Hong Kong is notorious for its hot and humid weather this time of year. In the afternoons, the stifling weather can sometimes feel downright impossible to bear with. And it’s getting worse over time, as climate change intensifies. Luckily, there are some age-old tips inspired by Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) that we can rely on to beat the heat. Without further ado, here are some of the natural food and drink remedies that you can try.
There are some foods classified as “cooling” under TCM, which can help bring your body temperature down.
Most sweet and juicy fruits are considered “cooling”, but watermelon ranks among the top picks for a hot summer day. Of course, enjoy the red flesh of the watermelon, but try the white rind too, which is a mild diuretic to help remove the dampness too.
These small green beans originate from India, but are now common across Asia. You can find dried mung beans in most markets and stores. Try boiling them to add into salads, or make a sweet green bean soup out of it, a traditional Chinese dessert that can be enjoyed hot or chilled. Yellow soybeans have a milder cooling effect.
Containing mostly water, cucumber is the ultimate cooling vegetable that you can slice and add to salads or flavour your water along with some lemon juice. For a light lunch idea, why not try making a refreshing cucumber gazpacho?
While most types of green vegetables are considered cooling, eating raw leafy veggies such as lettuce and other salad leaves decreases heatiness.
Finally, try adding water chestnuts to your meals. These are mildly sweet and crunchy, and work really well in stir-fries with mushrooms and veggies.
There are also certain spices and herbs recommended by TCM to reduce heat from the body, among them include mint, coriander, cumin seeds, coriander seeds and fennel. Avoid spices such as cayenne pepper, chilli peppers and mustard seeds. While fresh ginger can still be consumed in meals, especially if you want to avoid excessive coldness in dishes that contain lots of cooling foods, avoid using dried ginger.
Foods to avoid
Note that there are lots of foods classified as “heaty” under TCM, which you can try to avoid as much as possible on hot days. Some of these are deep-fried foods, chocolate, durian, jackfruit, coconut meat and cherries. That being said, it’s always fine to keep a balance between heaty and cooling foods, so adjust individually.
Here are some drinks that will help you seek solace beyond air-conditioning during the summer months.
In TCM, chrysanthemum tea is a cooling tea that helps bring down fever symptoms. It is also antibacterial, and is said to help speed up recovery time for those who are experiencing mild cold symptoms after sitting in extreme air-conditioned rooms for long periods of time.
Dandelion root tea
Dandelion is considered an ingredient that is bitter, drying and cooling, and can help clear heat from the liver and is beneficial for your lungs and stomach too.
Elderflower tea / water
Elderflower helps cool the body down by moving the blood to the surface of your skin, and is also a diuretic that helps to eliminate excess heat in your kidneys. Plus, it has anti-inflammatory properties and is high in Vitamin C too, making it a healthy go-to in the summer. Try brewing tea with it, or leave it to diffuse in water with some lemon.
Not many people realise, but soy milk is a cooling drink, and in the winter months, TCM recommends that soy milk should be boiled with slices of fresh ginger to keep a good balance and avoid over-cooling. So in the summer, feel free to have a glass of chilled soy milk to cool down.
TCM practitioners say that peppermint tea can help clear heat by “dispersing wind”, promoting circulation of your qi. For a double chilling effect, serve the drink cold.
Lead image courtesy of Unsplash.