THE SKIN EATS!
Remember this: Applying a substance to the skin bypasses digestion—it goes full strength into the bloodstream. Think of beauty products as food. You might not want to use it on your skin if you can’t eat it.
BALANCED DIGESTION IS PARAMOUNT TO GOOD HEALTH
The first line of defense for the skin (and your entire being, for that matter) is to honor your agni (digestive fire). Every aspect of well-being begins with healthy digestion, creating beautiful skin from the inside out included. The quality of digestion affects the skin through all seven body tissues—plasma, blood, muscle, bone, fat, marrow/nervous tissue, and reproductive tissue.
TIPS FOR IMPROVING DIGESTION
- Eat in a calm and settled environment.
- Never eat and run; allow a few minutes after eating to relax or take a gentle walk.
- Sip warm water with lemon or lime throughout the day. Take only small sips of water with meals.
- Before your meal, eat a slice of ginger with lime and a pinch of salt to kindle digestion.
- Drink ginger tea with lemon or hot water with lemon upon rising.
- Avoid coffee as it is very acidic, drying, and creates mucous in the intestines.
- Eat freshly cooked meals. Ayurveda recommends not eating food that is more than 24 hours old.
- Avoid canned food, frozen food, and microwaved food.
- Chew your food well and be mindful of its tastes, smells, and textures.
- Focus on eating—not conversation, TV, computer, reading, etc., and avoid standing while eating.
- Avoid overeating! You should feel satisfied and no longer hungry but not so full that you can’t eat another bite.
- Avoid cold food and drinks.
- Eat only when you feel hungry.
- Eat at a moderate pace.
- Allow a few hours between your last meal and bedtime.
- Avoid snacking between meals.
- Eat your largest meal at midday.
- Give thanks for your food!
TRIPHALA: THE AYURVEDIC THREE MUSKETEERS HERBAL COMBINATION
Triphala is a combination of three herbs: haritaki, amalaki, and bhibitaki. The tannins in triphala soothe skin (avoid during pregnancy and menstruation) and support the functional integrity of vata, pitta, and kapha. As a rule, take two triphala at bedtime with warm water.
The body produces enzymes that help digest foods during the various seasons. The inability of our digestive systems to recognize foods eaten out of season creates intestinal distress, toxic build-up, and disease.
“It’s in season for a reason!” —Dr. John Douillard
CONDUCT AYURVEDIC SEASONAL CLEANSING IN SPRING AND FALL
Ayurveda recommends cleansing every spring and fall—wisdom dictates it takes six months for disease to accumulate. During winter, we store toxins in our fat, releasing them when it starts to warm up. A spring cleanse flushes them out of our system and bolsters health. In the summer, we accumulate heat in the blood, which can manifest in disease. A fall cleanse supports the process of dispelling that heat.
Cleansing eliminates these toxins in a very gentle, nurturing, and highly effective way and supports the body’s ability to reset digestion and detoxify.
Please note that cleansing should not be done during pregnancy, menstruation, or in times of acute illness/weakness. Consult an Ayurvedic Vaidya (doctor) or Ayurvedic Practitioner before embarking on your first cleanse.
EAT FOR YOUR SKIN TYPE
If you want to affect change, pay attention to dietary guidelines of foods and make choices that favor balanced digestion for vata, pitta, and kapha. Take note that opinions will vary. The ultimate test is to eat something and see how it makes you feel. Always eat organically!
Salty, sour, sweet tastes/hot, oily, heavy qualities
Apple (cooked), apricot, avocado, banana, berries, cherries, coconut, dates, figs, grapefruit, grapes, kiwi, lemon, lime, mango, melons, orange, papaya, peaches, pineapple, plum, prune, raisin, rhubarb, strawberry, tamarind
Asparagus, beets, carrots, cilantro, cucumber, daikon, fennel, garlic, green beans, green chilies, leeks, okra, black olives, onions, parsnip, peas, sweet potato, pumpkin, radish, rutabaga, squashes, taro root, watercress, zucchini. In moderation: cauliflower, Jerusalem artichoke, cabbage, leafy greens, parsley, mustard greens, and turnip greens.
