Fill your basket with fresh mint. Fill your basket with fresh cilantro, cucumbers, sprouts, watermelons, berries, and cherries! The summer harvest is abundant and readily available.
Eating what's in season is not only more affordable and delicious (have you bit into a juicy, sweet plum yet?) but supports healthy digestion, which directly bolsters positive outlook, better sleep, mental clarity, and robust immune function. By simply favoring certain foods and reducing others, you'll radically improve your health and wellness this summer!
Ayurveda is a 5,000-year-old holistic system of healing from India that provides wholesome diet and lifestyle tips to maintain health and prevent disease.
Ayurveda touts seasonal eating for healthy digestion by acknowledging that nature's harvest provides an antidote to the dominant qualities of each season.
To determine the healthiness of each bodily system, Ayurveda looks to three organizing energies: the doshas. Each dosha is composed of two elements (earth, water, fire, air, or space) and through this unique makeup, performs specific bodily functions.
Vata dosha, made of air and space, governs all bodily movements (respiration, circulation, muscular action, chewing, blinking, etc.).
Pitta dosha, made of fire and water, manages digestion (transforming food into bodily tissues).
Kapha dosha, made of water and earth, oversees lubrication, structure, and stability (synovial fluid, cerebral spinal fluid, saliva, mental endurance, memory, etc.).
When the doshas perform their duties well, then we see strong overall health. But when any one of them becomes disturbed, then the systems it directs display signs and symptoms of discomfort and disease.
Ayurveda teaches us that the hot, humid days of summer are governed by pitta dosha, which is the energy consisting mainly of fire and water elements.
The chief qualities of pitta are hot, oily, liquid, light, and sharp. Internally, these qualities manifest as digestive acids and enzymes secreted by the stomach and small intestine to support pitta's main function — digestion.
Not only does pitta transform nourishing food into healthy bodily tissues (we are, indeed, what we eat), but with its sharp fire, pitta also governs proper mental and emotional digestion. Pitta allows us to digest information and process life experiences, thereby providing mental clarity, discernment, and wit.
Because the mind and body are directly affected by what's going on with nature, such as the increase in heat and humidity outside, we tend to feel more hot and irritated within.
Unfortunately, if pitta accumulates too much (due to overexposure to the summer weather or pitta-provoking food choices), it's common to experience more fiery sensations and fierce emotions — like acid reflux, loose stools, skin rashes, acne, burning eyes, frustration, anger, or impatience.
Thankfully, instinct naturally kicks in during the pitta season of summer and encourages us to cool down — we wear lighter, breezier clothing, open the windows, turn on the fans, take vacations, go swimming, and spend more time relaxing in the shade. These simple lifestyle adjustments actually have a big impact on how cool and calm we remain.
But the intuitive desire to avoid overheating during summer is more than just common sense; Ayurvedically speaking, it demonstrates skillfully favoring activities possessing pitta's opposite qualities in order to maintain comfort throughout the hot, humid season — choosing more cooling, calming, refreshing activities.
Thankfully, for overall health and well-being, we can do this simple balancing act via diet, too.