The concept of Ayurveda focuses on the understanding that our food has a direct effect on our overall health. The seasons are characterised by vata dosha, pitta dosha and kapha dosha in the body. Summer is hot, bright and sharp, and is known to be the season of pitta dosha. Therefore, Ayurveda suggests that everyone, especially individuals whose prakruti is primarily pitta dosha, is to keep cool and not allow it to be aggravated. The right foods eaten according to the season can help promote sattva(purity) detox and rejuvenate the body that further leads to an overall boost in the immunity, physical and mental strength and digestion.
According to the book, The Complete Book of Ayurvedic Home Remedies by Dr. Vasant Lad, “follow pitta pacifying diet. Good fruits for summer include apples, pears, melons, plums and prunes. Watermelon and lime juice are also good in summer. Try steamed asparagus, broccoli, brussels sprout and cucumber raita. Khichdi made of basmati rice and moong dal, with a little ghee and grated coconut makes a delicious light meal.” The book suggests that one should avoid sour fruits, citrus fruits, sour cream, cheese, dark meats, et al that produce heat in the body.
According to Dr. Tanuja Nesari, Director, All India Institute of Ayurveda, New Delhi, “summer has two parts – mild summer till mid-April and peak summer from mid-April till end of June. Dryness and heat increases in summer, hence making digestive system weak. We should take food that can be digested easily. Foods that can reduce the heat in body are superfoods in summers. Include sattu, roasted pulses, pomegranate, watermelon, fenugreek leaves, amla and buttermilk to ensure a healthy body.”
Dr. Haridas Varier, Chief Doctor at Sadayush Ayurvedic Cure and Care explains further, “one should consume water-rich fruits and foods for staying hydrated and energised during the summer. Include moong dal, chana, green leafy vegetables and coconut, which is a natural electrolyte, papaya and alkaline vegetables like radish, snake gourd, pumpkin and banana stem.”
Here are some of the summer foods that Ayurveda suggests to include in your daily diet:
Sattu is typically made of Bengal gram and is said to have an instant cooling effect on the body. It is high in insoluble fibre that makes it good for your intestines, and is low on glycaemic index making it good for diabetics. A perfect cooling agent and a power-packed energiser, you must add sattu in your diet.
2. Amla (Indian gooseberry)
Amla, or Indian gooseberry, makes for a popular and healthy fruit, and is known for numerous nutritional benefits. This sour-bitter fruit works as an excellent coolant during hot days. Did you know amla juice contains about 20 times more vitamin-C than any other juice? So, this summer binge on amle ka murabba or amla juice to ensure a healthy you.
According to Ayurveda, ghee is loaded with healthy fats that help our body to keep going. Moreover, our body gets dry in summer, therefore, consumption of a half spoon of ghee every day may help balance the internal moisture. As per the book, A Historical Dictionary of Indian Food by K.T. Acharya, in Ayurvedic terms, ghee is known to be a ‘sweet food’ as it is strengthening, aids digestion and tempers the over-activity of all the three bodily doshas.
The zingy root has anti-inflammatory properties to help ease overheated and irritated skin. In fact, drinking ginger juice may help soothe stomach discomfort. Load up on ginger tea or juice; you can also add it in your curries on a daily basis to stay healthy.
5. Alkaline Vegetables
During the process of digestion, our stomach tends to secrete gastric acids that help in breaking down foods. Sometimes due to unhealthy lifestyle and food habits, the acidic level of the body increases, leading to acidity and acid refluxes. In order to reduce the chances of increased acid levels, you must binge on alkaline foods like green leafy vegetables, root vegetables like sweet potato, beetroots, carrots, nuts, onion and garlic, et al.
Coconut water makes for one of the best electrolytes in summers. This refreshing elixir not only helps to rejuvenate your body system, but also keep you wary from dehydration in extreme heat. Thanks to the presence of essential minerals like zinc, magnesium, calcium, potassium and sodium. Drinking coconut water or adding coconut in your curries and vegetables will keep you rejuvenated.
7. Water-rich Fruits
Summers also welcome water-rich fruits like watermelon, berries, grapefruits, pineapple, peaches, mango, et al. These fruits will keep you from getting dehydrated and ensure you are refreshed. You can blend these fruits in to delicious juices or eat them as is.
8. Herbs Like Ashwagandha, Brahmi And Tulsi
These three cooling herbs help in cooling your body. Ashwagandha is known to reduce inflammation in the body further treating conditions like asthma and arthritis. Brahmican soothe the body nerves and reduce stress in the body. Tulsi, or holy basil, acts as a detoxifying and cleansing agent. It is also known to cool your body system in extreme heat. You can drink herbal teas to see effective results.
Dr. Varier tells, “Towards maintaining a stable and regularised body temperature, it is best to avoid foods like hot and spicy dishes, deep-fried foods, chilled drinks, tamarind, et al.”
So, you know what to eat and avoid during summers. Bring these superfoods to your rescue and ensure a healthy and rejuvenated body. Happy Summers!