The Beauty Detox Perspective on Ayurvedic Principles
I get a lot of questions about Ayurveda, and how it fits into our Beauty Detox philosophy. More so since I’ve been studying it over the past few years, and have been incorporating videos, podcasts and articles about it and with my teacher, Dr. Jay.
The Beauty Detox philosophy was happily born when I was traveling all around the world for several years. During that time I was joyfully free, but I was on a major budget and was on the road as down, dirty and unglamorously as you can imagine. I still appreciate a great hotel to this day in an extra special way- because I know what it’s like to sleep on the floors of laundry mats in SE Asia and the top bunk of third class trains in China and sleep in a tent for months in Africa!
Along the way I was studying with all kind of teachers- formally and informally- and taking the parts that made the most sense to me, putting my spin on them, and incorporating them into the philosophy. So there isn’t one total health system- whether it be Ayurveda or raw foodism or Traditional Chinese Medicine, etc.- that I adhere to full stop across the board. But one country that really captured my heart, and lives in there quite fully to this day, is India. And along with that came a love and respect for Ayurveda as a philosophy, which stems from India thousands of years ago.
But while I do agree with many Ayurvedic protocols, I don’t agree with all of them. For instance, as you know, I am a strong advocate against dairy- regardless of your body type! Dairy is for baby cows, not humans, in a personal opinion! In Ayurveda there are certain conditions and body types where dairy is allowed, and even prescribed, and foods such as ghee (clarified butter) are incoporated. It’s okay to have different opinions, of course, and not say that one is “right” over the other, but I want to be clear on where I myself stand.
So what is my opinion on Ayurvedic principles overall, and where do Ayurveda and Beauty Detox intersect?
Read on, Beauty, and find out!
What is Ayurveda?
Ayurveda, which originated in India over 5,000 years ago, is believed to be the oldest medical system (older even than Traditional Chinese Medicine). It’s actually a holistic healing system that combines a whole lifestyle approach, including herbal medicine, philosophy and spirituality.
It’s definitely not just some random, unscientific system of treating illness, or some disorganized assortment of herbs and woo woo ideas. As I’ve been studying it in a formal context with 4+ classes a semester, the past 2 1/2 years, I’m quite impressed with how in-depth it is.
It’s a science of life (‘ayu’, meaning ‘life’, and ‘veda’, meaning ‘knowledge.’). When translated, then, Ayurveda means ‘life knowledge’, or ‘the science of life.) The ancient Ayurvedic scholar Charaka asserted that ‘ayu’ is a combination of the mind, body, senses, and the soul. Usually we think of knowledge and associate it primarily with the mind, or intellect. It’s interesting that Ayurveda perceives knowledge in a more holistic light- and looking at us as whole beings, versus just one part of us.
I love that about Ayurveda! I truly believe that our body and mind and spirit all interact and affect one another. You can’t just separate one part of a whole and work with it and think that you don’t affect the other parts. This is increasingly backed up with Western medicine with studies for instance, on how stress that starts in the mind affects the body.
For some of us, it’s like “duh”! But let’s not forget this idea is not so ancient in the Western world, and depending on our upbringing, is a totally out there concept. I invite you to open your mind to the idea, if so. It is an exciting one, and one that truly reinforces that true beauty is a function of our mental, emotional and spiritual health- rather than just focusing on our physical!
Principles of Ayurveda
Here are some of the main principles of Ayurveda:
1 – Food is medicine.
In the West, medicine and nutrition are often deemed completely separate. The average Western doctor doesn’t get more than a few hours of nutrition training.
What I love about Ayurveda is that food is part of the overall prescription for living a healthy life. It is fundamental. Woven into the recommendations. I love the recognition that food is what makes up the cells of our body and has a profound impact on our organ health (including our skin!). Hallelujah!
Yet, food isn’t the only thing that counts…
2 – Wellness is governed by our daily habits.
Our daily habits are so much more than just our diet. They incorporate our overall lifestyle habits. For instance, we had a whole class in my Ayurvedic program on Dinacharya, or daily routine. This daily routine includes everything from an extensive oral program to meditation and yoga practices, to Abhyanga, or a daily self oil massage practice that Deepak and I wrote about extensively in Radical Beauty.
I love that Ayurveda looks at the total lifestyle and makes recommendations. Like Beauty Detox! We wouldn’t want to be left dangling with no clue or any guidance about meditation, yoga (how we move our bodies), how we take care of our skin, etc., would we?!
