According to Ayurveda, including these cooling spices in your meals will help keep your body temperature down when the mercury is soaring . Keep healthy and fit this summer with spices and herbs to cool the body.
Like me have you been reaching out to ice cream tubs and drinks during summer?
It was until recently I realised I was doing my kids and myself more harm than good by feeding them ice lollies just to keep peace and cool!! ( as any mom would for that extra 5 minutes of a rare commodity called peace)
Instead, I should have been stocking up the spice rack with some essential cooling spices which truly help.
I am in no way suggesting that you stop giving them ice creams and cold drinks, no sensible mom should do that if you want to stay on the ‘cool mum’ list.
But did you know that hidden under the cool drinks and ice are unwanted, harmful calorie that overheat your body after the initial ‘aaahhh that feels good’ moment?!
So what do you do?? …..
Easy… you cool yourself from inside out with the best cooling herbs and spices suggested in Ayurveda!!
Why is it Important to Keep Your Body Cool?
We have been experiencing global warming throughout the world where summer temperatures have touched record highs.
Excessive exposure to heat may cause excess skin irritation such as rashes and acne, trigger seasonal allergies, sweating, dehydration and even heat stroke.
Staying outside in the heat for a long period makes our body temperature to rise causing us to sweat.
The increase in body heat, triggers Pitta Dosha in our bodies. (all doshas explained below)
Sweating is a natural and essential process to help your body stay cool.
As the body temperature rises, your body releases salty liquid from the sweat glands to help cool you down and regulate your body temperature.
However, when we sweat, we lose water from the body which can cause dehydration, making you more susceptible to heat exhaustion and heat stroke.
Drinking plenty of water ensures that we remain well hydrated to fight the heat.
Adapting to immediate environmental changes such as staying in the shade, wearing appropriate clothing, dipping in water, we also need to pay attention and make changes to what we consume.
What is Pitta Dosha in Ayurveda?
According to the ancient study of Ayurveda, every individual is governed by certain biological energies that make up their physical and mental appearance.
These energies are called ‘Doshas’.
There are 3 doshas known as Vata, Pitta and Kapha. Each of them is explained clearly here.
Composed of fire and water, Pitta dosha governs metabolism and transformation in the body, including digestion.
Pitta is associated with heat, and the effects are especially felt during the hot summer, from July to September.
Hot days increases the pitta dosha in our bodies leading to, heartburn, indigestion, acne, irritability and sweating.
Whether your body composition is made of excess pitta or not, you need to pay attention and control the pitta in your body during hot summer months to avoid getting overheated!!
Body heat during hot days can be regulated by carefully choosing cooling foods for summer.
The list of cooling herbs and spices are what Ayurvedic studies recommends to include in your diet to help
List of Cooling Spices and Herbs According to Ayurveda
The list of cooling spices below helps control excess pitta.
Adding these summer spices to your daily diet will help regulate your body temperature.
You do not have to go spice sourcing to health or organic stores.
I have also included some meal suggestions on how to use the herbs and spices in your everyday food or drinks during summer months.
In the Indian subcontinent, fennel seeds are used as a mouth freshener especially after a meal or as a spice to add to dishes.
It is also available in fresh bulb form in many countries. Fennel has digestive properties and helps to break down food particles to aid digestion.
How to use it
Fresh Fennel Bulb – The stem of fresh fennel bulb can be used to make broths, stews and soups. The bulbs can be sliced and used for making stir fries, added to soups or salads.
Fennel Seeds – Brew fennel seeds in hot water and make fennel tea. Powder fennel seeds and use as seasoning.
Most swear by a refreshing mint-lemon drink on a hot summer day!
Mint is a sure shot, ‘cool for the summer’ spice or herb that has cooling and cleansing properties.
Apart from bringing the body temperature down it also helps relieve health problems such as cramps, hiccups, and Irritable Bowel Syndrome.
How to use it
Mint is a versatile herb that can be used in various kind of meals such as fish, meat, salads and drinks. Add a sprig of fresh mint to tea, make it into a chutney, sauce or marinades.
3. Fresh Coriander Leaves /Cilantro:
Belonging to the herb family, fresh coriander is a powerhouse of vitamin C and has many antioxidant properties.
