Summer Beverages to Help You Keep Cool
It's over 90°F and humid. Your first impulse is to grab a soda pop over a glass of ice. This may cool you down temporarily. However, over time you may find your tolerance for hot weather getting less, and a desire to stay inside an air conditioned house for the rest of the summer may result. According to ayurveda, ice-cold foods and beverages disrupt the digestive power called agni. Agni, or digestive fire, can be compared to burning logs. If we dump cold water over burning logs, the fire goes out.
The same goes for our digestive process. If we ingest ice-cold foods and drinks, our digestive fires become weak. The body begins to work harder to digest and absorb nutrients, and Pitta, or the metabolism, gets out of balance. Irritability, intolerance, loose bowels, aggressive behavior or heartburn are all indications that Pitta has become out of balance. Ice-cold drinks are a quick fix to cool off, and a challenging habit to break. The ancient knowledge of ayurveda provides simple solutions to maintain balance during the hot summer without causing side effects.
The most effective way to maintain your cool in the summer months is to make sure your body is properly hydrated with Pitta-pacifying beverages. Drink at least 7-8 glasses of pure spring water a day. You can add a sprig of Pitta-pacifying fresh mint to the water, or a teaspoon of pure Organic Rose Water. Water kept in the cellar or a cool room is about the right temperature for digestion on a hot day. Drinks right out of the refrigerator may be tempting, but they are too cold for the digestion. Instead, pour out the desired amount into a glass and let it set for 10 or 15 minutes to take the chill out. When you start avoiding or cutting down on ice-cold drinks, you will notice that your stomach is less bloated and puffy and there is greater ease in handling hot weather.
Adequate hydration gives more energy to the body, clarity to the eyes and suppleness to the skin, and it helps to eliminate toxins. Many people feel fatigue and would be surprised to find out that the cause may be as simple as dehydration. It is especially important to keep fluids flowing into the body during summer when we tend to perspire more and lose more water.
Ayurvedic Suggestions for Cooling Down
Fresh, sweet fruit and fruit juices are especially beneficial for balancing Pitta. They provide nutrition and keep the body cool and comfortable. Watermelon juice, fresh cucumber juice, lettuce juice and coconut milk are four of the most beneficial juices to pacify Pitta. By consuming at least one of these items several times a day, you will notice a tremendous difference in your reaction to the high temperature.
Fresh herbs such as mint, cilantro and watercress can also be juiced or made into a chutney to balance Pitta. Or steep cooling herbs in boiling water each morning, cool to room temperature and drink the water through the day to get the benefit of the herbs and hydrate your physiology. Favor cooling spices such as cardamom, coriander, and fennel when cooking. Use Organic Rose Water or Organic Rose Petal Spread as a cooling food supplement or add to summer drinks.
Certain fruits and spices can tend to irritate Pitta and should be avoided during the summer months. Strawberries and peaches are known in ayurveda to especially increase Pitta and may even cause rashes or allergic reactions in some sensitive people. If you love strawberries and peaches, it is better to cook them with sugar and cardamom and serve the purée with a tablespoon of Pitta-pacifying whipped cream, or blend the purée with some sweet grape juice to make a sweet, cool drink. Small amounts of whipped cream with some cooked fruit is a lighter, more satisfying summer dessert to try instead of frozen ice cream.
Over time, as you tailor your diet to the foods and tastes that are ayurvedically balancing for your physiology and the season, your desire for foods which can cause an imbalance will gradually fade away. Initially, you might feel restricted, but make adjustments in stages, letting your physiology get acclimated to the changes, and eventually you will feel satisfaction and contentment. And according to The Council of Maharishi Ayurveda Physicians, a feeling of satisfaction or contentment is an indication of balanced Pitta.
The sole purpose of these articles is to provide information about the tradition of ayurveda. This information is not intended for use in the diagnosis, treatment, cure or prevention of any disease. If you have any serious acute or chronic health concern, please consult a trained health professional who can fully assess your needs and address them effectively. If you are seeking the medical advice of a trained ayurvedic expert, call or e-mail us for the number of a physician in your area. Check with your doctor before taking herbs or using essential oils when pregnant or nursing.