Foods To Be Taken During Summers

Foods To Be Taken During Summers

The Ayurveda Experience July 20, 2022

If I ask you what is Ayurveda, some of you may say it is one of the ancient sciences of health care, while some who have delved deeper may say it is the ‘science of life’. Both the statements are correct. In fact, Ayurveda’s aim is to protect and promote the health of people, while preventing diseases1 

In order to remain healthy, one needs to follow an Ayurvedic daily routine. There are some dos and don’ts that come with the change of seasons. Besides this, Ayurveda imparts several other rules such as the right way of eating, right conduct among others.  

This article focuses on the summer season and the foods that should be taken to remain healthy during the summers.  

You may ask what is there in dealing with the summers when we have air conditioners indoors, and pools and water bodies outdoors to take a dip and cool oneself out. Well, luckily your body ‘responds’ to the weather and guides you to do what is needed. But have you ever thought about why it happens?  

Ayurveda explains this in its language and tells us that seasons affect human bodies.  The ‘demands’ raised by our body are the result of the interaction of the dynamics of our body with the dynamics of nature, which is unique to every season. This interaction is explained in detail in Ayurvedic texts and is based on the principle ofLoka (the cosmos) andPurusha (the human being - or all living beings).  

This principle states that processes occurring in human body are similar to those occurring in the universe. They are mainly of three types viz. visarga(strength-giving), aadan(to take away - in order to transform), and vikshep(to release or let go or to induce movement).  

Sushrut,an ancient Indian physician and world's first surgeon known as “Father of Surgery”, has mentioned that the balance of the universe is maintained by incorporating above activities by Som (moon), Surya (sun), and Anil (wind).  While the balance of the body is maintained with the same activities by Kapha, Pitta,andVatadosharepresented in the human body2  

Click here to read more about doshas.

Moon gives strength, the Sun is the source of heat, the wind is responsible for all types of movements in nature. In the same way, Tridosha,which you might be familiar with,i.e.Kapha, Pitta,andVata maintain the balance of all body functions. Kapha is responsible for strength and growth. Pitta provides heat for digestion and transformation. Vata carries out all body movements. 

The Sun travels through the Northern hemisphere and shines bright during the summer season. The intense Sun rays dry up the unctuous and water-dominated Kapha dosha. While the greater heat of the Sun during summers, gives strength to the Pitta dosha which is dominated by the fire element. As the three doshas are in a dynamic equilibrium, the depletion of Kapha threatens to disbalance Vata at the first opportunity3. Hence, to remain in tune with the summer season and to keep our dosha equilibrium in balance, we should aim at keeping the Pitta and Vata in balance while trying to nourish Kapha. So, Ayurveda makes the following recommendations for diet planning during this season: 

  1. One should indulge in foods dominated by sweet taste (as sweet taste balances both Pitta and Vata). Small quantities of food must be preferred, which are light to digest, unctuous (use of cow ghee is recommended), cooling and watery foods (such as watermelon) as these properties work to keep Pitta and Vata in balance, while nourishing the depleted Kapha4.
  2. After a cool shower or a swim, one should indulge in a special drink made of powdered and roasted barley, and raw sugar called ‘Sattu’5. Barley is light, cooling, nourishing, and strength-giving. Its dryness is countered by the addition of sugar, which makes it a perfect summer drink. The effect of a cool shower and/or a swim is also energizing in summers as it gives a cooling effect which is complemented by the Barley ‘Sattu’ drink.
  3. Alcoholic drinks are to be avoided, but in case one wants to take them, have a little quantity, and dilute the drink with a good amount of water. Alcohol is Pitta aggravating and dehydrating. Both of these effects are not desired in this season. Hence if one cannot avoid taking alcohol, one should dilute it to minimize these two undesired effects.
  4. Intake of milk or buffalo milk if possible. For summers, it is considered better than cow milk, due to its cooling and unctuous properties that keeps Pitta and Vata aggravation at bay.  Ghee or clarified butter prepared from cow’s milk and curd must be included in the diet, as these are Vata and Pitta balancing. 
  5. Raw sugar, sugar as perCharak Samhita, has properties like thirst-quenching, cooling, and nourishing7 is also recommended in the diet. Besides, consumption of rice and thin soups of meats of wild game (open ranch meat in today’s context) is advised to keep up the strength in this season6.
  6. The inclusion of a yogurt, made a bit thin by addition of water and fresh vegetables such as cucumber, onion, and tomato. One can season it with a little salt and pepper. It helps to boost appetite, taste, and aid digestion. 
  7. Intake of various syrups made from fruits likeparushaka (Grewia asiatica),Gambhari (Gmelina arborea), raisins, dates, and honey is advocated. For practical purposes, syrups made from dates or raisins, sandalwood, stone apple, and even pomegranate can be taken during summers. In the absence of modern-day refrigerators, the syrups were supposed to be stored in earthen pots to cool them and taken with the addition of a little natural camphor8. Natural camphor is acoolant, takes care of thirst, and is highly effective for pacifying Pitta9. 
  8. Use of raw coconut, and coconut water is highly recommended in one’s diet. Raw coconut is nourishing, unctuous, cooling, and strengthening. While coconut water is also acoolant, sweet in taste, quenches thirst, and balances Pitta dosha10.    
  9. For supper, one can season their food  with a pinch of powder of edible natural camphor. On the other hand, it is advised to expose buffalo milk to the Moon, mixed with raw sugar11. For the properties of buffalo milk and camphor see points 4 and 7 above. Moon as mentioned above is considered to have ‘Sauma’ cooling and nourishing properties, unlike the Sun which is ‘Agneya’ (fiery). The cooling and nourishing properties of moonlight are believed to enhance properties of buffalo milk. So go ahead and try it! 
  10. Cool water made aromatic with flowers like rose, jasmine,kewra (Pandanus odorifer), andpatla (Bignonia suaveolens) is beneficial. Iced drinks are best avoided, as they tend to derange digestion and produce a morbid matter called ‘Ama’, which is the root cause of many diseases.

