What is a healthy diet?

“To eat is a necessity, but to eat intelligently is an art.” —François de la Rochefoucauld

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Abhyanga: Luxurious Self-Massage

The hot water opens the pores in the skin and lets the oil seep deeply into your tissues for repair and rejuvenation. This is not a cetyl-alcohol-filled-lotion application where it just stays on the surface of your skin and you wonder why you are always still dry. This is a legitimate, skin softening, health improving practice.

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Ayurveda Electrolytes: It's Summer, Rehydrate!!!

We all know the facts, our bodies are made of 80% water, we can survive longer without food than we can without water, e.t.c. There is no denying it, water makes us feel better by cooling us down in the heat, replenishes some of what we are losing when we exert ourselves, and it's really nice to swim around in.

However, we also now know that water is not everything we lose when we void our bodily fluids. These minerals are vital to keeping our bodies cool and our 'pitta' or fire element in check. If we let the fire burn too hot we will not only persistently be dehydrated but our skin, bladder, kidney, digestive, and heart health will suffer. If you experience UTI's, heart palpitations, burning sensations such as heartburn, rashes, or have loose bowels one culprit could be not enough of the RIGHT hydration.

Ayurveda has a host of natural remedies so that when you lose electrolytes such as chloride, potassium, and sodium you can replenish quickly and effectively!

  • Pomegranate juice with a pinch of cardamom
  • Coconut water
  • A squeeze of lime in room temperature water
  • First cup of water in the morning is slightly warm with a squeeze of lime juice and a pinch of himalayan sea salt
  • Steep mint leaves in water, add maple syrup, lime juice, and a pinch of himalayan sea salt
  • Cucumber juice or steeped in water and lemon/lime juice with a little coconut sugar.
  • Cilantro juice! Juice it with cucumbers, celery, and apple. If that doesn't cool you down, I don't know what will.
  • Cooled milk: warm the milk on the stove with cardamom, rose water, and a little maple syrup/coconut sugar. Let it cool to about room temp and drink.

Don't use ice in your drinks! Very cold liquid makes it very difficult for your body to absorb. If you use ice and pee a lot or feel you can never get enough water try just taking out the ice and see what a difference that makes!

Photo by Alan Carrillo on Unsplash

Anxiety: Start With Your Food

Through Ayurveda's perspective all aspects of life are made of different qualities. Foods, drinks, weather, places, people, relationships, experiences, even feelings. These qualities could be hot or cold, dry or moist, rough or smooth, cloudy or clear e.t.c. These qualities help us understand how to balance our imbalances, as like will increase like and opposites are very attractive here.

Take for example the Vata dosha. The Vata dosha is our constitution made of air and ether elements, so naturally as air is, the qualities that make up these types of foods, drinks, feelings, people, and experiences are as follows: light, cold, dry, rough, mobile, subtle, and clear.

Now let us apply those qualities to our feeling of anxiety. When we experience anxiety it could show up as a whole host of physical ailments. Some of which are heart palpitations, inability to breathe, racing frantic mind, fear, uneasiness, insomina, not being able to sit still, dry mouth, nausea, tense muscles, dizziness, or cold/sweaty/numb/tingling hands or feet. Almost each and every one of these sypmtoms have qualities of air: light, cold, dry, rough, mobile, subtle, and clear.

So if one was to have an anxiety attack, which action do you think would help calm the anxiety: quickly pacing around your room breathing shallow wringing your hands, or sitting down in a quiet place with your eyes closed focusing only on breathing slowly? Hard to do at the time of an anxiety attack but we both understand that similar actions to air or Vata will only increase the problem.

The causes of anxiety can be many different things but the root of it almost always points to a traumatic event-- whether getting in a car accident or being in an abusive relationship. Each and every one of these types of experiences rock our nervous system and unfortunately we are not trained in how to nourish our nervous system after the event or series of events. Therefore, anxiety can slowly creep into our lives and never leave, especially if we live a busy//crazy//hectic//stressfull//pressure-filled life.

Below is a list of foods, drinks, and actions I hope are helpful in understanding how your diet and lifestyle may be perpetuating your struggle with anxiety.

