The Supernatural forces of Summer create heat in the Heavens and fire on Earth; they create the heart and the pulse within the body… the red color, the tongue, and the ability to express laughter… they create the bitter flavor, and the emotions of happiness and joy. Fire refers to the light of the Sun. To unify with summer, a yang season, the Inner Classic suggests we express the yang principle – expansion, growth, lightness, outward activity, brightness, and creativity.
Summer is a period of luxurious growth. To be in harmony with the atmosphere of summer, awaken early in the morning and reach to the sun for nourishment to flourish as the gardens do. Work, play, travel, be joyful, and grow into selfless service. The bounty of the outside world enters and enlivens us. Use plenty of brightly colored summer fruits and vegetables. Cook lightly and regularly add a little spicy, pungent or even fiery flavor. When sautéing, use high heat for a very short time, and steam or simmer foods as quickly as possible. Use little salt and more water. On hot days, excessively cold drinks and ice-cream can weaken the digestive system by contracting the stomach and blocking the digestive process.
Traditional Chinese Medicine view of the Heart
It is considered the "Emperor" as it is the house of the Shen (Spirit) and is the representation of the "Fire"/yang energy of the body. It governs the Qi and Blood. The heartbeat's rhythm, rate and length is determined by the quality of Qi of the Heart. The Heart governs the Blood in two ways: by transforming food energy (gu qi) and by circulating Blood.
|Yin Organ||Heart||Yang Organ||Small Intestine|
|Spirit||Shen||Sound||"Ha" or "Ke"|
The Heart controls the blood vessels, and the vessels determine the harmony, smoothness of Blood flow in veins, arteries etc. The quality or condition of Heart energy manifests through the complexion. The heart displays outward vibrancy through the complexion and "shining" like appearance of tone of voice, skin, motivation, overall action.
It houses the Shen (Spirit) and Zhi (Will). The Heart is responsible for mental and emotional activities such as intelligent consciousness, long term memory, capacity to judge right & wrong; it influences sleep and controls spirit travel, soul or spirit projection, dreaming.
General Symptoms of a Heart-Mind Imbalance
Scattered and confused mind
Excess or no laughter
A ruddy or very pale face
Speech problems (stuttering, excess verbiage, confused speech)
Loss of memory
Aversion to heat
Tips for eating healthy in the summer and nourishing the Heart
On hot days, excessively cold drinks and ice-cream can weaken the digestive system by contracting the stomach and blocking the digestive process.
Serve more cooling and fresh foods such as salads, sprouts (mung, soy, alfalfa), fruits and cucumbers
Drink teas from flowers or loose tea leaves like chrysanthemum, chamomile, mint
Fruits which cook great in the summer are apples, lemons, limes, watermelons, cantaloupe, papaya, pineapple, mung beans, squash and zucchini.
Heat dispersing spices bring out internal heat from the body. These are red and green hot peppers, cayenne peppers (fresh), ginger, horseradish, black pepper. Remember to use them moderately so as to not weaken or lose too much Yang energy.
Eating heavy foods in the summer (meat, eggs, nuts, seeds and grains) can cause sluggishness and heaviness.
Heart Healthy Diet
Diet is a major contributing factor to heart health. It is generally accepted that foods containing high cholesterol, or that cause the body to make more cholesterol, affect heart disease. Foods containing fiber, potassium, nitric oxide (in green leafy vegetables), monounsaturated fat, polyunsaturated fat, saponins, lecithin, stanol, sterol, phytic acid, phenolics, antioxidants, carotenoids, flavonoids, or tannins are said to lower cholesterol levels in the body. Foods high in grease, salt, trans fat, or saturated fat are said to raise cholesterol levels. In simplified terms:
|100% Bran Cereal||1/2 cup||10|
|Peas (cooked)||1/2 cup||5.2|
|Kidney Beans||1/2 cup||4.5|
|White Beans||1/2 cup||4.2|
|Apple with Skin||1 med.||3.9|
|Whole Wheat Bread||2 slices||3.9|
|Popcorn||3 cups popped||2.8|
4. trans fats—What is Trans Fat? Basically, trans fat is made when manufacturers add hydrogen to vegetable oil—a process called hydrogenation. Hydrogenation increases the shelf life and flavor stability of foods containing these fats. Trans fat can be found in vegetable shortenings, some margarines, crackers, cookies, snack foods, and other foods made with or fried in partially hydrogenated oils. Unlike other fats, the majority of trans fat is formed when food manufacturers turn liquid oils into solid fats like shortening and hard margarine.
