Optimise digestion and staying cool this summer

As we head towards the hotter months of the year and the festive season with gatherings of family and friends, we hear from Gaia Retreat’s Head Naturopath Tracy on how to optimise our digestion and support the cooling mechanisms of your body.

Traditional medicine such as Ayurveda and Chinese medicine considers food, beverages and herbs to have an energetic quality which has an impact on the body and mind. Certain foods are warming – cooling – promote digestion – improve circulation – stimulate or calm the mind etc.

Summer calls for cooling easier digestible foods, as hotter temperatures redirects blood flow to the skin to dissipate heat, which can reduce blood flow to the digestive organs, possibly leading to sluggish digestion and bloating due to fermentation processes. Various heating foods such as cayenne (chilli) can trigger receptors on the tongue, and stimulate cooling mechanism such as sweating.

Cellular hydration is optimised by adding natural electrolytes to your water, this will also help regulate body temperature, try adding 1/8 coconut water to 7/8 water, along with fresh mint leaves or slices of cucumber. The body eliminates 1.8 litres of water per day, therefore we require around 8 glasses (2 litres) per day, and every diuretic beverage such as tea, coffee and most herbal teas will be a negative water, adjust your water intake accordingly, and every hour of exercise requires 1 litre of water.

A Summer meal plan focuses on water-rich hydrating foods and beverages, here is an example of a typical summer’s day. Taking into consideration the importance of small regular meals, rich in protein (animal or plant-based) and good fats (omega 3 fatty acids) to maintain energy levels and promote digestion, nutrient assimilation and waste removal.

Wake with the morning light, as your senses draw in the light your natural cortisol begins to elevate. Start your day by sipping on water with a twist of lemon to stimulate your digestive processes. 

Consider the following meal options:

• Smoothie – chia seeds (pre-soaked in coconut water), soaked and rinsed flax seeds, hemp protein powder, ripe pear (no skin), avocado, greens powder (optional), collagen (optional), blend.
• Fried/poached egg with lightly fried water rich vegetables such as asparagus, zucchini, and baby spinach
• Cold pressed juice with celery, green apple, cucumber, strawberries, and dilute with water or coconut water
• Wedges of fresh pineapple (include the core for enzymes) and paw paw

• Left over protein (seafood is cooling) from last nights dinner, with dark green leafy bitters (rocket, mizuna, radicchio, endive) cucumber slices, grated beetroot, radish, mung bean sprouts, pomegranate and vinaigrette dressing (pomegranate vinegar, olive oil, lime/lemon juice)

• Buckwheat/Quinoa Salad – buck wheat has a high water content, and becomes a resistant starch when eaten cold. Add crunchy vegetables – diced celery, cabbage, cucumber, mung sprouts, black beans (tinned or precooked), pumpkin and sunflower seeds (pre-soaked), pomegranate vinaigrette dressing – stir through and serve.

• Seafood Laksa – calamari / white fish strips pre-cooked, add crunchy vegetables (bok choy, carrot, zucchini, mushrooms, bean sprouts etc), coconut milk, water, spiced with ginger and chilli, to trigger the body’s cooling response.
• Nori Rolls with cauliflower rice, protein of choice, slices of avocado and cucumber

• Fresh watermelon juice, or watermelon & coconut water
• Frozen strawberries, fresh mint and coconut water as a frozen drink 

Avoid food that cause sluggish digestion such as heavy high fat foods (deep fried, rich creamy sauces), processed or refined foods high in sugar.

Eat small regular meals and improve digestion by marinating heavy animal proteins, choose foods with a higher water content and maintain good hydration with natural electrolytes such as coconut water. 

By following these dietary tips, you can make the most of the summer while keeping your body cool and refreshed.


Wishing you a refreshing and flavour-filled spring season,


Head Naturopath Tracy & the Gaia Naturopathy Team