Ooohhhhhh I think we are going to remember this summer for ages……
“Do you remember that summer in 2018? It was a never ending summer, with high temperatures and so much sunshine, I could finally wear all my summer outfits!”
Summer time means that the outside temperatures are rising, or we could also say – from Ayurvedic perspective – that the fire element is increasing. The fire element is governed by Pitta dosha, meaning that Pitta dosha predominates during summertime. People who are sensitive to aggravate Pitta dosha (often those having with a Pitta or dual Pitta constitution) need to be extra careful during summertime not to overheat their system due to sun bathing, exercising at midday (when the sun is at his top) and eating spicy and acidic foods. As all of these increase the fire element in our body.
But what happens to our agni – digestive fire – in summertime? Maybe you would think that as the fire element increases outside, our digestive fire inside us also becomes stronger. It is quite logical to think that. However, the opposite is true: the increases heat of summer impairs agni. This is because Pitta actually supresses the digestive power in hot weather.
In short: our digestive power (agni) is often weaker in summer than in winter time. Since a balanced agni is the key port to health, we need to take care of that digestive power very well in the warmer months of the year. To give you a better understanding of how that exactly works lets do a small visualization exercise.
Visualize your digestive fire as a real little fire burning inside your your belly.
Got it? Ok, now think of the foods and drinks that you like so much during summer time and throw it on the fire…. Ice cold drinks, ice creams, cold, raw foods, fried fries at a festival with some mayonaise, france bread with alioli as a starter for the BBQ and some heavy to digest burgers and shaslick…..
Now what will happen to that fire? A fire that is already weakened is served with an ice cold shower and some heavy to digest foods on top.
In effect: either your fire extinguishes or is downsized to its mimimum. And your food? Your food won’t be digested properly and the nutrients only partly absorped as nourishment for your tissues (mal absorption).
The non-digested particles of food? They turn into what we call ‘ama’ or toxins. These toxins build up in your digestive tract, making future digestion even harder and in turn more ama will be created. When the build up of toxins reaches a certain point it will spread out through the body and finds itself a nice spot (your weak spot, for some this might be the lymfe tissue, for other the blood gets inflammed and the next gets joint pain) to settle in, the first steps to dis-ease.
So how do you know if you agni is impartned? Do you experience any of the following symptoms? Bloated feeling, gassy, constipation or loose stools, heartburn, acid reflux. Then pay even more attention please for what is coming.
Soooooo….. what do you do in summertime? You take care of your agni! Because a properly balanced agni is the doorway to excellent health and all the vitality you need in summer to enjoy it to the fullest.
How to do that? Down below I have listed some tips:
- Drink room temperature or warm drinks
Mint tea, fennel tea are refreshing without imparting agni.
If you really want to have a cold drink (or that delicious Italian ice cream), then do it at mid-day when the sun is at his top. If you do go with a cold drink take small sips, stay with 1-2 cold drinks and don’t eat while you drink.
- Don’t drink and eat at the same time
When you drink while you eat the digestive juices are diluted and cannot properly act upon your food. So don’t drink half an hour before and after your meal. Small sips of herbal tea are ok.
- Take light and easy to digest foods
Bread, raw foods, meat and milk products are all heavy to digest. That means that a cold raw salad with bread and hummus is actually not easy for your agni to go upon. Rather make a salad with some cooked vegetables, a nice dressing with some vinegar that kindles the digestive fire and go easy on the bread (chew well!).
- Favor sweet/neutral and bitter foods
Foods with a natural sweet taste (so I don’t mean refined sugar. Most vegetables, rice, quinoa have a sweet-neutral taste from themselves) have a cooling effect on your system. The same counts for bitter foods (green leafy vegetables, atroewa, oker,/okra, sopropo), which also help to tonify the liver and clean your blood in addition.
- Be wise with alcohol
We all already know that alcohol is poison, so let me safe that talk for you here. But did you know that it is also very Pitta aggravating? Alcohol is known as “fire-water” for a reason. It’s heating and is processed in the house of pitta, the liver. So drinking alcohol can be pretty pitta imbalancing, causing agitation and intoxication. Beer is considered least Pitta aggravating, hard liquor most.
Spicy, hot, pungent, sour, oily, or salty foods can have a similar action by the way.
- Use spices and herbs
It is not recommended to eat very spicy, pungent food in the summer, however you can still use spices and herbs to flavor your food. Spices and herbs can be seen as enzymes that help to assimilate your food. So they are best friends of agni, when chosen wisely. In summertime, favor cooling spices like cardamom, coriander and cumin while cooking. Avoid hot chili peppers, cayenne, paprika and sambal.
I hope these tips help you and your agni to stay happy and healthy during summer time. Remember that with this information you are empowered rather than restricted: you can still take that ice cream (and enjoy it to the fullest), but then try to balance the rest of your day according to the above guidelines. Just before you eat or drink imagine that little fire burning in your stomach and make it your job to take care of that well. You will experience the benefits quickly.