking and best of all, swimming in our beautiful oceans and pools.
Make time to play - Balance the intensity of the heat with less intensity in your work. Ease back and make some time for fun.
Turn down the temperature of the mind - As is the mind, so is the body. The most powerful way to settle down the mind is to build in some time for meditation each day. There are many other ways to turn down the dial on a busy, frazzled mind. Listen to some beautiful music, be in nature or practice some steady breathing to soothe your soul.
So as a general guideline for summer eating:
- Eat more foods that are Sweet, Bitter, Astringent / Cold, Heavy, Oily: such as salads, steamed vegetables, fruit and coconut oil.
- Eat less foods that are Pungent (Spicy), Sour, Salty / Hot, Light, Dry: such as coffee, chips and salsa and spicy foods.
- Eat more vegetables.
- Sip cool or room temperature water with cucumber slices or drink coconut water to keep cool and hydrated.
- Drink herbal teas such as mint, hibiscus, dandelion and chicory.