Warmer weather is here! Rising temperatures turn our minds toward cold water, iced tea, chilled cold brew coffee, ice cream, salads and raw foods to cool down in the heat. I’m here to share some (possibly bummer) news with you: all that cold food and drink can really do a number on your digestion. If you’ve ever had a stomach ache after drinking cold water, or had an urgent trips to the bathroom after a huge raw salad, you know what I mean. But no fear! We can be cool AND support our digestive system at the same time.
So first, let’s sit back together, and envision a lovely bonfire. That fire is awesome. Flames rise upward while logs smolder bright orange and hot in the depths. The fire provides warmth against the cold, gives us heat for cooking, casts a glowing light to gather around as the sky goes dark. Fire has allowed for survival, provided comfort, and given us humans energy for a very long time.
If you’ve ever built a fire of your own, you know that it requires constant tending to stay strong! The right amount of stoking and logs are necessary to keep it burning bright.
Yang Qi: our inner fire
Now, imagine you have an awesome fire inside of you, deep in your belly. This fire is your yang qi - the warm, active, vital energy that drives organ function, circulation, thought and cognition, metabolism, and more. Our digestive system is kind of like a bubbling pot over that fire, cooking down and transforming what we eat and drink into a rich, nutritious soup. The nutrition from this “soup” is absorbed by our bodies and transformed into energy. In order to keep that pot bubbling, we need to keep that fire burning below the pot.
In order to keep our digestive yang qi strong, the last thing we want to do is dump cold water on the fire and extinguish the flames! We want to have dietary habits that grow and sustain the energy. Eating regular meals, consuming mostly warm or room temperature, cooked, or fermented foods and room temperature and warm beverages, eating moderate amounts of warming, moving spices, and taking time to sit back and enjoy meals in a leisurely way forms the foundation of a Chinese medicine food therapy approach to strong digestive energy.
In the warmer months of summer, the Fire season, we are also able to absorb more yang qi from the environment around us. This means that for most folks, cold food and drink every once and a while works out okay through the summer months! But for folks with a history of digestive issues, this can cause a lot of digestive discomfort and irregularity, no matter the season.
Energetically cooling foods for summer
Rather than eating foods and drinks that are cold in physical temperature to cool down on a hot summer day, everyone can benefit from foods that have a cooling energetic temperature. Some examples include:
- Mung beans
- Green tea (yep, even when it’s consumed hot!)
- Coconut water
It’s a tasty-looking list, right? Consuming moderate amounts of these through the summer will help keep you cool and comfortable. I encourage you to experiment with the physical and energetic temperature of your food and drink, and observe how you feel after! Your body is an amazing teacher.
Want to learn more about how Chinese food therapy can support your digestive health?
*The information provided on this site is intended for your general knowledge only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice or treatment for specific medical conditions. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease without consulting with a qualified healthcare provider. Please consult your healthcare provider with any questions or concerns you may have regarding your condition.
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