Summer officially starts this Friday! You can prepare now for ways to nurture and support your body inside and out to stay cool when those dog days of summer finally do arrive.
Coconuts are considered a fruit, a nut, a seed... and also a key ingredient for keeping cool and calming down the natural build-up of pitta (heat/fire) in body and mind as the summer progresses. Coconuts provide us with several options for adding it to our diet and daily routine, including:
Coconut water - a great electrolyte beverage to stay hydrated. Drink as is or mix with other summer favorites, such as iced tea or lemonade.
Coconut meat - use unsweetened coconut shreds in recipes to add cooling qualities to favorite foods or to help balance out the heat from those warmer spices often used in outdoor cooking.
Coconut milk - substitute this nut milk on your cereal, in smoothies, as a creamer, and in recipes to offset the heat of summer.
Coconut oil - much has been written recently on this oil as researchers continue to study the role fats actually play in a healthy diet, some touting it as a panacea while others finding it may exacerbate existing conditions, such as poor cholesterol levels. That said, from an Ayurvedic perspective, coconut oil, when used in moderation for seasonal purposes, offers many ways to benefit through its cooling and lubricating qualities. Taken internally, coconut oil can relieve the damaging effects of too much heat circulating in the digestive system, including the liver (a "hot" organ), as well as in the nervous system, which also has calming effects on the mind and our "hotter" emotions. When used externally for abhyanga (daily massage), the cooling qualities of coconut oil are drawn into the body through the skin, which is responsible for regulating body temperature. Even if you choose not to consume coconut oil, your internal systems and mood will still enjoy its benefits. You can read more about the many possibilities of this oil in The Fantastic Superpowers of Coconut Oil by my colleague Erin Casperson, the Dean of the Kripalu School of Ayurveda.
Nityatara Cathy Prescott teaches about Ayurveda locally and for the Kripalu School of Integrative Yoga Therapy. She is available for private sessions to show you how to use Ayurveda to support your health. Contact her for a consultation