Coriander or cilantro is commonly used in many cuisines and ideally eaten raw added to salsas, salads or drinks or as a garnish for curries.
How to use it
Coriander leaves can be used to make fresh salsas with cucumber, tomatoes. Use finely chopped coriander leaves in marinades for meat, fish. You can also make coriander chutney, sauce or dips.
This is a magic spice which gives Indian dishes the customary yellow colour.
Turmeric is packed with anti-inflammatory properties and aids in many health disorders such as stomach upset, cold and flu’s. Apart from this, there are numerous other advantages of including turmeric into your diet.
How to use it
Add a teaspoon of turmeric to any dish you cook, especially stews, curries or marinades. Adding a teaspoon to a cup of warm milk with honey helps to ward of cold and throat infections.
5. Cumin Seeds
These tiny savoury spice helps to detoxify the body and absorb excessive stomach gas and bloating.
Cumin seeds are available in seed and powder form what can be added to grain dishes like rice, pulses and wheat to help keep the body cool.
How to use it
Add a teaspoon of whole, crushed or powdered cumin seeds in vegetable stir-fries, curries, soups, and lentils or also as an ingredient for marinades.
The flavour of cumin seeds become more enhanced if dry roasted without any oil and freshly crushed into powder. This can be added to drinks and goes especially well with yoghurt, shakes, and lemon based drinks.
Cumin seeds can be very easily included in many of your daily foods. here are few more ideas of using cumin seeds for cooking.
6. Green Cardamom
Little green pearls, used in both sweet and savoury dishes.
It’s a versatile spice which has both warming and cooling properties, thus balances and regulates body temperature.
It counteracts excessive stomach acid and cures cramps and pains.
As with most spices, the health benefits of adding green cardamom are many.
How to use it
Use whole cardamon to add flavour to stocks and gravies. You can also powder cardamom seeds and add to drinks such as yoghurt based shakes, tea, milk product based desserts and also as a marinade ingredient.
7. Coriander Seeds
These tiny seeds are high on health-enhancing volatile oils.
Packed with nutritional value, coriander seeds are considered one of the most cooling spices in Ayurvedic medicine.
The volatile oils present in the seeds make it a good relaxant and relieves anxiety.
How to use it
Add a teaspoon of whole, crushed or powdered coriander seeds in vegetable stir-fries, curries, soups, and lentils.
You can also use roasted crushed coriander seeds as a marinade or making spice rubs.
Other Cooling Foods To Eat During Summer
We now know that hot summer days increases the ‘Pitta dosha’ in our bodies causing it to heat.
To keep Pitta in balance, go for sweet, bitter and astringent food while trying to avoid salty, sour and hot spicy foods.
Apart from the cooling spices listed above, few recommended summer foods that help in reducing excess pitta are listed below:
Pitta reducing fruits
Eat fully ripe, sweet and juicy fruits like grapes, melons, pear, cherries, mangoes, pomegranates, sweet pineapples, avocados, oranges, and plums.
Pitta reducing vegetables
Vegetables with high water content such as cucumber, zucchini, broccoli, cauliflower, celery, okra, green beans, pumpkin, asparagus and sweet potatoes help during summer months.
Green leafy and salad vegetables such as lettuce, kale, swiss chard and watercress are good too.
Pitta reducing drinks
Summer days call for cooling drinks.
Contrary to popular practise its best to avoid iced drinks during hot days.
Room temperature drinks such as fresh coconut water, pitta reducing teas, freshly squeezed fruit juices, sweet lemonade, smoothies and sweet yoghurt based drinks are the best to reach out for!!
Although the temptation of sipping on iced cold drinks and ice creams during hot summer days is always there, make sure that you also include the cooling summer spices listed above.
The scientific study of Ayurveda suggests, that the best way to control rising body temperature called ‘pitta’ is to consume food items that cool your body from inside.
Adding some of the Pitta controlling cooling spices and summer foods to your daily diet will ensure that the digestive system is maintained, skin irritations avoided and your energy level and metabolism stays high.
So, beat the heat and stay cool in summer!!