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Keep Cool with the Right Ayurvedic Foods

by Sárka-Jonae Miller
See more articles by Sarka_Jonae Miller

(The Best Years in Life) When the weather starts to heat up the natural tendency is to go for the iced beverages and cold foods, but both Ayurveda and Traditional Chinese Medicine caution against this approach. Instead, consider foods with cooling properties to help you beat the heat. These cooling foods could also be beneficial if you have a fiery constitution, such as what is known as being a Pitta in Ayurveda. Pittas are often people of average or athletic build. Some health conditions, from acne to bowel conditions, are also attributed to an imbalance arising from too much heat in the body. Cooling foods are thought to bring the body back into balance.

What to eat to beat the heat

It shouldn't be much of a surprise that fruits and vegetables are among the top choices for foods to eat during summertime. What is good to remember is that certain fruits and veggies are believed to contain cooling properties that are good for your health, but not all. Gravitate toward the sweeter fruits – such as cherries, plums, avocados, oranges, grapes, and melons – on hot days. Some of the tropical fruits, like mangoes and pineapples, are also recommended.

What might seem surprising is the advice to steer clear of some fruits, namely sour ones. Grapefruits and apricots are examples of fruits best eaten during milder temperatures. Tomatoes are best avoided as well. 

The vegetables you should include in your diet are mainly green in color, such as green leafy vegetables, green beans, celery, and zucchini. Other recommended veggies include sweet potatoes and pumpkin.

There are some exceptions to the green rule, namely spinach and arugula because they're bitter. Radishes, onions, beets, and all hot peppers should be consumed sparingly, if at all.

Fruits and vegetables aren't the only foods with cooling properties. Some grains are also believed to be beneficial, such as wheat, barley, and oats. If you're sensitive to gluten, there's always rice. However, some Ayurveda practitioners caution against brown rice. Millet, corn, and rye are on the list of grains to avoid. Coconut, olive, and sunflower oils can be good for a body with too much heat.

As odd as it might seem, warm milk is supposed to be good for reducing Pitta and thus could help the body regain balance. Another trick is to chew fennel seeds following meals. This is believed to cool one's stomach acid. Herbs like cilantro and mint are generally good for cooling down.


Foods to avoid during hot weather

The most surprising thing you should avoid is iced beverages. Although they might feel refreshing on your lips, iced drinks are thought to mess with digestion. Tepid water is considered by Ayurveda practitioners to be optimal for digestion and hydration. Also, avoid alcohol as it is thought to heat the body.

Not surprisingly, spicy food makes the list of what to avoid. Chilies and salsas should be enjoyed during cold weather to heat the body. This goes for curry too. Also, be careful with your spices. Too much salt can be dehydrating while too much cayenne or black pepper adds an excess of heat. Any type of sour food, such as sour cream or cheese, is thought to increase Pitta, so stay away.

Modifying your diet may help you remain cool and balanced, but you should always run changes by your doctor first. An Ayurvedic practitioner could help you further narrow down what foods are best for you year round.

See also:

"Summer Breathing Exercises to Keep You Cool, Energized and Free from Allergy Attack"

"Natural Summer Survival Kit"

"Avoiding and Treating Dehydration During the Dog Days of Summer"

About the Author

Sárka-Jonae Miller is a health and fitness expert. She began working in the fitness industry in 2000 while pursuing a BS in journalism at Syracuse University. She became certified as a personal fitness trainer and group exercise instructor in 2003. She has also received training in massage therapy. Sárka also writes fiction. She is the author of the chick lit novel, Between Boyfriends. Get more health and wellness tips on Sárka's Natural Healing Tips blog or join her on Facebook and Twitter.

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