There’s nothing like some raspberry sorbet or a cold fruit juice to make you feel cooler in summer. Or is there? It’s logical to assume that cold food and drinks would cool you down, but in fact the opposite is true. Whilst they provide some immediate relief, cold and especially frozen food and drinks can actually trap heat inside the body and make you hotter. They can also weaken your digestive system.
In Chinese Medicine dietetics, we recognise the thermal qualities of food. Food and beverages with cooling properties (rather than cool in temperature) can help keep you cool in summer. Below is some advice to help you keep cool, healthy and vital during the summer months.
- Try consuming foods that have cooling thermal properties, such as apples, avocado, asparagus, barley, celery, chrysanthemum, cucumber, lemons, lettuce, limes, millet, radish, sprouts (e.g. mung, alfalfa and soy), seaweeds, tofu, tomato, watercress, watermelon, wheat, zucchini, as well as other white and green veggies with high water content.
- Tea has been used as a very effective body coolant for centuries. It creates sweat, which helps cool you down (as long as the sweat can evaporate from your skin). Try black, green, honeysuckle, chrysanthemum, lemongrass, peppermint and spearmint teas.
- The best alcohol to drink in summer is beer (yay!), as it has a cooling effect. Most other alcohols have a heating effect on the body. Mineral water is also cooling (more than normal drinking water).
- Salads are wonderful in summer as they are mostly cooling. However, if your digestion is sluggish or challenged or you know you have a spleen deficiency, turn instead to lightly steamed or sautéed vegetables. Warm salads are a wonderful alternative.
- Moderate use of spices and flavours such as cardamon and fennel will help to release heat from the body and cool you down.
- Reduce energetically hot foods like coffee, black pepper, chilli pepper, ginger and cinnamon, as well as icy cold foods, such as ice cream, icy poles and slurpees as they block the stomach’s digestive energy and can trap heat inside the body.
- You can also balance the thermal quality of your foods. For example, if you eat a hot curry, pair it with some raita (vegan or sheep’s yoghurt with cucumber) to make a thermally neutral meal.
- For the best digestive health, allow cold food and drinks to warm to room temperature before consuming. Raw foods, cow’s diary products and refined sugar can also weaken the digestion, so minimising these can promote digestive health and increase energy and vitality.
Dietary advice is part of the service I can offer during an acupuncture consultation. Making small changes to the food and drink you consume can make a big difference your health. I’d love to help you feel better!