In Ayurveda, each season is associated with a dosha, or body type. Because summer is hot, fiery, and dry, it’s matched with the fire sign Pitta. Ayurvedic practitioners believe that every person has all three dosha aspects within their body ‒ Pitta (fire), Vata (air), and Kapha (earth) ‒ though at varying levels.
To stay healthy, these doshas should be in balance with one another. When one of them is out of whack due to stress, diet, or even the weather, you feel it physically and emotionally.
Because summer exacerbates the Pitta dosha, it’s key to eat foods that are the opposite of fiery; think sweet, bitter, astringent, cold, and even a little oily. By eating these types of foods, you can keep your Pitta fire in balance. If Pitta is imbalanced, you may notice physical symptoms like acne, rashes, heartburn and acid reflux, low blood sugar, and insomnia. Emotionally, you may feel “hot under the collar” (or agitated), more sarcastic and impatient, more irritable, or more negatively affected by the heat.
Cooling Foods for Summer
Numerous fruits and vegetables are in peak season during the summer months, and many of them are great for maintaining your Pitta dosha. Looking for meals to make with cooling foods? Check out these 15 healthy summer recipes that’ll keep you cool, hydrated, and nourished all summer long.
To keep your Pitta in check, it’s recommended to stock your pantry and refrigerator with Pitta-balancing superfoods:
- Grapes (red, purple, or black)
- Bell peppers
- Dandelion greens
- Snow peas
- Basmati rice
- Azuki beans
- Black-eyed peas
- Garbanzo beans (chickpeas)
- Pinto beans
- Red lentils
Eating meals raw or lightly cooked is also recommended, as raw foods are particularly hydrating in Ayurvedic medicine and considered easier to digest than frozen foods (think deconstructing your smoothie and eating the ingredients rather than blending them with ice).
Room-temperature juices, water, and coconut water are perfect for hydration, but try to avoid ice-cold drinks, as those could dampen your digestion and cause issues. Salads, gazpacho, blended drinks, and fruit and veggie crudités are perfect meals for a Pitta summer. It’s also recommended to avoid eating foods that are spicy, sour, salty, hot, or dry, so stay away from items like hot coffee, salty chips, and spicy salsa.
Other Ways to Keep Cool This Summer
Dress in light layers
Dressing in light, breathable clothing made from linen, cotton, or silk and in cooling colors like blues, purples, greens, whites, grays, and taupes will help you counter the intensity of the summer heat.
Rise with the sun
Depending on your location and the time of year, the hour the sun rises can vary. Benefits of rising with the sun (that is, waking up early) include regulating circadian rhythm, increasing energy levels, and improving productivity.
Exercise in the early morning
Summer can motivate you to improve your fitness levels and provides more opportunities for outdoor exercise. Early-morning exercise can help you avoid the high temperatures that come with midafternoon summer sunshine.
Try Pitta-focused yoga poses
You can balance the fiery Pitta season by adjusting your yoga practice. Allow your routine to be guided by relaxed effort: Move gently and fluidly, keeping your breathing regulated and your energy focused on your breathing.
Avoid alcohol and caffeine
Alcohol and caffeine are considered “sharp” and “heating” – and according to Ayurvedic principles, both should be avoided in the summer months. Iced coffee, especially, should be avoided, as ice can douse your digestive fire.
Keeping Cool the Ayurvedic Way
Keeping your body and mind cool during the summer is key to balancing the Pitta dosha. Eating cooling foods, drinking enough (room-temperature) water, and surrounding yourself with soothing friends and experiences will help you beat the summer heat. All these make up your primary food – the things that feed your soul outside of the foods you eat. When you’re adequately nourished with primary food, you can live a more fulfilling and healthier, happier life.