3 – Lifestyle recommendations are based on an individual’s physical, mental, and emotional makeup, and shift with the seasons.
Ayurvedic philosophy is based on the idea that our bodies contain bio-energies. The ‘tridosha’ is an umbrella term for three different kinds of energy: Vata, Kapha, and Pitta. The energies are based on combinations of the elements. For instance, Vata is the combination of the air and space elements.
While we all contain all of the elements within us, we tend to be dominant in one or two of doshas. These doshas influence our overall energy, determining our physical, mental, emotional and spiritual composition.
Vata pertains to air. This energy is generally seen as the force of movement. It is associated with nerve impulses, circulation, respiration, and elimination. When I get out of balance, it’s usually excessive Vata being expressed! Spaciness and constipation are common Vata imbalances- hmmmm, sound familiar?! I might have been prone to these imbalances once, twice or a million times over the years :).
What do Ayurveda and the Beauty Detox Lifestyle Share?
The overall principles of Ayurveda and the Beauty Detox Lifestyle are similar. Both endorse the idea of general overarching principles but tailoring the program for you as an individual, and allowing for individual differences. Both allow for a person’s instincts to determine what they eat. Both operate under the presumption that healthy digestion is of prime importance.
Ayurveda and the Beauty Detox Lifestyle both have similar attitudes towards weight management. A solid regular routine, a balanced diet, and eating fresh organic foods are central components of both lifestyles in order to maintain a healthy weight. I also agree with the Ayurvedic principle of using natural foods and herbs to help not only the body but the mind.
The emphasis on the mind is primary in the Beauty Detox philosophy. For my Beauties that have read The Beauty Detox Power, you’ll see how much emphasis there is on the mind aspect of wellness, including not only food cravings but how our self talk helps create actual, physical manifestations expressed through our bodies.
Ayurveda recommends the use of herbal remedies for ailments such as stress, mental abilities, and emotional balance. I wholeheartedly support this theory. I believe that eating well can not only make us more physically healthy, but also more mentally and spiritually healthy. Ever notice that when you eat junk food for days on end you feel depressed and/or sluggish? I do incorporate some of the Ayurvedic herbs into my own life and we offer several of them at Glow Bio, my organic smoothie, juice and cleanse company, now.
There are many similarities between an Ayurvedic and Beauty Detox diet. Processed food is a no-no for both. Ayurveda frames things much differently of course — it perceives processed food as being non-intelligent, or cut off from nature.
The more in tune our lives are with nature, the healthier we will be, so processed foods are a poor choice because they are simply not natural- and do not digest naturally!
I also support the Ayurvedic belief that we should shun food fads. My own Beauty Detox plan is based on simple, whole plant foods which are the most nutrient dense. I don’t believe that anyone can even keep up with the amount of food fads that go around. I think when we eat lots of whole plant foods, with lots of fiber, that naturally gives us sustained energy but also acts as a natural form of portion and calorie control, we are our healthiest, fittest and most naturally beautiful, without imbalanced obsessions (which most all of us have experienced in the past- and most especially me, who tried virtually every diet out there in my own body before Beauty Detox!).
The Beauty Detox Lifestyle and Ayurveda both promote lots of fruits and vegetables. Not only are they packed with nutrients, they help to cleanse the body of impurities….you must have heard or read of this from me once or twice before. :)
So the emphasis on digestion and cleansing foods is shared, though Ayurveda talks about cleansing in a more focused and extreme way (as in Panchakarma), rather than as an ongoing principle. As you will see in the differences section, however, Ayurveda is more pro-cooked-food than I am.
Aside from this, though, there are many other similarities that are concerned with the general habit of eating. Drinking lots of fluids, cultivating good eating habits, and introducing variety into your diet are all aspects of healthy eating that are found in both the Ayurvedic and Beauty Detox principles.
I love all the fresh Ayurvedic herbs and spices, and I’ve embraced rotating them per season to help support our energy- such as lots of fresh black pepper in the spring and lots of cinnamon and cloves in the winter!
How are we different?
