Whenever there’s a heat wave in Southern California, I notice that I’m less patient than normal. Even my normally mellow dogs seem a bit more agitated. That’s because when our body has too much heat, we tend to be more irritated and fiery, mentally and physically.
Being too hot makes us more than agitated and uncomfortable, though. It throws off our balance and can lead to other health problems, such as acid reflux or high blood pressure. When you’re feeling too hot, you need natural ways to restore balance and lower your body temperature.
In this article, I’ll show you how eating the right foods can help cool you down and make you feel less fiery overall. The idea behind cooling foods comes from Indian Ayurvedic principles and Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), and I’ll cover both as we discover how to make ourselves less hot by simply balancing our diets!
Balance in Ayurveda and TCM Practices
According to both Indian Ayurveda principles and Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), our bodies require proper balance to be at their healthiest. Ayurveda practices consider that the world is made of up five elements, and that that combination of these elements results in three doshas. Doshas are like energies or humors; they are responsible for our physiological, mental, and emotional health. These three doshas are:
- Vata (air)
- Pitta (fire)
- Kapha (earth)
We all have unique compositions of these three doshas, usually with one that’s more dominant than the other two. Ayurveda believes that your body is balanced or at equilibrium when your doshas are closest to their composition when you were born.
TCM categorizes our body into five general types depending on our Yin and Yang levels:
When we have too much Yang in us, or if we’re deficient in our Yin, we tend to have excess heat. Mentally, it makes us quicker to snap and less agreeable, while physically our skin is prone to redness and dryness. If our body is chronically in this state, it can even lead to high blood pressure, acid reflux, and ulcers.
Which Body Type Are You?
Some of us do naturally lean toward the hot or pitta body type. If you tend to run hot when you sleep or find yourself wearing shorts and flip-flops when others are bundled up in scarfs and boots, you likely have more pitta than other doshas, and it’s possible you have Yin deficiency. The weather, our lifestyle and our diet also affect our body type!
How to Eat a Pitta Diet
When it’s hot outside, we should pay even more attention to what we eat in order to cool our body naturally. I recommend avoiding food that promotes pitta or increases Yang.
Incorporate these foods into your diet when you want to cool down naturally:
- Bitter greens and vegetables: Arugula, kale, and asparagus are fresh and naturally cooling.
- Cucumber: Cucumber has natural cooling effects,can help with urination problems, and reduce the sensation of excessive thirst.
- Watermelon: Full of electrolytes and a good source of antioxidants, watermelon is a natural cooler and diuretic.
- Coconut: Drink coconut water for healthy fats, potassium, and electrolytes, but avoid having too much if you have a sensitive digestive system, as coconut has a fair amount of sugar.
- Mint: Mint has cooling and healing properties, used in relieving headaches, nausea, and other digestive problems. Try peppermint tea to help lower your body temperature.
- Flax seeds: In addition to cooling the body, flax seeds can help with constipation and high blood pressure.
- Lemons: Lemonade is a popular summer drink for a good reason! Lemons are a natural diuretic and help you get rid of sweat more easily.
- Herbs: Adding cumin, cilantro, fennel, and turmeric to your foods can have a cooling effect as well as aiding in digestion.
- Tea: Green tea and chrysanthemum tea can help cool you down and relieve too much pitta in your body.
- Water: Water is an obvious choice for cooling down! But many of us are under-hydrated most of the time. Drinking plenty of water on a regular basis will help you maintain balance and reduce pitta overall.
What to Eat for Yin Deficiency
When your body is overheated, it’s likely that your Yin is deficient. Try these foods to help nourish Yin and cool you down:
- Grains: Barley, millet, oats, rice, and wheat
- Vegetables: Alfalfa sprouts, cucumber, asparagus, seaweed, sweet potato, zucchini
- Fruit: Apricot, avocado, blackberry, lemon, mango, peach
- Nuts and seeds: coconut, sesame seeds, walnut
- Proteins: Black beans, kidney beans, fish and seafood (but not shrimp and prawns), beef, duck, goose, pork, chicken
- Dairy: Ghee, yogurt
Foods to Avoid If You Have High Pitta or Yin Deficiency
When you’re deficient in Yin or have too much pitta, you should avoid certain foods and beverages:
- Fried and spicy food: Fried foods have too much oil and hot, spicy foods will easily upset your balance.
- Sodas: Soda has caffeine and lots of sugar, and although a cold soda sounds refreshing on a hot day, it won’t restore balance to your body or improve your Yin deficiency.
- Caffeine and alcohol: Drinks with acidity and fermentation increase heat in your body, so avoid them if you’re running hot.
Other Lifestyle Tips for Lowering Pitta
Your diet plays a huge role in keeping your body balanced and cool, but there are other habits you can start that also help lower your body heat. Try these tips when you need to cool down:
- Soak in a pool or take a cool bath
- Take frequent breaks if you’re in a high-stress environment
- Wear blue, purple, or white clothing
- Don’t exercise intensely at the hottest part of the day; wait until morning or evening and do light exercise
- Avoid exposure to chemicals and fumes
Lowering Your Body Temperature Naturally
Hopefully these coolings foods and lifestyle tips will help you start to feel less hot and irritated. Once we know how to reduce body heat, it’s easier for us to chill our mind and relax and enjoy the warmer weather!
XO – Serena
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