Opposite qualities of Vata: heavy, warm, smooth, nourishing, substantive, oily, and stabilizing.

Foods that cause anxiety:

Generally frozen/dry/raw/ vegetables, artichoke, black olives, bitter gourd, bitter melon, broccoli, cauliflower, brussel sprouts, celery (fully cooked is fine), dandelion greens, kale, lettuce, watercress, sprouts, cabbage, green beans, peas, ANY bean besides red lentils and tofu/tempeh products, hummus, white potatoes, raw foods, raw veggies, salads, chips, popcorn, rice cakes, dry granola, dried fruits, persimmons, pomegranates, raw apples and pears… do you see a trend of cold, dry, and rough/cruciferous?

Drinks that cause anxiety:

Alcohol, caffeine, bitter teas such as dandelion, astringent teas such as hibiscus, jasmine, nettles, mint teas, rosehips, or passion flower, frozen smoothies, any drink with ice in it or very cold drinks

Actions that cause anxiety:

Running, travelling, driving, jumping, frantic/hectic movements, too much screen time, standing or talking while eating, excess stimulation-- especially noise like loud music or excited music, always having ear buds in, constatntly talking on the phone, listening to audiobooks while driving/in motion.

Foods to counteract anxiety:

Making sure your food is warm, cooked, well spiced, and well oiled; any fresh raw fruit besides apples and pears (apples and pears you stew with a little ghee/coconut oil and cinnamon), pumpkin, sweet potatoes, soaked nuts, avocado, asparagus, cucumber, okra, squashes, mushrooms, lean meats, beets, carrots, corn, garlic, onions, oils, grains that are spiced and oiled well, goat dairy... see a trend of moist and heavier?

Drinks and teas to counteract anxiety:

Lavender, chamomile, lemongrass, fennel tea, Tulsi-brahmi tea, aloe vera juice, coconut milk, coconut water, grape juice, lemonade or limeade, licorice tea, warm spiced and sweetened milk drinks.

Actions to counteract anxiety:

Walking not running, yoga that DOES NOT require you to be in a new pose every 30 seconds (think ashtanga, hatha, iyengar, or well thought out vinyasa sequence), choose calming meditative music at some point in the day if you listen to a lot of music, meditation or find at least once in your day to sit in silence for 10 minutes with just yourself no distractions, try moving slower from place to place or cut out unnecessary rush, sitting down to enjoy each meal and chew thoroughly, cutting out screens for at least an hour before bed, journaling, self-massage or abhyanga... take a minute to figure out in your day how you can cut down stimulation and move a little slower.

Photo by Yeshi Kangrang on Unsplash

Chamomile

"Chamomile is veritably one of the best herbs for cooling excess heat and inflammation associated with high pitta.” Annie McIntyre

Chamomile is one of my favorite herbs to use in my practice. Not only is it the cutest little flower, I love its ability to cover such a wide variety of ailments and be mild enough to help those with the most sensitive systems. Chamomile is an age-old medicinal herb known in ancient Egypt, Greece and Rome but also spans over 26 different countries in medicinal use.

Chamomile's volatile oils and flavanoids are what give this powerful daisy-family flower healing properties. Below are some main uses and Ayurvedic or herbal remedies safe for anyone to adopt in their routine (unless of course you are allergic to chamomile):

  • Analgesic (vedanasthapana): relieves pain whether it be muscle, nerve, menstrual, e.t.c.
  • Anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, antiseptic
  • Anti-inflammatory (shothahara): reduces inflammation across the board
  • Antihistamine (shothahara): acts as a benadryl for allergic reactions
  • Antioxidant: like vitamin C and E it reduces the oxidation of cells to help combat cancerous free radicals in your body
  • Antispasmodic (shulaprashamana): relieves muscle tension and muscle spasms
  • Carminative (vāta anuloman): mildly laxative without drying the colon
  • Regulates menstruation (artavashamana): an herb women can use for any menstrual ailment
  • Diaphoretic (svedajanana): induces perspiration, helps reduce swelling and edema
  • Digestive (pachan) and stomachic: calms overheated digestion but slightly bitter taste stimulates digestion producing appetite
  • Febrifuge (jwaraghna): helps regulate a fever
  • Diuretic (mutrala): cleansing for the urinary system
  • Nervine (medhya) & sedative (nidrajanana): sedative and calms nerves
  • Strengthening tonic (balya): as it calms all systems it stregthens and revitalizes
  • Vulnerary (ropana): heals wounds

