January 07, 2021 6 min read
Oilation is so very important in Ayurveda, both internally and externally.
Internally speaking, cooking with whole, healthy oils like sesame, coconut, olive, and ghee is key to keeping your whole body happy. While the 1980s saw an explosion in fat-free cuisine, the research has told us that it's a bunch of nonsense.
Your body needs healthy fats to function. Fats help your body absorb important vitamins and gives your body essential fatty acids that manage inflammation, support brain health, and more.
In Ayurvedic terms, healthy oils are the lubricant for the entire body and all its systems, both internally and externally. Now, the quantity and quality of these oils are important - it's equally possible to have too much and too little oils, depending on your innate constitutional type and any imbalances present. For more guidance on oils for your own body type and imbalance, schedule a 15 minute Ayurvedic Health Consultation Discovery Call.
Something else to consider is the temperature at which you are cooking with certain oils. Some oils have lower smoke points, and cooking with oils at temperatures at or higher than their smoke points actually causes the release of inflammation-causing compounds. Most oils will have their smoke point listed somewhere on the bottle (and if not, Google it) - pay attention to that when cooking and focus on using oils at temperatures well below the smoke point.
Externally speaking, oil is just as key. In order for our skin to behave like skin (as a highly functional and adaptable barrier), it must be properly moisturized. Our acid mantle - the actual part of our skin that behaves as a barrier - requires oils to properly function and protect itself.
Many conventional skincare products are stripping to the skin - they wash away too much moisture and/or they have a pH too low or too high relative to skin and hair's natural pH of ~5. Ayurveda is all about nourishing and supporting the skin and its inherent functions. Our Ayurvedic skin care products are no exception.
Made with whole plant-based oils and herbs, these goodies treat your skin right and come in three different types for each of the Ayurvedic skin types. Vata is for dry, rough skin prone to dark spots and wrinkles. Pitta is for oily skin prone to inflammation like acne, eczema, and psoriasis. Kapha is for oily skin prone to congestion, stagnation, and puffiness.
For some reason I'll never understand, ice water is ubiquitous in the US. You get it at every restaurant and most people drink it at home. And while we've been conditioned to think that it's "refreshing," in reality it is bad for our digestion, our lymphatic system, our circulation, and yes, even our skin.
In Ayurvedic terms, your gut is governed by your digestive fire (agni). Ice water is like throwing a blanket over your digestive fire. It drastically slows down your ability to properly digest and break down food. It constricts blood flow and brings lymphatic movement to a halt. It slows and often inhibits the secretion of enzymes necessary to break down food. When your gut, your lymphatic system, and your circulation are affected, so is your skin. It's all connected.
So what should you do instead? Simple. Drink room temperature, or better yet, warm beverages like decaf herbal teas. Some of Ayurveda's favorite herbal teas include: ginger, tulsi (holy basil), peppermint, and fennel.
In Ayurveda, how you eat is just as important as what you eat. Eating mindlessly and distracted contributes to over and under-eating, indigestion, and a host of digestive issues. If you're not paying attention to what you're eating, you aren't really nourishing your body with food, you're just throwing food into your body.
Clear the distractions, put your devices in another room, and sit down to eat slowly and deliberately. Savor your food. Take each bite slowly. No serious or intense conversations or arguments at mealtime. I promise, it makes a difference.
Ayurveda tells us that the most nourishing foods are fresh and whole. Nothing is fresher than what's grown near to you in the current season! Did you know that eating seasonally helps keep your gut microbiome diverse and thriving? Continuously rotating whole, fresh, and nutritious foods throughout the year keeps both your digestive and immune systems strong. When your gut is happy, so is your skin!
As much as you can, eating locally and at the least eating according to the season is the best way to keep your gut happy. Not sure what's in season for you? Use this handy dandy resource to help you prep for trips to the grocery store at any time of year.
This is one habit that I've found hardest to break, despite the fact that I always feel stressed and anxious after a long doomscroll session. The reality is that our phones and apps are designed to keep your attention - developers have intentionally harnessed the addictive quality of the scroll to keep you on for longer.
Hopefully I don't need to tell you that stress is a common root cause for both gut and skin issues. And our modern lives are rife with stress. Reducing stress and anxiety by managing our smartphone addiction can go a long way to helping both your gut and your skin.
The most important times of day to NOT be scrolling are first thing in the morning and last thing before bed at night - no need to start or end your day with anxiety or end it with nightmare fuel.
But rather than telling yourself "don't look at your phone, don't look at your phone, don't look at your phone" while it beckons to you from the nightstand, how about you take the temptation away completely? Take your cell phone and tablet out of the bedroom and use an alarm clock.
I'm personally a big fan of the alarm clocks that come with gradual wake-up lights from a red "sunrise" to a bright "daylight," and some even have fall asleep modes where it dims the light from bright "daylight" to a red "sunset." It sounds a little silly but the genius of these lights is that they're tapping into your natural circadian rhythm to tell your body it's time to relax and get good sleep.
I've been using my wake up light alarm clock for less than a week and I love it already! No more morning or evening doomscrolling and much less anxiety throughout the day.
Looking for more guidance on your specific health concerns? Check out our Ayurvedic Health Consultations.
Happy skin is about more than just the products you use, but also about what you're doing lifestyle-wise to keep your gut, lymphatic system, and circulation healthy. All of these tips will help you have a healthy and happy new year for all of the players involved in beautiful, vibrant skin.
Until next time,
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