Summer is in full swing and it can be hard for many people to adjust to the increase in heat. If you don’t manage your health carefully it can lead to conditions such as heat stroke and dehydration. Here are a few ways to beat the heat this summer.
Adjust To The Summer Season
Centenarians understand the power of the sun; they rise at dawn and go to bed at sundown. In the summer months, when the days are long, Chinese medicine advises that everyone should get up earlier, go to bed later, and take a midday rest during the hottest part of the day. The summer is a season of tremendous heat, and it is also a season of abundant growth for plants, flowers, fruits, and animals.
Heat causes extreme expansion and promotes dehydration, which destabilizes the nervous system, slows intestinal movement, and lowers production of digestive juices. According to Chinese medicine, the heart and small intestine are most active during the summer. In addition to rising early and going to bed late, do your best to prevent overheating during physical activities, drink plenty of fluids, and add more pungent flavors into your diet like peppermint, basil, and sage. Additionally, bitter flavors cool the body, so to counter the heat, foods such as arugula, endive, and radicchio are the perfect addition to your summertime diet.
Finally, try to avoid anger in your daily life, and instead choose to maintain a lively and positive spirit that is full and balanced like all things in nature.
Check Your Sunlight Exposure
Sunlight can be both helpful and harmful to our health, depending on our level of exposure. The ultraviolet rays of the sun act as a natural sterilizer, killing bacteria and fungus on the skin. The sun also boosts the production of vitamin D in the body, a substance that is imperative for bone health. Sunlight can even stimulate the immune system by raising the levels of natural killer cell activity. On the other hand, too much sun is definitely too much of a good thing. An overload of sun can cause skin damage and more serious conditions including skin cancer, dehydration, heat stroke, and a suppressed immune function. To reap the maximum benefits of sun exposure, limit yourself to only 30 minutes or less of direct exposure, keeping it within two hours of sunrise or sunset. Make sure to apply sunscreen if you are outdoors during other times of the day and use a natural sunscreen as well. Jane Iredale has an excellent natural mineral sunscreen that is applied dry, is both waterproof and sweatproof, and is available at The Wellness Living Store in Santa Monica.
In the heat of summer, choose activities for exercise that won’t overheat your body. Some good ways to get exercise but avoid overheating are swimming, working out in air-conditioned gyms, and practicing yoga or tai chi.
Studies have found that the risk of stroke is three times higher on hotter days than on colder days. As a matter of fact, the peak months for stroke are June, July, and August. So keep yourself hydrated with water and keep cool when you exercise in the summer months.
By the way, it is more beneficial to drink room temperature rather than cold water. It is standard in this country to drink beverages on ice – however, the shock of cold reduces the internal temperature of your stomach, altering digestion. Over a prolonged period, this can injure the body’s Yang energy and impair digestion. So stick to room-temperature beverages.
Cooling Foods For Summer
The heat of the summer is your cue to introduce some cooling foods into your diet. Many fruits and vegetables will help adjust your internal body temperature and protect you during the long and hot summer days. The best summer foods include apples, berries, bok choy, broccoli, cabbage, cantaloupe, carrot, celery, chrysanthemum, corn, cucumber, watercress, mint tea, orange, peach, pear, potato, seaweed, snow peas, tofu, water chestnut, watermelon, zucchini, and the bitter greens and herbs mentioned above.
If you find yourself feeling dehydrated, try juicing watermelon with the rind. This will hit the spot and cool you down.
May you live long, live strong, and live happy!
Dr. Mao Shing Ni, best known as Dr. Mao is a bestselling author, doctor of Oriental Medicine and board certified anti-aging expert. He has appeared regularly on “Dr. Oz,” “The Doctors,” and “EXTRA.” Dr. Mao practices acupuncture, nutrition, and Chinese medicine with his associates at the Tao of Wellness in Santa Monica and Newport Beach. Dr. Mao and his brother, Dr. Daoshing Ni founded Tao of Wellness more than 25 years ago in addition to also founding Yo San University in Marina del Rey. To subscribe to his tip-filled newsletter please visit www.taoofwellness.com. To make an appointment for evaluation and treatment please call 310.917.2200 or you can email Dr. Mao at [email protected]