Eating to Beat the Heat

It’s summer in California, and undeniably hot. Have you ever thought about the different kinds of heat? According to Chinese Medicine, heat in the body is either excess or deficient. Excess heat may be caused by something in the environment, like hot weather or a heat-producing infection (sore throat, fewer, inflammation, burning sores). Excess heat may also originate internally, like high blood pressure with blood-shot eyes, a red face and sensitivity to heat.

Deficient heat is caused by lack of yin in the body. (The cool, dark, damp, slow, and quiet qualities.) A common occurrence of deficient heat is hot flashes and night sweats during menopause. Deficient heat also occurs when long-term illness burns up yin.

Each food or herb as a cooling or warming nature, and can be used to offset temperature imbalances in the body. Deficient heat also requires the replacement of yin, generally through herbs.

Although refrigerated drinks cool you down quickly, the cooling or heating nature, regardless of the temperature, determines on-term effects. For instance an iced coffee will initially cool you down, but it has a long-lasting effect of creating more heat. Whereas, hot green tea will cool you down after the initial warmth of the beverage wares off.

To cool down, eat:

Cold nature: Watermelon & other melons, grapefruit, banana, star fruit, persimmon, clams, crab, tomato, water chestnuts, bamboo shoots, kelp, seaweed, salt.

Cool nature: Cucumber, lettuce, spinach, radish, mung beans, barley, button mushrooms, egg white, tofu, mango, apples, strawberries, pears, tangerines, mandarins, loquat, peppermint (but spearmint is warm).

Avoid: Red or green peppers, black or white pepper, ginger, cinnamon, alcohol, coffee, garlic, mustard greens, arugula, and spicy foods.