We are now fully in the midst of the Fire season, aka summer. Fire represents all things joyful and soulful: passion, creativity, spontaneity, inspiration, charisma, drama, and connection. Fire is a tricky element in that it fuels any number of wonderful, magical qualities in our lives, but it has a tendency to burn so brightly that it can transform into an entity that rages out of control (think anxiety and insomnia) or burns itself out completely (think depression and adrenal fatigue).
The Fire element is connected to the Heart organ network in Chinese medicine, which means that it is intimately involved in the physical functions of our Heart (i.e., circulation) as well as the mental-emotional aspects (i.e., love, joy, and empathy). The associated color is red, the sound is laughter, and it houses the mind-spirit and opens to the tongue. The connection to the tongue is one reason why kind, compassionate speech is healing both for others and for oneself. Both our thoughts and words matter in Chinese medicine.
The sparkling, fun, optimistic nature of Fire is contagious, but we must be cognizant of the need to tend to our Fire element to ensure that it remains within a healthy, balanced range. As we move deeper into the fire of summer, we we may notice a flaring of our own internal heat. An excess of heat in the body can manifest as: fever, inflammation, insomnia, irritability, anxiety, restlessness, mania, flushing, skin rashes and acne, hypertension, constipation, nosebleeds, acid reflux, and more.
One of the key ways in which we can assist our bodies during times of seasonal transition is through our diet. Just as the plants that grow and thrive shift with the seasons in response to changes in the environment, so must we. As we tune into the cycles of nature, and recognize these cycles within ourselves, we can begin to match our internal rhythms to those of the greater ecosystem in which we live.
Indigestion can easily occur during the summertime, so a lighter, fresher, more diverse diet is best. While Chinese Medicine often advises against the consumption of cold, raw foods, this is the time of year when it is appropriate to incorporate more foods that are cooling in nature. These are foods that have a cooling & calming effect on the body, and are often sweet, bitter, or astringent. We can use cooling foods to balance the heat of summer, while also incorporating a variety of foods that align with the increased energy and activity of the season. Consciously adapting our diet to one that calms the digestive fire during the summer season can assist us in maintaining a state of emotional calm, while increasing our capacity to handle stress, properly absorb nutrients & eliminate waste, and to look & feel radiant.
Choosing seasonal & locally grown fruits and veggies that can be found at the farmer’s market or delivered via your local CSA is always a great way to follow the cues of nature. Some examples of foods that can help cool & hydrate your body during the summer are: zucchini, cucumbers, romaine lettuce, kale, spinach, broccoli, cauliflower, bok choy, cabbage, daikon radish, seaweeds, watermelon, apricot, cantaloupe, peach, citrus, asparagus, sprouts, bamboo, white mushroom, snow peas, summer squash, watercress, mung beans, fish, cilantro, mint, dill, parsley, basil, and cumin. Sip on water or coconut water infused with slices of lemon and cucumber and fresh mint leaves throughout the day. Foods to avoid this season are rich, greasy, fried, and spicy foods, as well as excessive alcohol, caffeine, and meat consumption.
Eat in moderation, chew each bite thoroughly, and practice gratitude for that which nourishes you. Be aware that over-consumption of any food, especially cooling foods, can lead to indigestion, sluggishness, bloating, & loose stools, so it is often wise to incorporate a small amount of warming herbs or spices to assist in the digestive process. For example, try adding fresh ginger or cardamom to a smoothie or mealtime tea. Try the following smoothie recipe to start your summer day off right!
Soothing Summer Smoothie Recipe:
Add the following organic (& ideally locally grown) ingredients to your blender. Blend, garnish with a fresh mint sprig, and enjoy in small, delight-filled sips!
1 persian cucumber (sliced into rounds)
¼ large fennel bulb (sliced) + several pinches of fennel leaves
1 celery stalk (chopped)
1 large carrot (chopped; raw or steamed & then frozen)
1 large handful of greens (baby spinach or kale is nice)
½ white peach (optional depending on your desired sweetness)
½ cup blueberries or raspberries (frozen or fresh; also optional)
Juice of ½ a lemon or lime
Handful of fresh mint
1 small knob of fresh, peeled ginger
1 large handful of sprouts (I like sunflower & broccoli sprouts, but feel free to explore)
1 tablespoon of chia, hemp, and/or flaxseeds.
½ tablespoon bee pollen
1-2 teaspoons adaptogens, such as moringa powder, tocos, or chlorella.
1 cup Coconut water, kombucha (flavor options are endless these days, but do yourself a favor and try the Love or Happiness flavor from Brew Dr. Kombucha - both of which are perfect for the season of the Heart!), water, or any mixture of the 3.
If you like a creamier smoothie, you can try adding ⅓ avocado and/or replacing 1 or more of the above liquids with a nut mylk.
You can also add a scoop of collagen peptides for some extra protein and gut support. We like Vital Proteins wild-caught marine collagens, or their vanilla & coconut water pasture-raised, grass-fed collagen peptides.