Living with the Seasons - Summer
Summer is here and the mention of the word fills our minds with fun memories and hopes of new adventures this season. Have you noticed how summer changes the way we think, eat, and act (at least for those who experience all four seasons)? All of the sudden we are thinking more positive as the doubts from winter and spring become obsolete. We are choosing different foods to eat and are eating smaller meals. The juicy fruits, the cooling greens and salads flood our plates as social media reminds us of the new summer recipes we want to try.
I am sure you have experienced what I call the “the summer time warp”-- it is the phenomena that makes you feel like summer flies by and you are rushing to get everything done that you want to. By June the summer weekends have already been booked and you are challenged with enjoying summer vs. surviving the demands that have been placed on your schedule. We have waited all winter for summer, so we pack it full of parties, vacations, home improvements, etc.
I want you to enjoy every aspect of summer without feeling stressed or bogged down by the constraints of your schedule, so I am going to share with you some tips from Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) living with the seasons. Acupuncture and TCM can help maximize your health and transition your body during the season changes. Here are some great tips for being healthy in TCM through food therapy and exercises.
Slow Down this Summer...
Summer is the most yang season with long days and abundant sunshine. It is correlated with the fire element and has characteristics of growth, activity and expansion. Time appears to be moving quicker because of the nature of the season’s energy -- quick, expanding and abundant.
Get up early with the sun and go to bed later in the evening. Make sure that you are getting good quality of sleep.
Do elemental breathing exercises to help balance your organ systems in the body and to feel more grounded. Start and end your day with some elemental breathing.
It is especially important in the hot summer season to stay hydrated. Water with slices of cucumber or chia seeds and lime juice will keep you cool and prevent the body from overheating. I recommend people drink ½ their body weight in ounces of water each day and increase it depending on activity.
Chia Fresca Recipe:
2 cups water or coconut water
1.5 tbsp chia seeds
1/2 tbsp fresh lemon or lime juice, or to taste
Maple syrup or honey (optional)
1. Add chia seeds and water into a jar or glass and stir very well to combine. Let sit for 10 minutes to allow the chia seeds to swell up.
2. Add lime or lemon juice and sweetener to taste. Stir or shake well to combine and enjoy
Chia seed properties:
Chia seeds are rich in Omega-3 fatty acids (even more than flax seed)
Help with hydration due to their ability to absorb up to 9-10 times their weight in water
Contain fiber, protein, calcium, magnesium, copper, iron, and zinc among many other nutrients.
Promote Cardiovascular Health…
Exercise - get that heart muscle pumping!
Increase consumption of essential nutrients for the heart, such as, magnesium, fish oil, and CoQ10. Learn more about CoQ10 on the "Treatment Options for Headaches & Migraines" post.
We tend to like to eat more fruits and veggies in the summer because our body craves yin tonifying foods. Yin tonifiers cool and hydrate the body while nourishing the heart and small intestine organs. In Chinese medicine the small intestine separates the turbid from the clear. This means it pulls nutrients from the food we eat and it transforms the digestate by separating the "pure" part of the food and fluids from the "impure". The pure part goes to the spleen to form and distributed qi throughout the body. The impure part of the food is passed to the large intestine for excretion as stool and the impure part of the fluid is passed to the bladder for excretion as urine.
Eat in moderation: Our body thrives on lighter meals in the summer. Eat small light meals throughout the day. Overconsumption of foods in the heat can easily cause indigestion, sluggishness, and diarrhea.
Eat cool: Summer is the perfect time to enjoy more cooling foods in your diet to clear heat, reduce toxins, and generate body fluids such as lettuce, spinach, cucumbers, sprouts, cilantro, seaweed, melons, chia seeds, peaches, and citrus.
The heart is responsible for mental activity consisting of memory, consciousness, emotions, and sleep habits. To stay healthy this summer focus on the heart, mind, and spirit. To learn more about the heart and shen, read the "10 Tips to Improve Sleep" post.
When the fire element is imbalanced, one may lack joy or have too much joy. Other imbalances include insomnia, anxiety, and irritability.
Find joy in the summer weather.
Let emotions pass over you just as the storms do. Practicing the art of letting go aligns us with the classical Chinese medicine saying, “A healthy heart receives the joys and sorrows of the world without breaking.”
Acupuncture and Chinese medicine can help restore vital functions to your organs as well as calm the mind, enhance ability to focus, soothe emotions, promote sleep, and cool off the body. Seasonal acupuncture treatments can balance the organ systems, ease transitions between seasons, and correct minor or acute annoyances before they become serious chronic problems.
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Choose 2 things from above to help yourself align with this season and experience the benefits of expansion, growth and creativity it has to offer you. Health and wellness is an investment and prevention of dis-ease in the body. Summertime is a perfect time to start changes that can bring you to your health goals.
If you have any questions, please be in touch. I’m always happy to help people figure out how to find their balance and maximize their natural rhythms.
*Please make an appointment or speak with a healthcare provider before treating yourself with herbs or supplements. We do not recommend going off of any medication. Before taking CoQ10, speak to your doctor if you have allergies, heart disease, hypoglycemia, diabetes, bleeding disorders, low blood pressure, liver disease or if you take any drugs or supplements that impact blood sugar. Blood sugar levels may need to be monitored because CoQ10 may lower blood sugar.