SUMMER NUTRITION for Whole Body Health

May 24, 2021

Summer arrives around June 21st and as the atmosphere begins to heat up and the trees continue to fill in it’s important to take care of your body through good nutritious food and lots of outdoor activities. This time of year is full of energy and considered a time of growth and maturation, when the sun shines longer each day and our watery crops become ready to consume. For most of us our eating habits have shifted from slow cooked, warm and heavy meals to lighter, quicker fares. The trees and gardens become lush with colour and the birds converse with their unique songs throughout the day.

Summer from a TCM perspective...
(Traditional Chinese Medicine)

The energy of the summer is very yang in nature, moving up and outwards, which is a great time of year to enjoy, especially those who tend to have a deficiency condition (poor digestion, gets cold easy, often feels tired, weak muscles etc). 

Fire is the element that is associated with summer as is the energy of our heart and small intestine organs. During the height of this season the heart is said to be at its most active, pumping and regulating the blood that carries oxygen and nutrients all over our body, supporting our muscles as we hike, bike, run, swim and play outdoors. 

The flavour associated with summer is bitter and foods that have a little bitter, such as endive, watercress, most lettuces and herbs can be a great addition in small amounts to the diet. Because the summer is so warm, having cooling and watery fruit or vegetables can help keep the fire of the heart under control.  Adding too much heating foods (like hot spices, alcohol, coffee) can add more fuel to the heart fire, so beware and try to avoid if you already have a warm or hot constitution.

Picture from Staying Healthy with the Seasons, Elson M. Haas, M.D.

The summer season always brings out the kid in me…the memories of school almost being done for another year and the anticipation of getting another year older (my birthday falls in the summer). It is a great opportunity to try something maybe you have never tried, stretch out your branches, such as hiking on the trails within your city or trying your hand at gardening (or expanding your green thumb). Sit back and observe where you are so that when the fall comes you can start to plan for where you’d like to go. 

As our physical activities kick into high gear, we must all be mindful about our body and nutritional needs. If you are outside sweating and doing fun sports or strenuous tasks around the house, make sure to keep hydrated! My go to when we are sweating is drinking some coconut water – often I mix half of it with my favourite kombucha like the Tonic brands. Also make sure to stretch, especially if you are doing an activity over a long period of time, such as gardening. Below are 3 easy ones you can do.

The hip stretch
The arms & spine stretch
The calf stretch

Here are some Summer do's to try...

How can summer juicing nourish you during menopause?

Juicing in the summer is a great way to support your body prior to, during and after the menopausal changes. Fresh juices (especially those with beets, spinach and carrots in them) can provide essential nutrients for our body and cells plus valuable moisture, which is super important for us women as we tend to get dryer with age. Please avoid conventional juices in plastic bottles as they can contain extra sugars and additives.

The recommendations I make next are very general in nature and shouldn’t be used to self diagnose what is going on with you…for more personalized help, let’s work together!

  • Focusing on juices that have a bit of a cooling (not cold) nature is great for someone who is dealing with feeling hot alot, spontaneous sweating, night sweats and hot flashes. 

  • Cucumbers, watermelon, celery, pears and citrus fruits not only provide that cooling temperature but lots of good water for the bowels and body to use.

  • Juices can support your small intestines, especially if you just blend your fruit and vegetables and drink it with all the pulp and fibre still in it. Using a product like Vitamix can help you accomplish this. 

  • Don’t add ice to your drink or take it right from the fridge! Drinking cold beverages can actually leave you feeling cold and put extra pressure on your digestive system to work harder…as it is, digestion often decreases as we age.
About the author

Cindy loves gardening and growing simple herbs and heirloom tomatoes. When she’s not teaching or writing a blog, you’ll either find her on her bike, swimming or curled up enjoying a book outside under the shade during the summer.