I’ll never forget how amazed I was, when I first learned that our body temperature can be controlled with food. It was a hot summer day, and I was at a friend’s house (a friend who had been studying Macrobiotics for many years). He said that the day before at his house had been so hot, that he and his wife just stayed in the shade and ate only melon during the hottest part of the day. ‘What?’, I thought. ‘Melons help you feel cool?’…Yes! Every kind of melon is hydrating to the body and has a very cooling thermal effect. In fact, most of the foods which grow at the hottest times of year, tend to cool our bodies down.
It’s inspiring to me how Mother Nature knows best. The spring and summer crops tend to be cooling and cleansing, whereas the fall and winter crops tend to be warming and building. The ancient diet and lifestyle systems of Macrobiotics and Ayurveda state these principals clearly, as guidelines for maintaining balance through the seasons. Eating seasonally and regionally, just as our ancestors did, and as indigenous people all over the world today do, is a powerful tool for maintaining balance in mind, body, and spirit.
As if this tool weren’t enough, another amazing fact is that different cooking methods impart either a warming or a cooling thermal effect into our bodies too! When feeling too warm, eat fruits and vegetables raw, or just lightly steam your veggies. Blanching or sauteing with water also tends to help keep the body cool. Quicker cooking methods using stainless steel are suggested for hot weather or when feeling too warm.
Conversely, in the colder months (or when feeling cold), bake, pressure-cook, or cook for longer periods of time in cast iron. And, the fall and winter foods which tend to be more warming and building are; whole fats like butter, quality meats, root veggies, winter squash, sturdy winter greens like Brussel’s sprouts and cabbage, and the hearty winter grains like oats, heirloom wheats, rye, kamut, and amaranth.
Okay. Let’s get back to those cooling foods, before you have to go jump into a swimming pool! The cooling summer vegetables are cucumbers, lettuces of all kinds, bok choy, mustard greens, turnip and radish tops, green beans, sprouts, summer squash, and zucchini. Most fruits have a cooling thermal nature, especially melons, tropical fruits, summer fruits, grapes, and berries. And, the cooling grains are: millet, corn, and quinoa.
It’s important to note, that, for easy digestion, eat melons and fruits by themselves, as they do completely different acid-dance in the stomach compared to other foods. If you have sensitive digestion (like me), you may want to eat all vine-fruits, like cucumber, alone. It’s best to wait 2hrs after eating a meal, before eating most fruits, and especially melons, citrus, or cucumbers…and afterward, it’s best to wait another 2hrs before eating other foods again. Eat these foods alone.
And, of course, during the hot days of summer, remember to stay hydrated with plenty of re-mineralized water, around the clock, by adding to your water any of these electrolyte-rich, water metabolism enhancers: a squeeze of lemon, a teaspoon of raw apple cider vinegar, an ounce or so of any 100% fruit juice, or a pinch of real sea salt. And, because many of us forget to drink, set out half your ideal body weight in ounces of water each morning, and drink 1/4 of it first thing in the morning, at least 30 minutes before breakfast. Then, stagger the rest of your water throughout the day, between meals, so as not to dilute your valuable stomach acids or enzymes. Better digestion means better health all the way around…