"In moderate amounts it is good for all constitutions, and it is a particularly good beverage for Pitta. It helps relieve bilious, digestive headaches, relieves congestion of the blood and promotes menstruation. It is a sattvic herb that is very balancing to the emotions... For most medical purposes its action is mild and serves as a harmonizing adjunct." -- Yoga of Herbs, by David Frawley and Vasant Lad

Remedies:

As a tea:

→ A little fresh ginger prepared with the tea makes chamomile a completely balanced beverage and counters any emetic effect it might have.

→ Drink tea a half hour after meals to aid in digestion.

→ Drink tea first thing in the morning to help pregnant mama's with morning sickness.

→ Use in a takrum or Ayurvedic digestive yogurt drink to aid digestion, increase appetite, lose weight, remove bloating and flatulence, as well as aid in bowel movement.

→ Lemon/lime and chamomile liquefy stagnant lymph, flush heaviness and stiffness out of the muscles, and reduce swelling/edema in the body. This is extra helpful for those that live in more humid climates or during the wet seasons of later winter/spring time. Add a little local raw honey to increase these benefits!

→ To help with sleeplessness. For chronic insomnia you will need to use in conjunction with stronger herbs like valerian or catnip. It IS perfect however, to calm nerves during a stressful day or bring down the heat a notch after a bout of irritation and anger.

→ Heal mouth sores and prevent gum disease. A chamomile mouthwash may help soothe mouth inflammations and keep gums healthy. Make some tea and swish around mouth for a few minutes before drinking!

→ Reduce menstrual cramps. Chamomiles believed ability to relax the smooth muscles of the uterus helps ease the discomfort of menstrual cramping.

→ Treat diverticular disease, irritable bowel problems and various gastrointestinal complaints. Chamomile's reported anti-inflammatory and antispasmodic actions relax the smooth muscles lining the stomach and intestine. The herb may therefore help to relieve nausea, heartburn, and stress-related flatulence. It may also be useful in the treatment of diverticular disorders and inflammatory bowel conditions such as Crohn's disease. (2)

Eyes & Skin

→ Soothe skin rashes (including eczema), minor burns and sunburn. Used as a lotion or added in oil form to a cool bath, chamomile may ease the itching of eczema and other rashes and reduces skin inflammation. (2)

→ It may also speed healing and prevent bacterial infection. Place steeped teabags or cooled loose tea in a compress over cleaned wounds, scrapes, or burns.

→ Place cooled tea bags over your eyes after making tea to treat eye inflammation caused by allergies, air pollutants, or even conjunctivitis.

References:

  1. Yoga of Herbs by David Frawley
  2. https://www.herbwisdom.com/herb-chamomile.html
  3. Photo by ORNELLA BINNI on Unsplash

Ayurveda Diet for Acne

Ayurvedic Diet for Acne

Acne usually plagues everyone at some point in their life. The unfortunate news is that it is DIRECTLY related to our diet (i.e. spicy Mexican food, arugula-mushroom-pancetta-pizza, the organic-delicious-cookie dough ice cream you love). The fortunate news is that it can be easy to fix if you are willing, to be honest about what works for your skin and not just your taste buds.

As you incorporate this anti-acne diet, center your meals around freshly cooked, organic whole foods. Avoid spicy, sour, salty and fermented foods, and stay away from all junk food and processed packaged food. Seriously, stop eating crap. Avoid leftovers as much as possible. If this isn’t possible, consume food within 24 hours of cooking. All meals should be easy to digest, well seasoned with spices, and warm.

Wholesome diet and habits for acne --

  • Lukewarm to warm water intake
  • Intake of easily digestible food
  • Daily intake of fruits and vegetables
  • Sound sleep for at least 6-8 hours
  • Anti-stress exercises like pranayama and yoga
  • Exposure to bright sunlight or take 5000 IUs of Vitamin D

Unwholesome diet and habits for acne --

  • Excess spices that increase Pitta
  • Excess sun exposure
  • Popping or touching the acne area repeatedly
  • Sleeping with make-up or heavy cream on
  • Although the pitta dosha is always at play in acne, you might be predominantly affected by the vata or kapha dosha.

