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Being Intune with the Seasons - Mid to Late Summer

by Melissa Jin L.Ac.

The summer brings to us a time of great sunshine, more blue skies, and a host of fruits and vegetables. With any season, the goal is always to live in accordance with the demands and unique properties of that season to remain as healthy as possible. This becomes especially true as we begin to approach the end of that season. Centuries of Chinese Medicine tradition tells us how to best approach this. Specifically, the seminal text on Chinese Medicine, “The Huang Di Nei Jing”. 

For the summer months, you can get away with going to sleep a little later than normal and still getting up early. The key is a little, not staying up till two am and waking up at 6 am. It is also very important to be as physically active as you can be. In fact, this season demands you be at your most physically active. This does not mean running ten miles a day or heavy weight lifting every day. However,  if you would normally take the train or car to work or the local store, walk or bike instead. Do calisthenics a few times per week. Take extra walks. Simple but effective. 

The next important point, which is probably the hardest for many of us, is to limit how much anger you let loose. More than any other time of year, it is important to add more calming and stress relieving activities. The best ones in this season are those that help you calm your mind like meditation, yoga, or maybe just quiet walks through nature. This combined with more vigorous exercise will help keep all that excess energy from getting stuck and giving you all kinds of pain and stiffness. The calmer you are, the less likely that same frustration will rise to your head and give massive headaches. It is hot enough this season without adding to it. 

Of course, what may be the most important part is eating in accordance with the season. Many of us know the seasonal TV shows and sports, but have no idea what fruits and vegetables are in season. For the summer season, brightly colored fruits and vegetables that are steamed or lightly sauteed are best. To beat the summer heat, watermelon, apples, lemon, and limes are among the best. Watermelon in particular is great for its cool thirst quenching properties and to help us stave off heat exhaustion. Many of the best berries are also in season like strawberries, blackberries and raspberries.  Some great summer vegetables are green beans, fresh ears of corn, summer squash, and tomatoes. You may find many more from this U.S. department of agriculture website:

Adding in some amount of spice on very hot days is also a great idea. It may seem counter intuitive, but adding a small amount of hot peppers, cayenne pepper, black pepper, or fresh ginger can help to make us sweat and release heat from the surface. Just don’t overdo it or you risk getting too hot. 

In the last month of the summer, as is the case now, it is time to add in some foods like millet, corn, sweet potatoes, cantaloupe and peas that are a bit more mild as the hot weather winds down. Preparation becomes a little more simple and less spices should be used to keep the digestion running at optimum levels. We can start to reduce the total exercise a little as well. We want to be especially careful not to overtax ourselves or our digestion with the change of seasons as this upcoming one, from summer into fall, is the most notorious for making us sick.

Wishing you all the best of health with the seasons!