Pitta balancing diet Part 1: Using specific Rasas (tastes) to balance Pitta

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If you are suffering from a visible Pitta imbalance like premature greying, acne outbreaks, then a Pitta balancing diet can help holistically heal your condition. Ayurveda believes in following a holistic approach to understanding skin and hair issues. Hair and skin reflects the body’s state of balance. Diet, emotional well being, quality of sleep, quality of daily Vyayama (exercise) all affect the body. These factors create changes in the subtle alignment of doshas in our body. This reflects in the quality of our skin or hair.

Pitta dosha: qualities and life stage

Pitta is “snigdha” (oily), “teekshna” (sharp), “ushna” (hot), “laghu” (light) “vishra” (mal-odourous), “sara“ ( flowing / laxative), and “drava” (liquid).

Hence when we have Pitta aggravation in our body, we could experience sharp discomfort in the abdomen, diarrhoea, gastritis, temper flares, strong body odour, high sweating, oiliness on hair and skin, etc. We could also develop acne flare ups, experience premature greying & also hair thinning.

Pitta aggravation can cause strong body odour

Ayurveda tells us that every lifestage is dominant in a certain dosha. Middle age, i.e. 30 – 60 years is considered Pitta dominant lifestage. In this age period, we naturally tend to harness and utilise Pitta’s qualities to help us focus on our career, manage our responsibilities, etc. Hence at this stage, we become even more sensitive to Pitta aggravation.

Pitta aggravating foods:

We had written earlier in detail about foods that trigger or aggravate Pitta in the body. This includes fermented foods, salty foods, spicy foods, and sour foods. We have a pretty detailed list of don’ts in the earlier blog post. This list includes commercial packaged RTE foods which are high in hidden salts and imported delicacies like Greek yoghurt, tahini sauce and hummus.

Consumption of these foods is tolerable when our doshas in balance. At this time, Pitta drayvyas help stimulate appetite, aid digestion and allow for appropriately timed digestion in the body. The problem occurs when we have already aggravated Pitta dosha.

In a Pitta aggravated person, a single helping of curd or 2 meals with idlis and dosas in them can act like a lit match on a petrol doused bundle. Pitta sharply flares up and you will notice an increase in rage issues, skin oiliness, breakouts and inability to switch off and sleep on time.

A single helping of curd can tip teh balance if you are already pitta aggravated

Basics of a Pitta balancing diet:

The Pitta balancing diet is based on 3 principles to help balance aggravated Pitta:

  • Introduce Tastes (Rasas) that are opposite to Pitta to bring Pitta down
  • Introduce Agni balancing dravyas and Spices
  • Ensure Pitta is not spiked by controlling meal timings

Each of these work in a slightly different way to harmonise aggravated Agni. In this post , we will explore the use of Rasa (tastes) to help balance aggravated Pitta dosha.

 

Using Opposing Tastes (Rasas) to balance Pitta:

A Pitta balancing diet uses “bitter”, “sweet” and “astringent” tastes that act like a countermeasure to Pitta which is “amla” (sour), “lavana” (salty) and “katu” (spicy) in taste. The tastes are added in this order: Bitter, Sweet and Astringent for best effect on aggravated Pitta.

 

Using Bitter taste “Tikta Rasa” to balance excess Pitta:

Bitter taste (Tikta rasa) is very pitta balancing. Bitter taste has the quality of “dryness”, coolness” and “lightness”. Hence it helps balance the oiliness and heat caused by aggravated Pitta dosha. Therefore, including foods, herbs and seasonings which are rich in Tikta rasa, is an essential part of a Pitta balancing diet.

Many local vegetables and greens are inherently “Tikta” in rasa. For example, parwal, lauki, ridge gourd, ash gourd are native gourds. All of these gourds have an inherent “tikta” or bitter rasa. These vegetables can be added to vegetable / dal dishes to impart a bitter taste to food.

Local gourds are naturally rich in Tikta rasa

 

“Shukto” and Vempampoo-rasam (Neem flower rasam) are also examples of bitter rasa found in traditional cuisine. Neem flower rasam is introduced in Indian cuisine at the beginning of the onset of Summer, when Pitta is high.

Traditional cooking also has included many tikta rasa rich dishes seasonally

Certain spices and seasonings also have a “tikta rasa”. An example is fenugreek seed which is recommended to be eaten by diabetics and pre-diabetics in Ayurveda. Bitter rasa in moderate amounts is useful to control Pitta aggravation and Kapha aggravation. Similarly, rosemary, oregano and parsley seasoning also has a mild Tikta rasa.

Tikta dravyas can aggravate Vata dosha when eaten in excess and cause dryness in the body. Hence, as always, please follow moderation when planning your meals.

Some examples of Tikta Rasa dravyas:

  • Vegetables
    • Bitter gourd
    • Methi greens
    • Parwal
    • Lauki (Bottle gourd)
    • Ash gourd (white pumpkin)
    • Ridge gourd
    • Non sour locally available greens
  • Spices & seasonings
    • Turmeric
    • Fenugreek seed
    • Rosemary
    • Oregano
    • Thyme

Turmeric is rich in Tikta rasa and is highly nutritious

  • Ayurvedic Tikta Herbs used in Krya products
    • Neem
    • Neem flower
    • Kalmegh
    • Vetiver
    • Sandalwood

Sandal is cleansing and good for skin and high in tikta rasa

Meal plan suggestions:

From this list, we can look at including the following naturally Tikta (bitter) foods  to craft a Pitta balancing diet :

  • Local gourds added to liquid / gravy dishes in a rotational basis like Lauki, Parwal, etc
  • Use of Tikta herbs in cooking to season food like turmeric, Fenugreek, etc
  • Occasional use of Tikta dried herbs to flavour food like Rosemary, Thyme, etc wherever appropriate

Include seasonal local gourds into your cuisine

Using Sweet taste “Madhura Rasa” to balance excess Pitta:

Madhura Rasa is “guru” (heavy), “sheetya” (cold), “snigdha” (oily) and is nourishing and grounding due to the predominance of Prithvi Panchamahabootha. Hence it helps calm down and ground aggravated Pitta. This does not mean that we should gorge on desserts and sweets. These are artificially sweet due to the presence of sugar in them. In Ayurveda, when we say “Sweet” or “Madhura rasa”, we mean that the tongue recognises the substance as “sweet” (Rasa) and that its taste post digestion in the body (Vipaka) is also sweet.

An example of this is Milk. A2 cows milk when freshly boiled has Madhura Rasa (tongue taste) and Madhura vipaka (taste post digestion). Hence it is used to balance Pitta aggravation in the diet.