One of the main differences between Ayurveda and the Beauty Detox Lifestyle I personally promote is that I stress customizing the plan for your individual body type, activity level and work/lifestyle, but that there are some overarching principles that are so powerful and beneficial that they should be kept across the board. Like smoothie-drinking, and namely the Glowing Green Smoothie. I think everyone benefits from the large amount of fiber and micronutrients (especially since we live in an infinitely more polluted world than 5,000 years ago, when Ayurveda was created!) of smoothies, which are essentially pre-digested from the blending process for easier digestion and assimilation. Of course, I recommend chewing each mouthful a bit over chugging, and drinking smoothies a little closer to room temperature over super icy.
So there isn’t a division of a few main “types” of people with Beauty Detox- but rather that each of us has a different constitution to be respected, that reacts to different foods, types of meditation and yoga, etc. in different ways. I encourage experimenting with our own bodies we can best find out what variation of Beauty Detox works best for us.
The Beauty Detox Lifestyle great emphasis on how certain foods actually affect the body and backs up strong recommendations with science- such as the many numerous studies that reinforce how I do NOT recommend consuming dairy. For example, the countries that consume the most dairy have the highest incidences of osteoporosis, due to dairy’s overall effect of acidifying the body and leaching out alkaline minerals such as calcium, from the body.
One of the main differences between an Ayurvedic diet and the Beauty Detox one is the perspectives on dairy and dairy products. Ayurveda is pro-dairy, whereas I am (as I’m sure you’ve found out by now) vehemently anti-dairy. Eek!
I have mentioned before that you should eliminate dairy from your diet entirely because of its association with acne, osteoporosis and a host of other ailments. I also addressed the myth of milk being essential for good health here.
In complete contrast, Ayurveda maintains that cow milk provides nourishing nutrition to help balance the doshic energies. Quite a difference there!
Breakfast habits also differ. Ayurveda recommends a hearty breakfast like porridge or prasad, composed of coconut milk and brown rice or another grain, as an example, whereas I swear by my GGS (Glowing Green Smoothie®). Porridge is too stodgy to start off the day in my opinion. My GGS energizes the body and cleanses toxins and supplies countless nutrients for your skin and health, allowing for you to start the day feeling great. I feel heavy if I start out with a big porridge. And I miss my beloved greens!
At the end of the day though, you know your own body best. As long as you listen to what your body is trying to tell you and do what’s best for it, I won’t hold anything against you for choosing porridge to start your day!
Perspectives on raw food are also a point of contention. Ayurvedic also treats raw food as a big no-no in general, except for the spring season. I believe raw food should be eaten in combination with cooked food all year round (even during the cold months!) and in greater quantities during the milder months. Raw foods have fantastic enzymes and vitamins and they can be balanced with cook foods but should not be avoided altogether.
If you find yourself getting bloated from a high amount of raw foods, which is common, I recommend steaming your veggies, having soups over big salads at least part of the time, increasing your water intake between meals to help flush out the excess fiber, and taking your SBO Probiotics to boost your digestion!
The prioritization of the “digestive fire” in Ayurveda leads to a preference for cooked foods, which are thought in this system to strengthen digestive power, decrease digestive stress, and optimize nutrient absorption.
Ayurvedic philosophy promotes lunch as the most important meal of the day. From 10am to 2pm every day is designated as Pitta time. Pitta is digestion, fire and transformation. As a result, Ayurveda recommends eating your biggest meal of the day during this time. The Beauty Detox Lifestyle recommends an eating-light-to-heavy approach to eating throughout the day. If I eat a ginormous lunch I know I feel exhausted, heavy and potentially super bloated all afternoon! Not ideal conditions to bang out a lot of work and be present with my mommy-ing.
For the modern lifestyle with full days and more social, relaxing dinner times, I recommend having a more substantial meal towards the end of the day where you can sit down and enjoy it- but ideally at least several hours before bed, giving you time to digest!
Ayurveda and Beauty Detox regimes have a lot of things in common when you’re just looking at the bigger picture. When it comes down to the specifics, however, you can see that there are some important differences. The more I study it, the more I see the benefits of adopting some, but not all, Ayurvedic principles into your lifestyle.
The best approach when deciding how seriously you want to take Ayurveda is this: don’t obsess over it. You can try taking a quiz to find out which body type you are, and then see what kind of foods you need more (or less) of. Try to introduce the recommended foods into your diet a little at a time, and see how you feel.
I will see you back here soon! Have a great day, and take great care of yourself. Hope you have a chance to get out and into the sunshine this week!!