Amaranth (in moderation), Durham flour, oats, pancakes, quinoa, rice, seitan, sprouted wheat bread, wheat
Red lentils, mung dal, tofu, tur dal, urad dal (dal means bean)
Butter, buttermilk, cheeses, cow’s milk, goat’s milk, sour cream, yogurt.
Dairy should be combined with other foods properly and eaten at room temperature, usually with spices.
Black pepper (in moderation), chutneys, dulse, gomasio, hijiki, kelp, ketchup, lime pickle, mango pickle, mayonnaise, mustard, salt, soy sauce, tamari, vinegar
All in moderation—almonds, brazil nuts, cashews, charole (chirongi), coconut, filberts, hazelnuts, macadamia nuts, peanuts, pecans, pine nuts, pistachios, walnuts
Chia, flax, pumpkin, sesame, sunflower
Avocado, coconut, ghee, macadamia, olive, sesame
Almond milk, aloe vera juice, apple cider, apricot juice, berry juices (except cranberry), carrot juice, chai, cherry juice, grain “coffee,” grape juice, grapefruit juice, lemonade, mango juice, miso broth, orange juice, papaya juice, peach nectar, pineapple juice, sour juices, soy milk—warm and spiced, vegetable bouillon
Ajwan, bancha, chamomile, chrysanthemum-in moderation, clove, comfrey, elderflower, eucalyptus, fennel, fenugreek, ginger (fresh), hawthorne, juniper berry, lavender, lemon grass, licorice, marshmallow, oat straw, orange peel pennyroyal, peppermint, rosehips, saffron, sage, sarsaparilla, sassafras, spearmint.
In moderation: catnip, chicory, kukicha, raspberry, strawberry, and wintergreen.
Generally, all spices are good. However, use pungent spices in moderation as they can be drying.
Barley malt, fructose, fruit juice concentrates, honey, jaggery, molasses, rice syrup, sucanat, unbleached cane sugar, and occasionally maple syrup
Bitter, astringent, sweet tastes/cold, heavy qualities
Sweet apples, apricots, berries, cherries, oranges, pineapple, and plums; avocado, coconut, dates, figs, red and purple grapes, mango, melons, pears, pomegranates, prunes, raisins, and watermelon.
In moderation: papaya and limes
Artichoke, asparagus, cooked beets, bitter melon, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cooked carrots, raw carrots in moderation, cauliflower, celery, cilantro, cucumber, dandelion greens, fennel, green beans, Jerusalem artichoke, kale, leafy greens, cooked leeks, lettuce, mushrooms, okra, black olives, cooked onions, parsley parsnips, peas, sweet peppers, sweet potatoes, pumpkin, cooked radishes, rutabaga, spaghetti squash, sprouts (not spicy), winter and summer squash, taro root, watercress (in moderation), wheat grass sprouts, zucchini
Amaranth, barley, couscous, Durham flour, granola, oat bran, cooked oats, pancakes, pasta, rice (basmati, wild, and white), rice cakes, seitan, spelt, sprouted wheat bread, tapioca, wheat, wheat bran
Aduki, black, black-eyed peas, chickpeas, kidney, lentils (brown and red), mung dal, navy, dried peas, pinto, soy beans, split peas, tofu, white beans
Unsalted butter, cheese (soft and unsalted, not aged), cottage cheese, cow’s milk, ghee, goat’s milk, goat’s cheese (soft, unsalted), yogurt (freshly made and diluted) in moderation
Sweet mango chutney, cilantro leaves, sprouts (not spicy); black pepper, dulse, hijiki, kombu, and tamari in moderation
Almonds (soaked and peeled), coconut
Flax, halva, popcorn, sunflower, and pumpkin in moderation
Avocado, coconut, flax seed, ghee, olive, sunflower, walnut
Almond milk, aloe vera juice, apple juice, apricot juice, sweet berry juice, carob, sweet cherry juice, grain “coffee,” grape juice, mango juice, mixed vegetable juice, peach nectar, pear juice, pomegranate juice, prune juice, vegetable bouillon
In moderation: white wine, beer, black tea, chai, miso broth, and orange juice
Alfalfa, bancha, barley, blackberry, borage, burdock, catnip, chamomile, chicory, comfrey, dandelion, fennel, fresh ginger in moderation, hibiscus, hops, jasmine, kukicha, lavender, lemon balm, lemongrass, licorice (no, if high blood pressure), marshmallow, nettle, oat straw, passion flower, peppermint, raspberry, red clover, sarsaparilla, spearmint, strawberry, violet, wintergreen, yarrow
Fresh basil, cinnamon, coriander, cumin, dill, fennel, fresh ginger, mint, peppermint, saffron, spearmint, turmeric, and wintergreen.