As Madhura Rasa is also “snigdha”, eating too much of this can trigger excess oiliness and heaviness in the body. Hence do not eat artificially sweet substances, or eat too much of Madhura rasa.

Some other examples of Madhura dravya / Substances are the following:

  • Cereals
    • Aged rice
    • Aged Wheat
  • Sweeteners
    • Mishri (unprocessed sugar candy)
    • Guda (jaggery)
  • Vegetables
    • Fresh coconut pulp, milk and water
    • Naturally sweet Vegetables like sweet potato, beetroot, Kaddu (yellow pumpkin), carrot

Beets and naturally sweet vegetables are rich in Madhura rasa

  • Fruits
    • Dried Black Raisins (draksha) – Munakka variety
    • Seasonal Sweet, juicy fruits
  • Dairy
    • Freshly boiled , unpasteurised A2 cow milk
    • A2 ghee
  • Ayurvedic Madhura Herbs used in Krya products
    • Liquorice
    • Guda (Jaggery)
    • Guduchi (Madhura vipaka only)

Meal plan suggestions:

From this list, we can look at including the following naturally Madhura (sweet) foods in our diet to help balance aggravated Pitta.

  • Melted A2 cow ghee – across all meals in small amounts
  • A2 cows milk – unpasteurised and freshly boiled – one small glass everyday

 

A2 Cows milk is nourishing and madhura in nature

  • Seasonal sweet, juicy fruits
  • Rotation of Natural sweet vegetables
  • Carefully sourced Aged organic Rice and wheat
  • 2 – 3 soaked Munakka (large black grape) raisins 3 – 4 times a week

Dried raisin is an excellent pitta balancing dry fruit

 

Using Astringent taste “Kashaya Rasa” to balance excess Pitta:

Kashaya rasa is a taste that is most often missing in modern-day foods. This is an important rasa which is vital to our health. Foods rich in Kashaya rasa usually have a lekhaniya (scraping effect) and are very useful in healing the body of excess fat, fluid collection, inflammation, etc. Kashaya rasa has “rooksha” (drying), “sheetya” (cold) and “laghu” (light) qualities- hence it helps balance Pitta dosha.

Kashaya rasa is wound healing, absorbs excess secretions and clears mucous. It helps clarify the tongue and skin and is calming and healing to the body. It is also a good blood clarifier.

In excess, Kashaya rasa can be excessively drying and vata aggravating on the body. Please do not overindulge in this taste.

 

Some examples of Kashaya Rasa dravyas:

  • Vegetables
    • Broccoli
    • Lettuce
    • Fennel
    • Banana flower

Banana flower is naturally kashaya in nature

  • Fruits
    • Amla (Indian gooseberry)
    • Pomegranates (choose well ripened, sweet fruits and not sour)

Pomegranate is a medicinal fruit which has strong Kashaya rasa

  • Sweeteners
    • Honey
    • Indian Date – Kharik

Indian date is Kashaya in nature

  • Herbs & seasonings
    • Parsley
    • Coriander
    • Basil
  • Ayurvedic Kashaya herbs used in Krya products
    • Amla
    • Haritaki
    • Vibhitaki
    • Triphala(combination of above 3 herbs)
    • Khadira
    • Arjuna Twak (bark)
    • Lodhra Twak (bark)
    • Sappanwood

 

Meal plan suggestions:

From this list, we can look at including the following naturally Astringent (sweet) foods in our diet to create a Pitta balancing diet .

  • Amla made in different methods 2 – 3 times a week: Can be made as a raita (using buttermilk or thin curd), Chutney, Preserve, or as a souring agent into Dal / Sambhar

Include Amla in your diet frequently

  • Pomegranates – 2 times a week – choose sweet fruits only
  • Chutneys / Dips / Pesto made from Basil / Coriander – twice a week
  • Overnight soaked Khajoora eaten once / twice a week

 

To sum up:

In part 1 of our post describing the Pitta balancing diet, we explored how using specific Rasas (tastes) in your meals can help bring down aggravated Pitta.  Using rasas which have opposing qualities as that of Pitta help balance spiked Pitta levels and also bring in better nourishment and satiety to the body, improving health.

In the next part of our blog post, we will explore how using specific dravyas and spices like milk, ghee, coriander seeds, etc help counter excess Agni in the body. In the case of certain dravyas, we will also explore how different prakritis (body types) should have these dravyas for optimal health. Part 3 of our post will have detailed daily meal plan suggestions that can help you plan a Pitta balancing diet.

 

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Is my shampoo truly natural: Krya’s perspective

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Reading Time: 9 minutes

When we describe our products and talk about how our products contain only purely natural, ayurvedic herbs, we often hear a counter: “But how can I tell if my shampoo is truly natural” (or face wash or body wash). This is an interesting and challenging question.

What makes a product “a truly natural product”? Do we go by the conventional easy definition which says that if a product’s main  ingredients are derived from renewable, plant based resources and not petroleum, a product is natural?

Is something a truly natural product? This is the modern dilemma

If we did follow the above definition, Krya would be a completely different company today and we would be selling loads and loads of shiny, water based products in bottles with pretty colours and scents. So, clearly, this is not Krya’s definition of a truly natural shampoo / face wash / face serum.

What is a truly natural product: Krya’s standard

Krya follows a much more stringent and strict standard of what consists of a truly natural product. All our products are made only from 4 kinds of ingredients:

  • Whole Plant parts (  herbs, roots, shoots, leaves, fruits, flowers and seeds). When we say the word “Whole” we mean harvested fresh or dry plant parts , not extracts, distillates or essences.
  • Whole plant based, expeller pressed, organic Oils and Butters
  • Whole Plant pressed essential oils
  • Clays, Earth and Soils with specific healing characteristics

Any ingredients that does not meet the above 4 criteria is not used at Krya. So we do not use Plant based extracts, even if they are more potent and concentrated: as they do not fall into or “Whole Plant” definition. We do not use solvent extracted oils even if they are cheaper, as they are neither organic nor cold pressed.

The 4 ingredient types behind creating a truly natural krya product

And we do not use any ingredients that are DERIVED as a secondary or tertiary by product from plants. To us these are simply chemicals which have been extracted from Plants and are not truly natural. So we use no surfactants like Sodium Coco Beteine. Nor do we try and pass of Sodium Laureth sulphate as a natural, coconut based surfactant. Because we understand that even though these ingredients may have once formed a part of a plant, their extraction and isolation process have transformed them into something else- they can no longer be called “truly natural”.

Which brings me to the second important part of what makes a product, truly natural: the way it is processed.

