Ayurveda Essentials: Balanced Weight, Better Immunity, and More
Ayurveda can be a transformative - and beautifully simple - tool for helping you achieve your health and beauty goals. We discuss our top tips for optimal weight management, supple skin, superior sleep - and more!
Transform Your Weight
As with any good weight management program, the Ayurvedic approach first starts with detoxing. A simple daily cleansing ritual I recommend is the consumption of warm water with lemon on an empty stomach each morning. Another practical Ayurvedic detox is the use of certain foods to cleanse the body and blood and eliminate them through the bowel pathways. These foods include bran, dandelion root, psyllium seeds and flaxseed husk and should be heavily included in the diet during a detox. Ayurveda also suggests for all body types, integrating foods like millet, tapioca or rye will help manage your appetite and on a day that you might give in to temptation, a combination of roasted fennel and coriander seeds, mixed with a pinch of salt can help soothe the stomach and aid digestion. Bonus tip: Water boiled with barley (and then strained) and coriander tea are extremely helpful in relieving water weight and bloating.
Heal Your Skin Issues
Healthy skin really does start within. Start by including more Turmeric and Iron in your diet. Ayurvedic doctors (and recently, many skincare experts) recommend consuming nearly a teaspoon of turmeric a day and luckily, you have lots of ways to get your dose in. You can cook with it, drink it in your favorite beverage - and there are even organic turmeric capsules you can take. Also, iron deficiencies can cause a host of issues from pale skin to dryness and itch, so make sure you are getting enough iron as well. Excellent sources include beets and carrot juice. If acne is a concern I suggest drinking a small cup of aloe vera juice daily and for an effective overnight treatment, try rubbing melon on the skin at bedtime to cool and heal blemish prone areas. Acne prone skin also benefits tremendously from face masks, especially ones with honey (anti-bacterial and will help lighten acne scars) and turmeric (highly anti-inflammatory and healing). A paste of turmeric and sandalwood in either mustard oil or lemon juice is also great for clearing acne-related scarring. If your skin feels very aggravated - resulting in issues ranging from sensitivity and rosacea to excess flaking or even eczema also try a honey treatment. Apply a layer of honey to the face and let rest for five minutes before removing with a warm washcloth.
Strengthen Your Immune System
Immune system issues can often arise from a buildup of toxins. The ancient ayurvedic procedure of oil pulling involves swishing the mouth with either sesame oil or virgin coconut oil. Take 10 ml of oil; swish it inside the mouth for about 20 minutes before spitting it out. Rinse well with warm water. Deeply detoxifying, this ritual also helps whiten the teeth and drive bad breath away. Minerals also play an important role in boosting the immune system and copper and silver are recommended. Use of copper jugs or bottles for storage of water overnight is prevalent in Ayurveda - as is using a silver spoon to stir boiling water or milk to make any drink healthier. A highly purified form of Pearl powder called Moti Bhasma is often used in small quantities in Ayurveda, consumed with honey most traditionally, to strengthen the immune system and protect against respiratory issues. However, given the potency of Moti Bhasma, it's best to use only under advisement from your doctor. More straightforward immunity boosting ingredients such as turmeric, ginger, honey, cinnamon, lemon juice - can, and should, be added to your diet for a daily dose of added immunity support.
Improve Hair Quality
Great hair starts at the root, literally! Many Ayurvedic suggestions and remedies for hair growth start with proper nutrition, gut and scalp health. When experiencing excessive hair fall or breakage, consider starting what's called a pitta-balancing diet. This means you should avoid excessively sour, acidic, oily foods, choosing to favor blander varieties of vegetables such as zucchini and asparagus and sweeter fruits such as pomegranates and pineapples. Diets higher in protein (while avoiding beef and seafood) – are also great for hair regrowth. Select tofu, tempeh, cottage cheese and white meats along with greens such as broccoli and lettuce which provide iron which is said to help grow stronger, fuller hair. Also, great gut health has a direct correlation to the health and pH balance of your scalp. Eat more yogurt, buttermilk, and foods rich in probiotics. Sesame seeds and nuts can be excellent sources of important hair support minerals such as magnesium. You can also try Vitamin C which is not only great for skin and hair function but also enhances the absorption and metabolism of minerals (such as iron) into the system.
Get Better Sleep
Ayurveda suggests the most restful sleep occurs when you go to bed at 10 pm and rise with the sun. This may be less than practical for some of us, so here are a few suggestions. Drink a cup of hot milk with honey, turmeric and powdered pistachio before bedtime, and if dairy isn’t for you – go with chamomile or valerian root tea. You can also try orange juice with a pinch of nutmeg and saffron and if you find that you're having difficulty sleeping because of an overactive mind. Yoga poses such as Shoulder stand, Cobra, and Half Bow are particularly recommended for those experiencing anxiety and meditation is particularly powerful for better sleep. The feet have special relevance in Ayurveda (and eastern medicine in general) as they have important nerve centers that can harmonize the body and promote well-being. Essential oils of chamomile, jasmine, vetiver, lavender and ayurvedic herbs such as acorus calamus, bacopa monnieri, withania somnifera - can promote relaxation for your mind and body and can also be placed on the feet (starting between the toes). Can't get a hold of these? No problem. Foot rubs with oils you'll find in your kitchen - such as coconut or sesame - will also boost circulation, wellness and promote better rest.