In the battle against inflammation, a full arsenal is often required–moderating your schedule and exercise levels, using meditation and positive affirmations to help create compassion for others, and eating foods that naturally soothe and cool the body.
Summertime is one of those times when we need to do more to stay cool and calm, particularly if we tend to have more fire in our bodies and minds or are currently fighting an infection or inflammation. Here are the best foods to stock your arsenal (pantry) with when the situation calls for it.
These foods are all considered Pitta-reducing and tend to fulfill our Sweet (earth and water), Bitter (made of air and ether) and Astringent (made of earth and air) tastes.
- Sweet, Ripe Fruits. The Sweet taste offers a lot of moisture and coolness, helping to vanquish any internal fire you may be experiencing. Lime, although a slightly sour citrus fruit, it still considered a good choice to help cool you down and create an alkaline environment in your digestive tract.
- Green Vegetables & Fruits. Green food tends to have a bitter flavor, which makes them balancing, cooling and lightening. Green is the color of the heart chakra. Likewise, green food is supportive of loving emotions and the heart, helping us feel more compassionate despite any heated conditions. If you don’t have a strong digestion, eat them cooked with a little ghee; if it’s the middle of summer and your digestion is strong, have a little in a raw salad or as a vegetable side. Cucumbers, leafy greens and cilantro are some of the best. Avocadoes and limes make great cooling fruits!
- Unfermented Dairy. Unsalted butter, cottage cheese, cream cheese, ricotta cheese and milk are some of the coolest and calming protein options on a warm day. While cow milk is the most calming and highly recommended, try making your own almond milk or rice milk if you are lactose intolerant. Coconut milk is also an excellent cooling choice.
- Grains. Grains can be warmer or cooler, depending upon which grain you choose. The coolest options include barley, white basmati rice, millet, oats, white rice, wheat and whole wheat.
- Meats & Eggs. While meats are always going to stoke the inner fire to some degree, white meats and lake fish are typically cooler. The best choices are chicken, egg whites, fresh water fish (like trout) and turkey.
- Legumes. Beans and sprouts, like grains, are either heating or cooling depending upon your choices. The coolest options are black lentils, chickpeas, mung beans, split peas, soybeans (soy products) and tofu.
- Fats & Oils. Lighter oils, like olive oil and ghee, are best. Ghee has the highest smoke point, making it the best choice for cooking, as well as being one of the ‘cooler’ oils. (Translation: less free radicals!)
- Nuts & Seeds. Seeds are generally cooler and definitely lighter than nuts. Coconut, sunflower and pumpkin seeds are the best; pine nuts and sesame seeds are also good choices from time to time.
- Spices. If you’d like to add a little spice to your life, cardamom, catnip, chamomile, coconut, coriander, dill, fennel, lemon verbena, peppermint, saffron, spearmint, turmeric are some of the coolest flavors around. Many of these make good summer teas as well.
- Beverages. In addition to pure or lemon/lime water, bitter and astringent herbal teas, such as alfalfa, chicory, dandelion, hibiscus, and strawberry leaf, are great summer options. For coffee substitutes, try Sipp, Pero, Inka or Cafix to help capture the coffee flavor with a less stimulating, astringent taste. Wheat grass juice and aloe vera juice (my husband’s favorite!) are also effective. Just be sure to get a brand with less sugar!
If you need help putting together a plan that works with your digestive needs, please contact Positively Ayurvedic for a customized consultation and treatment plan. Also check out Foods That Inflame for a list of foods you’ll want to avoid if you’re fighting inflammation.
The sole purpose of this article is to provide information about the tradition of Ayurveda. This information is not intended for use in the diagnosis, treatment, cure or prevention of any disease. If you have an acute or chronic health concern, please consult a trained health professional who can fully assess your needs and address them effectively. If you are seeking the advice of a trained ayurvedic expert, call or email Karen Callahan at info@positivelyayurvedic.