What is a truly natural product: Krya’s processing standard

As we have seen from the above examples, ,today even harmful chemical surfactants like Sodium Laureth Sulphate are being passed off as natural. This is because the source this chemical compound was originally isolated from was a plant.

To keep our process truly natural, and ensure such chemicals do not pass muster at Krya, we follow a stringent processing standard in our factory:

  • We start production only with WHOLE herbs – we do not work with isolates, extracts or essences as many of them are made using chemical isolation techniques

How to craft a truly natuarl product : start with whole herbs

  • The herbs are bought WHOLE, cleaned and then processed in the correct manner and then sent for final manufacturing
    • The herbs are not altered with or tampered in any way – we do not change their colour, aroma, texture or any other properties deliberately
  • We use only solid formats which do not require any preservatives. By avoiding the use of water in our products, we are bale to ensure that not a single preservative, base, or any manner of manufactured ingredient goes into our products

krya truly natural procesisng technique: use solid formats that do not require preservatives

  • The herbs used in each of our products add up to 100% – there is no OTHER filler, base or any other synthetics used in our products
  • All fresh herbs, fruits and oils used are sourced only from organic sources, in season. We do not use out-of-season, chemically treated produce.

Krya's truly natural processing technique: use of seasonal organic produce

  • Oils are made from scratch using the ayurvedic tila paka method. This method of ayurvedic oil manufacturing helps extract botanical nutrients much more efficiently into oil. It also helps us avoid the use of fillers, colours, stabilisers and preservatives.

krya natural processing technique - oils

This definition of “100% natural” or “truly natural” is unique to Krya. This definition goes way beyond legal requirement or license guidelines. Even the strictest of natural product certifications allow some inclusion of synthetics to make up a format. But we, are proud to say, that our internal requirement is the strictest and most accurate definition of a truly natural product.

This definition of creating “truly natural” product imposes some restrictions and challenges for us as formulators. It is the solving of these restrictions and challenges that lead to the differences between how natural products look and feel compared to synthetics.

 Challenges faced when creating a truly natural product

One of the reasons large corporations gravitate towards making standardized chemical formulations is their ease of use and simplicity to manufacture. Because standardized chemical ingredients are used in the making of these products, the output we get is also standard.

So your synthetic detergent will always look , feel, and smell the same. You can literally close your eyes and smell its chemical fragrance and identify what you are using.

Mass market products are consistent because they are essentially synthetic

This simplistic consistency is not possible to achieve in a truly natural product due to a number of factors. This is possibly why many Krya consumers can  observe minor variations across our batches of cleansers, oils and lepas. Sometimes there is also a variation across seasons. why does this occur? We will explain this through today’s post.

Seasonal variation in produce : truly natural products

Krya uses fresh organic produce seasonally in each of our skin and hair oils. Our skin oils use varied organic produce like pomegranates, muskmelon, pineapple, mangoes, etc. These organic fruits go into the Krya Classic skin oil and the Krya Moisture Plus skin oil and the upcoming Krya After sun Skin oil and the Krya Dauhridini Body oil.

krya's products vary slightly depending upon the seasonal organic produce that goes into them

The selection of this set of organic fresh produce depends upon season, and the problem we are trying to solve. Every single fruit comes with its own inherent colour, taste, aroma and texture. So if the organic produce that goes into the oil changes, the oil will also subtly change, echoing the characteristics of the produce that goes into it.

So, it stands to reason that if a company says it is adding an organic mango into its product, you should not see this variant in february. It should only be available in the organic mango season!

Time to be suspicious?

 Availability of herbs : a challenge faced when creating truly natural products

The Ayurvedic Samhitas and Nighantus document several thousand herbs with many variations in sub species depending upon geography and climatic conditions. However, due to dwindling interest, urbanisation and lack of proper collection mechanisms, many of these herbs are not easily available to us.

But, as we expand our product base and widen our search, we stumble upon certain herb collectors or organisations who can source some of these herbs for us. Therefore, our formulations always have a small percentage kept aside for these kind of rare herbs. Whenever they become available to us, we add them into our formulations.

An example of this is “kaala haldi” or Curcuma caesia. This is a rare variety of Zeodary which is documented as being found in the eastern wetlands of Bengal and Assam.

Curcuma caesia is a renowned herb to help cure certain skin diseases, reduce vata aggravation and joint pain, etc due to its high camphoraceous content.

Black turmeric: renonwned ayurvedic herb for inflammation, skin cleaning, etc

We have been searching for reliable suppliers of Kali haldi for a few years now and have just stumbled on a source. So when we get access to herbs like this, they find their way into our formulations.

So formulae can also vary / change depending upon availability of herbs. This affects the way the final products looks / feels and smells.

The effect of regional and geographical differences on herbs:

The Ayurvedic Samhitas tell us that the “kala” (season) and “desha” (geography) from where a herb is harvested alters the properties of the herbs subtly. This is because of the climatic conditions under which the herb grows and also the richness and natural nutrients available in the soil.

An example of this is one variety of organic turmeric which we source from Meghalaya. This variety of turmeric is the same species of turmeric which is used across Indian households in cooking. But due to its cultivations in this hilly region, presence of abundant rain and relatively un-urbanized and pristine surroundings, the turmeric has a much higher percentage of Curcumin as is seen in the plains. This makes the turmeric slightly higher in oil content, and its colour is a distinct yellow-orange with a strong and rich aroma.

high curcumin turmeric is used in krya's skin care products for its potent skin healing properties

In this example, the herb is distinctively different from its counterpart that grows on the plains. But this does not make it superior to other varieties of organic turmeric – just different and more suitable to its “desha”.

We see subtle differences across many herbs depending upon “desha”. For example: the Sapindus trifoliatus (soapberry) we use across our products has regional differences when sourced from wet climates vs dryer climates – the colour of the fruit, aroma and foam head all differ depending upon geography.

 Seasonal variations in herbs

The Ashtanga hridayam tells us that herbs are less juicy, intense and more woody in Adana Kala and in seasons like Greeshma Ritu (summer season).  So when we make our hair and skin oils in Summer vs say Winter, there is a marked difference in the Swarasas (fresh juices) , Kashayas (deocotions) and Kwathas (herb infusions) we make as a prequel to making our final oil.

The Swarasas make in dry season is typically darker, more intense in its aroma and is much more concentrated. This makes the oils made in this season look darker and feel slightly thicker.

All these above reasons cause minor , subtle variations in truly natural products like Krya’s hair, skin and home care products. These differences do not affect how the products works for you, but it will affect the consistency of aesthetics you come to expect from a product.

