Did you know that toothaches are most likely to begin between 3 and 8 in the morning and are least likely to start between 3 and 4 in the afternoon?
But, it’s not only that aching tooth that is on a time schedule. All diseases and their treatments affect us differently at different times of the day and the year. According to Ayurveda these effects correspond to which of the elements (air, space, earth, water and fire) are most pronounced at a particular time.
Ancient medicine and modern science agree that in order to stay healthy our physiologies require different care in the summer than in the winter. The human mind-body is a finely tuned timepiece which is constantly being affected by the cycles of the natural world.
During the summer months the fire element is at its strongest and if we do not work to maintain balance we risk harming our vitality or even bringing disease to our doorstep. In order to stay healthy we need to bring our routines into synchrony with nature’s rhythms. So how do we stay healthy in the summertime? Following are a few tips:
- Many people notice that they instinctively avoid hot, spicy, and salty foods in the summer and that they favor sweet, cooling, liquid, unctuous foods and drinks. Leaning in a cooling direction is beneficial. Do avoid an excess of hot, spicy, and salty foods in the summertime as these adversely affect pitta dosha which is dominant in nature (and in your body) during this time of the year.
- What diet you choose is always a matter of your constitution and your particular imbalances. Reading Chapter 15 in Healing Depression the Mind-Body Way will help you identify your imbalances. For instance, most of us will enjoy good health if we eat more sweet foods in the summer but if you have a kapha imbalance you will need to minimize the sweet food even in these hotter months.
- According to Ayurveda the digestive fire is weaker in the very hot summer months than it is in the coldness of winter. Ayurveda recommends that most people should eat less during the hottest months of summer. Actually some studies of human beings have found that many people do naturally cut down on food intake during the summer. If digestion is weak the nutrients are not distributed appropriately and toxins (ama) will accumulate. These toxins or ama will clog your life force (prana). Have you felt tired lately? Perhaps you need to cut down on food intake.
- Of course we should all exercise everyday but in summertime most of us will profit from a lighter exercise routine. Exercise heats the body and the body is heated enough during this hot time of year. There is also a danger, in summer, of over-exercising and over-heating the body. Avoid this as it will trigger an imbalance.
- Swimming is great in the summer. Cooling the body in water is therapeutic as well as being a lot of fun.
- Try using coconut oil for a massage. Use this especially if you have become over-heated. Oil massage is profoundly soothing and helpful in the maintenance of health and well being. Coconut oil cools the physiology and can be highly effective for maintaining balance during the summer.
- Most people love a cool drink when the weather is hot and we are constantly reminded to drink plenty of water. Do be careful, however, not to drink too much right before, during, or immediately after meals. An excess of liquid taken at these times cuts down on digestive strength.
- Alcohol! Often we find more time to relax during the summer months. Alcohol sometimes goes along with relaxing times. Create a boundary for yourself regarding alcohol. Do not overdo. Wine is very pitta aggravating. If you cannot give up alcohol altogether then try to pick up a beer instead of a glass of wine. Beer is not as aggravating to pitta dosha.
- Ayurveda and western medicine are on the same page regarding excess exposure to the sun. Buy a good sun screen, sunglasses and a cute hat for when you go out to “play.”
You probably already know all of the things I have mentioned (except perhaps the suggestion regarding coconut oil). When we are alert to our body’s needs, we tend to naturally adjust our habits with the seasons. However, reminders can be helpful.
It is helpful to remember that our natural inclinations do make scientific sense. We profit if we listen to our body and make appropriate life style adjustments when necessary. Compliance with seasonal recommendations is easy because the effects are immediate. When we begin to feel better we tend to move in a healthy direction as that takes us toward balance, vitality and health. Listen to your inner voice, follow the Ayurvedic recommendations and enjoy these hazy, lazy days of summer.
We send our best wishes for a fun and healthy summer to you and your families,
Nancy and Sandra