It’s almost time for school to start and we wanted to spend some time on Back to School nutrition! We have made it through most of the summer and it is time to take a moment and really think about how we would like to prepare our families for this coming school year so that we can all stay healthy. Most of us get excited about the barbeques and the summer parties where we usually eat burgers, fried chicken, French fries, pizza, potato salad, and that yummy barbeque brisket! But believe it or not, these foods are harder to digest during the summer because they require a strong digestive fire in the stomach and are naturally more insulating-which makes them perfect foods to eat come fall or wintertime!
You see, every season the qualities in nature change, and the qualities of the harvest change, which both influence every one of us. In the winter we are naturally more able to digest meat, poultry, dense root vegetables, and nuts when your digestive strength is naturally more potent. Although in the summertime, our body’s digestive strength is weaker and its digestive acid reduces in the summer which helps to avoid the risk of overheating, which might seem like a problem- but in comes Nature. It harvests certain fruits and vegetables in abundance during the summertime that are readily available and don’t require a big furnace to be properly cooked to be digested. Summer foods are cooked all summer long by the sun, on the vine, and when they are harvested, they are ready to be eaten to keep us energized.
If you or a loved one is feeling a bit boggy or bloated, with a bit of weight gain, indigestion, or is constipated, it might be because the body tends to accumulate the heat of the summer, therefore, weakening digestive strength. Overworking and overheating can trigger heartburn and other digestive issues related to excess stomach acid production. Eating cooling foods that are harvested in the summer can help with this. Extra servings of raw or lightly steamed vegetables and eating fruits will help you cool down naturally.
Here are some examples:
- Cherries: support the health of joints, muscles, the cardiovascular system, lymphatic movement, and blood sugar balance through its high phenolic and anthocyanin content, also found to enhance exercise during and after by achieving quicker recovery times
- Celery: a powerhouse for your digestive system, which is full of fiber and rich in antioxidants that have been shown to remove free radicals and helps to eliminate the bile sludge and gallbladder stones that might be causing inflammation, heartburn, acid reflux, and weight gain
- Cilantro: is a good source of Vitamins A, K, and C, as well as copper, manganese, iron, magnesium, and calcium, also known as a natural blood purifier and detox agent (lead detoxifier), which will aid in inflammatory conditions such as arthritis
- Watermelon: stacks up as 92% water and is very cooling by nature by removing heat because of its mild diuretic properties and is known to have great anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. Athletes use it to build muscle because of its exceptionally high source of citrulline, which is used in the body as a precursor to human growth hormone (HGH)
- Bell Peppers(All Colors): as a vegetable, it contains the highest source of Vitamin C at a whopping 157% DV(Daily Value) per cup, offers great amounts of phytonutrients such as beta-carotene and Vitamin B6, which are all great for protecting your skin from sun damage
Consider these tips if your digestion slows down as summer forges on:
If you are going to enjoy those yummy harder-to-digest foods, have them as a part of your lunch, during the middle of the day when your body’s digestive strength is at its peak
While it IS OK to eat these foods at this time, do your best to eat smaller portions of the barbeque and larger portions of fruit and vegetables.
Take a look at the list of foods below that are in harvest during the summer, add them to your grocery list, and make it a point to eat more of them!
Remember, there are no bad foods. The goal is not to stay away from “bad foods” but to enjoy more seasonal foods by shifting your focus on in-season foods throughout the year. Nature always provides the antidote to the extreme of each season with the ideal harvest to keep you and your family strong, healthy, energized, and focused this school year. Now more than ever, our health is at the forefront of our minds where it should be!
Summer Grocery List/Summer Harvest Foods:
- Leafy Greens
- Bell Peppers
- Melon (All types)
- Snow Peas
Need to have a physical injury looked at before going back to school? Reach out to one of our partnering physical therapy clinics.
Article was written by Vanessa Delgado. Vanessa is a nutrition enthusiast, who is currently pursuing her Bachelor of Science degree in Human Nutrition and Foods at the University of Houston