When the weather gets hot and sticky outside, you can hunker down inside and crank on the air conditioning. But that gets expensive. Or, you can try some of these tips to naturally cool your body down. Granted, if it’s 100 degrees and really humid, taking a dip in the pool can’t be beat.
When you think of the Standard American Diet in the heart of the summer, what comes to mind?
- Ice cream and cheese
- Barbecued/grilled meats
- Beer and other alcoholic drinks
- Sugary snacks
According to traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), which contains over 5,000 years of time-tested wisdom, these are the worst foods to eat. While these foods are enjoyed by a majority of people all year, consuming them especially in summer can cause problems.
SYMPTOMS OF DAMP HEAT
If you want to look and feel your best this summer, avoid cookouts. That’s because in TCM theory, the foods and drinks served at barbecues contribute to damp heat in the body. And when the weather outside is hot and muggy, the last thing you want to do is feel hotter and stickier.
The symptoms of damp heat are indigestion, bloating, diarrhea, stomach flu, sun stroke, and lethargy. (No doubt you’ve felt like passing out at a barbecue after eating a large meal.)
When it comes to heavily-grilled and blackened meats, not only can they contribute to damp heat, making you feel more miserable in the elements, they can also cause cancer. (But that’s for another topic.)
What to Eat in Summer
Raw, vegan diets are becoming more popular. Not everyone benefits from eating raw and vegan. But if there’s ever a time during the year to eat a lot of uncooked, plant-based foods, summertime is it.
Consume lots of leafy greens and salads with cucumbers. Add seasonal fruits like mulberries. Eat watermelon, strawberry, or kiwi fruit for dessert. When the weather outside is insufferable, eating these foods won’t magically make the ambient temperature feel like a delightful 72 degrees and breezy.
But consuming seasonal, light plant-based foods at the very least won’t contribute to your suffering.
Adding the following so-called “cooling herbs” to your salads and even water can also trick your body into feeling relief:
In some cultures, fiery spices are used to promote perspiration, which in theory helps cool your body down. Think Southeast Asian countries like Thailand, which is home to 5-alarm chilies. Even when the temperature in Bangkok is like a steam bath, people eat very spicy dishes to cool off. Think: cayenne pepper, curry powders with cumin and yes, chilies.
When it comes to animal protein, instead of eating heavy, grilled meats, have a small portion of steamed fish. Pair the fish with lightly cooked green beans and avocado for a perfectly-balanced meal.
Cooling Essential Oils
When you’re outside running errands or out for a hike, you can use essential oils to help cool you down. Here’s how: take a reusable spray bottle and fill it almost to the top with distilled water. Add 15 drops of peppermint or spearmint essential oil to the water and shake it.
IMPORTANT: Make sure the essential oil is safe for topical use (pre-diluted with a carrier oil). To use, simply spray the back of your neck. You’ll feel instant relief. Lemon oil and hibiscus are also considered cooling essential oils.
Adaptogenic Herbs For Cooling Down
Adaptogenic herbs help the body’s systems rebalance from the harmful effects of stress. Chronic stress causes an imbalance of hormone levels. In the summertime, if you’re a lady of a certain age, the last thing you want to experience is severe hot flashes and night sweats.
Adaptogenic herbs are available as a supplement in powder or capsule form, or as an ingredient in certain specialty food items.
Some of the best ones include:
- Peruvian Maca Root - Maca root is best known for improving libido. Lidibo improves when hormone balance is achieved. Studies (like this one) show that maca can help alleviate menopausal symptoms by stimulating estrogen production.
- Siberian ginseng - This was the first adaptogen to be studied by researchers. Although it’s not considered a true ginseng, this herb can nonetheless withstand severe weather fluctuations. The active compounds in the plant may also help protect you from the brutal sun in summertime.
- Shatavari - This traditional Indian medicinal herb, like maca root, can help stimulate estrogen production.
- Chaste tree berry - Mimics the precursor to sex hormones, progesterone. Without enough progesterone, estrogen domination occurs, leading to hormonal balance and those awful hot flashes.
There are several other adaptogenic herbs. All adaptogenic herbs may help prevent feeling overheated by regulating the body’s response to stress, and promoting equilibrium. Keep in mind that just like a full-spectrum multivitamin with mineral cofactors, adaptogenic herbs work well in combination; their sum is greater than their individual parts.
By not eating typical summer cookout foods, and instead eating seasonal, mostly plant-based vegetables and fruits, you can beat the summer heat. Top your foods off with cooling herbs, too. You can use these same herbs to make herbal iced teas. Also try using essential oils and adaptogenic herbs to avoid sweating like a proverbial pig and spending all that money running the air conditioning all day.