Summer - the season of fire and heat, as represented so eloquently in Chinese medicine, is governed by the organs the Heart and its yang pairing The Small Intestine.
The Heart is the mental, emotional, and spiritual centre of the person, and it processes our life experiences accordingly. The Small Intestine receives deep nourishment from what we put into our system (physically, mentally and emotionally) and distributes it into our lives. Together these organ systems are at their peak in summer and embody the concepts of 'having heart', 'following your heart' and being able to 'receive and distribute' the rich tapestry of life.
The summer months ask us to express the yang principles of expansion, growth, lightness, outward activity, brightness, and creativity. It’s good in our lifestyle and diet to follow this principle by waking up early in the morning and reaching to the sun for nourishment as the gardens do. Work, play, travel, be joyful, and grow. The bounty of the outside world enters and enlivens us.
The summer diet can be filled with plenty of brightly coloured summer fruits and vegetables, so enjoy creating beautiful meals. Cook lightly and regularly add a little spicy, pungent or even fiery flavour. When sautéing, use high heat for a very short time, steam or simmer foods as quickly as possible. Summer offers abundant variety and it’s good if the diet reflects this. Minerals and oils are lost through sweating and weakness occurs if they are not replaced by a varied diet.
Keep cool by drinking hot liquids and taking warm showers, which induce sudden sweating and cool the body. Summer heat combined with too much cold food weakens the digestion. Coldness causes contraction holding in sweat and heat, and interfering with digestion. Iced drinks and ice cream actually contract the stomach and stop digestion and are best avoided. Cooling fresh food like salads and sprouts, fruit, cucumber and flower leaf teas (like chrysanthemum, mint and camomile) cool the body. Fruits such as watermelon, apple, lemon and limes serve the body well. Mung bean soup, mung bean salad, or mung bean tea are good remedies for summer heat.