Friday, July 29, 2011

Summer - The Season of Fire

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) tells us that the summer season belongs to fire, one of the five elements. Fire is symbolic of maximum activity or greatest yang, which means that it is a time of heat, outgoingness, and moving outward in nature and in our lives. In human anatomy, the heart, mind, and spirit are ruled by the fire element. Thus, top priority should be given to the heart, mind, and spirit for staying healthy in summer.  Here is a summary of the Summer Season:
  • Element: Fire
  • Color: Red
  • Nature: Yang
  • Organs: Heart, Small Intestine
  • Emotion: Joy 
Basically, in Summer: Live Life to the Fullest!

When the fire element is in balance, the heart is strong and healthy, the mind is calm and sleep is sound.  When the fire element is imbalanced, we may either lack joy (depression) or have an excess of joy (mania). Indicators of an imbalance in the fire element include agitation, nervousness, heartburn, and insomnia.

Tips for Summer Health

To prevent summer ills and remain in harmony with the environment of summer, ancient Chinese physicians advised:

    Awaken earlier in the morning.
    Go to bed later in the evening.
    Rest at midday.
    Drink plenty of fluids.
    Add pungent flavors to your diet.
    Refrain from anger; keep calm and even-tempered.

In summer, indigestion can easily occur, so a light and less-greasy diet is strongly recommended. It is the perfect season to introduce some cool, yin foods into your diet. Chinese nutrition classifies food according to its energetic qualities of temperature, taste, and ability to moisten and strengthen the body. Food with cool and cold properties can clear heat, reduce toxins, and generate body fluids.

In general, cooling foods tend towards the green end of the spectrum - lettuce, cucumbers, and watercress are some of the coolest. Few vegetables are warming. Fish and seafood are also cooling, while most meats are warming.  Here are some suggestions to keep you cool and balanced all summer long. These fruits and vegetables will help your body adjust its temperature and protect you during the long, hot summer days:

Watermelon, Apricot, Lemon, Peach, Asparagus, Sprouts, Bamboo, Bok choy, Broccoli, Chinese cabbage, Corn, Cucumber, White mushroom, Snow peas, Spinach, Summer squash, Watercress, Seaweed, Mung means, Cilantro, Mint, Dill

Other helpful tips for the summer season 
  • Keep a pitcher of water with slices of lemon and cucumber with you and sip it throughout the day. 
  • Eat in moderation. Over consumption of any food, especially cooling foods, can lead to indigestion, sluggishness and possibly diarrhea. 
  • Do not leave your food out for too long. The hot weather tends to increase food spoilage. 
  • Stay away from dairy, heavy, greasy, and fried foods.

Get Acupuncture treatments - Acupuncture has been found to be helpful with all types of emotional and mental disorders, from stress and anxiety to insomnia.  An acupuncture point named "Yintang", located between the eyebrows, is sometimes used for such treatments.  Call your acupuncturist and experience a summer of joy and movement!

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