A small amount of trans fat is found naturally, primarily in some animal-based foods. Trans fat, like saturated fat and dietary cholesterol, raises the LDL cholesterol that increases your risk for CHD. Although saturated fat is the main dietary culprit that raises LDL, trans fat and dietary cholesterol also contribute significantly.
Omega 3s and 6s —Fish oils, walnuts, pumpkin seeds, and tofu, vegetable oils, including soybean, rapeseed (canola), and flaxseed oil.
Like omega 3s, omega 6s play an important role in health and are found in a variety of foods commonly used in the kitchen or added by food manufacturers to a plethora of products.
Rich in omega 6s are oils from corn, safflower, soybean, sunflower, and sesame, plus sunflower seeds, pine nuts, and pecans. Scientists believe the typical Western diet has an excess of omega 6s, especially in ratio to omega 3s. This lopsided ratio may be responsible for much of the chronic inflammatory diseases seen today.
Early humans ate a ratio of 1:1 omega 6s to omega 3s; current estimates push a ratio of 10:1 (and up!) by those consuming a Western diet. The cause? Less fish intake and excessive consumption of omega 6 rich oils. While some experts focus educational efforts on returning the omega ratio to its former dietary balance, many more recommend that consumers simply increase their overall intake of omega 3 fatty acids.
Christina Barea-Young, MMQ, DP is the founder of The Rising Lotus Qigong, a studio in Atlanta, Georgia dedicated to the education and practice of Qigong. We believe in the power of the human spirit and offer a variety of methods to unfold its fullest potential. Please visit us at www.therisinglotus.com
Here are some Summer Recipes:
•4 ripe tomatoes
•1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
•2 ounces cider vinegar or sherry vinegar
•2 cups tomato juice
•1 cup diced stale or lightly toasted baguette bread
•2 cucumbers, peeled, seeded, and chopped
•1 red pepper, chopped
•1 red onion, chopped
•1 tablespoon minced garlic
•1/2 bunch parsley, chopped
•1/2 bunch cilantro, chopped
•1 tablespoon minced jalapeno pepper, seeded (can substitute hot sauce)
•Sliced or diced avocado, for garnish
Bring salted water to a boil in a medium pot. Cut an “x” shape on the tops and bottoms of the tomatoes. Boil the tomatoes until the skin begins to peel back, about 20 to 30 seconds. Plunge the tomatoes into a bowl of iced water to chill. Peel and seed the tomatoes, then chop them.
In a medium bowl, combine the olive oil, vinegar, and tomato juice. Mix well, and then add the diced bread to soak. In another bowl, combine the chopped tomato, cucumber, red pepper, onion, garlic, parsley, and cilantro. Reserve 1/2 cup of this chopped mixture for garnish, if desired.
Put all ingredients into a blender or food processor and purée until smooth. Serve chilled and garnish with the avocado and reserved diced vegetables, if desired.
Recipe courtesy Firefly on Paradise on www.foodnetwork.com
Sprouted Mung Bean Salad
•10 cups sprouted organic mung beans
•1 bunch organically grown cilantro, leaves only
•1/2 cup organic lemon juice
•1/2 cup organic olive oil
•1 tablespoon muchi curry
•1 pinch of organic cayenne pepper
•2-1/2 tablespoons organic raw soy sauce
•1 tablespoon minced organic garlic
•1 tablespoon organic stone-ground mustard
Toss all the ingredients together in a large serving bowl. Serve immediately.
Recipe courtesy Sophia Wakefield, Harvest Bakery and Cafe, Jackson Hole, WY Show: The Best Of Episode: Food Trends
Originally published in Qi Journal, Summer 2013 issue