Cool down in Pitta season

It’s summer in the Northern hemisphere, and it usually translates into hot weather and humid in some areas, especially in Texas where this time of the year temperatures are almost constantly in the 100s! Some people handle better the heat and some others definitely suffer from it, anyhow all of us will benefit from a cooling diet and routine to calm our internal heat to adapt better to the external heat.

In Ayurveda, Summer is Pitta season. It’s made of the elements of Fire and Water, and Pitta individuals tend to be aggravated by the sour, pungent and salty flavors. Nonetheless, we are all made of the three doshas (Pitta, Vata and Kapha) to varying degrees, so we all benefit from following mostly a Pitta diet in the summer. To pacifying the fire and heat, we need to favor foods with sweet, bitter, astringent flavors and cold, heavy, oily qualities.

Here are some foods to favor:

  • Vegetables – asparagus, bell peppers, broccoli, cabbage, celery, cilantro, leafy greens, seaweed, snow peas, lettuce, and summer squash
  • Fruits – fresh ripe berries, melons, watermelon, apricots, grapes, peaches, pears, avocado and ripe plums

Sweet berries and peaches

  • Try drinking cool or room temperature water infused with cucumber slices or peppermint leaves to stay fresh and hydrated.
  • If you are not vegetarian, favor chicken or freshwater fish instead of red meat.
  • Add cooling spices and herbs to your meals, such as peppermint, saffron, cardamom, cumin, fennel, turmeric. Those will also help your digestion. A mint Lassi (diluted yogurt drink) can also be the perfect digestion helper after a heavy meal: 1/3 cup of organic plain yogurt, 2/3 cup of water, mint leaves, and 1/2 – 1 tsp of agave syrup.
  • Avoid caffeinated and/or carbonated drinks, as well as alcohol which is highly heating.
  • Avoid any spicy hot food such as chile based sauces or salsas. Sorry my dear Mexican and Asian friends, but trust me in Texas you are better off without chiles in the summer! If you can’t live without jalapeños and other chiles, move to Alaska or the South Pole for the summer…
A few lifestyle tips:
  • Stay calm, meditate
  • Stay cool indoors when heat (and pollution in big cities) saturate the air during the day,
  • Take a nap in the hottest hours of the day,
  • Go to sleep early, ideally no later than 10 pm (especially if your Pitta dosha is aggravated and irritated)
  • Get up early for an early morning moderate workout (avoid running). Don’t exercise at night! Though some relaxing and calming yoga or breathing techniques such as Nadi Sodhana (alternate nostril breathing) can be  beneficial in the evening to unwind the day and prepare to sleep.
  • In the shower, moisturize your skin with coconut oil* that has a cooling nourishing effect on the body, quick rinse the excess, and gently pad with a towel afterwards leaving the skin slightly humid.
*You can add a couple drops of peppermint essential oil for a cooling but yet energizing effect during the day, and a few drops of lavender essential oil to calm at night time before going to sleep.
There’s much more you can implement in your daily summer routine, but this is a good start to observe great changes, and enjoy the summer to the fullest!
For more info, here are a few useful links and ressources: