In the heat of summer, many people reach for iced beverages. At first thought, this makes sense. It’s hot outside and ice is cold. But go deeper -- what are ice and ice cold drinks doing to your digestive fire?
Agni, or digestive fire, is responsible for our digestion of food, emotions and experiences in life. Just like a fire, agni needs to be tended. When left to smolder or allowed to grow too strong, it will result in indigestion, symptoms of imbalance and eventually disease.
When agni is balanced, digestive fire is stronger in the cooler months and weaker when the weather is hot. This allows you to take in heavier foods in the winter so you can maintain a protective layer of tissue to stay warm. Whereas in the summer, you may be drawn to eat lighter meals.
What to eat when it’s hot
The natural process of agni turning down a bit during the summer is challenged with iced drinks and cold foods (yes, that includes ice cream). Anything cold constricts agni, making it weaker. Drinking a tall glass of iced tea on a sunny summer day may seem like a good idea, but doing this makes agni weak, resulting in chronic indigestion and difficulty transitioning to the cooler months, when agni needs to burn stronger.
To stay in balance all year, incorporate cooling foods (not cold) this summer. These are foods that are cooling in their natural qualities, rather than iced or cold. Some cooling foods include:
A cooling Ayurvedic tea for summer
For this month’s recipe, we’ve combined three cooling herbs to create a sweet, sippable blend of (non-iced) tea that is perfect for hot summer days. Make it in the morning to drink before meditation, or take it room temperature as an afternoon break. Leave out the ice and allow the actions of the herbs to naturally bring your body temperature down and keep agni at its optimal level.
Simple Ayurvedic Recipe: Hibiscus, rose and mint tea
2 cups filtered water
1 tsp. each dried hibiscus, rose petals and mint leaf
Place the herbs and water in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Turn off the heat and let sit for 10 to 20 minutes. Strain and serve. These herbs have a natural sweetness, but you may add a little sweetener if desired. If so, use maple syrup, which is more cooling than honey.
Alternatively, you can soak the herbs in water overnight, then bring to a boil in the morning. This method extracts more out of the plants and is a great way to have tea ready before you begin your morning.