Ayurveda defines two distinct periods of the year.
One is the cooler (including cold) half of the year when your energy is higher, digestion is better and you can, generally do more work. This is the period when your health goes on the improvement mode.
The other half is the warmer (hotter) part of the year when you energy is lower, digestion is less powerful and your energy is lower. This is the period when your health is more challenged.
How do we, then manage and apportion our energy to be able to work equally well throughout the year, irrespective of the seasons? Ayurveda tells us to follow “Rutucharya”. That is, change our habits of eating, sleeping, working, exercising etc. according to the season or rutu which is the weather condition. Most importantly, the food we eat should change. But, we go on eating the same idli, dosa, roti, rotti, biriyani etc. throughout the year. Many even eat the same quantity through the year. We even munch on the same junk food too. This means we are not in touch with our body and much less our minds. We do not listen to our body. Most, if not all, of our health problems are due to this.
Body functioning during summer
Summer is the season when our digestion goes really low. As the heat in the environment keeps increasing, the water (kapha) accumulated in the body during the colder season, collects in the stomach and lowers the digestion. The lungs also could have accumulated some of this water. This could cause coughing, sneezing, runny nose, loose bowel movement, constipation, lack of appetite and such other symptoms. Sleep could be poor too. Ginger tea (kashaya) would be helpful. Gargle with hot water with a dash of salt and turmeric in it. You can use more ginger in your food. Ensure the bowel movement is good and regular.
Food and drinking habits
It is very important, therefore, to eat lighter food. Rice, barley, wheat and such grain as one is used to and habitually eaten in the house is good. Kichdi and green gram or moong dal are highly recommended. The quantity of your food (consequently amount cooked) intake should go down. Fried food and junk food, eating between meals are best avoided. Nature has provided us with the most appropriate food in the season, juicy, watery sweet fruits like melons, grapes and oranges.
We have become overtly addicted to tea and coffee and forgotten many refreshing and healthy drinks that we can easily make. The following are few:
Kashaya : this popular drink common in the Western Ghats is easy to make and has many health benefits. Basic ingredients are coriander powder (one spoon) and quarter spoon each of jeera and saunf and wee bit of pepper and dry ginger powder. A tiny bit of clove and cardamom may be added. Boil the above in about 200 ml of water for five minutes with jaggery to taste. Add some 15-20 ml of milk. This can be had as a bedtime drink. It will improve quality of your sleep apart from a lot of cleaning up your inside.
If you have any symptom of cold- cough, chest congestion, sinusitis, running nose, sneezing etc you can make kashaya with ginger. Boil grated ginger with jaggery in a cup of water and take it with milk.
Rehydration is very important in this season. It is better to drink boiled and cooled water. Never drink refrigerated water. It is acidic and worsens your digestion.
Drinking very watery buttermilk with a dash of salt and a pinch of hing is very is good for the season.
You can prepare simple juice that’s good for the season with lemon, ginger and fresh mint leaves.. Boil water and add sugar to it. Take it off the fire and add mint leaves, grated ginger and lemon juice. Put the lid on and leave it to brew and cool. Filter out the mint, ginger etc.before drinking. If you make a large quantity of this juice, you can preserve in the fridge for a few days.
Grapes are very good for the lungs. The variety of melons are nourishing as well as tasty snacks.Tomatoes cut into small pieces and sprinkled with a little bit of pink salt and pepper powder is a good snack as well. You can get jaljeera powder and use it instead of just salt.
Panna, made with raw mango is a good seasonal drink. Cook raw mangoes, squeeze out the pulp, add jaggery to taste. Add some jeera powder and either red chilli powder or pepper powder. This can also be preserved in the refrigerator for a few days.
During this season, exercising should be minimum because you need to conserve your energy for your regular work. As soon as a trace of sweat appears anywhere in your body, you should stop exercising. Do not ever exercise with air conditioner or fan on.
Note for older and weaker persons
Many older and weak persons, particularly, if they have some chronic illness will naturally tend to have more problems in this season. I have known older people lose appetite as well as bowel movement. This should be taken seriously. Most important thing to do in this case is to take simple Ayurvedic medicines or castor oil and clear the bowels thoroughly. That will restore the appetite. But the same rules regarding light and soft food should be followed.
Following the right regimen in each season, we can avoid chronic illnesses, retain higher energy and be independent of doctors and hospitals.