As per Ayurveda, the human body is made up of the 5 elements of earth: air, ether, earth, water and fire. These five elements combine into three doshas: vata (space & air), pitta (fire and water) and kapha (water and earth). Although each human body is composed of all 3 doshas, each body has a different combination of them and this determines one’s genetically inherited physical and personality traits. Through one’s life, these constitutions may change based on physical, mental and emotional conditions.
In Ayurveda ‘health’ or ‘good health’ is a dynamic state of balance between the mental and physical with the environment. When one faces an imbalance of the doshas, they experience ailments. Hence, Ayurveda recommends knowing/identifying one’s dosha and then creating a lifestyle that suits it.
As summer is the season of heat, the pittha (fire) dosha dominates and thus people must adopt a lifestyle to balance the effects of the pittha dosha.
Symptoms of Pitta Dominance
An imbalance of the pittha dosha has an effect on not only the body’s physical but also mental constitution.
The dominance of pittha has a detrimental effect on the digestive system as well as the skin. The effects on the digestive system can include ulcers, diarrhoea and even acidity. On the skin, these effects are more noticeable as an individual will have acne as well as rashes all over the body. While these can be prevented through a change in lifestyle, for those not willing to change according to the season – you can even take Ayurvedic remedies like Amlapittavati (to reduce gas) or Herbocharm (to clear your skin).
Apart from ailments, the dominance of the pitta dosha can affect your mind too. The dominance of the pitta dosha causes irritability, a short temper and competitiveness. Hence, it is important to correct the dosha imbalance before your personality becomes too unpleasant for your family, friends and work colleagues.
Diet for the Summer
To dominate the fiery influence of the pitta dosha, summer is a time to focus on sweet and bitter tasting items whilst avoiding anything spicy and sour. Since the dominance of the pitta dosha causes indigestion, it is best to stick to foods that are easy to digest. We will now give you our list of the top recommendations of dishes that will help balance the pitta dosha in the summer:
- Avocado Toast: Avocados have a very cooling effect on the stomach and are relatively easy to digest so it and thus, are a perfect way to begin your day in the summer.
- Apples, Berries and Pineapples: While it is always good to begin your day with a fruit, these fruits are perfect for the summer. As they say, an apple a day keeps the doctor away!
- Prunes: A prune at breakfast is very good for your digestive system and hence, this is especially important for the summer time!
Lunch & Dinner
- Soups: Any and all kinds of soup are perfect for the summer because they provide relief to your digestive system whilst still providing you with the essential nutrients that you need.
- Thai Green Curry: A coconut curry filled with a mix of vegetables like zucchini, broccoli and okra served with a side of basmati rice are a perfect combination for the summer. Just ensure not to add too much spice as this would cause indigestion. For the meat eaters, feel free to add some grilled chicken or fish to your dish.
- Aloo Bhindi: This Indian preparation is delicious, light on the stomach and still extremely nutritious for a summer meal.
- Butter Garlic Green Beans: This dish is ideal for a work lunch as it is easy and quick to cook yet unmistakably delicious
- Guacamole and Pico de Gallo: These mexican dips are very refreshing dishes for the summer.
- Palak Paneer: Make sure to use fresh spinach and cottage cheese in order to gain the most nutrients with this meal!
- Apple Pie: Just as you remember it growing up, Apple pie is a wonderful dish for the summer.
- Strawberry Cheesecake: A combination of fresh, sweet and creamy – this dessert will surely satisfy your sweet cravings.
- Ice Cream: I Scream, You Scream, We all Scream for Ice Cream. Ice cream is not just a perfect solution to beat the heat but also to cool your body.
Drinks for the Summer
Ayurveda does not just expect you to eat healthy but drink too. While it is common belief that citrus drinks like orange juice and nimbu paani are good for you in summer, this is not necessarily the case. Instead, you should drink cooler, sweeter drinks that are not as sour. While summer time does call for cooler drinks, it is essential to avoid iced drinks and instead replace them with drinks at either cool or room temperatures. Here is our list of recommended drinks for the summer:
- Sweet Lassis are a good way to not just beat the summer heat but also to improve digestion and reduce pitta dominance in the summer.
- Herbal Teas: Teas that will soothe your throat preferably mint, liquorice or tulsi
- Berry Smoothies: Smoothies satiate your hunger and tastebuds. Adding yogurt to your smoothie can make it easier to digest.
- Fruit Juices: However, make sure to ensure you avoid sour or citrus juices like orange or lemon.
- Avoid Alcohol: While the occasional beer is ok, drinking is known to hinder digestion. Drinking alcohol causes the formation of acetaldehyde in your blood. When this reaches your stomach, it causes acidity. Hence if you still want to attend those summer brunches, ensure to take LIVitup! every time you drink.
Routine for the Summer
While diet is important, it is vital to also adapt your lifestyle to curb the increasing influence of the pitta dosha in the summer. Here is our list of things to do and avoid in the summer:
- Napping in the afternoon will help reduce the pitta dosha
- Exercise is very heating at this time of the year so if you plan to exercise – make sure to do so either in the early morning or late evening when the atmosphere is cooler. Even when you exercise, prefer exercises like swimming and morning walks over running and other sports.
- Meditation is important as it can help balance the pittha dosha.
- Stay Hydrated: Make sure to drink at least six 8-ounce cups of water per day so that you do not get to dehydrated.
- Protect yourself from the sun and if you do have to be out in the sun, please put ensure to add some sunscreen.
- Shower in cool water so you are ready to face the city’s heat
Follow these tips to have a happy, healthy summer!
Authored by: Dr. (Mrs.) Surya Bhagwati (BAMS, DHA, DHHCM, and DHBTC), 25+ years experience in Ayurveda