Seven Ways to Bolster Digestion in Summer
During the drowsy days of summer, you may find yourself walking slower, eating less and napping more. As the heat rises, even digestion, the body's "furnace," burns less brightly.
In fact, there's an inverse relationship between the temperature outside and the body temperature inside. In winter, when temperatures plummet, the body turns up its internal furnace to create balance. This makes it possible to digest heavier foods and bigger quantities. In summer, called Pitta Season in ayurveda, it's the exact opposite.
"As the summer heat rises, the body protects itself by turning down its own thermostat, so to speak," explains Vaidya Manohar, an expert in Maharishi Ayurveda. "This means that the digestive fire is weaker, so we need to be careful not to overload it."
It's important to keep digestion running smoothly in summer, or you could feel bloated and dull. Worse, if the food you eat is not digested properly, it can lead to the formation of ama, undigested food that collects in the intestines. If digestion remains weak and ama continues to accumulate, ama can spread to other parts of the body to create disease.
Here are seven simple things you can do to keep your digestion working smoothly without turning up the heat:
Many people feel like eating lighter in summer — and Maharishi Ayurveda also recommends eating smaller portions at each meal. Of course, if you are hungry, be sure to eat what you need. But by eating a little less than usual you may find that your body feels cooler, and that you are more alert and energetic all day.
You may think that skipping meals is a good idea, but actually it helps digestion to eat regular meals, even if the quantities are smaller in summer. According to the ayurvedic daily routine, digestion is strongest at noon, when the sun is at its peak, so eat your main meal then and less at breakfast and dinner.
Emphasize the cooling, semi-liquid, easy-to-digest foods. This is not the time for the proverbial farm meal loaded with heavy carbs. Salads, cool summery soups, and ripe, juicy fruits are traditional in summer, and this lighter fare will feel better too. Check out the Pitta-Pacifying diet for sweet, bitter and astringent-tasting foods that actually increase digestive power without heating the body. These cooling foods include juicy fruits like melons and hydrating vegetables such as summer squashes, cucumber, and zucchini.
Eat lighter proteins, such as milk, fresh panir (an easy-to-make cheese), split mung-dhal and other pulses. If you need to include nuts in your diet, make them more digestible by soaking them overnight. In the morning, let them dry and then grind them up and add to your food as a topping, in sauces or as a base for soups. Avoid salty, roasted nuts as these will increase heat in the body.
Drink more water
Keep your body hydrated by increasing your daily intake of pure water and other liquids. Fruit juices, especially freshly squeezed, replenish electrolytes and cool in the same stroke. Or for a cooling, digestion-enhancing lassi (yogurt drink), blend ¼ c. yogurt with ¾ c. water and one tablespoon of Organic Rose Petal Spread.
Use digestive herbs and spices
Enhance your digestive power by preparing food with Pitta-pacifying spices. These include fennel, coriander, fenugreek, rosemary, basil, cardamom, parsley, and cilantro. Use fresh ginger, cumin, and black pepper in smaller amounts in summer. Make sure your diet has sufficient salt, as you can lose a lot of the body salts through sweating in the summer heat.
Pump up digestion with herbal supplements
In summer, toxins can build up in the liver. This can manifest in a number of ways, from emotional irritability, to sensitive skin that over-reacts to the sun, insects or heat. Elim-Tox-O is formulated to balance and strengthen the liver while gently removing toxins. It is especially recommended for people with Pitta constitutions. Elim-Tox is a more powerful version of the same formula, and can be used by people with less Pitta dosha.
Keeping the elimination system running smoothly is especially important in the summer months, when constipation can result in heat build-up in the tissues. Herbal Cleanse is a highly effective formula that uses psyllium seed husk, cabbage rose and fennel to clear toxins from the colon and bowel without heating the body in the process.
Choose cooling exercises
Daily exercise is important for keeping the digestion and elimination systems from slowing down. Yet you don't want to get overheated. Wake up early to exercise when the sun's healing values are greatest and its heat is least, or take a cool evening walk in the moonlight. Swimming is a perfect summer sport, but avoid the afternoon sun. The ayurvedic maxim to stay within 50% of your capacity and avoid overexertion is even more important in Pitta Season.
Revitalize with Premium Amla Berry
In the ayurvedic tradition, it has long been known that you can revitalize your mind and body with special elixirs called rasayanas. Premium Amla Berry, which contains the fabled ayurvedic fruit Amalaki (also known as Indian Gooseberry) is an excellent digestion-booster. It not only enhances food absorption and assimilation by strengthening all thirteen digestive fires (agni), it does this without increasing acidity. In fact, it has a balancing effect on stomach acids, moderating hyperacidity and other Pitta-related digestive disorders.
In addition, it fortifies and stimulates the liver, and helps remove toxins by keeping the elimination system regular and supporting the urinary system.
Although Premium Amla Berry is balancing to all three doshas, it's especially helpful to people with Pitta constitutions, because it does not increase heat. This makes it an excellent choice for staying vital and energetic in the summer.
Amla Berry is traditionally known as a rasayana that rejuvenates many areas of the body — including the muscles, eyes, skin, brain, heart, and lungs. It is a powerful antioxidant and immunity-enhancer and an excellent source of Vitamin C.
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.