Summer vacations may be the best, but the heat is quite another story. Fortunately, you don’t have to just sweat it out. Here’s some simple Ayurvedic guidance to help you stay cool during the summer season or Grisham Ritu.
In Ayurveda, food recommendations are always personalized based on one’s prakriti or balance of doshas. Ayurveda also recognizes the importance of harmony with nature, which is why your diet must change with the changing seasons.
In summer, the focus is on foods and ingredients that have a sweet taste and a cooling effect on the body [not necessarily cold foods]. Ayurvedic recommendations also take into account the properties of different foods, suggesting that a summer diet should focus on foods that are light and easy to digest, while they may be a little oily or unctuous.
Summer foods to avoid
As per the teachings of Ayurveda, it is advisable to cut back on foods with salty, sour and pungent tastes. Hot and spicy foods should be avoided as they can aggravate pitta dosha and alcohol intake should also be restricted.
Failing to adhere to these diet guidelines puts your overall health at risk. You may experience general weakness and fatigue, anxiety, as well as a burning sensation in the body.
Ayurvedic foods and drinks for a cooling summer diet
Ayurveda clearly defines the efficacy of a diet dominated by foods with sweet, light and liquid properties to beat the heat. Fresh cool beverages are best consumed in earthen pots and utensils. Not only does this add a distinct fragrant aroma to drinks, it is also believed to be strengthening for the heart. One of the best summer drinks mentioned is a sweetened beverage prepared by mixing Shakara (molasses) in Sattu (flour from roasted gram), which makes it naturally soothing in the hot summer heat.
Cooling summer drinks
- You can consume higher volumes of juicy, sweet fruits and vegetables with high water content like watermelons, ripe mangoes, gourds, cucumbers and zucchini.
- Coconut water, nimbu-pani (sweet lime water), sweetened lassi or butter-milk, and sweetened milk with rose petals added can make for good refreshing beverage choices to keep your system cool.
- Freshly-blended fruit juices and nectars prepared from summer fruits like grapes, sweet pineapple and watermelon are nutritious, refreshing and most importantly incredibly cooling.
- Aam panna, a drink made from the pulp of raw mangoes, can be easily prepared by boiling raw mangoes in water to create the pulp. You can then add some jaggery, roasted cumin seeds and black salt to the mango pulp and it should be ready to consume.
- It is best to avoid any alcohol and fermented drinks during the summer months, but if you do consume them, make sure to restrict intake and add plenty of water to the drinks.
Cooling summer foods and herbs
- Fresh leaves of mint or pudina have a strong cooling effect and may be chewed raw or added to salads and other dishes.
- Amla (Indian Gooseberry), which is renowned in Ayurveda for its high nutritional value, also helps cope with the heat. It can be consumed in the form of fresh juice or as a sweet jelly called ‘amla murabba’. As it is cold by nature and has a sweet aftertaste, it is useful in decreasing the body heat and can help prevent heat-related disorders.
- Rose syrup and water are regarded as extremely cooling, making them perfect for the summer. You can consume rose preparations in the form of rose syrup or rose jelly (‘Gulkand’), a combination of rose petals and sugar.
- In Ayurveda, coconut is described as having a sweet taste (rasa) and cooling properties (virya). This makes coconut a helpful aid to correct dosha imbalances caused by aggravation of the pitta.
- Grapes are highly recommended in any summer diet because of their high water content and light properties. They are also highly nutritious, rejuvenating the body and strengthening immune function.
With its calming nature and cooling effect, cardamom can be supportive in a summer diet. Adding choti elaichi or cardamom to your diet can help to relieve any burning sensation and heat disorders.
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