How to stay healthy & Cool in the texas summer
Well last week was the solstice, summer is officially here!
The is an auspicious day in Chinese Medicine and Daoist philosophy, because it represents the most yang part of the year. Yang is represented by the sun and summer time, by warmth and activity, so the longest day of the year is also the yangest day of the year.
So this is a good time to seek balance with yin, which is represented by the moon and nighttime, winter and cooling darkness. Day time is longer, so we should be getting up earlier with the sun, and staying up later too. Wait, get up earlier and stay up later you say? Yup.
But how exactly do we do that? Well, people in hotter climates have known for years - afternoon naps, or Siestas here in South Texas. I know, I know, that's not always doable for some of us. But we can still try to embody the idea by making sure we don't overdo it during the hottest the part of the day. So try not to go to the gym between 3-5, maybe wait and go the evening class, or wake up extra early and go before work. Just make sure that during the heat of the day, late afternoon, you can find shade and do activities that aren't too strenuous, and let yourself stay up a little later to enjoy the cooler evening this time of year.
Another thing we need to focus on during this time of year is hydration. Drink up all the water! And you're not gonna want to hear this, but try to avoid the ice. For real though. Ice makes your stomach work harder to heat up the water, which raises your overall body temperature in the long run. Room temperature water, or even hot tea is better. Hot water opens up the blood vessels and increases blood flow, reducing body temperature overall in the long run. Mint and Chrysanthemum flowers are both great cooling herbs to put in those teas. I've got some 8 treasures tea at the clinic right now which contains some organic chrysanthemums, stop by to grab one before we run out!
Speaking of herbal medicine, did you know that watermelons are basically the best thing you can consume during the summer? They are naturally cooling, contain great electrolytes, and are more hydrating than water! Food is medicine! The strongest part of this medicine though, is in the white rind, so eat down as far as you can at that bbq this weekend. Mung beans are another great cooling food to add to your summer diet. You can make a side, a soup, or even turn your soup into a cooling summer mung bean popsicle. In fact, you definitely should, as Betty pointed out, they are cooling, and drain damp heat. With all the rain we've been getting this year, it's important to drain it out.
This is especially important during the summer, because you know what else causes damp heat? Basically everything we eat during a BBQ. Unfortunately. Fatty foods, butter, cheese, charred and grilled meats, these all cause dampness and heat. What is damp heat? Well its that time of year where it gets hot and wet, and then we put all the hot and wet food on top of it and we get common symptoms such as:
If not though, use the above strategies to keep cool and stay healthy this summer season!
Bret Kyle Rogers, L.Ac.
Texas based acupuncturist, qigong teacher, and herbalist demystifying Chinese medicine.