→ If you have a drier, blackhead-prominent, painful vata-type of acne, avoid any foods on this list that can be constipating or gas-producing like cruciferous vegetables, dried fruits, and beans.

→ If you have large whiteheads and cystic, kapha-type acne, avoid heavy vegetables like sweet potatoes and pumpkins, and go very easy on the fruits, dairy, and oil.

Fruits

Favor: Sweet fruits in general, sweet apples, berries, cherries, grapes, plums, pineapple and oranges, mango, dates, figs, melon, pears, watermelon, lime

Avoid: Sour apples, berries, cherries, cranberries, grapes, plums, papaya, pineapple and oranges, grapefruit, peaches, tamarind, strawberries

Vegetables

Favor: Artichoke, Asparagus, Black Olives, Bok choy, Bitter Gourd, Bitter Melon, Brussels sprouts, Broccoli, Cabbage, Cauliflower, Celery, Cucumber, Green Beans, Endive, Fennel, Jicama, Potato, Leafy greens, Okra, Peas, Squash, Zucchini, Watercress

Avoid: Bell Pepper, beets, corn, chili pepper, eggplant, mustard greens, green olives, raw onion, raw garlic, radish, tomato, turnip, sweet potatoes, pumpkin

Grains

Favor: Amaranth, barley, couscous, granola, oats, quinoa, white rice (basmati, jasmine), brown rice (basmati, jasmine)

Avoid: Gluten, wheat, buckwheat, corn flour, millet, yeasted bread

Legumes: Avoid beans in general as they are very hard to digest, but especially avoid red lentils, tempeh, and tofu

Dairy

Favor: Ghee

Avoid: Dairy in general but especially cheese, cream cheese, sour cream, yogurt, ice cream

Meat

Easier to digest white meats like turkey and chicken or sustainably raised/caught freshwater fish are best if they were raised well and fed an organic, natural diet for the specific animal. If we choose to eat animals that have been fed pesticides and very processed feed, what do you think our bodies are absorbing?

Avoid: red meats, eggs, fish, seafood

Nuts and Seeds

Favor: Almonds (very minimal amounts), coconut, hemp seeds, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds. Seeds are always better than nuts because they have less oil content.

Avoid: Nuts in general but especially cashews, peanuts, sesame seeds, tahini

Oils

Favor: Coconut (minimal amounts), ghee (minimal amounts), sunflower (minimal amounts), olive oil (minimal amounts)

Avoid: Canola, corn, sesame, or any other oil not mentioned above

Spices/Condiments

Favor: Cardamom, cinnamon, cilantro, clove, coriander, cumin, dill, fennel, fenugreek (in moderation), fresh ginger, lemongrass, mint, parsley, saffron (in moderation), turmeric (in moderation)

Avoid: Bay leaves, cayenne, chili, garlic, dry ginger, ketchup, kimchi, mayonnaise, mustard, mustard seeds, pickles, saurkraut, vinegar

Sweets/Sweeteners

Favor: Dates, figs, honey, maple syrup, rock sugar, sucanat, sweet fruits

Avoid: Chocolate, heavy desserts, junk food pastries, processed food, white sugar

Beverages

Favor: Almond milk, chamomile tea, coconut water, dandelion tea, fennel tea, licorice tea, rice milk, hibiscus tea, rosehips tea, lavender tea, fresh/filtered/spring water

Avoid: Alcohol, carbonated drinks, coffee, iced drinks, iced tea, kombucha, lemonade, sour fruit juices

Acne can also be caused by more deep-rooted imbalances like parasites from previous food poisoning or an inability to digest your food at all. Contact your local Ayurveda practitioner (like me) to help you naturally sort this out without relying on acidic skin treatments or antibiotics (which only make it worse).

