Summer is on its way, and in New England that means heat waves and humidity!
During the summer months, we naturally find our body craving more cooling foods which can help reduce sensations of heat in the body as well as sweat. You might find yourself craving watermelon, reaching for iced tea, and even sense some aversion to heavy/greasy foods. Have you ever wondered why that is? I’m going to explain how the foods we eat as well as the spices and herbs we consume can help or hinder our ability to stay cool this summer from an acupuncture and Chinese medicine stand point.
In the summer time there are two very prevalent environmental factors at play, which are referred to as Heat and Dampness in Chinese medical terms.
Heat is experienced as the temperature of our environment (outdoors, or any other area which surrounds us) as well as the temperature of the foods/herbs/spices that we consume.
Dampness on the other hand can be perceived as the sweat that the heat can induce. The element of dampness can create lethargy, lassitude, and fatigue. Foods like thick yogurts, fried foods, and excess consumption of dairy products can add to the dampness in the body and elevate its symptoms.
If you have ever spent a day outside in the heat sweating your butt off, craving watermelon and avoiding fried dough (or other Damp inducing foods) then you have experienced first hand the effects of Summer-Heat and Dampness.
Can the foods I eat throughout the summer really reduce the amount of heat my body perceives, and the amount of sweat I produce? The answer is YES - and I am going to provide you with a few simple tips and tricks to keep you dry and energetic this summer!
As you may know, Chinese medicine is all about balance - so if there is excess Heat in the summer, our first goal is to balance the Heat with some coolness. Here are a few foods that you may want in your refrigerator as the weather heats up.
Watermelon (Xi Gua): One of the most cooling herb in Chinese medicine. Considered sweet and cold (associated with the Spleen and Stomach). Can also be effective in treatment of UTI’s and high blood pressure (consult your herbalist to determine the best dosage for your pathology). Excess consumption of watermelon should be avoided by those with excessive urination as it is a natural diuretic.
Mung Bean (Lu Dou) : Traditional Soy food consumed widely by the Chinese and Japanese. Is consumed as a soup regularly in the summer months within China and Japan to reduce Summer-heat and Dampness. (See below for recipe).
Mint (Bo He): Cooling in nature and corresponds to the Liver and Spleen organs. Additionally helpful for reducing stress and menstrual cramping.(Consult your herbalist to determine the best dosage for your pathology)
Sweet Mung Bean Soup Recipe courtesy of EatingChina.com
Sweet Mung Bean Soup 綠豆湯 (lǜdòu tāng) A refreshing summer snack or dessert. It is very easy to make.