I write this from a guest bedroom in my in-laws house in the outskirts of Madrid, as thermometers outside are hitting over 40C. This heatwave has been going on for a while and it seems it is here to stay, at least in the Iberian peninsula.
In high heat, our digestive fire slows down. This is mirrored in the fact that a lot of us get really sleepy in high heat (as a general rule of thumb, a sleepy person will have a sleepy digestion, too!).
We therefore want to aim for foods that are light, juicy (for extra hydration) and most importantly, easily digestible. Moreover, we want to avoid creating extra heat in our bodies through what we ingest. Excess heat in our bodies might translate into symptoms such as anger, irritability, skin rashes, acute inflammation, or acid reflux.
Foods to favour:
- You almost cannot go wrong with most grains and legumes this time of year. One thing to remember regarding legumes: the larger the bean, the more effort it takes to digest it! So you might want to opt for smaller varieties to give your gut a break on very hot days (there are so many lentil varieties to choose from!).
- Go nuts with seasonal veggies now – the only thing to look out for when things really heat up is if a veggie is very spicy or sharp in taste (like green chilli, radishes, horseradish or mustard greens) – then give it a miss as this will create extra heat in your body. Raw vegetables are more taxing to digest than cooked, so enjoy those fresh salads (unless you experience constipation) but know that you will digest them better during lunch than dinner. This is because our digestion follows the rhythm of the Sun and it’s at its full capacity at noon.
- With fruits, the main criterion is to privilege “sweet and juicy” over sour. It is best to consume fruits separately from other foods (move over, fruit milkshakes!👋)
- Herbs and spices: to avoid your systems overheating, stay away from hot and pungent spices (chillies, cayenne, garlic, thyme, dry ginger) and favour those that have more cooling properties on the spice spectrum, such as: cardamom, mint, peppermint, parsley, cumin, fennel, dill.
- Don’t go nuts on nuts: they are very oily and most of them have a heating quality on the body. So during a heatwave, you might want to skip the salted nut-mix! Almonds (peeled and soaked) will go easier on your body if you feel like a nut snack.
- If you eat meat, keep in mind that red meat is very warming to your body in its nature. You might want to opt for white meat instead.
- Ice cream: go for it! Try to find a variety with the least additives and the most simple ingredients. Best to be enjoyed when you’re not experiencing any digestive discomfort as cold dairy is pretty taxing to process. I’d advise to indulge in the middle of the day, when digestion is at its peak. So, who said Ayurveda was restrictive??🤪
Do take care of your digestion – don’t strive for perfection.
Ayurveda calls for a 80/20 rule, where 20% of the time we are encouraged to indulge and to cheat! So if those potato chips at midday are really, REALLY calling you, go for it every once in a while and enjoy them fully, without guilt! 😻
Do you notice a change in your digestive capacity when the heat strikes? How do you cope with it? Let me know by dropping me a line on [email protected]!