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Staying Cool and Hydrated This Summer: An Ayurvedic Perspective

In you live in the Northern Hemisphere, you are now experiencing the heat of the summer. As the temperatures rise and the days grow longer, I find myself reflecting on the rhythms of nature and how all living beings adapt to the changing seasons. One afternoon, I observed a group of birds splashing joyfully in a small puddle, their feathers ruffled and gleaming in the sun. Nearby, a squirrel busily gathered fallen fruits, opting for the juicy, water-rich ones over the drier fare. Even desert dwellers have mastered the art of staying cool, often burrowing to escape the scorching sun and emerging only during the cooler parts of the day. Their behavior is a powerful reminder of how we, too, need to adapt and find ways to stay cool and hydrated during the summer months.These animals instinctively modify their behavior and diet to cope with the summer heat, reminding me of the importance of tuning into the natural world and adjusting our own habits accordingly.

It’s easy to forget that we, too, are part of the earth’s intricate web of life, and just like the animals, our bodies naturally align with the seasons. Ayurveda offers us timeless wisdom to navigate these changes. Summer, characterized by the Pitta dosha, is a time of heat, intensity, and transformation. To maintain balance, it’s crucial to adopt practices that cool and hydrate the body, soothing the fiery Pitta energy.

What may surprise you is that although it is a hot time of year, our digestion becomes quite low. As the temperatures rise during the summer months, you might notice a natural decline in your appetite and digestion. This phenomenon is not just anecdotal; it is backed by scientific explanations rooted in our body’s physiological responses to heat.

Thermoregulation and Metabolic Rate
One of the primary reasons for reduced appetite and digestion in hot weather is the body’s effort to regulate its core temperature, a process known as thermoregulation. When it’s hot outside, your body works harder to cool itself down, primarily through sweating. This increased effort to maintain an optimal internal temperature means that less energy is available for other processes, such as digestion.

Blood Flow Redistribution
In response to heat, the body redirects blood flow to the skin to facilitate cooling through perspiration. This process, known as cutaneous vasodilation, decreases the blood supply to the gastrointestinal (GI) tract. With less blood flow to the stomach and intestines, digestive processes slow down, leading to a decreased appetite and reduced efficiency in breaking down food.

By aligning your eating habits with the body’s physiological responses to heat, you can ensure that you stay nourished and energized throughout the summer.

Here are some Ayurvedic tips to help you stay cool and hydrated this summer:

1. Hydrate with Room Temp Infused Water
Water is essential, but you can enhance its cooling properties by infusing it with herbs and fruits. Mint, cucumber, and lemon are particularly effective. These ingredients not only add a refreshing flavor but also help to stimulate the digestive system and reduce internal heat.

2. Eat Water-Rich Foods
Just like the squirrel choosing juicy fruits, we should incorporate water-rich foods into our diet. Melons, cucumbers, leafy greens, and berries are excellent choices. These foods help maintain hydration levels and provide essential nutrients that support overall health.

3. Avoid Overly Spicy and Oily Foods
Summer is not the time for heavy, spicy, or oily meals. Such foods can exacerbate Pitta and lead to overheating. Instead, opt for lighter, cooling meals such as salads, steamed vegetables, and grains like quinoa or barley. And add cooling yet stimulating spices that give flavor but not heat like Tumeric, Cumin and Rosemary and Mint.

4. Practice Cooling Breathwork
Pranayama, or breath control, offers techniques to cool the body. Sitali and Sitkari are two cooling breath exercises. To practice Sitali, roll your tongue into a tube, inhale through the mouth, and exhale through the nose. Sitkari involves inhaling through clenched teeth and exhaling through the nose. Both practices help lower body temperature and calm the mind.

5. Stay Cool with Coconut
Coconut water and coconut oil are your summer allies. Drinking coconut water hydrates and replenishes electrolytes, while applying coconut oil to the skin has a cooling, soothing effect. Consider using it when doing a self massage before a shower or adding a few drops to your bath.

6. Embrace Aloe Vera
Aloe vera is renowned for its cooling and hydrating properties. Consuming aloe vera juice can aid digestion and reduce heat, while applying the gel to your skin provides instant relief from sun exposure and heat rashes.

As we embrace these Ayurvedic principles, we honor our connection to the earth and its cycles. By making mindful choices that align with the season, we can enjoy a vibrant, balanced summer. Let’s take a cue from nature by adapting our lifestyles to the rhythms of nature and flourishing in the warm embrace of summer

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