A collage of images of fruits and vegetables including melons, cucumbers, tomatos, beans, zucchinis, radishes and more.

Seasonal Summer Advice

June 18, 2024

As we enter summer with the warmer days and nights quickly becoming the norm, we hear a lot of great advice for “how to beat the heat.” Staying hydrated, sunscreen, and not over-exerting yourself all make sense, but many lessons from the hotter regions of the world are still lesser known in the West, and can do a lot of help us during hotter weather.

A Light Layer to Cover Up With

The natural reaction in hot weather is less clothing, and it follows that if you are exposing yourself to the sun, make sure to wear sunscreen. An alternative is to limit your exposure to the sun. Going out earlier or later in the day is an easy way to avoid the sun’s rays. If you must go out covering up in a light-colored, loose-fitting and breezy garment is a great option. A parasol or umbrella is another form of sun protection that is commonly seen in other parts of the world.

Regardless of how hot it is outside we all know that we can suddenly find ourselves in frigid situations. Protecting yourself from over-zealous AC in a store, venue, or office, not to mention that one subway car that seemingly takes all the cold air from the rest, is important in maintaining our health during the summer. As our bodies get more accustomed to the heat, we likewise need a little more protection from the cold. Having a light layer to cover or wrap yourself in can mean all the difference in keeping comfortable and healthy. That light layer can also double as sun protection!

Alternative Ways to Hydrate

Despite our best efforts, we will certainly sweat more, and hydration is vitally important. If you are a consumer of caffeine or alcohol, compensating for their diuretic effects should be calculated for. Besides beverages, many summer foods are cooling in nature and contain a lot of water, which is why you might hear our own Tracey Byer, L.Ac. say, "Eat your water." Increasing your intake of all the seasonal fruits and vegetables now available is a very healthy way of keeping cool and hydrated. 

That said, beverages will likely represent most of our water intake. Opting for cool, as opposed to icy cold drinks, is recommended as they do not shock your body and take less energy to heat to body temperature. Regular water generally does the trick, but there are plenty of electrolyte-rich alternatives as well. Coconut water contains additional vitamins and minerals that help replace those lost when you perspire. Finding one with no added sugar is best. 

Herbal tea is another common summer drink that helps you cool down and hydrate. Mint is well recognized in the West, but chilled barely tea, or mugicha, is a Japanese staple in the summer and can be found in most Japanese grocery stores in New York City in both single-serve bottles as well as teabags, so you can make it by the pitcher at home. 

Sweet Mung Bean Tea

Mung beans, another lesser-known option in the West, are extremely nutritious as well as cooling, and are used in various Asian teas or “sweet soups.” Making it at home is easy, and it has the added bonus of lowering LDL cholesterol and regulating blood sugar. You’ll need the following ingredients:

  • 8 cups water
  • ½ cup green mung beans
  • 2-inches of ginger, sliced
  • Optional honey to taste. 

Add the water, mung beans, and ginger to a pot, bring it to a boil, and then simmer for around 15 minutes. Remove the ginger and add the honey if you like. You can drink it hot or cold, and with or without the mung beans. Savory mung beans also maintain their cooling nature and are another great way to enjoy this lovely and versatile ingredient. 

Eat Spicy Food to Cool Down

Lastly, while it may seem counterintuitive, consuming spicy food is a tried and true way to cool down in the heat, and is common in the hotter parts of the globe for just that reason. By dilating your blood vessels, and increasing blood flow, spicy food helps transport the hotter blood from your core to the surface where it can be cooled by the air and the effects of perspiration. On the other hand, the contracting nature of cold food and drinks has the opposite effect making it harder to cool down. 

With the hot weather here, hopefully some of these practices will help you and your loved ones stay cool, hydrated and have an even more enjoyable time this summer.

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