5 Tips to Beat the Heat and Stay Cool This Summer
Advice from Traditional Chinese Medicine
By Madalina Hubert
How do you stay active and productive in summer, without getting overwhelmed by the heat?
According to traditional Chinese medicine, the key is finding the right balance. Summer is the season of active warm energy (yang). This is when we spend more time outdoors, enjoying the beautiful weather and many of our favourite activities. Yet too much warm energy can also make us feel tired and lethargic. To beat the heat and stay hydrated, we need to activate the cool energy (yin).
In addition to wearing the right clothing and protecting ourselves from the sun, what we eat and drink plays a role in restoring our yin.
Here are 5 tips from traditional Chinese medicine to beat the heat this summer.
1. Beat the Heat with Warm Water
In hot weather, the body loses more water through sweating, so it’s important to remember to keep your body hydrated. But according to Chinese medicine, instead of reaching for that ice-cold drink, grab warm water to beat the heat. While cold water cools the body down quickly, it also has a contracting effect, slowing down organ function and blood circulation. Warm water, on the other hand, protects the internal organs, while also hydrating the body.
2. Eat Lighter Meals
As we eat, our bodies produce heat to stimulate digestion and metabolize the food. The lighter the meal, the easier to process, so we are doing our bodies a favour by eating lightly. On that note, try to stay away from hard to digest foods like meats and fried foods. To beat the heat, go for lightly cooked or raw meals.
Here is a recipe for “Fresh Vietnamese Spring Rolls” that can help you stay cool this summer.
3. Beat the Heat by Eating Cooling Foods
According to traditional Chinese medicine, foods have intrinsic temperatures that affect the body. Some are cooling, others are warming, and there are also neutral foods.
For example, cucumber is cooling, while ginger is warming, and honey is neutral. In the summer, it is a good idea to eat cooling food to counter the warm weather. In fact, many of the fruits and vegetables in summer have cooling properties. They also tend to be high in water content, so they also help hydrate the body. Examples include watermelon, peaches, and leafy greens. For a list of foods according to their temperatures, click here.
Try this cooling traditional “Snow Fungus and Pear Soup” recipe to help you beat the heat.
4. Take Advantage of Sweet & Pungent Foods
Sweet foods help nourish the stomach and spleen and improve appetite, especially when feeling lethargic. But keep in mind that we are talking about the naturally sweet flavour of fruits and vegetables, not processed sugar. Examples of sweet foods are honey, wheat, pears, apples, green peas and milk.
Pungent foods also help you stay cool in the summer because they strengthen the lungs and help you produce more sweat, which expels heat from the body. Examples of pungent foods include green onion, leeks, garlic and chilli peppers.
Try this “Mapo Tofu” recipe to take advantage of pungent foods!
5. Pay Attention to Bitter Flavours
Did you know the flavour of your food can have an effect on your body too? Bitter foods have a cooling, contracting effect and can clear excess heat in the body. Examples of bitter foods include dandelion and chamomile (excellent as tea), bitter melon, and arugula. On the other hand, try to limit bitter foods because an excess can hurt the lungs. Instead, balance them with the other important flavours (sweet, pungent, salty and salty). To learn more about the five flavours of Chinese cuisine, click here.
In Chinese cuisine, asparagus is considered a bitter ingredient! Here is a delicious “Asparagus and Shrimp Stir-Fry” recipe you can try out.
A well-balanced diet is important for beating the heat but, don’t forget the importance of a healthy attitude in staying cool. Stress can increase body temperature, so relax, be positive and joyful. Also, keep meditation in mind. It can do wonders in expelling anxiety and petty worries.
So take advantage of the outdoors, keep a healthy light diet, and enjoy yourself this summer.
While you’re at it, discover some delicious Asian summer recipes here.
For more summer eating tips, here is another article to explore.
Madalina Hubert is a Toronto-based writer specializing in art, culture, travel, and culinary explorations.