To summarize: use of milk, ghee, sugary syrups, foods with more water content: dishes like gruels, porridge, watery fruits (melons), vegetables (cucumber, gourds, zucchini, mint leaves, etc.), thin soups and cooling food items like coconut, camphor (just a pinch), lotus stems, asparagus roots, dates, raisins should be included in the diet. Ample water intake should be maintained. All this will help balance Pitta and Vata dosha, nourish depleted Kapha dosha and keep the body hydrated and energized. 

 

READ MOREPitta Diet: Everything You Need To Know | The Perfect Late Summer Ayurveda Meal, According To Your Dosha | Ecstatic Rose Petal Drink

References: 

  1. Charak Samhita, Sutra Sthana, Chapter 30, verse 26, Page 587, Year 2018 edition, Chaukhamba Bharati Academy, Varanasi, India. 
  1. Sushruta Samhita, Sutra Sthana, Chapter 26 , verse 8,Page 84, 2015 reprint edition , Motilal Banarsidas, New Delhi. 
  1. Ashtang Hridayam, Sutra Sthana, Chapter 3, Verse 26-27, Page 30, Chaukhamba Sanskrit Sansathan, Varanasi, India, 10th Edition. 
  1. Ashtang Hridayam, Sutra Sthana, Chapter 3, Verse 27.5, Page 30, Chaukhamba Sanskrit Sansathan, Varanasi, India, 10th Edition. 
  1. Ashtang Hridayam, Sutra Sthana, Chapter 3, Verse 28, Page 31, Chaukhamba Sanskrit Sansathan, Varanasi, India, 10th Edition. 
  1. Charak Samhita, Sutra Sthana, Chapter 6, verse 27-28, Page 142, Year 2018 edition, Chaukhamba Bharati Academy, Varanasi, India. 
  1. Charak Samhita, Sutra Sthana, Chapter 27, verse 241, Page 553, Year 2018 edition, Chaukhamba Bharati Academy, Varanasi, India. 
  1. Ashtang Hridayam, Sutra Sthana Chapter 3, Verse 30-31, Page 31, Chaukhamba Sanskrit Sansathan, Varanasi, India, 10th Edition. 
  1. Dhanvantri Nighantu, Chandanadi Varga, Verse 33, E- Nighantu, https://niimh.nic.in/ebooks/e-Nighantu/dhanvantarinighantu/?mod=read&h=karpUra 
  1. Kaidev Nighantu, Aushadhi Varga, Verse 268 and 270, E- Nighantu, https://niimh.nic.in/ebooks/e-Nighantu/kaiyadevanighantu/?mod=read&h=nArikela 
  1. Ashtang Hridayam, Sutra Sthana Chapter 3, Verse 32, Page 31, Chaukhamba Sanskrit Sansathan, Varanasi, India, 10th Edition. 

 

Written by: Dr Upasana Bhanot. She completed her bachelor's degree in Ayurveda (BAMS) from Kurukshetra University, Haryana, India and has been practicing since 25 years. She endeavors to simplify the complex concept of Ayurveda through her writings, practical solutions for promotion of health, through Ayurvedic diet, herbs and lifestyle interventions. 

She has been recently awarded for her contributions to the Ayurvedic world, by a prestigious association of Ayurvedic practitioners in India.


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