Healthy Habits: How To Clear Your System and Keep Cool This Summer

Maintain summer heart health

by SHFamily | Tue, July 11, 2017

By Kimberly Ashton

It’s summertime, the weather is hot and the air is humid. So this month, I’d like to share some suggestions to keep your mind and body healthy, calm and cool. In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), we should be taking extra care of certain organs in every season and they’re always treated in pairs – like yin and yang.

Spring – liver and gallbladder

Summer – heart and small intestine

Mid/Late Summer – stomach and spleen

Autumn – lungs and large intestine

Winter – kidneys and urinary bladder

Food

With summer’s arrival, it’s time to add cooling foods to our diets; moving from spring’s leafy greens to the bamboo shoots we’ve seen pop up this short season. Pears, water chestnuts, sugar canes, celery and cucumbers all help to clear excessive heat inside the body. Whilst chrysanthemum tea is the best for a summer beverage – a refresher for those suffering from the unforgiving Shanghai summer.

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Other foods you might notice in abundance this season are:

  • Watermelon
  • Tomatoes
  • Mung and green beans
  • Cucumber
  • Gourds and melons
  • Lotus root
  • Lotus seeds
  • Job’s tears (seeds from a Southeast Asian grass)
  • Chinese barley
  • Bean sprouts.

During the warmer months, it’s incredibly important to clear heat from your system when possible; you can do this effectively with food.

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Apart from cooling down your body, it’s important to keep your digestion really strong – so despite your inclination, don’t overwhelm it with ice cream. Foods with sour and salty flavors are best for this time of year, as these help rebalance the body's fluids and electrolytes.

Movement

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In terms of exercise, it’s equally important to ensure you sweat in the summer, as it dispels excess heat from the body and detoxifies your system. Those who attempt to hide in air-conditioned spaces are actually blocking the natural processes that get rid of toxins in the body, trapping them underneath the skin.

Conversely, those who suffer from excessive sweating or overheating will be scattering their heart-qi, believed to weaken the mind and cause symptoms like increased irritability, agitation, restlessness and potential sleep issues.

Heart

While physical activity is important, it is also essential to find peace in the summertime, for your mind and for your heart. Some of the best ways I’ve managed to find this are by doing quiet activities like yin yoga – my newest passion and one that is growing in popularity across the globe.

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Wonderful in all seasons, when practicing you work through sequences and long held stretches that clear the TCM meridians (and therefore organs) in your body. In yin yoga, the meridians are the channels through which your qi flows. To nourish the heart, small intestine, stomach and spleen – as needed in the summer – we work on chest opening, gentle back bends and arching.

All forms of yoga are great, though, and work well with the mission of staying cool and relaxed. Yin is what I personally needed to slow me down, creating a space to be still, reduce anxiety, stress and monitor my emotional excitement. This season, I’d encourage everyone to go out and try a class – but most importantly, stay cool, stay calm and stay healthy.