How To Cool The Body From The Inside Out

Summertime means lots of heat. And oftentimes, lots of heat means discomfort – both outside of our bodies and within.

In the ancient practice of ayurvedic medicine, summer is known as Pitta season – a fiery period characterized by the qualities of heat, lightness, sharpness, acidity, intensity, and oil. During this season, it’s common for people to suffer from Pitta-induced physical imbalances, like inflammation, irritation, and infection; as well as mental issues like anger, jealousy, and agitation.

What I find so fascinating about this practice is that it actually provides ways in which we can calm both our bodies and our minds from within – and it all starts with food.

During the summer, it’s best to consume foods that are bitter, sweet, cooling, and astringent in nature, as these work to balance out the hot, oily, sharpness of the Pitta season.

foods that cool the body

Here’s a quick snapshot of some foods you can eat to help calm that fire within!

foods that cool the body

Vegetables: Bitter, dark, leafy greens (with the exception of spinach) are at the top of the list, along with cucumbers, asparagus, zucchini, and celery. Avoid spinach, onions, tomatoes, and hot peppers.

Fruits: Go for sweet fruits, like dates, raisins, coconuts, sweet apples, and melons. Avocados are also excellent for calming Pitta. Avoid the more sour fruits, like grapefruits and berries.

foods that cool the body

Grains: White rice, quinoa, barley, oats, and wheat should be chosen over rye, millet, and corn.

Legumes: Mung beans and kidney beans are some of the best during Pitta season. Just make sure to soak them extra-long before cooking so that they’ll be easily digestible.

foods that cool the body

Spices: Go for spices that cool and soothe, like coriander, dill, cilantro, fennel, and cardamom. Avoid hot spices like cayenne pepper, and only use salt sparingly, if at all.

Oils: Olive, coconut, and sunflower oils are the best during Pitta season – ghee is great, too. Stay away from sesame, corn, and almond oils, which are more heating.

foods that cool the body

If you find you’re especially susceptible to imbalances during Pitta season (I certainly am), there are plenty of additional ways to balance yourself. Think calm and cool. If you’re hanging out outside, choose a shady spot over a sunny one. Listen to soothing, calming music instead of loud, upbeat jams. And I can’t stress enough how excellent coconut oil is for calming Pitta. Massage it into your skin to cool yourself down every day – you can even rub some into your scalp (and then cover with a shower cap) before bed to help soothe a fiery, racing mind. It’s also best to avoid alcohol and caffeine as much as possible – these make Pitta go wild!

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9 years ago

This is so interesting, and just what I need in the crazy heat.

9 years ago

Being VERY Pitta myself and moving to Thailand during the hot season was so completely overwhelming at first. Then I learned more about Ayurveda and worked to cool down just about everything in my life. It has made a world of difference. The Thais are on board with cooling from the inside with food as well, they are big on fruits and very sweet drinks.
This is some great advice! Sometimes we just need to slow down and cool off :)

9 years ago

For years I’ve asked myself why summer is always stressing me out so much! My mind was always racing, I was terribly light- headed and short- tempered… gosh, thank you for saving me from that! ☼

Brigette, I love that you’re bringing Ayurveda to the Free People blog so beautifully! Scott Blossom and I are offering a donation-based (free) 3-Day Ayurvedic Cleanse by download anytime this month. I think you’d love it as it’s full of recipes and practices to balance Pitta Dosha. You can download it with the link. I’d love to know how you find it!

Summer Cleanse Download:

9 years ago

: ) I just wrote a very similar article but from a Chinese medicine perspective.