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A comprehensive list of articles about the principles of holistic wellness written by our practitioners.

Chinese Wisdom for the Seasons

By Marianne Kornaat.

We probably all have heard that we should try to eat locally and that it is better to eat foods that are in season.  I would like to share a little part of Chinese wisdom that can hopefully help you understand why it is so important to align with the seasons.

The Chinese talk about the five elements and the five seasons, every season is linked to a specific organ and a specific flavour.  The sour flavour is linked to the liver and linked to spring, the bitter flavour is linked to the heart and summer, the pungent taste is linked to the lungs and autumn, and the salty taste is linked to our kidneys and to winter.  The fifth season is the season in between seasons and is linked to earth and our digestive system.  Each flavour specifically supports an organ, so if your liver needs attention it is best addressed in the spring and if your heart is frail or you suffer from depression or nervousness, summer is the time to help care for your heart.  Since we are in summer we will focus on that.

Summer offers abundance!  The summer is a yang season, meaning it gives and creates energy; the Chinese say it is about expansion.  Advice given for summer:

  • Awaken early
  • It is a time for joyful gatherings and outdoor living
  • A time of plenty; we align with love; (summer and heart), abundance and generosity
  • Take time to play and explore our creativity in work, play, and travel
  • Summer aligns with the emotion of being joyful

Enjoy creating beautiful meals, when it comes to summer eating, use plenty of bright coloured fruits and vegetables.  Because there is so much yang in summer, we actually do not need to eat that much, contrary to winter which is aligned to yin where we then actually need to eat a bit more.  Summer calls for not only light eating but also to cook lightly, steam and simmer food as quickly as possible, use more water.  Regularly add a little spicy pungent or even a bit of fiery flavour, as these flavours help open up the pores to cool our body so we can sweat - after sweating we become cooler.

The heat of the summer can be hard work for the digestive system so eat lightly and eat easy to digest foods.  The fire element (summer) rules the heart and the heart not only regulates the blood circulation, but also controls consciousness, it is the central organ.  The best way to support and treat the heart with diet is often indirectly through either calming or supporting other organs that may be out of balance, this means adding many different flavours.  Add flavours of sweet to nourish stomach and spleen, or salt and pungent to support the kidneys and liver and sour foods to support our lungs.  The heart is also the emotional and mental centre, many imbalances can begin with an insult to the heart such as unresolved wounds.  They say a poor Shen follows poor qi flow, a disconnection to the heart can injure our spirit.  When the fire element becomes imbalanced in our body, we get changes in our heart function, but we also get changes in our heart-mind harmony.  One can become scattered, have depression or memory issues.  Sometimes excessive laughter or excessive talking can disturb sleep and make us adverse to heat.  So how can we care for our heart or fire element through food?

What to eat in Summer

As I mentioned earlier, the heat of the summer makes hard work for the digestive system, so light and easy to digest food is best.  Heat producing foods should be at a minimum, in Chinese medicine, heat producing foods are things like meat, coffee, alcohol and ginger.  Also eating a slow cooked stew with potatoes, vegetables and meat is just a little too heavy for our digestive systems during the heat of summer.  In summer we need cooling foods, but especially foods that strengthen our digestive system and support the heart.

  • Eat fruits and vegetables in season as these foods tend to be more cooling.
  • Use lots of bright coloured summer fruits and vegetables.
  • Cucumber, celery and all those little baby lettuces.
  • Seaweeds and mushrooms especially reishi mushroom can soothe the spirit heart and mind.
  • Silicon-rich foods; oats, and barley.
  • The jujube date, red date, mulberries, shisandra berries are all calming and nourishing for the heart.
  • Dairy products, especially yoghurt can be soothing, so if you can have dairy it could be good for you.
  • Green foods always rich in chlorophyll, these can bring peace and harmony.

Example of different types of food in our time of abundance; little goats cheese tarts, fresh tomatoes, grilled tuna with baby spinach leaves, strawberries, basil pesto and corn, jalapeno polenta, and eat flowers and lots of fruits.

You may get agitated during summer, check your tongue, if it has a red tip?  It could be there is too much heat in your body so and that case include these cooling foods but don’t ice your drinks, I know we are all tempted to do this in summer but it can really damage our digestive system especially if we are weak.  I remember being in the dessert in more than 50 degrees Celsius and being served this hot drink; see the recipe below.  Apparently when the digestive system does get overheated cardamom is especially good because it clears the digestive system of blockages caused by heat.

RECIPES:

Middle-eastern ‘coffee’

3 cardamom pods bruised

3 teaspoons saffron threads pounded

1 ½ cup water

Sugar to taste

Stir and then leave to brew for 30 minutes

Another amazing summer drink is Goji berries and lemon balm.

Get a 1 litre glass jar that you can cover, add a handful of goji berries and a handful of fresh lemon balm, or if you don’t have this try mint instead. Fill up the jar with water and let it stand in the sun for an hour or two.

The sun energises and warms the water.

You can sieve out all the herbs and drink.

 

String bean and Parsley Salad

500 grams string beans steamed (support the spleen and kidneys by supplementing the yin fluids) the heat of summer can stress the kidneys and bladder

A handful of lettuce leaves (slightly bitter and cooling)

Chopped parsley; pungent, bitter, salty, warm (removes damp, eases urinary tract, helps clear ear infections, and bad breath)

Add cucumber; cooling and tomatoes; sweet, sour-if there is too much heat

Add olive oil with lemon juice and salt

 

Keep cool during summer and most of all enjoy!!!!

Read Our Articles

Chinese Wisdom for the Seasons

By Marianne Kornaat.

We probably all have heard that we should try to eat locally and that it is better to eat foods that are in season.  I would like to share a little part of Chinese wisdom that can hopefully help you understand why it is so important to align with the seasons.

The Chinese talk about the five elements and the five seasons, every season is linked to a specific organ and a specific flavour.  The sour flavour is linked to the liver and linked to spring, the bitter flavour is linked to the heart and summer, the pungent taste is linked to the lungs and autumn, and the salty taste is linked to our kidneys and to winter.  The fifth season is the season in between seasons and is linked to earth and our digestive system.  Each flavour specifically supports an organ, so if your liver needs attention it is best addressed in the spring and if your heart is frail or you suffer from depression or nervousness, summer is the time to help care for your heart.  Since we are in summer we will focus on that.

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