Ayurveda is the holistic health science that believes in eating seasonally and following the seasonal routine also known Ritucharya. In this article let’s discover how to keep cool this summer, balance our doshas and tips for following the Summer Seasonal routine.
Dosha Imbalance in summer: Charak has beautifully described the change in dosha balance and the reason behind it. Summer is part of the Uttarayan where the earth begins its northern run. During this time the sun’s rays heat up everything around us. The sun’s ray’s decrease humidity in air and reduces the water element on earth, plants and living things. As a result the wind element becomes prominent, increasing the dryness and absorbing moisture in and around us. This heat also has an effect on our body and dosha balance. As the sun’s rays become more prominent and as the season progresses, Kapha dosha decreases, resulting in increase in Vata Dosha. This also causes increase of Katu (pungent), Tikta (bitter) and Kashaya (astringent) rasa in our bodies, thus weakening our bodies in terms of strength and immunity. Summer is the time when the Air element and Fire element dominate in nature. Due to the prominence of these elements in summer the pitta dosha starts getting aggravated. This is the time to pacify pitta.
Summer Ayurvedic Diet:During summer since there is decrease in moisture in nature, hence a pitta pacifying diet is recommended. Ayurveda recommends to consume foods that are madhura (sweet) in rasa and cool in potency and less of amala (sour), lavana (salty) and katu (pungent) tastes. It is beneficial to the body to consume foods that are Drava (liquid) or have prominence of water element, unctuous, Ghee, milk and water mixed with natural sugar. Ayurvedic texts especially mention preparation and drinking of an Ayurvedic drink called ‘Mantha’ prepared by mashing together fruits, water and sugar and kept in an earthen pot to cool. This drink is supposed to be very refreshing, cooling, nourishing and quenches’ thirst. Coconut water is another refreshing and cooling drink to have.
Sweet and juicy fruits such as watermelon, grapes, honeydew melon, cantaloupe and pears are a great choices to satisfy the sweet tooth and are cooling in nature. Vegetables such as cucumber, zucchini, summer squash and yellow squash and grains such as rice are excellent summer food choices, these are both cool, light and easy to digest. Cooking with cooling spices such as fennel, coriander, mint, anise and cardamom are great way to add flavor to food without imbalancing pitta. Ayurveda also believes in eating what’s available in the season. So visit your nearest farmers market and pick up fruits and vegetables that are available in the season. Gulkand a jam made from rose petals is great to eat by itself or have it as a condiment with your meals.
It is best to consume less or avoid food that are sour, spicy or pungent during summer. One should consume less or avoid foods that are hot in potency, vegetables such as onions, tomatoes, radishes and spices such as chilies, black pepper and garlic. Ayurvedic texts recommend to drink water or fruit juices at room temperature. Drinking too many of ice cold water or drinks can cause digestion issues and slow down one’s Agni (digestive fire). Alcoholic drinks and wines also should be consumed less due to their hot potency and sour taste.
Yogurt should be consumed less or avoided especially in the evening as it is a food that is heavy and difficult to digest as per Ayurvedic texts. Agni is not very strong in summer so it is better to eat foods that are light and easy to digest such as khichari made from mung dal and rice. Even though raw salads are considered the go to foods by most people in summer, Ayurveda recommends to consume small quantity of raw foods. Raw salads are difficulty for the body to digest and hence are beneficial if consumed in moderation. Make sure to eat a healthy and nutritious breakfast in the morning and make lunch the biggest meal of the day. Evening meal should be light, soup style khichari or vegetable soups are a great choices as well.
Pitta pacifying teas are a great way to increase the water element and cool of this summer. Here’s a recipe for a refreshing Fennel seed tea. Make it fresh every day and sip it through the day. It’s a great drink to cool down and keep your pitta in balance.
Recipe Type: Ayurvedic Tea
Prep Time: 1-2 min
Cooking Time: 10-15 minutes
Total Time: 12-15 minutes
Servings: 4 cups
- 1 Quart of purified water
- 1 Teaspoon whole fennel seed
- Mishri (Rock sugar) or organic cane sugar as per taste
- In a saucepan or kettle, add the water and fennel seeds.
- Bring to a boil, lower the heat and simmer for 10-15 minutes
- Turn off the heat. Add rock sugar or organic cane sugar as per taste.
- Let the tea cool down to room temperature.
- Strain the tea and serve it cooled down.
- Enjoy the fennel tea with a meal or by itself.
Summer Seasonal Routine:As important it is to think of seasonal summer diet, it is important to think and plan a seasonal routine as well. During the day sit in a cool place, avoid going out too much in the harsh sun. Wear clothes made of breathable fabric such as cotton. Taking showers with cool water helps to keep one’s body cool and fresh. Cooling essential oils such as lavender and sandalwood can be added to bath water. One can use scrubs made of cucumber, aloe Vera and essential oils to clean the body naturally to get rid of grime and feel fresh. When thinking about activity light activity such as yoga or leisure walk is recommended. Strenuous activity that may cause decreased strength and excess perspiration is best to be avoided. So keep cool this summer with Ayurveda! Follow the summer diet and seasonal routine for a healthier you.
Article by Gauri Junnarkar MS,RD,LD,CDE,LMT,BAMS
As it appears in Ayurveda Mantra Magazine: Issue 3: August 2016.