References: Lad, Vasant. Textbook of Ayurveda: Fundamental Principles. Albuquerque: The Ayurvedic Press, 2002 http://www.holisticvanity.ca/ayurvedic-approach-acne-chat-dr-vasant-lad/ http://easyayurveda.com/2014/08/04/ayurvedic-treatment-for-pimple-cause-herbs-home-remedies/ https://www.elephantjournal.com/2015/02/the-complete-anti-acne-diet/ Photo by Xenia Bogarova on Unsplash

Dhumpana: Ayurveda has Smoking Herbs!

I love to recommend an ayurvedic herbal smoking mix to those wishing to quit tobacco, nicotine, or marijuana OR to those who wish to supplement their toking routine with other herbs to combat the harsher more negative effects on their lungs and sinuses. 

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Men's Health: Foods and Recipes for Maintaining Vibrance and Virility

“According to Ayurveda, substances which are sweet, unctuous, nourishing, heavy and which can cause excitement of the mind are aphrodisiacs. Have milk products and meat-based soups regularly. Fish in general are aphrodisiac but rohu fish (carp) cooked with ghee is the most aphrodisiac food. One who takes it regularly does not suffer from sexual debility and low sperm count.”

Avoid foods in excess of salty, sour and pungent tastes.

All meals should be cooked well, warm, spiced appropriately and gooey with ghee.

Grains and grain based snacks:

  • Rice cooked with ghee and spices (you can add them after)
  • Gluten free toast with ghee and honey or tahini and maple syrup
  • Barley Soup --- Use chicken or turkey instead of beef
  • Amaranth or quinoa: use in soups or as breakfast porridge with seeds, almond milk, honey, and raisins/cranberries

Whole fruits or the juices of mango, plum, pomegranates, dates and grapes.

Spices: Aniseed, nutmeg, cardamom, garlic, cinnamon, clove, coriander, fennel, mustard, basil, ginger, black pepper, sesame, and saffron. These are loaded with antioxidants, which are great for overall health, including libido.

Vegetables: carrots, dark leafy greens such as dandelion/spinach/kale/arugula/chard/beet greens-- just make sure they are well spiced and cooked thoroughly, broccoli, onion, garlic

Protein: Lean, light meat like turkey and chicken are best. Fish and oysters also help in sexual health. Men’s erections require a steady release of nitric oxide. The omega-3s found in fish are one of the most proven nutritional paths to heart health and help in blood circulation.

Date Sesame Cookies Ingredients:

  • 1 cup chopped Medjool dates
  • 1 cup walnuts, flax seeds, pumpkin seeds (you can mix them in equal parts to make a cup or choose your favorites of the three)
  • 1 cup unsweetened coconut flakes
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 2 tablespoons sesame seeds, plus more for coating
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons of pumpkin spice mix

Directions: In the bowl or a food processor combine dates and walnuts and process until finely chopped and sticking together, about 1 minute 30 seconds. Add coconut flakes, honey, sesame seeds, salt, herbs/spices--pulse until forms a thick paste, about 1 minute more.

Fill a small shallow bowl with sesame seeds. Scooped a rounded tablespoon of paste and roll into a ball using your hands. Roll ball in sesame seeds to cover and place on a plate. Repeat with remaining paste. Let cookies chill in refrigerator until snack time but try not to eat them cold.

Diamond Dates:

  • Ghee (melted), 1 cup
  • Saffron, pinch
  • Cinnamon, pinch
  • Cardamom, pinch

Fill a jar with the dates. Melt the ghee on the stove, mixing in the spices. Pour the ghee over the dates and store on the counter. Enjoy a date every morning!

*Photo by Monika Grabkowska on Unsplash

Ayurvedic Breast Care

1.     Hydrate! Every morning when you wake up the first glass of water should be warm with a pinch of himalayan sea salt and a squeeze of lime. This helps detox the lymph system, the liver, and helps your body to retain the appropriate amount of water it needs for the rest of the day.

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Why You Need Ayurveda

Ayurveda teaches life. It connects the rhythm of your being to the rhythm of the Earth, of the universe. It synchronizes our daily life activities to the activities of the sun, the moon, the wind of autumn, the snow of winter, the defrosting of spring, and the fire of summer. Ayurveda clears away the superficial worries and superfluous habits and detrimental patterns so that we know why we live, why we wake up each day to navigate this world.

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