Cooling Spice Palette for Summer
Heat waves and extra hot days are on the horizon, with temperatures rising globally. Sun exhaustion, heat stroke, and fatigue are all very real side effects of too much sun exposure. Not only that, but those with predisposed conditions that may contribute to body heat–such as those related to body temperature or blood pressure disorders–face even more troubles in the Summer. What better way to beat the heat and cool down from the scorching LA temperatures than with some refreshing spice-infused beverages and cold treats? It might seem silly, but when heat puts you in a state of physical stress, instead of opting for an ice-cold drink or refreshing cold dish, focus on cooling spices and start incorporating them as a means of cooling down your internal system.
What’s incredibly interesting about spices is that they have many benefits that might not be apparent on the surface. Aside from the fact that herbs are used to enhance the flavors of foods and beverages, they can be used in essential oils and aromatherapy to alter moods, and have many regulatory elements. In fact, spices contain bioactive compounds and antioxidants that are responsible for regulating your inner body temperature. Much like warming spices can heat up the body, cooling spices can help cool your internal and external heat. How cool is that?
How does this work, you may ask?
Well, your tongue possesses hundreds of nerve endings, which have a variety of sensor proteins that respond to environmental stimuli. These sensor proteins are able to communicate certain sensations to the brain, forming a reaction. This is why we often associate chilies with rising body heat and mint with a chilling effect. This is important to remember, especially when the environmental temperatures become intolerable.
If you want to avoid increased body heat, sweating, irritability, headaches, salty liquid released from sweat glands, and other side effects of heat exposure, check out these natural spices to help cool you down and maintain your ideal body temp.
Perhaps the most obvious spice known to have cooling effects is mint. Mint is an excellent spice to keep on hand year-round, especially in the warmer months. What could be more refreshing than mint-infused ice cubes or cucumber mint lemon water?
Not only does mint help ease your body temp, but it contains chemicals that provoke a feeling of a change in temperature, chilling your system and triggering a physiological reaction. Certain varieties of mint–such as peppermint–can relax tension in our bodies. As our body eases tension, our circulation improves, which can facilitate regulating our body temperature and curtailing bloating or other stomach-related issues. Being that the most active compound in mint is menthol–an anti-spasmodic, there is no secret to why cold-sensitive receptors are triggered within the skin. This trigger provides a cooling sensation that stimulates nerve endings to help chill your system. You may already have experienced this sensation without even realizing.
While rather potent in taste, fennel seeds prevent hyperacidity via stimulating the production of intestinal juices. It keeps the gut healthy and free of inflammation and can reduce rashes, pain, and nausea–all underlying symptoms of too much sun or heat exposure. Fennel seeds function as a coolant and are known to treat gastrointestinal issues such as bloating, stomach cramps, and excessive gas, leaving you feeling lighter and brighter.
It might not taste that great, but drinking ground-up fennel seeds with some room temperature or ice-cold water on a hot Summer’s day is an insanely efficient way to cool your system and prevent your body from going into overdrive when out in the sun for extended periods. Brew fennel in hot water to make fennel tea, then let cool and mix with ice.
Coriander seeds have diaphoretic properties, helping you sweat out toxins and flush the system with ease. Because consuming coriander can induce perspiration, it can serve as a quick remedy for a fever. This release also aids in keeping the digestive tract clean and clear and under control and, in the process, reducing inflammation. In this way, the spice can help keep the body cool by reducing internal heat, despite having a warmer and spicier taste. It is a great spice to have on hand to throw in dishes like gazpacho–a cold soup or cod and carrot pilaf.
Like many other cooling spices, cumin plays a role in detoxifying the body, acting as both a cooling agent and digestive aid. While it is often used in spicy curries, soups, stir-fry, and other warm dishes, it has cooling effects that keep the body hydrated and rejuvenated, which helps one cope with hot weather. Opting to drink cumin water–perhaps with a spritz of lemon–is a surefire way to prevent heatstroke in the warmer months. Cumin is known to alleviate gas and bloating, and has a savory taste that is pleasant to consume.
Aside from being great for digestion, basil is a primary detoxifier and anti-inflammatory. Consuming basil helps restore and level the body’s pH levels by balancing the amount of acid in one’s body, and acts as a cooling agent within the body. Not only does basil add a pleasant and refreshing flavor to any dish or beverage, but it can aid in flushing the body out of harmful contaminants or toxins, allowing the body to come into a state of balance. In some instances, and depending on how it is used, basil can also have a warming effect, but basil is generally known to help reduce body heat.
Now that you know about some of the most prominent cooling spices, it’s time to ditch the ice cream and cold milkshakes and start incorporating these spices into your meals to cool down that body of yours!
While this list covers a few significant cooling spices, we encourage you to do your research and discover the limitless possibilities that spices can offer the body. Any herb that helps flush toxins or makes you sweat is also great for the Summer, as they leave you feeling rejuvenated and cleansed from harmful substances or icks in the body. Feel free to use these spices on their own, mixed with water, or incorporated into healthy dishes and beverages (preferably cold), to make the most out of the effects.