I love summer for so many reasons! Sunshine, warmer weather, fresh local produce, gardening, trail riding…the list could go on.
Did you know that there are seasonal rhythms? Our bodies change as the seasons change, and in traditional Chinese medicine, summertime is a time of motion and energy. During this period, we have our greatest energy, and we find it so much easier to be outside and be more active during the summer months. This is also a good time to assess your life and lifestyle to see if you need to make changes and take advantage of that extra energy.
Just as our bodies have seasonal rhythms, of course, plants and vegetables do too, and with summer just about here, the colorful world of veggies is about to expand! If you grow your own garden or shop at your local Farmers Market, you’ll know what veggies are available in your area, but if you must rely on your local grocery store, you might not know what is actually in season during the summer months.
To make your shopping a little easier and your meals a lot more colorful, here is a list of vegetables currently in season. June produce – arugula, beets, bok choy, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, carrots, chard, collard greens, green beans, kale, onions, peas, radishes and spinach.
Remember, there are many factors that determine how and when food is grown – climate, weather, water accessibility, etc. – so availability may vary from region-to-region or state to state. Of course, organically grown veggies are preferred, but if those are not available in your store, make sure to check EWG’s 2019 Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce™.
Personally, I enjoy going to Farmers Markets to see what my local growers have. They offer a variety of produce throughout the summer months, depending on what is in season at any given time. Plus, you have the advantage of meeting and talking to the people who actually grow the foods they offer.
If you don’t have time to go to Farmers Markets, then another option is to become a member of a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) group. This is a wonderful way to get fresh, local produce right from a farm near you. In return for subscribing to a harvest, subscribers receive either a weekly or bi-weekly box of produce or other farm goods. This includes in-season fruits and vegetables and can expand to dried goods, eggs, milk, meat, etc. depending on the farm.
Local Harvest maintains a list of farmers markets and CSA’s nationwide, or if you’re in the Greater Portland area, the Portland Farmers Market or Farmers Market Listings may be helpful. Summer’s fresh produce will make eating more veggies so much easier, colorful and interesting!
Fun, Pleasure and Summer Activities
Nature can have a powerful, calming effect. Whether you enjoy watching the storms on the ocean, taking a walk in the park, or just being outside when the sun shines – these are all beneficial for your health and happiness. As an added bonus, ditch your shoes whenever possible. When walking on the earth barefoot, we are connected to free electrons that are the most powerful antioxidants known to man. Experiments have shown that free electrons from the earth cause beneficial changes in heart rate, decrease inflammation, reduce pain, and promote healthy sleep plus so much more.
Making time to go outside on a nice day also delivers a huge advantage: one study found that spending 20 minutes outside in good weather not only boosted positive moods but broadened thinking and improved working memory. This is pretty good news for those who are worried about fitting new habits into your already-busy schedules. Twenty minutes is a short enough time to spend outside that you could fit it into your commute or even your lunch break.
While summer is usually packed with travel and vacation plans, outdoor activities and more, it’s also easy to become overwhelmed because we try to pack so much more into our already busy lifestyle. So, while you enjoy the energy and activity, make sure you take some time to “de-stress” as well. Here are just four ways you can combine the two:
- Get grounded. Go outside in the grass barefooted, and appreciate the feel of the grass on your feet, or get your hands dirty in the garden or flower beds.
- Get moving. Spending time outdoors provides a change for fun movement along with other benefits of nature. Exercising outdoors is always better. Take a walk in your neighborhood, a local park or the forest; visit the beach to watch the waves or just listen to the sounds of nature.
- Get fresh air. Indoor air is often up to 70 times more contaminated than outdoor air. With more air-tight insulation, windows and doors, and the abundance of chemicals and plastics we bring into our homes, most people come in contact with up to 6,000 chemicals regularly.
- Get in the rhythm. Spending time outdoors, especially in the morning sunlight, may help you slim down. In fact, a study at Northwestern University found that the earlier a study participant got morning sunlight, the lower the participants BMI; and, as little as half an hour of sun exposure before noon was enough to have an effect on reducing body weight. Some practitioners recommend morning sunlight exposure as part of the protocol to help improve cortisol levels and thyroid health.
Besides getting outside for fun and pleasure remember there are other reasons as well. The sun radiates in the ultraviolet range which has a definite germ-killing effect. Sunbathing also helps with infections to a degree, probably because it kills some surface germs and Vitamin D production increases.
Vitamin D is definitely involved in some germ fighting efforts. Basking in the sun’s rays is our body’s natural pathway for creating Vitamin D. This vital pre-hormone is responsible for many aspects of health throughout the body, and very few foods contain this vitamin, and none in quantities high enough to support our needs. Vitamin D deficiency has been linked to various health problems. Plus, if you cut us off from sunlight for too long, it affects our brain function, our moods, and both our physical and mental wellbeing. We need to get into the sunshine, every day that is possible.
Water, Water, Water
While it is always important to stay hydrated, it is even more so while you are enjoying all the energy and activity of summer. When you are more active and sweat, your body loses water and electrolytes faster, and you can become dehydrated more easily. (In fact, by the time you feel thirsty, you are probably already dehydrated.)
Spring water is always the first recommendation, but short of living near a spring or buying spring water (you may be able to find a spring near you at findaspring.com), the next best thing is to filter your water. Most all tap water is full of contaminants, heavy metals, fluoride, chlorine and more. Tap water, if unfiltered, often has too many contaminants to be good for drinking, so it is important to use a filter.
Electrolytes have many important functions, from regulating your heart to allowing your muscles to move. So, when it comes to replacing them, forget reaching for the Gatorade or pricy Vitamin waters. Instead, consume real sea salt on a daily basis to keep your electrolytes up. The minimal processing of unrefined sea salt allows it to maintain most of its natural mineral content, such as sodium, magnesium, calcium and potassium. A high-quality sea salt contains a LOT of other trace minerals as well, and by consuming it daily you are ensuring that your body maintains sufficient electrolyte levels.
Make you a priority this summer!! Whether it’s eating more of those yummy, colorful veggies or participating in family activities – take some time just for you, because understanding who you are and what you believe is a reminder of why your health and well-being are important. What will it take for you to become the best you possible this summer?