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At last, the long days and warm nights have arrived! According to Traditional Chinese Medicine, summer is the most “yang” season of the year.

The heat and the sun draws you outdoors to feel the warmth on your skin, allowing you to fill up on Vitamin D. It’s a time to exercise outdoors, eat light, sleep shorter hours, and rest over lunch.

Yang too, is at its fullest in the body, as energy flows particularly at the surface of your body, causing veins to surface and the skin to sweat.

During this time, you should eat pungent herbs and foods, which increase energy flow and can help maintain normal, healthy sweating.

While yang is hot, it’s also drying. Yang is fire and expanding, so this makes summer a time when things grow rapidly. Depending on your location in the world, summer can be very different than in other areas.

This location will then dictate how you eat. Some of us live in a hot and dry climates, while others in hot and humid, and others are in cooler areas.

Neutral foods

For those in the north, temperatures may not rise that much during the day, and therefore one can eat more “neutrally” in flavor, meaning foods that are not hot or cold, according to the principles of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM).

Foods that are neutral are yams, sweet potato, mushroom, olives, brown rice, almonds, and most ocean fish, for example.

Hydrating foods

In a hot and dry environment, cooling and hydrating foods are very important. A rice soup with mung beans (which are cooling) would be appropriate. Stir fry some cucumber and/or spinach, and eat fish, tomatoes, watermelon, melon, and strawberries.

Other hydrating vegetables include: iceberg lettuce, celery, radish, peppers, cauliflower, and carrots. Try eating fruits like pear and star fruit.

While I generally don’t recommend eating salads, if you have excess heat in the body and a fiery stomach, then a salad would work well. Drink plenty of water and mint or chrysanthemum tea.

Cooling foods

Hot and humid environments require cooling foods, but not as hydrating as those in a dry area.

Foods should have a little kick to stimulate a lethargic digestive system and help drive out the sweat. In humid environments you should not have dairy products, as these are too sticky and slow the digestive system down. This also goes for icy drinks or ice cold food, too many raw products.

Prepare a miso soup and add tofu, chili and seaweed. Eat vegetables like spinach, mustard greens, and red pepper. Fruits like coconut, litchi (or lychee), red apples, and tomatoes can also be beneficial.

Sweet foods

For the northern hemisphere, the days are long but normally the temperatures don’t get that high and overnight it can really cool off. I see the northern hemisphere’s summer as what we would call the “fifth season” in TCM, or late summer.

The taste of this season is sweet. I don’t mean sugar-sweet, I mean foods like: sweet potato, carrot, beets, cucumber, and sweet corn, as well as cooked grains.

These vegetables and grains should be lightly cooked and as previously stated, portions should generally be small in summer, with light broths in the evening and seasonally available fruits.

Warming foods

Late summer, for the more southern countries, comes in September. This is a season of great change from hot yang to cooler yin. It’s a time where you can add a little ginger, mustard greens, or cinnamon to your food.

This is a time to stretch the muscles —take a reflective walk or jog in the fresh morning air!

Depending on where you live will determine how you nourish your body. Summer is a very exciting time, drawing you out into nature, so eat well and exercise mindfully.

Eating to Spring Clean the Body

Eating to Spring Clean the Body

Spring is coming! A time of birth and growth. In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), it’s associated with the liver and the element wood. As we spring clean our homes, we should also spring clean our bodies. It’s the perfect time to change from winter warming foods to those that help the body detox from those indulgent moments of festive food delights.

It is, I think, fair to say that we all eat differently, depending on the season. Soups in winter, salads in summer — but what should we be eating in spring?

I’ve come to realize firsthand just how significantly we’re affected by what we put into our bodies at different times of the year. So to smoothly adjust to the new season, here are some tips on how and what to eat in spring.

1. Drink homemade juices.

This is a time for vegetable juices or broths, as the enzymes in fresh vegetable juices provide extra nutrients that help your body eliminate toxins.

Leafy green vegetables are particularly cleansing, especially those that are bitter such as dandelion, endive, parsley, beet, kale, chard, mustard greens, spinach, endive, bok choy, and arugula.

The advantage of making juice at home is that you have control over making sure it includes the highest quality ingredients.

2. Flush the system with water and herbal teas.

Drinking water and teas is a perfect way to cleanse and hydrate the system. When drinking clean water, add a dash of lemon to stimulate the liver.

Different teas have different cleansing properties. Some great examples are dandelion, burdock, ginger, licorice root, nettles, mint, fennel, and cardamom. I find mixing ginger and licorice with dandelion makes for a harmonious blend.

3. Manage your stress levels.

In TCM, the liver is the main organ associated with stress. The liver is responsible for the free flow of blood and energy throughout the body, and stress causes blockages. This can lead to problems such as IBS, bloating, heart burn, or palpitations, and headaches.

Furthermore, stress can cause inflammation. Breathe deep into your belly and get regular exercise, which can help to free the flow of the liver.

4. Stop bloating.

Bloating is caused by overeating, eating raw foods, or eating in a stressful environment. Make sure that you’re not eating at your desk or in front of the TV, and eat mindfully, chewing and enjoying what you’re eating. Warm and anti-inflammatory foods are often easier to digest too.

Foods that ease stomach and intestinal discomfort include:

cucumber
banana
papaya
asparagus
fennel seeds
ginger
peppermint
chamomile
While cruciferous vegetables are seasonally spring vegetables, be careful, as these contain sugars that can cause bloating. You can also add supplemental enzymes and probiotics to your diet to help with the breakdown of your food.

5. Shop at your local organic store or farmers market.

The local store or market are more likely to have local and therefore seasonal produce. As such, the fruits and vegetables should have been grown in organic rich soil, packed full of all the micronutrients we need.

Some vegetables to look for:

beets
beet greens
celery
asparagus
zucchini
cucumbers
string beans
naturally fermented sauerkraut
sea vegetables
onions
garlic
leek
According to TCM, the liver is sensitive to overheating, so steer clear of overly spicy foods. The flavor of the liver is sour, so feel free to add a dash of lemon or lime and make sure you prepare your food lightly sautéed or steamed.

Eliminating the toxins through the bowel is important; try adding roasted and ground flaxseed to dishes to help with lubrication.

Your health and well-being are in your hands — get out and enjoy the crisp spring air!

Dolores Baretta
Dolores Baretta is an Acupuncturist, Nutritional Therapist and Digestive Specialist based in Zurich, Switzerland. Dolores helps people achieve mind-body balance through acupuncture, micronutrients digestive support. Having studied in prestigious medical institutions in China, Switzerland and the UK, Dolores combines eastern and western philosophies for a truly approach to healing brain,…

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