Summer is a yang season, a time for expansion, with energy moving up and out with lively brightness. We can make the most of warm weather and long days by going with the flow of the seasonal conditions. This can be done by eating foods that promote energy and activity, and by balancing summer heat with cooling foods. Take advantage of all the different foods that are available in summer. It’s the time to get as much variety into the diet as possible because that is what nature encourages in summer, the perfect time for spices, flowers and leaves.

Heat in the environment and in the body is common in summer. Inside us, heat behaves much as you might expect it to. Heat rises and dries moisture, and causes us to seek sources of cold.Summer

Some of the signs of excessive heat include a red face or red eyes. Health issues that can appear because of heat include heat exhaustion, fever, high blood pressure, acne, skin eruptions, nosebleeds, constipation, phlegm, headaches, irritability excessive sweating, shortness of breath, or wheezing.

Bitter and sweet are the flavors of summer. They are connected to the heart and spleen respectively. Remember to think about the ingredients in a meal, the season and your own personal needs. An increase in the amount of fruit, vegetables and grain eaten in summer will help deal with heat and benefit the heart and spleen.

Foods that specifically clear heat during summer include, avocado, banana, kiwifruit, mulberry, peach, pineapple, strawberry, watermelon (and other melons), alfalfa, asparagus, barley, celery, crabmeat, cucumber, lettuce, peppermint, radish, tofu, tomato, watercress and wheat. Drink chrysanthemum tea to clear heat.

Salads are best eaten when the weather is hot but they need to be well chewed. Since raw foods take heat and energy to be broken down, consider whether you have energy to spare. Exercise creates more heat in the body, so if you exercise a lot, your digestive system will have more heat.

To prevent summer ills and remain in harmony with the environment of summer, ancient Chinese physicians advised: awaken earlier in the morning, go to bed later in the evening, rest at midday, and drink plenty of fluids. Enjoy the summer evenings and long days.

1. Wong, L., Knapsey, K., 2002, Food for the Seasons, Red Dog, Australia

© Haynes Acupuncture 2011