The summer season belongs to the Chinese Element of fire (the associated color is red), the time when the Yang energy is the strongest which makes it the best time to strengthen our immune system for the coming winter months. The organs associated with summer are the heart and the stomach-spleen. The heart organ when unbalanced may cause anxiety, agitation, sleep disturbance, excessive sweating and a flushed face. You may overheat easily too. It also represents feelings of happiness when in balance.
A Transition in Late Summer
The ‘late summer’ according to Traditional Chinese Medicine theory is the time of the Earth Element (the associated color is yellow) and begins around the third week of August and goes through until the fall equinox. It is the time when the days are hotter and more damp. The stomach and spleen resonate with the late summer's energy and if you have troubles with these organs then you may experience nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, heavy feeling in the body, stomach issues, IBS, low energy, weight gain, blood sugar disorders. If the stomach and spleen are balanced then your digestive system will feel really good.
Traditional Chinese Medicine Recommendations for a Healthier Summer
- Eat "cooling" foods: Some recommendations include watermelon, strawberries, blueberries, blackcurrant, cranberry, lemon, lime, mango, tangerine, tamarind, amaranth, barley, Kamut, millet, rice, lima beans, leafy greens (lettuce, kale, spinach), bitter herbs (dandelion, mustard greens, chicory), cucumber, celery, grapefruit, mung beans, zucchini, mushroom, radish, summer squash, tomato, pears, plums, rhubarb, seaweed, sesame, water chestnuts, cabbage, papaya, bananas, avocado, asparagus, apples, broccoli, cauliflower, coconut, grapes, kiwifruit, eggplant, kelp, swiss chard, white fish.
- But eat less food: During the warm summer months eating less and lighter foods is better for the digestive system.
- Drink "cooling" drinks: My recommendations include watermelon juice, water with lemon or lime, and peppermint tea to keep you cool.
- Wake up early in the morning: This allows you to enjoy the most of the yang energy time.
- Rest in the afternoon: When I studied in China every day at around 1:00-3:00 PM everyone rested. You should too.
- Go to bed later at night: Again, this allows you to enjoy more of the summer days.
- Drink more water: Staying hydrated during the hot summer days is extremely important.
- Keep out of the sunshine at peak hours: This helps avoid heat exhaustion.