Sunglasses. Hats. Bikinis. Beaches. Playing outdoors. Isn’t that what summer is supposed to be all about? Well yes, but have you ever noticed that as the summer months roll on, you are decidedly happier, more active, and there’s that extra zing to life – everything just seems better, even if a tad bit. That’s because seasonal changes can bring out a change in DNA in over a fifth of all our genes, leading to changes in expression. The human body keeps a track of seasonal changes through neurotransmitters that regulate its circadian rhythm which is linked to the length of the day and night.
Let’s take a deep dive into what the onset of summer with its longer days and shorter nights means for our bodies.
The extra hours of daylight in summer spell excessive wakefulness for our bodies. If you stay in an area where it’s still daylight around late evening, it could push your dinner and sleep time ahead significantly in the summer months. Experts suggest not to vary your sleep time by more than an hour during summers as anything more can lead to problems getting up the next morning, jeopardizing your entire schedule. Summer allergies that mostly arise from exposure to pollen, grasses, and weeds are also a big culprit when it comes to sleep problems during the hot season. What’s worse – the lack of sleep is known to further aggravate allergies creating a vicious cycle of sorts. The solution? Use an air purifier, clean bed sheets and your hair regularly, and keep the windows shut during the morning hours to keep pollen away. To counter seasonal allergies and body changes, Ayurveda recommends strengthening the body’s agni or digestive fire through regular meditation and eliminating ama – physical and emotional toxicity. Net pot – an ayurvedic nasal irrigation method that involves using salt water to flush your nasal cavities is also particularly helpful in relieving allergies.
Sunny weather is the ultimate mood booster, stress buster, memory elevator, and work-life balancer. People are generally happier, creative, and more affirmative when the days are longer. However, the positive psychological impact of weather on mood is limited only to the nicer days when the weather is warm and comfortable, not sweltering hot. The latter can lead even to dehydration – a life threatening condition that can affect anybody irrespective of whether they are outdoors or indoors.
While winter gets the bad rap for its harsh climate, difficulty in getting outdoor exercise, and winter foods for piling on those kilos, summer isn’t too good for your waistline either, if you aren’t careful. Those lemonades, mocktails, juices, barbecue burgers, and beer you gorge on at the beach side and at lounges are laden with hidden calories that mostly come from sugar. Same goes for summer salads – while you think your fruit salad is with loaded with goodness, most people often forget the ‘fresh’ part. Canned fruit added to salads is kept dipped in sugar syrup to prevent it from going bad. The solution? Rigorously stick to fresh fruit juices and salads such as grape fruit salad, cucumber, basil, and watermelon salad, or any other loaded with summer fruits such as peaches, strawberries, muskmelon, etc. Cold vegetable soups such as tomato soup, Spanish Gazpacho or even pineapple cucumber gazpacho and other cold soup varieties are great to sip on during summers.
#4 Heart health:
Hot weather especially increases risk of heart attacks in people above 50 years of age and those who are obese or lead a sedentary lifestyle. For younger people who do not hydrate themselves enough in the hot summer months, heat exhaustion, leading to dizziness, fatigue, and muscle twitching can be a common occurrence.
The length of days has a significant effect on our bodies’ biochemistry and the seasonal ebbs and flows shape our days to a large extent. Disruptions to the body’s natural cycle and excessive exposure to artificial light can have harmful results on our overall health, immunity, and longevity. Pitta, one of the three Ayurvedic doshas, is of particular importance in the summer season as most of us reel under the effects of excess Pitta when the temperature soars. You know your pitta has peaked when signs such as heartburn, excessive sweating, irritability, skin inflammation, etc, start appearing. The good part however, is that pitta can be controlled with a cooling diet and lifestyle and by keeping your schedule on track as much as possible, regardless of the seasons and geographical area you stay in.