Summertime Dietary Considerations


by Wendy Brown, Lic. Ac.

According to traditional Chinese dietary practice, foods should help to balance the body, therefore, the daily diet in summer should contain more vegetables and fruits to stimulate the appetite and replenish Yin fluids, thereby keeping the body cooler. In the summertime, Qi and Blood move more vigorously than at other times of the year. Such physiological changes lend to the Heart’s over-functioning, with the potential for too much Yang Qi flowing outwardly to the exterior of the body.

According to five element theory, an over-functioning of fire [Heart] restricts the functioning of metal [Lung] so it is advisable to eat some pungent flavor, while reducing bitter flavor in order to enhance the Lung and maintain normal sweating in summertime heat and humidity. Sweat is the fluid of the Heart and excessive sweating scatters the Qi of the Heart, weakens the mind, and causes symptoms like restlessness, being easily vexed, un-spirited lackluster, and difficulty sleeping.

Yin: During the most yang time of the year, summer time, relying mostly upon yin foods; foods which naturally ripen to fruition in the brightness of the yang growing months, counteract the excesses of the season. Generally, vegetables tend to be yin and contain the strongest inherent moistening, yin energy; natures antidote which counteracts the effects of the environment. Preparation methods also affect the amount of yin energy that food contains: Steaming increases yin and thus, a person who is yin deficient benefits even more from eating steamed foods at any time of the year.

Foods that accentuate Yin: Asparagus, millet, barley, tofu/soy, seaweeds, mung beans, cucumber, black beans, potato, wheat, dairy, butter, soft cheeses, aloe vera, and watermelon is well known to help clear vexatious summer heat that desiccates fluids.

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