The Best Ayurvedic Diet For The Summer Months
As the summer months approach, our lifestyle begins to change. We shed layers of clothing, (hopefully) get to spend more time outdoors enjoying the sun rays, maybe take a break from school or work, enjoy a vacation or staycation. With the changes in temperature and environment, naturally our diet changes as well. Summer staples might include barbeque or ice cream, for kids and adults alike, but we have a chance to enjoy more fresh produce as well. We eat fresh fruits (watermelon is my personal favorite) and enjoy more raw foods as no one wants to sweat over a stove.
Ayurveda, if you aren’t familiar, is an ancient holistic medicinal science originating from India. More specifically, it originates from the Vedas, the same source as Yoga. As such, it teaches us about living in line with nature, both the nature around us and our own nature. The foundation of Ayurvedic knowledge is the principle of the five elements (earth, water, fire, air, ether) that form the three doshas, or body-mind composition (vata, pitta, kapha). We all have the five elements and the three doshas within us, but their unique combination forms our constitution. Ayurveda’s approach to our health is based on that unique constitution, and it offers lifestyle, medical and nutritional advice based on it. One can get an insight into their unique body-mind composition by either completing an online dosha test, or even more accurately, visiting an Ayurvedic health coach, practitioner, or doctor for a consultation.
Regardless of your dosha, each season presents changes in our environment that affect us on the physical, mental, and emotional levels. Taking those changes into account, Ayurveda offers lifestyle advice that can help us take advantage of everything that specific season has to offer and avoid activities, foods, and other phenomena that might throw us off balance.
One of the best ways to enjoy each period is by eating a nutrition-rich diet based on foods that are currently in season. Ayurveda always advises eating local and in season, as that will guarantee our foods are most fresh and recently picked, least processed or preserved, and grown in a similar environment that we are in. Everything from the quality of the water to the composition of the soil affects the characteristics of the produce, so having it grown locally ensures it will be as similar in nature to our body as possible.
When the summer months arrive, one thing that will certainly increase is the fire around us, and in our bodies. With that July and August sun (if you are in the Northern hemisphere) comes increased digestive fire, more dehydration and mineral loss through sweating, and other potential discomforts that arise with the imbalance of the fire element. Depending on the specific climate of your area, you might also suffer from increased humidity.
SEE ALSO: The Spiritual Properties Of Frankincense
Who enjoys the summer months?
People with predominant Vata and Kapha dosha will enjoy the summer months, as well as Vata-Kapha dual dosha combinations. As they are both colder, they usually feel imbalanced in the cold late fall and winter months. Vata might be disturbed during the windy seasons, especially if the wind is cold; while Kapha feels extra sluggish in the rainy late winter and early spring months. Those are the times we all might come down with a case of cold or mucus build-up. As the summer comes around, and the weather improves, we feel more balanced, active, and the immune system will feel stronger as well.
Who might get disturbed due to the hot weather?
People with Pitta dosha dominating their constitution often do not particularly enjoy the summer or hot climates. That might include dual doshas that have Pitta combinations, such as Pitta-Vata or Pitta-Kapha. As they already have a strong fire, during the summer, they might feel more irritable and imbalanced due to the heat. Common physical symptoms include heartburn, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), rashes, strong and sour body odor, while mentally and emotionally they might feel short-tempered, angry, or frustrated. For these constitutions, it is even more beneficial to follow an Ayurvedic diet and lifestyle tips for the summer months, in order to balance the excess fire.
Ayurvedic advice for balancing Pitta in the summer
During the summer and in hot climates, Ayurveda recommends eating foods that are light and fresh in quality, avoiding heavy, deep-fried foods, excessive spices, and anything hot from tabasco to jalapeno. Foods high in water content, and predominantly sweet, astringent, and bitter in flavor, are recommended. Here are some Ayurvedic recipes and ingredients that cool down the pitta fire and balance our system in the heat.