The Krya “Signature” – what continues unchanging across all our batches

Someone reading this could very well ask what unites our products across batches despite minor changes in the formulations. Yes a truly natural product can expect to get perfect consistency across every single batch due to all the factors listed above. But, at Krya, we try and ensure there are a few uniting factors across our formulations:

Use of Signature Ingredients in Krya’s products:

In some of our products, we use certain “Signature Ingredients”. An example of this is Chamomile and Green Tea which go into the Krya Classic face wash formulation. Since our test launch of this product in January 2013, these signature ingredients go into almost every batch of the formulation.

Signature ingredients in Krya classic face wash: chamomile and green tea

We have, so far, made only one batch without the use of organic Chamomile due to lack of availability from our regular supplier. Regular customers were quick to pick up this difference and demanded to know why their facewash was not smelling the way it used to!

Signature Colours across Krya’s products / product categories:

Many Krya hair oils and skin oils have a signature colour or belong to a specific colour family. For example, the Krya traditional Baby massage oil usually has a reddish-brown colour due the use of Manjishta in the formulation.

Krya traditional baby massage oil - caries a signature colour, aroma and texture

Both the Krya Abhyanga Oils (classic and Intense) also have this reddish brown colour and a distinctive fragrance due to the use of certain herbs like bala, ashwagandha, nochi leaf, etc.

Signature properties across each batch

Notwithstanding the minor differences in formulation depending upon seasonality, herb availability, etc, obviously the one major uniting factor across each batch is the way each Krya product works for you.

We take care to ensure that the texture of the product is similar across batches. This is especially important in products meant for sensitive skin like the Krya toddler bodywash for Sensitive Skin and the Krya Sensitive Bodywash for Adults.  Here due to the dosha vitiation in skin, skin is particular sensitive to rough edges in the product and a small texture change can trigger a reaction like a rash.

Similarly, despite minor formulation changes, our skin products meant for Pitta prakriti skin like the Krya Classic range or the Krya After Sun range is always designed to cool, soothe and draw out excess Pitta from skin. So the products always feel refreshing during use and skin feels lighter and fresher after use.

Signature properties: krya's aftersun range always balances pitta and soothes skin

To Sum up:

Truly natural products are a minuscule minority. Most often , we have standardised commercial products hiding under the guise of a truly natural product. Therefore, when we do come across truly natural products, we are taken aback at their aesthetics and the textural and minor differences we see across batches.

I hope this post educated you on why these differences in texture, aroma or colour could exist in a truly natural product. I also hope this post helped you appreciate the many challenges behind creating a truly natural product.

If you too would like to try our truly natural range of skin, home and hair care goodies, please explore our offerings online. For product queries or doubts please write to us or call us on (0)75500-89090.

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What time to do an Abhyanga?

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Reading Time: 5 minutes

We often speak at Krya about the health giving benefits about doing an Abhyanga. The question we are often asked is what time to do an abhyanga? Should abhyanga time be chosen by prakriti? This post will answer this question.

Choosing the right abhyanga time: body clock

Everything in Ayurveda is calibrated to the body clock which in turn has a strong correlation with the movement of the Sun. This clock varies subtly according to season, and also depends on whether the Sun is in Uttarayana or Adana Kala (travelling northwards or Southwards).

However, given these subtle variations, we can practically set our clock, by the body clock. The body will carry out its repair and re-set functions relentlessly during the day according to schedule.

So all things going well, our liver will proceed to re-calibrate and repair itself around 11 pm which is the second peak Pitta period. The liver is considered an organ of Agni , therefore strongly influenced by Pitta dosha in Ayurveda.

Brahma Muhurtham – second Vata peak, ideal for waking up

Similarly, we are advised to wake up in Brahma Muhurtha which is roughly 90 minutes before Sunrise which is smack in the middle of the second peak Vata period. Due to the increase in Vata in the body at this time, we can wake up without strain (if we have eaten and slept properly the previous way). The body is full of lightness and mobile energy at this time influenced by Peak Vata dosha.

On the other hand, the later we wake up up after Sunrise, we find ourselves in Peak Kapha territory. This makes us hit the snooze button, sleep some more and feel heavy and lazy.

Choosing the right abhyanga time: depends upon what you are trying to correct

By this time it should be obvious to you that depending upon what you are trying to fix, you should choose your abhyanga time. Each dosha peak time lasts around 4 hours. The beginning and ending times of this period are lighter times and times when one dosha is subtly morphing into the next one.

So at 5:55 am for example, Vata is subtly moving into Kapha territory. So BOTH doshas are at their weakest point.

But at 8:30 am, we are right in the middle of Kapha peak time where Kapha is at its strongest best. So if we have a Kapha prakriti, we will have the strongest disinclination to do an abhyanga at this period – we will be tempted to eat something, or sleep in and will try and dismiss the abhyanga to the next day. So the texts advise that we be aware of both this clock and our prakriti when we choose abhyanga times!

Choosing the correct Abhyanga time - The ayurvedic body clock

Difference between Peak & non-Peak Dosha period

Peak Kapha period

Having said the above, there is a difference between the peak Kapha time in the morning (6 am – 10 am) and the evening (6 pm – 10 pm). In the morning, the Kapha time is tempered by the energy of the rising Sun. Therefore, even though this is peak Kapha time, this period is considered nourishing and dhatu building in Ayurveda. This is why we can have a light breakfast or drink a glass of milk at this time. Due to influence of the sun, the digestion will be smooth and food will not sit in the system, unless we over-eat, do not chew well, or do not follow other ayurvedic eating rules, etc.

But the evening Kapha period does not have this advantage. As the Sun has already set, the evening Kapha period is much stronger in its scope. So if we over-eat, eat Kapha aggravating foods, etc, we will produce excess Ama in the body , put on stubborn weight, create a feeling of lassitude and heaviness in the body.

Although each dosha repeats itself twice during 24 hours, only one of these are very strong – we call these peak Dosha times.

Peak Pitta: 10 am – 2 pm (mid morning Pitta)
Peak Vata: 2 am – 6 am – (before sunrise Vata)
Peak Kapha – 6 pm – 10 pm (late evening & night Kapha)

Peak Pitta period

Peak Pitta is the morning Period between 10 am – 2 pm. Hence we are supposed to AVOID stepping out, getting into a strong Pitta flaring argument, over-eating spicy food , tamarind and curd and any sudden shocks to the system (like a bath, swimming, etc) which can interfere with Pitta building up in the system as is natural.

An Abhyanga at this time will NOT have the effects we want as Pitta is already building upto a crescendo in the system due to the Sun. Instead Abhyanga will interfere with Pitta building and douse the Pitta in the system suddenly if done at this time.So we should have bathed long before this phase has started.