In moderation: neem leaves, parsley, black pepper, caraway, cardamom, tarragon, and vanilla
Barley malt, fructose, fruit juice concentrates, maple syrup, sucanat, turbinado, unbleached cane sugar
Bitter, astringent, pungent tastes/hot, light, dry qualities
Apples, apricots, berries, cherries, cranberries, peaches, pears, persimmons, pomegranates, prunes, raisins
In moderation: dry figs, grapes, lemons, limes, strawberries
Artichoke, asparagus, beet greens, beets, bitter melon, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, burdock root, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, celery, cilantro, corn, daikon, dandelion greens, eggplant, fennel, garlic, green beans, green chilies, horseradish, Jerusalem artichoke, kale, kohlrabi, leafy greens, leeks, lettuce, mushrooms, mustard greens, okra, onions, parsley, peas, sweet and hot peppers, white potatoes, radishes, rutabaga, spinach, sprouts, summer squash, cooked tomatoes, turnip greens, turnips, watercress, wheatgrass, and spaghetti squash (in moderation)
Barley, buckwheat, corn, couscous, granola, millet, muesli, oat bran, dry oats, polenta, rice (basmati, wild), rye, seitan, sprouted wheat bread, tapioca, wheat bran
In moderation: Amaranth, Durham flour, quinoa, and spelt
Aduki, black beans, black-eyed peas, chickpeas, red and brown lentils, lima, mung, navy, dried peas, pinto, split peas, spicy tofu, tur dal, white beans
Cottage cheese from skimmed goat’s milk, not-aged goat’s cheese, skim goat’s milk, diluted and spiced yogurt
In moderation: Buttermilk and unsalted ghee
Black pepper, chili peppers, spicy chutneys, cilantro, horseradish, mustard without vinegar, scallions, sprouts
In moderation: dulse, hikiki, and seaweed
In moderation: Flax, pumpkin, sunflower
All in moderation—Almond, ghee, sunflower
Aloe vera juice, apple cider, apricot juice, berry juice, spiced black tea, carob, carrot juice, cherry juice-sweet, cranberry juice, grain “coffee,” grape juice, mango juice, peach nectar, pear juice, pomegranate juice, prune juice
In moderation: apple juice, chai, pineapple juice
Alfalfa, bancha, barley, blackberry, burdock, chamomile, chicory, cinnamon, clove, dandelion, fenugreek, ginger, hibiscus, jasmine, juniper berry, kukicha, lavender, lemon balm, lemongrass, Mormon tea, nettle, passion flower, peppermint, raspberry, red clover, sassafras, spearmint, strawberry, wintergreen, yarrow, yerba mate
In moderation: comfrey, ginseng, and sarsaparilla
All spices are good; fennel and vanilla (in moderation).
Fruit juice concentrates and raw honey (in moderation)
HYDRATE, HYDRATE, HYDRATE!
Drink half your healthy body weight in ounces of water daily; drink more if you sweat or live in an arid climate.
PRACTICE YOGA, EXERCISE, AND SPEND TIME IN NATURE
Care of the soul makes the skin glow.
Give me beauty in the inward soul; may the outward and the inward man be at one. —SOCRATES
Yoga, exercise, and being in nature give us a healthy glow as they enliven the senses, help us connect with our spirituality, lubricate the joints, soothe the nervous system, alleviate anxiety and depression, provide us with Vitamin D, and more.
Practice yoga and exercise in moderation and listen to your body’s needs for restorative practices.
Next month, I’ll take a deeper dive into learning about routine Ayurvedic skin care with cleansing, nourishing, and moisturizing recipes for the face and body, as well as how to prevent various skin imbalances, in Introduction to Ayurvedic Skin Care Part II.