During the summer, many people incorporate more smoothies, salads, and other raw foods into their diets. While eating with the seasons is convenient with the abundance of fresh produce, thoroughly enjoyable and delicious, and practical for keeping our kitchens and homes cool, according to Traditional Chinese Medicine, the type of food and food preparation is also important to support our digestive system and overall health.
While salads and smoothies are healthy, in Traditional Chinese Medicine we often advise people to minimize cold foods, raw vegetables, and iced drinks in their diets because these foods that are cold in nature or temperature demand more from our bodies to process. Consuming cold foods or beverages puts stress on our digestive system causing it to compensate by producing excess mucus, bile, and digestive enzymes which overtime can cause symptoms of gas, bloating, indigestion, constipation, or diarrhea. Stress, injury, or illness will only exacerbate these symptoms. While fruits and vegetables are essential in maintaining our health, if our body is unable to break down these foods properly, then we may miss out on many of the key nutrients that they contain.
However, this does not mean you have to stop eating salads and drinking smoothies. If you are experiencing gas, bloating, or indigestion consider these simple tips while preparing your food this summer.
Ditch the Ice Water!
Drinking tepid or warm water vs cold water is great for supporting overall digestion, and can help reduce symptoms of heartburn, reflux, and gas. This is a great habit to form all year round and an easy one to follow.
Sautée, Blanch, or Steam Your Veggies
Raw uncooked vegetables can be very hard for your stomach to digest. Help the digestion process along by quickly sauteing, blanching, or steaming your vegetables to break down some of the hard-to-digestive cellulose, starches, and plant membranes so your stomach doesn’t have to work as hard.
Try a Vinaigrette
When enjoying fresh salads, try pairing it with a vinaigrette. Vinegar can help break down some of the plant cell membranes and make it a little easier for your stomach to digest. Heartier greens such as kale or collards demand even more of your body to digest, so with these, try massaging them with vinaigrette first.
Add Some Ginger
Give a little kick to your smoothies, salads, or any food you’re cooking! Not only does ginger add a fantastic zing to many foods, it is also very warming in nature according to Traditional Chinese Medicine, which is great for counterbalancing the cold nature of many raw fruits and vegetables.
We hope with these simple tips you can avoid or alleviate symptoms of gas, bloating, or indigestion, enjoy your summer to the fullest, and eat plenty of fresh delicious produce while supporting your digestive system. Good digestive health is a cornerstone of your overall well being!