The dead centre of this phase is best for digestion. Hence Ayurveda advises to have the largest meal of the day at this time, as the body has enough Pitta to digest food well.

Peak Vata period

Peak Vata period is 2 am – 6 am (early morning). Ayurveda says this is the time when brain activity has re-started so there are rapid eye movements in this stage. This is NOT the time of deep sleep. Instead the body is preparing to wake up having processed everything. So if we GO to sleep at this time (as is common among night shift employees), the body will feel tired, dissipated and restless as we have tried to sleep at the time when it wants to wake up.

Abhyanga to centre aggravated vata

An abhyanga is advised towards the end of this peak Vata period – around 5:30 am, just around sunrise. If we do it in the middle of this period (say around 4 am), there is too much Vata in the system for Abhyanga to re-set. Towards the end, if we catch the body when Vata is winding down and BEFORE Kapha increases, we will be energetic and be able to re-set aggravated Vata dosha.

We have tackled Vata prakriti and Kapha prakriti doing Abhyanga and what time they should choose. So what about Pitta prakriti?

Abhyanga to settle aggravated Pitta

As per the clock, it seems like we should be doing Abhyanga at 9:45 am! But by this time, we are supposed to have bathed and eaten breakfast, drunk our milk , etc. Abhyanga cannot be done unless atleast 2 hours have passed after last meal. This would bring our Abhyanga close to 11 am which is at the time Pitta is building up.

Hence for Pitta prakriti people, we choose the first hour after Sunrise. As the sun climbs, it becomes more and more uncomfortable for Pitta prakriti people. They may not have the resistance to physical work that Kapha prakriti people can have, so they need not stick to doing Abhyanga around Sunrise. But the later the wait, the more uncomfortable it will become for them, so we suggest 1 hour within Sunrise.

So to sum up:

This post described the ayurvedic body clock and explained how each peak and non peak dosha period allows our body time to re-pair and re-set itself. The post also explained the rationale behind choosing the correct abhyanga time for each kind of dosha aggravation.

  • For strong vata aggravation : The right abhyanga time is 30 minutes before Sunrise or just around Sunrise
  • For strong Kapha aggravation: The right abhyanga time is around Sunrise or within 30 minutes of Sunrise
  • For strong Pitta aggravation:  The right abhyanga time is within 1 hour of Sunrise – this can be stretched to slightly later if weather is not too hot

 

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How to use Rasnadi Churnam – a video guide

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One of the fears that people have when we recommend regular hair oiling for good hair growth is the fear of catching a cold. For those with high kapha aggravation or an existing sinusitis problem, this is a very real worry. The answer? Rasnadi Churnam – a safe , effective ayurvedic chooranam (powder) that retains warmth in the head, prevents mucous formation and helps clear blocked sinuses with regular use, safely and effectively.

Here is a short video we just shot for the Krya Product Support Group,  a facebook community, on how you can effectively use Rasnadi Churnam correctly & effectively.

Rasnadi Churnam is a classical ayurvedic formulation that has many uses. It can also be effectively used to control Migraine attacks which are Pitta based. For external application, Rasnadi Churnam is safe even to be used for small infants. For inhalation, we recommend that it be done only for 5 years and above. As a precautionary measure, pregnant women should NOT inhale Rasnadi Churnam – they can apply it on the scalp as demonstrated in the video.

The Krya Product Support Community is a Facebook community we created to help support the use of our products, share Ayurvedic guidelines for better skin and hair care and answer product usage doubts quickly. Do join us here.

Now for the video:

If you have any queries on our products, or would like our help choosing the right products, do write to us. 

 

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Baby Microbiome basics – Part 1

The human microbiome - sites
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Reading Time: 9 minutes

We are in an interesting and contradictory world today. One the one hand, the rise of Western science has taken basic hygiene to unimaginable levels. So household products can successfully wipe out every last germ in our clothes or our hands. But on the other hand, this increasingly sterile world has many fall outs. Our immunity levels are lower than what they used to be and our children are weaker, less healthy and perpetually fall sick. How do we balance this seeming contraindication? This is the first in Krya’s 3 part series on the Baby microbiome. This series will explain the current body of research on the Baby microbiome, share Ayurvedic insights on the same and leave you with solid recommendations to boost baby’s immunity and health.

Baby microbiome basics: a highly sanitised world is creating new health complications for us.

Joshua Lederberg first coined the term “Microbiota” to distinguish the bacteria that colonize, populate and symbiotically live on us. The current world view lies in seeing ourselves as separate from the “germs or bacteria” that live on us, and treat them as opportunistic parasites that feed off us and have to be therefore be removed or eradicate.

However the growing body of research is instead choosing to view human beings and indeed living beings as the “Holobiont”. The Holobiont is the host body + all the associated micro organisms that co-exist and live on the body of the host. The Holobiont is being postulated as the evolutionary edge for living organisms and species: and it is the composition of Microbiota AND host organism that presents the unique evolutionary edge and not the host body alone.

The Human Microbiota includes fungi, bacteria and archea. This does not include opportunistic micro animals like head lice which weaken the Holobiont and are purely parasitic. Research indicates that the human Holobiont is made up of 37 trillion cells: of these ¾ belong to our Human Microbiota, and only ¼ of these 37 trillion cells are contributed directly by us.

Baby Microbiome basics: Microbiota colonise us throughout the body

How a healthy colony of micro flora helps keep us strong & healthy

On a cell to cell comparison, we are more Micro flora than human. Our body is made up of cells of which the human part is only 10%. The balance 90% is our microbiome which colonizes various parts of us: our skin, nose, ears, reproductive organs and inside our body. Each area of our body has different species of micro flora. Microflora form a unique fingerprint for each of us: our colonies are not exactly the same, even for twins born and raised together.

A large portion of our microbiome lives in our gut. This colony decides many things about our health. They decide how healthy we are going to be and how much immunity we have. It defends us against invasive and predatory micro organisms. They help our body with digestion, assimilation and nutrient absorption. Our friendly Microbiota also boosts our brain function and helps mood regulation as well.

Baby microbiome basics: teh quality of your microbiota determine the nutrient absorption from your food

The human body hosts different sets of colonies in various parts of the body. Every set of microbes has its own role to play, depending on where they live. The oral microbiome acts as a gatekeeper, guarding what enters the GI tract. If the colony in your mouth is in good health and shape, they can block the entry of potentially invasive organisms into our body.

