Summer Nutrition

Summer is the time of heat, growth and activity in nature. The feeling of joy and lightness are our birthrights during the summer.

Mullein – vibrant summer growth

This is a time to increase our physical activity, eat lighter foods and smaller meals to help balance the heart and small intestinal fires, and help nurture the “yang” influence of this season. It is very important to feel warm, yet not to become too active, because this wears the body out for winter.

A general guideline to follow is to eat more freshly picked local fruits and vegetables, less or no animal flesh during very warm weather, eggs during the cool hours also, no nuts/seeds in excess, and avoid heavy grains on hot days – (oats, rye, barley, wheat, spelt, kamut, and sweet rice), more raw foods in general, lightly cooked vegetables, and plenty of light grain dishes such as pastas, millet, quinoa, and corn.

One paradox of summer is to eat fewer salty foods because this can cause congestion, yet we sweat more in the heat and need to replenish our electrolytes. The key lies in the type of “salts” we take in. We need less sodium during the summer months, so the potassium and magnesium based salts in fresh fruits and vegetables are a great way to do this. Sea vegetables are another way to replenish electrolytes. If we do not replenish gradually and consistently, we can crave sweets and ice cream type of treats, which can cause problems in the long run. Another aspect of summer, seemingly paradoxical, is to drink warm liquids and take hot showers to disperse heat. Cold causes contraction, which actually ends up holding heat in the body.

This season embodies the desire of manifestation coming into form (wood changing to fire). The fires of clarity help refine the goals for the year. The fire of activity helps productivity. Dominant patterns this time of year are fire/heat syndromes, dryness, congestion (from lack of fluids or blood that is too viscous), and fatigue from excess work.

This season embodies the adult stage of life, maturity. Plants show this with full leaves, lush green growth, and vibrant smells. Insects are buzzing about, birds singing, and the cool wind refreshing the heat. Water is very important to balance the fires of summer.

Dietary choices – juicy, wet, light, quick and easy meals, circulatory helpers, salads of all kinds, roots to ground our energy when we feel scattered and overwhelmed, cold soups, very little animal food (during the really hot periods), and reduce salty foods (unless extremely active and sweating, then potassium salts are necessary).

Bitter flavors can be used if one feels overheated, congested, and full of infection. Such foods as chicory, lettuces, watercress, dandelion tea, roasted grain drinks, and bitter herbs (to be mentioned at the end of this paragraph) can be used.

Grains to be emphasized (according to Macrobiotics) include corn, quinoa and long grain brown rice. You may notice a lack of desire for grain during this season. If you feel this way and need carbohydrates for energy, then quinoa, corn, pastas, tortillas, millet, and lighter legumes like lentils will give that needed energy without feeling heavy.

No overeating – this can be fatal to the energy of this season. Obviously, if we are weighed down by food, then we will feel sluggish after eating. Vegetables are a great staple during this season. Carbo rich veggies are carrots, summer squashes, turnips, green beans, fresh peas, potatoes, tomatoes, and the sprouts of any seed, bean or grain. Light, juicy and refreshing veggies are the theme on hot days and can be bok choy, daikon and its tops, cucumbers, endive, escarole, mustard greens, snow peas, string beans, summer squashes, Chinese cabbage, vine-ripe tomatoes, arugula, turnips, lettuces, and zucchini. Fruits are plentiful, which include strawberries and all berries, tree fruits such as peach, apricots, cherries, nectarines, plums, and others. Melons will come into season and are very good for thirst and dehydration, but not to be combined with other foods EVER, and used carefully by those with fungal infections such as Candida. Other helpful foods for excess heat are millet, tofu, mung beans, bitter herbs such as dandelion and lettuces.

Red colored foods can be eaten daily during this season to help with adaptation to the environment and to help bring more energy into the heart and intestines (the paired organs most dominant during the summer). It may seem paradoxical to eat more of a warming color during a warm season, but each color has a frequency, and this is what carries energy and information on very subtle levels deeper into our being.

Activity in the sun will help bake off excess fungal growth from the cold months. The higher heat during the summer is great opportunity to get some sunshine. Our internal and external environment of our body tends to harbor more fungal growth in the damp cool weather. By taking advantage of the heat and sun’s natural anti-microbial factors, we can rid our bodies of pathogenic growth.