Fresh drinks and coolers
Who doesn’t love a refreshing drink on a hot summer day? A great way to add some healing herbs, spices, or superfoods to your daily diet is by whipping up a quick drink. A reminder – Ayurveda does not recommend adding ice and drinking excessively cold drinks (ever)! Yup, lots of pittas are usually unhappy about this. Very cold and icy drinks disrupt our digestion, lowering our digestive fire, and are overall shocking for our system. Alcohol is also not recommended, especially in the summer, as it is heating for the body, dehydrating, and contaminates the detox organs such as the liver. We want to stay away from anything too hot, too cold, too spicy, and intoxicating, as it is harder to process and digest and may create various imbalances. A much better choice is using ingredients that have a cooling post-digestive effect and remove excess fire from our digestive tract and body in general.
Virgin mojito with a twist
- 2 cups coconut water
- Few fresh mint leaves
- ½ lime
- Sugar cane juice or raw sugar (2tsp)
Blend and enjoy! You can add a few ice cubes if needed (don’t overdo it!)
Banana cardamom smoothie
- 1 banana (fresh or frozen)
- 1 ½ -2 cups of milk of choice (recommended: Oatmilk)
- 1 pinch cardamom
- 1 pinch clove (optional)
- ½ teaspoon turmeric or a small piece of fresh turmeric root
Blend and enjoy! Replace milk with water or coconut water for Kapha dosha types to avoid mucus buildup, or use half a banana instead of a whole.
Iced hibiscus tea
- 1 cup concentrated tea*
- 1 cup cold water
- A few fresh mint leaves
- 1-2 tbsp maple syrup
- 1-2 tbsp rose water
Make a concentrated cup of hibiscus tea according to instructions, let cool. Add the remaining ingredients, blend and enjoy. You can add a few ice cubes, but don’t overdo it.
Bring out the raw foods
Although certain outlets claim Ayurveda doesn’t recommend eating a high-raw diet, that is not entirely true. Raw foods can create Ama or toxin build-up when not digested properly, and they are hard to digest for anyone with low digestive fire and similar issues. As raw foods are airy, cold, and dry, they are least recommended for Vata dosha. However, in the warmer months and climates, when our digestive fire is stronger, it is perfectly fine to increase our raw food consumption (always in moderation and taking our dosha composition into consideration).
Kale Pesto Zoodles
- 3-4 cups of raw zucchini noodles (zoodles)
- 1 cup fresh basil
- 1 cup kale
- ½ cup cashews (best raw, unsalted)
- 1 lemon
- ½ cup extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)
- 1 clove of garlic (optional, omit if following a sattvic diet)
- 2-3 tbsp of nooch (nutritional yeast)
- 1 tsp pink Himalayan salt
Blend the greens first, scraping the sides if needed. Add the cashews, blend again. Add the remaining ingredients and blend until a creamy paste forms. Adjust the liquids, adding more EVOO if needed. Pour over the zoodles, mix well and enjoy. You can make your own veggie noodles with a mandoline slicer or spiralizer, or purchase them already prepared.
Quinoa Avocado and Fennel salad
- 2 cups of kale
- ½ cup cooked quinoa of choice
- 1 small Hass avocado
- 1 fennel bulb
- A handful of flat-leaf parsley
- ½ lime
- 2-3 tbsp EVOO
- 1-2 tbsp of nooch (nutritional yeast)
- Pinch pink Himalayan salt
Optional toppings: roasted or raw walnuts
Cook the quinoa according to instructions. Mix the dressing ingredients, optimally adding water to dilute. Massage the kale with the dressing, leaving it aside to soften. You can alternatively blanch it with hot water for a minute, rinse and dry. Thinly slice or shave the fennel (best use a mandoline slicer). Add the fennel, cut avocado, cooked quinoa, parsley, and any other optional ingredients, toss and serve.
Add these spices and foods to your diet
- Mint, spearmint, peppermint
- Rose petal water and extract
- Melons, watermelon
- Coconut (water, meat, fresh, shredded)
- Dal/mung bean
- Lemon / lime
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