The practice of Chinese dietary therapy comprises of choosing specific foods to cause a desired change in health. Summer is the season of active growth and heat. Energy is strong and rises easily. Here are some TCM nutrition tips on how to “eat for the heat.”
The dominant organ in the summer according to TCM is the Heart. A common excess pattern in summer is known as “Heart Fire.” Some of the symptoms of heart fire are: irritability, mental restlessness, dream-disturbed sleep, thirst, mouth ulcers, red face, and palpitations. When this pattern occurs the “fire” dries out fluids (yin substances). Due to the intimate relationship between the Heart and Small Intestine, the heat tries to eliminate through increased urination. It is best to eat foods that are cooling in nature and to avoid excessive alcohol as well as spicy, rich, and greasy foods.
5 Foods for Summer Heat
Sweet & cool
Nourish Heart & Stomach
Clear toxic heat, summer-heat, and promote urination
Help lower blood fat and renew arteries
Low fat, high fiber, high protein, high iron
Cautions: Not suitable for Spleen deficiency type diarrhea (chronic loose or watery stools, poor appetite, fatigue, abdominal distention after meals)
Sweet & cool
Strengthens Spleen, regulates Stomach, nourishes Liver
Clears heat, promotes urination, and reduces edema
Slightly Sweet, ranges from warm to neutral
Nourishes Spleen, Stomach, & Kidney
Generates fluid, relieves thirst
Sweet & cold
Nourishes Stomach & Small Intestine
Clears heat, relieves thirst, promotes urination, clears toxins
Sweet & cold
Nourishes Heart, Stomach, Bladder
Clears summer-heat, eliminates restlessness, relieves thirst, & promotes urination
Cautions: Not good for diarrhea due to Spleen deficient cold or for diabetics
Chilled Cucumber Soup
4 cups cucumber, chopped
2 cups water or broth
1 cup yogurt
1 clove garlic (optional)
Several fresh mint leaves
Puree everything in the blender. Serve chilled. Serves 4-6.
Jade Green Soup
1/2 cup tofu, diced
2 cups leafy greens, chopped
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon oil (optional)
3 cups broth
Sauté or steam tofu 5 minutes. Add salt.
Add greens. Sauté 2 minutes.
Add broth and simmer until greens are bright-colored.
Lu, Henry. Chinese Herbs with Common Foods: Recipes for Health and Healing. Kodansha International 1997.
Pitchford, Paul. Healing with Whole Foods Asian Traditions and Modern Nutrition. 2002. North Atlantic Books.
 Within Chinese medicine, each “organ” is not just the actual, individual organ, but rather a whole system unto itself that regulates many aspects and functions of the body. There is a close relationship between these organ systems, the five flavors of food, and the elements.