On skin, the microbiome forms a very important gatekeeper role as well. The skin micro flora prevents entry of predators into the blood and lymph. These predators if allowed, can cause huge harm as they can bypass our acid containing gut and enter the circulatory system directly , through which they can spread rapidly.

Baby microbiome basics: Skin hosts innumerable microflora that imporves immunity and protects health

The skin microbiome helps guard this, if we take care to ensure our skin microbiome population is not unnecessary washed away. The human microbiome also bring down small inflammations in the body, help produce vitamins and digestive enzymes. In short , they support and extend healthy life for us. This is an example of a symbiotic and synergistic partnership.

 

Why is a healthy microbiome critical in a baby?

Human babies are born vulnerable and helpless. Their microbial colony begins to be established during pregnancy, and continues well until they are around 3 – 4 years. The successful establishment of a healthy microbial colony depends upon many factors. These include the health of the mother, the mode of delivery of the baby, feeding choices, weaning food choices, and the availability of a healthy microbiome colony in the baby’s surroundings. Some of our choices can also destroy a healthy available microbiome , for example the choice to raise baby in over sanitary surroundings.

The GI tract of the baby is especially unformed and vulnerable in the first 6 months. For example, in the first 6 months, a baby’s intestinal tract has spaces between the intestinal cells. This gap is filled as the baby grows. But in the first 6 months, the baby’s gut flora microbiome plug these intestinal gaps themselves. If these gaps are not properly plugged, undesirable molecules and invaders can squeeze through the intestine and directly enter the baby’s bloodstream.

Baby microbiome basics: healthy microflora reduces baby's vulnerability to disease

It is safe to say that the baby’s first 3 years sets the foundation for the future health and well being of the baby. Our choices as parents can greatly impact the health and well being of our child, way into the future. This is why we are writing this series on the Krya blog this week.

Our posts this week in this series will discuss the stages of microbial colonization in the baby and some choices you can make to provide positive intervention at each stage. We will also discuss various do’s and don’t s and how Ayurveda tells us to raise baby and improve immunity. However, until the next 2 posts, here are 3 thought-starters we would like to end this post with. Each of these will impact your baby’s microbiome and therefore her health.

3 baby microbiome thought-starters:

Give baby plenty of thoughtful skin to skin contact with skin that is not over-sanitized:

Microbiome colonies spread from living organisms. So Ayurveda encourages thoughtful, selective skin to skin contact in young infants. Our microbial colonies are incredibly selective and unique. For example your right hand and left hand host a different microbial signature! For these colonies to be healthy and survive, we must ensure their surroundings are healthy as well. In an over sanitary environment, we kill off all our good bacteria – instead these environments breed super-bugs and very dangerous predators, which can thrive in this environment.

Ayurveda recommends that baby be handled and touched by the Mother and one –two selectively chosen caregivers.

Baby microbiome basics: thoughtful loving skin contact improves healthy microflora

The mother and “Dhatri” (nurse or additional caregiver or a nanny), must use the correct Ayurvedic herbs to bathe in. The Nursery must be kept well ventilated, yet cosy and facing in the right direction. Baby’s linen must be washed with Rakshoghna herbs.

Baby microbiome basics: Mother an dDhatri should bathe in rakshogha herbs and wash all linen with these. This helps spread good quality microflora

In this environment, the use of these herbs keeps down the spread of dangerous micro organisms. This gives healthy Microbiota a chance to flourish. So, when baby is touched and handled lovingly by such caregivers, the healthy Microbiota are transferred onto baby’s skin and can colonize it.

If the Mother is breastfeeding, Ayurveda recommends proper cleansing of the breasts and mother’s skin with warming, vata pacifying, Rakshoghna herbs. When this is done, the baby absorbs the right micro flora through mouth-to-skin contact during breastfeeding.

Avoid: Cleansing mother’s skin and baby’s skin with a synthetic soap or bodywash. This wipes out all the friendly colonies of bacteria, leaving baby vulnerable to infection and disease. Use a completely natural grain and herb based Ayurvedic ubtan instead.

Reduction of electronic stress and other stress around mother & baby:

One of the key impediments to the growth of friendly bacteria is stress. When we are stressed, the pitta dosha in the body increases. This creates a high heat and acidic medicum in the body. This tends to reduce our gut bacterial colony. Also, the nature of skin and scalp secretions change in high Pitta conditions. Sweat becomes much more acidic, foul smelling and the composition of sebum also changes. This again brings down growth of friendly bacteria and instead attracts unhealthy organisms.

Baby microbiome basics: high stress impacts the quality of microflora

High use of electronic devices like Mobile, Wi-Fi, I-Pads, etc, increase subtle Vata vibrations in the air. This changes the dosha balance in the body, again leading to an unhealthy condition. Subtle electronic vibrations also thrown off our sleep cycles. When sleep is disturbed, our Microbiota are also harmed.

If the Mother is stressed, her bacterial colony is affected. Which in turn affects the baby. So Ayurveda advises a time of rest, reduction in physical work and focus on the Mother at least in the first 6 months after delivery. If this is extended upto one year this is ideal.

This post is not meant to discourage working mothers or criticize them for their choices. But, we echo Ayurveda’s emphasis on the important of rest and recovery for mothers. If this period is adhered to, we can avoid many health issues that may crop up later.

Fresh, organic home made food

Ayurveda tells us that all health begins in our gut. All Disease can be traced back to overloading the digestive system, eating improper food combinations and at the wrong timing. At the time many of the original texts were written, here was no practice of chemical farming followed. So obviously we have no explicit mentions of pesticide grown food.

But from all the available research today, we know how toxic , eating chemically farmed food is. From the Microbiome perspective, this is like consuming frequent doses of poison to the system. This harms everything in the body including your Micro biota.

For a breast feeding mother, eating fresh, organic, seasonal, home made food promotes better nutrient absorption and produce better quality breast milk as well.

Baby microbiome basics: high quality organic seasonal food boosts healthy microbiota

Also, seasonally grown organic produce has a healthier colony of micro flora. So when we handle and cook this produce, we are enriching our own bacterial colony.

To sum up:

Through this post, we hoped to provide you a glimpse of the fascinating world that lies on our skin and in our bodies. It is not an exaggeration to say that without friendly Microbiota, human life would not exist.

Conserving, nurturing and protecting our friendly Microbiome becomes even more critical in babies. Babies’ microbiome is under developed and the choices we make for them in the first 3 years of their life has long lasting impact on their health and their Microbiota.

We also looked at 3 simple methods you can start with to encourage proper colonization of Micro biota in baby. In our next 2 posts, we will look at Microbiota colonization in baby stage by stage and also explore Ayurvedic interventions in each stage to strengthen baby’s micro biota. Stay tuned.

