Summer is in full swing here in the Northern hemisphere, which brings mixed reactions: some revel in the long, warm days, enjoying innumerable outdoor activities, while others seek cooling respite from the sun's rays and thick humidity. In the ancient practice of Ayurveda, summer (particularly late summer) is the season of Pitta—the firey, transformative energy at work in both nature and the body. Pitta is the fire that digests food and thoughts or ideas, so it's essential, but can easily get too intense as things heat up.
If your dominant dosha is Pitta, you can naturally run hot and be more prone to agitation. Hot flashes, impatience, a drive for perfection, and an excess of stomach acid are all Pitta-dominant symptoms that are exaggerated during the hot summer months. What you eat and when you engage in activities this summer is all about balancing internal and external heat. Here are some tips to stay cool and balance Pitta so you can enjoy the most out of the summer without all the aggravation.
1. To prevent sunburn, avoid sugar, dairy and processed/fried foods
As a general rule of thumb, it's good to avoid dairy and processed or fried foods as they promote inflammation and allergic responses. These foods increase Pitta energy, which is already heated. Qualities of food that produce more fire or heat in the body are oily, hot, and intense.Processed foods, especially fried foods, contain some kind of vegetable oil (corn, soy, safflower), which irritates the Pitta dosha. To calm Pitta, enjoy foods that are cold or raw and not cooked in excess oil. When there is too much internal heat and inflammation, we are more susceptible to bad sunburns, which can ruin your vacation and cause serious damage to your skin.
2. To alleviate sunburn, eat red, orange and pink fruits and vegetables
It may seem counterintuitive, but red foods tend to be rich in lycopene, which helps reduce the inflammation caused by sunburn. There's a reason tomatoes and melons grow abundantly during the hottest months! Grapefruit, watermelon and pomegranate are also excellent sources of lycopene, and the antioxidants in pomegranate help your skin rejuvenate. If you are Pitta dominant, be mindful of the amount of tomatoes you consume and don't combine them with spices or chilies.
3. Go for a walk or jog early in the morning
Exercising in the sun or heat can really irritate Pitta, and can make you more short-tempered and prone to conflict. Prevent unnecessary strife by avoiding the midday sun and enjoy early morning or evening swims in cool water. Plan your workouts for either the beginning or end of your day, and try meditating in a quiet and shaded spot for a few minutes before lunch. Quiet, contemplative practices keep Pitta balanced and engaged.
These are just a few ways to stay calm, cool and collected during the summer months using Ayurvedic principles. Everyone has a unique constitution of Vata, Pitta and Kapha; it's important to observe how these practices benefit you and utilize them in a way that fits your lifestyle and needs.