Herbs not mentioned above include red clover, peppermint, chrysanthemum, dandelion, or other herbs/flowers to cool the body if you are hot, and they strengthen the heart and small intestines, nourish the blood, and help eliminate excess fluid and cholesterol from the blood. Chilies, peppers, and curries are good to open the pores and create perspiration to cool the body.

Summer Dietary Summary

 Large Bitter Greens – collards, kale, romaine, daikon, mustard, bok choy, Chinese cabbage, burdock, Swiss chard

Salads of all types: grains, beans, or seaweeds with vegetables, raw vegetable salads, cooked vegetable salads, or combinations thereof. See Part II summer foods for specific suggestions.

Fruits and natural sodas – to refresh and replenish liquid reserves

Herbs/Spices – to enhance water and fire balance: cumin seeds, fennel, parsley, cilantro, dill, basil, chamomile, skullcap, valerian, chrysanthemum, roasted grain teas (chicory, dandelion, rye, barley, etc.)

Heart/Mind Synergists – since this is the season of the heart/fire element, it is important to remain in harmony. When the heart is in harmony, we feel genuinely friendly. We also feel humble, clear, and joyful. This is a byproduct of touching the wonders of life.

Signs of heart-mind imbalance are scattered thinking, inability to laugh or excessive/inappropriate laughter, problems with talking, depression, mental illness, memory loss, poor circulation, aversion to heat, and a very red or very pale face. These foods will help nurture balance and synergy – wheat, mung beans, rices, oats, chia seeds, jujube seeds, lemons, mulberries, and poria cocos tea.

Silicon foods (to help increase/balance calcium metabolism and create ease with life) – oat straw tea, barley, celery, cucumber, lettuces, horsetail tea

Cooking tips – use quick cooking techniques with high heat, small cuts of food, and larger more expanded produce such as collards. Use lighter pots, cook with lids off or slightly off, and use pressing/culturing of vegetables, raw more than in other seasons.

Stir-frys – lightweight pan with high heat, tossing and turning the vegetables constantly

Roasting/Toasting – increases bitter, which is cooling

Grilling – not too much because this causes carcinogenic compounds to form

Boiling – with a lid off to release heat

See Spring for raw, pressing, culturing


Late Summer (Seasonal Interchanges also) Health Recommendations

Dietary choices – simple combinations of foods, mildly sweet foods, round foods, and the earth tones colors such as yellow, browns, oranges, and skin tone colors. Other techniques include light seasonings and salt, and not too much food preparation. All this will allow one to “see” the energy of this season/time period. It allows us to slow down, see another level of perception occurring in nature, and surrender to presence.

Dietary Summary

Round foods – turnips, onions (cooked for this season), millet, cabbages, Brussels sprouts, rutabaga, amaranth, rices (short grain), corn, cantaloupe, carrots, chickpeas, soybeans/tofu/tempeh, squashes, potatoes, yams, peas, chestnuts

Earth tone foods – the colors tan, light brown, orange and yellows: specifics are lima beans, rices, ginger, and garlic, in addition to the above foods showing the correct colors

Smaller greens – parsley, arugula, all cresses, small leeks, sprouts, amaranth greens, purslane, baby lettuces, plantain, beet greens, cilantro

Late season fruits – apples, pears, persimmons, berries, grapes, melons, pomegranates

Integration foods – choose one type of food such as rice (or other grains), dairy, nuts/seeds, meats, with one or two vegetables. This keeps our energy light by not putting all our blood into digestion. It allows more awareness because we are not slothful from a “heavy belly.”

Eat earlier in day, use digestive centering spices like cumin, turmeric, fennel, anise, ginger, garlic, marjoram, dill, caraway seed, basil, fenugreek, and use chamomile tea to calm and center.

Cooking tips – heavier pots, slower cooking with lower flame, cook with lid on; add more salt, full sweets, and cook longer, use the oven again and make casseroles for cooler evening meals, and keep eating raw more than winter and fall.

Pressure cooking – to hold energy in

Stewing/Nishime – combining foods gives greater nutrition with less work

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720 River Street
River Street Wellness Center, Unit 4
Santa Cruz, CA 95060
(831) 325-3174
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