Summer heat often means cooling down with iced tea, fresh cocktails, cold fruit smoothies, and lots of watermelon! But, did you know that super cold foods can actually have a warming effect on the body?
When you drink ice-cold beverages or foods, your body cools down in the short term because the cold food initially lowers your body temperature. What happens next, though, might make you reconsider all the icy goodness! Because cold food can come as a shock to your system, your body can react by oppositely trying to warm up again - returning you to a hot and uncomfortable state!
Don’t worry though, there’s another way to use food to cool down... It may sound strange, but you can cool down internally by eating spices. Yes, it's true! Take the same concept and reverse it. If your body tries to warm up after cold food, what will it do when you eat hot and spicy food? Cool down!
When eating spicy foods or herbs, your body will heat up in an immediate reaction, but will begin a long term effort to cool down. You’ll potentially start sweating and release more heat from the surface of your skin. Your body will begin to disperse heat off your body, and this has a long term cooling effect because your body is reacting to the intense heat from your food!
Here are some warming spices that will cause you to heat up, and then trigger you to cool down!
Chili peppers contain a pungent chemical called capsaicin, which is what gives the peppers their spicy flavor. Capsaicin has a very strong physical affect on the body. It will speed your metabolism, stimulate your nervous system and dilate blood vessels. All of this will cause your body temperature to rise. In reaction, your body will make moves to cool down, and let off excess heat through your skin. You may sweat at first, but you’ll begin to feel cooler soon! Bonus, all this activity increases blood flow, oxygenation and nutrient delivery to your major organs!
Cinnamon has a similar cooling effect on the body during hot summer months. The spicy compounds in this spice will warm you up, stimulate blood flow and increase metabolism. But again, this only creates a signal to your body to begin letting off body heat quickly, and you will begin to cool down. Try cinnamon in your tea, sprinkled on fresh fruit, or on dessert!
Bonus, cinnamon has been shown to promote balanced blood sugar. When choosing cinnamon as a garnish or supplement, you want to be sure to read the label: Ceylon Cinnamon is what you want! ORGANIC INDIA's Ceylon Cinnamon, also known as True Indian Cinnamon, helps maintain blood sugar levels and supports healthy digestion. Not to mention, the taste of this organic cinnamon is like none other, you'll believe me once you try it!
Turmeric has a “bitter taste” in Ayurvedic medicine, which also has a warming, then cooling effect on the body. Turmeric also aids in digestion. The bitter flavor stimulates the body to cool down and let off extra heat. Turmeric is mostly found in curries and spicy Indian dishes, but is becoming increasingly more popular as a supplement. Turmeric disperses heat and stimulates cold receptor sites in the body, thus aiding in temperature regulation.
Bonus, turmeric has a surplus of health benefits including supporting immune health, digestion, heart health, as well as joint mobility and support. If you would like to take turmeric more regularly and in higher doses, ORGANIC INDIA's Turmeric Formula is the way to go, as it contains whole herb Turmeric, alongside whole herb Ginger, which helps to increase the bioavailability of Turmeric, meaning your body can better absorb all the benefits that this wonderful herb has to offer. If you're more into bulk powders or adding Turmeric to foods and drinks, try an on-the-go Turmeric Lift! ORGANIC INDIA's potent and efficacious Turmeric is grown with love and care by small family farmers in India using regenerative organic agriculture practices, which is why it's my go-to! Never settle for less-than-potent herbs!
Mint is one of the most powerful of the cooling herbs. I’m sure you can remember a time when you used a menthol rub, or mint toothpaste, and afterwards it felt like a continuous cool breeze was hitting you wherever the mint had touched your skin. That’s because menthol, one of the active chemical compounds in mint, stimulates the cold sensory receptors in your skin. In Ayurvedic medicine, mint is said to disperse excess heat, or pitta energy, through the skin. When you’re feeling extra hot, try adding mint to water, tea, foods, or body lotion to help cool you down.
Fennel is a sweet herb, said to calm the tenderness in the body to due excess heat. You can try a fennel tea, or use fennel seeds in your salad dressings, soups and smoothies! Fennel also aids in digestion and provides a sharp flavor, similar to anise or licorice.
Cilantro is commonly used in the cuisine of tropical regions and has been traditionally used to cool down the body during hot summer months. In Ayurveda, cilantro calms down the “pitta” or fire energy in the body and promotes relaxation and good digestion.
Raw cilantro is great in salads and salsas. I also enjoy it in a strawberry smoothie every once in awhile! The seeds of cilantro, known as coriander, also have the same cooling effects and can be used in spice rubs and herbal tea.
Herbs and spices are versatile, they do so much more than solely provide flavor for our food. Holistic herbs and spices work with the body to allow us to be comfortable, healthier and happier! Lean on your favorite hot spices for a rejuvenating cool down!
About the Author
Robin Shirley, CHHC, AADP, is the founder and host of the Take Back Your Health Conferences and Retreats, where you can learn the Take Back Your Health Lifestyle and how to eat well to reduce the symptoms of chronic disease. She is excited to be starting a family after recovering from a difficult, thirteen year struggle with Chronic Lyme Disease and Rheumatoid Arthritis. You can find more about Robin and her events at www.ClubTBYH.com