Krya Products recommended to encourage healthy skin colonization in Babies and Moms:

For Moms:

  • Strongly recommended: Krya Women’s Abhyanga system (Krya Women’s Ubtan + Krya Abhyanga oil) – helps balance vata dosha and encourages the growth of friendly Microbiota while discouraging predatory microbes

Krya Products Recommended for Baby:

  • Krya baby ubtans & bodywashes – made from organic or forest collected herbs, grains and lentils . Cleans thoroughly yet is extremely soothing and gentle on baby’s skin. Can be used everyday from the 1st day of baby’s birth.
  • Krya baby massage oils – made using authentic ayurvedic herbs, and organic cold pressed vegetable oils processed through a rigorous ayurvedic manufacturing process. Can be used from the time a baby is 1 week old
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3 Krya baby ubtans to choose from + Benefits behind a traditional ayurvedic baby bath

Krya bbaby ubtans: teh alternative to a synthetic baby soap
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Our wide range of hair and skin products can sometimes confuse people who are not sure what they are choosing. The same confusion occurs in Krya’s range of baby products. Choosing a Krya hair product for your baby is quite easy – we have a single herbal hair wash / shampoo powder and baby hair oil. But choosing a Krya baby ubtan or Krya baby oil becomes trickier. We have 3 Krya baby ubtans / bodywash powders and 3 Krya baby massage oils.  This post is to explain the differences between the 3 Krya baby ubtans and bodywashes today and the formulation philosophy behind them.

Krya baby ubtans: Important to choose teh right Krya ubtan for your needs

Benefits behind traditional Abhyanga-Snana for baby:

Krya advises following the Ayurvedic principle of skin cleansing. In this, we FIRST oil and massage baby’s skin well with a correctly prepared Ayurvedic massage oil. The baby is then bathed using a herbal Snana powder (Ubtan) which has been formulated as per season.

Krya baby ubtans: Ayurveda says massage baby well before bath

 

This oil massage practice is especially beneficial in the case of babies where the skin structure is yet to be completely formed. The oil massages improves circulation in baby’s body and creates warmth. As skin structure is not yet completely formed, it helps the movement of toxins to the surface of skin, from where it can be removed. It delivers powerful herbs through the oil which work on various functions in the skin. We will see these functions of the baby massage oil in a separate post.

Krya baby ubtans: Oil massage imporves cicrulation, eliminates toxins and is beneficial for baby's health

 

A Snana with a herbal baby ubtan works on a much deeper level than using synthetic baby soap. Our previous post spoke about the hazards of baby soap. Apart from being much safer to use compared to a baby soap, a herbal baby ubtan through cleanses skin. As baby’s skin is underdeveloped, the Srotas do not perform as efficiently as they do in adults. Hence the use of a herbal baby ubtan helps suck out hidden dirt, dead cells and toxins more efficiently from baby’s skin. Remember, soap works SUPERFICIALLY, but an ubtan works holistically and DEEPLY.

Krya baby ubtans: Bath with a herbal baby ubtan works on a deeper and more holistic level than a synthetic baby soap

 

Ayurveda tells us that a daily oil massage + Snana (bath) using correct set of herbs is very beneficial to both babies and post partum Mothers. For babies, this practice improves complexion, strengthens bones and muscles, and encourages proper growth and development. Because it assists in removing Ama (toxins) so efficiently, the baby’s appetite and hunger levels are good and well adjusted. Elimination takes place properly in the body. Therefore nutrient metabolism is good, so baby receives the correct dose of nutrients as the system is able to extract this efficiently from food.

Krya baby ubtans : a good abhyanga-snana helps baby digest food and metabolize nutrients better

So, the Abhyanga-Snana in a baby assists not just in the baby’s external appearance and skin health. It works at deeper and fundamental levels and helps improve baby’s health and immunity.

Principles behind Krya baby ubtans & bodywashes:

All Krya baby ubtans are formulated and manufactured as per Ayurvedic principles. The Krya baby ubtans are made up of 2 kinds of basic ingredients.

Proprietary blend of lentils and grains:

The first set of ingredients is a proprietary blend of lentils and grains. We use organically grown, desi grains and lentils in all Krya products. For the Krya baby ubtans, we also add a set of medicated grains and lentils. These base grains soak for 24 hours in a specially prepared medicated herb decoction. This process softens the grains giving us a much finer powder. It also transfers the base properties of the herbs into the grains, so we have a much more powerful set of base grains.

Krya baby ubtans : Krya uses a proprietary set of desi grains and medicated grains that help cleanse skin well and eliminate toxins

These base grains and lentils have slight variations as per season. We generally use a mixture of Desi Mung bean, Himalayan Adzuki bean and Himalayan Navrangi bean in the Krya baby ubtans. To this, we also add a small proportion of heritage, desi Rice (typically we add Rajmudi Rice or Kavuni Rice, as is seasonally available). Heritage rice is extremely beneficial for baby’s skin AT THE RIGHT LEVEL – it is sweet, nourishing and gently cleansing.

Proprietary blend of Herbs:

The second set of ingredients we use in the Krya baby ubtans is our proprietary blend of herbs. This set needs to be at the correct level and the right herbs must be chosen. If we add too much of these herbs, they can be astringent and slightly harsh on baby’s skin. If we add too little, we have a formulation that is inefficient at ama removal and does not work too deeply.

In our herb set, one of the things we monitor is the synergistic action of these herbs along with our proprietary blend of base lentils and grains. Ayurveda advises that the overall formula must be slightly “ushna” in veerya or warming. Again here the balance is delicate. If the formula is too ushna, it can cause heat rashes and itching in baby’s skin. If it is too “Sheetya” (cold), the baby is prone to catching colds. The balance must be mildly warming without irritating skin.

Krya baby ubtans : Krya baby ubtans strike teh right balance and are warm and soothing for baby, not hot and irritating

 

Ayurveda also suggests that baby ubtans use a special set of Rakshoghna herbs. The word “Rakshoghna” can be interpreted in many ways – these are herbs which give “Raksha” or protection. At one level Rakshoghna herbs give protection at a physical level. So they have krimihara properties and help keep away disease causing microorganisms. However, at a deeper, emotional level, they drive away mental agitation and anxiety by calming down the baby and keeping vata dosha at the correct level.

Krya baby ubtans: Krya uses teh correct set of Rakshoghna herbs that protect baby at many levels

 

We use a special set of herbs for the Krya baby girl ubtan. These herbs help in naturally lightening excess hair growth and are also considered auspicious for women. Apart from aesthetic reasons, Ayurvedic Acharyas recommend that we use specific Divya oushadi herbs for women (and baby girls) to bring about upliftment of mood, and increase positive energy.

