clear blue sky above field of sunflowers
Dr. Elson Haas
written by
Dr. Elson Haas

Jun 14, 2024

Article Tags: prevention | heart health | integrative medicine | seasonal health | lifestyle

Summer Light

Summer began this year with the Solstice on June 20th. Even though it may not feel like it, the days are starting to get shorter as daylight continues to decrease towards the Autumn Equinox on September 22nd. Many people enjoy this season with its outward directed energy and vacations. For others the heat can be oppressive. Appropriately the element for Summer is Fireas we see and feel the ripening power of the sun’s heat.

Summer Light is the name of a chapter in my book Staying Healthy with the Seasons where I explore the many correspondences of this Season–Element in Traditional Chinese Medicine and how we can apply them creatively to improve our health on all levels of our being.

Here are some of the correspondences/qualities of the Fire Element

  • Season: Summer
  • Quality: Ripening
  • Color: Red
  • Direction: South
  • Climate: Heat
  • Life Cycle: Action
  • Fluid: Sweat
  • Tissue: Blood Vessels
  • Organs: Heart (Yin) – Small Intestine (Yang)
  • Smell: Scorched
  • Taste: Bitter
  • Emotion: Joy/Sorrow

 

This symbolic way of thinking is common in traditional cultures and healing systems – Ayurveda from ancient India is another well known example. It invites us to imagine and contemplate connections between phenomena (inner and outer) that may not appear related to our linear mind.

Over the coming summer months, I’ll be exploring some of these correspondences in relation to Western Natural Medicine and how we can integrate these different ways of understanding health and healing. Each element-season is associated with two organs within the body – let’s begin there.

The Heart

The primary organ associated with Fire-Summer is the hard-working heart that regulates blood circulation, pumping around 3,000 gallons a day, carrying oxygen and nutrients throughout the body. It is controlled by an intrinsic electrical system which keeps a steady beat. The heart is finely sensitive to feedback mechanisms concerning our brain and muscle oxygen needs, communicated to by the nervous system. Its rate and rhythm are also determined by our breathing and mental-emotional states.

Some tips for Heart Health

Cardiovascular disease remains a major health concern. Years of a diet of red meats, animal fats, sugars and starches, along with the additives and preservatives in many foods, will clog up blood vessels.

On the other hand, we are continually learning more about the positive effects of diet and lifestyle on the causes and healing of heart disease. Here are some simple self-care tips. These suggestions may also prevent other degenerative diseases, such as diabetes, arthritis, and cancer.

Things to Avoid

  1. Avoid salt. Salt is a key villain in the volume-overload aspect of high blood pressure. Refined salt with its additives for flow and color is a poison to your body. Remember to look at sodium levels in packaged foods
  2. Avoid fatty foods including fried foods. Heated oils are chemically changed making them hard to digest. Watch out for full fat dairy products.
  3. Avoid high cholesterol foods, particularly eggs (yolks), fatty meats, shellfish, and animal organs like liver.
  4. Avoid sugar in any of its forms. Avoid all candy, cookies, pastries, sodas, etc. Remember that sugar is a commonly added to many processed foods, so check labels.
  5. Avoid refined or processed foods, or chemical additives.
  6. Avoid coffee or caffeine teas.

Here are the things you can do to support your heart.

  1. Eat lots of fresh fruits and vegetables, raw, steamed or baked
  2. Eat organic whole grains and natural cereals like brown rice, oats, millet, etc.
  3. If you need more protein, eat small amounts of lean meats, poultry or fish
  4. You can use some vegetables salt. If you have heart or blood pressure problems, it is best to avoid even sea salt, soy sauce, and tamari, and obtain the salt you need solely from the foods you eat.
  5. Drink herbal teas. In the summer heat, iced teas are a cooling alternative.
  6. Exercise is key. Remember the more you sweat the more hydration you’ll need
  7. If you start to crave old habits, you might go for a long walk, or take a cold shower.

 

As always, Stay Healthy!

Dr. Elson