As I was walking to work on one of the early summer days this year, I passed a few coffee shops with their sandwich boards reading “Summer’s here, Iced drinks for EVERYONE!”. The Chinese Medicine practitioner part of me cringed when I saw that sign and internally thought “or NOT!”.

Why would I be the Grinch of summer you ask and kibosh all the icy fun? I love summer as much as anyone, and love the heat and the change of diet that comes with all the amazing fresh produce and the lazy meandering days that summer can bring. But everyday I have people coming through my practice complaining of bloating, upset stomachs or funky bowel patterns that just don’t feel good. I spend a good portion of my day talking about foods and how not all foods are good for all bodies – Namely that salad, frozen drink world. I usually start by explaining how our stomach works and that it really is like a big soup pot and everything that gets mixed in there has to be warmed up to above body temperature for the digestive enzymes to be activated, and then broken down into a soupy consistency in order for our body to digest and absorb the nutrients. When we’re getting bloated after we eat, if we have a chronically congested nose or have looser bowels perhaps with undigested food in it or are ready to curl up for a nap whenever we eat, it means our body is not able to absorb what we’re putting in and is having to overwork to try to digest everything.

What does this have to do with your iced cappuccino or Frappuccino deluxe? Well basically, if you’ve got a weaker (or colder) stomach, by putting in icy drinks your essentially throwing blocks of ice into a soup pot you’re trying to cook and that soup ain’t ever going to cook! These people would probably do better with cooked foods year round, or at least lightly cooking them or eating them at room temperature instead of eating and drinking things straight from the fridge. It doesn’t mean not enjoying the fruits of the season, but it just means modifying them for your body type. We’re all unique and our body is talking to us all the time, we just need to understand what it’s saying and make the appropriate adjustments to feel super healthy and vital.

If you’re someone who’s on the colder side and wearing sweaters when everyone else is in tank tops, you’d be best to add things like ginger, cardamom or cinnamon to your drinks or foods and be sure to cook things more often than having raw things. Cherries, peaches and spearmint would be better summer choices for you as well.

And for those of use who feel hot, but perhaps want to avoid too many frozen things, here are some foods to beat the heat without freezing your gut!

Cucumber – put a few slices in water for an instant cool down
Bananas – cooling and moistening in property. Foods like bananas grown in hot climates have the natural properties to cool us off – that’s why they’re best to be eaten in the hot summer weather and not the cold harsh winter weather
Peppermint – We all know how fresh and cool that minty taste is. Throw a few mint leaves in a salad or steep a handful in hot water and then drink when it cools down.
Watermelon – the ultimate summer cool down fruit. Sweet and super hydrating, this pretty fruit also has the ability to help us recover from too much sun and even a bit of sunstroke. Save the white rind to use when you get that too much sun belly upset or of kid when they get summer diarrhea. It’s the best part of the fruit to cool that down.
Summer salads – fresh greens and tomatoes are full of moisture and water to help replenish what we’ve sweat out all day and taste so great when their picked fresh from the garden!

Remember to listen to your body during these summer months and notice how you feel after certain foods. If the ice is bloating you up or throwing your digestion off, stick to more neutral temperature drinks and don’t be afraid to cook some of your veggies before eating. Grilling some vegetables on the barbeque and then tossing them into your salad is a great way to keep your gut happy and your summer menu seasonal.

Beat the heat the natural way and enjoy the beautiful summer!