As the weather grows warmer we often become more active and participate in a variety of outdoor activities. An ideal summer diet is light and filled with fresh foods with high water content, and brightly colored with summer fruits and vegetables.
Each organ has a specific flavor that affects it. Foods with a bitter taste stimulate the function of the heart. These include green leafy vegetables such as endive, escarole, lettuce and watercress, coffee, tea and chocolate. These foods can nourish the heart, but consumed in excess do more harm than good.
Raw fruits, fresh salads, cool soups and lightly cooked meals of grains and vegetables are adequate this time of year for healthy, vigorous adults. Sprouted vegetables and grains can be mixed in with a variety of dishes to help maintain a cool body temperature.
You can even add a bit of spicy, pungent, or fiery flavors. At first, spicy, fiery foods may raise the body temperature, but ultimately they can draw body heat out to the surface where it can be dispersed. For this purpose you can cook with red and green hot peppers, fresh ginger, red pepper, black pepper or cayenne. But don't overdo it. Keep your summer spice intake to a minimum.
If you are sautéing foods, use high heat for a short period of time. When simmering or steaming foods, do it as quickly as possible so you can retain the fresh tastes.
Consuming heavy foods on hot days can make you feel sluggish and slow down your digestion. Such foods include eggs, grains, seeds, nuts and meats. As a rule of thumb, eat heavier meals in the morning or evening. This type of summer diet can help you feel lighter in the heat of the day, maintain your energy, and aid in weight loss.
For better digestion and assimilation of nutrients, avoid mixing too many foods together at one sitting. Fruits and juicier foods are best eaten alone or between meals. Summer heat along with too many cold drinks can weaken digestive organs and impair digestion; too much ice cream and iced drinks are best avoided.
Summer invites us to become more active. Be sure to stay hydrated by consuming enough water, juices and herbal teas.