Krya baby ubtans: Krya also uses many divya oushadi (divine herbs) in its baby ubtans

Seasonal variations in formulation:

Ayurveda tells us that herbs must be chosen according to “Desha” (place), and “Kala” (time or season). So what is appropriate in hot and humid weather is inappropriate in winter.

For example, Badam (almonds) are often advertised as being present in certain Baby ubtans. Ayurveda tells us that the skin of Almond (badam) is full of Pitta and is highly irritating both when eaten and when applied. So traditionally, we are ALWAYS supposed to soak Badam overnight, and then rinse it in the morning, peel the skin and then only consume. This overnight soaking brings down the heat in the nut and removing the skin brings down its irritating effect. Unless Badam is pre-processed this way, it is not suitable for either internal or external use.

Krya baby ubtans: Every herb must be pre-processed properly to avoid irriitation. Almonds are a case in point

We use Badam in the Krya Intense hair oil. But even in our Hair oil, we pre-process the Badam in the same way described above. This takes us much more time, but we are sure that Badam will not irritate.

The high heat of Badam is very welcome in cold climate. So it is appropriate to use in a product meant to be used in cold countries or in cold seasons. But in hot weather, if the bay ubtan contains other warming ingredients, using Badam may make the entire product extremely “Ushna”.

Therefore Krya baby ubtans are always appropriately researched and formulated to ensure they are pleasant and comfortable for the baby to use in each season.

3 Krya baby ubtans and differences between them:

Krya has 3 baby ubtan products: the Krya Ubtan for Baby girls, the Krya Ubtan for Baby boys and the Krya Gentle Baby Bodywash   powder.

 The differences between the Krya Ubtans by gender are quite obvious. The Krya Baby ubtan for baby girls is designed to also mildly thin down excessive hair growth in babies. So it contains natural hair thinning herbs which also help improve the complexion.  We use 3 kinds of turmeric in the Krya Baby Ubtan for baby girls – Turmeric is a “mangalya” (auspicious) Divya oushadi (divine herb). It is considered especially beneficial for Women, and is recommended to be used in any product meant for girls / Women.

Krya baby ubtans: Krya baby ubtans for baby girls contain many hair thinning and auspicious herbs

 

While differences between gender are quite low in babies (apart from the hair thinning requirement), we also have a Krya baby ubtan for baby boys to complete our range logically. This ubtan uses a different combination of herbs from the Krya baby ubtan for baby girls. In this ubtan, we use safe, Rakshoghna herbs and skin nourishing herbs like Daruharidra (Tree turmeric), Rosemary, Kacholam (south Indian Zeodary), etc. This combination gently yet thoroughly cleanses and uplifts tender skin.

Krya baby ubtans: Krya baby ubtan for baby boys contains many soothing, uplifting herbs like Rosemary

 

Many of our customers buy the Krya baby products during the last month of pregnancy. They want to ensure that there is no chance of running out of time and having to depend on synthetic baby products. Who can blame them? This IS a wise choice. Obviously at this time of purchase, the gender of the baby is not known. So we advise that they use the Krya Gentle baby bodywash powder. This is a unisex formulation, so it does not contain our set of hair lightening and hair thinning herbs. However, it can be used if you do not know the gender of your baby, have 2 babies that are close in age, or if you have twins and want to economize.

 The Krya Gentle baby bodywash powder uses protective Rakshoghna herbs like Neem flower, Ram tulsi and Forest Tulasi. We also use skin nurturing and circulation improving herbs like Babchi, Khadira, Manjishta and Mulethi. In addition to keep the baby’s mood cheerful and calm baby down, we use Divya oushadi herbs like Vacha and Amla.

Krya baby ubtans: Krya gentle baby bodywash contains skin soothing and nurturing herbs like Liquorice

 

 To complement these 3 Krya baby ubtans, we also have 3 Krya baby massage oils. We will speak about these oils in a separate post.

 To sum up:

We hope this post gave you an understanding of the traditional practice of Abhyanga-Snana and how much it benefits a baby if done regularly. An abhyanga Snana must always be done with products carefully chosen for babies as their skin is unformed and they are very vulnerable to imbalanced products.

We also hope that this post helped you understand the differences between the 3 Krya baby ubtans, so you could choose the appropriate one for your baby.

If you have any questions on the Krya baby ubtans or any of our Krya baby products, please write to us.

Krya Products Recommended for Baby:

  • Krya baby ubtans & bodywashes – made from organic or forest collected herbs, grains and lentils . Cleans thoroughly yet is extremely soothing and gentle on baby’s skin. Can be used everyday from the 1st day of baby’s birth.
  • Krya baby massage oils – made using authentic ayurvedic herbs, and organic cold pressed vegetable oils processed through a rigorous ayurvedic manufacturing process. Can be used from the time a baby is 1 week old
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Krya Baby Skin 101 series : 5 simple ayurvedic tips to care for baby’s skin

5 simple ayurvedic tips to care for baby's skin and improve immunity
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Reading Time: 8 minutes

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Caring for baby’s skin the right way is a challenge. Every single day, media reports tell us yet another company is making unsafe products. For confused parents looking for holistic, completely safe and natural baby products, Ayurveda provides many answers.  In this post, we will discuss 5 simple ayurvedic tips to care for baby’s skin. These 5 skin care practices also help boost baby’s immunity and overall health.

Pregnancy: a time to take stock and re-evaluate choices

Most of our consumers tend to discover Krya when there is a particular problem they have not been able to find answers to like persistent hairfall, or when there is a new and wonderful change in their life (pregnancy or the birth of a child).

5 simple ayurvedic tips to care for baby's skin : pregnancy is a time to re-evaluate our existing product choices

Most of us adults tend to bludgeon through life, and are willing to experiment quite widely with our health, skin and hair. Nothing else can explain how, despite all the evidence to the contrary, we continue to eat pesticide ridden foods and hormone and antibiotic filled dairy. However, when we see the fragility and delicate nature of an infant, we are forced to re-examine our choices and we make much better and more informed choices.

Why is it critical to treat baby’s skin and hair with care and reverence?

Human skin is the largest sense organ in our body. It is considered the seat of the Indriyas / sense organs and is literally the seat of sight, sense, touch, feeling and hearing. It is our first barrier layer and helps protect our internal organs from damage and bacteria. It is a marvel of bio engineering and hosts a massive colony of micro organisms which work along with us to ensure a constant pH of 5.5, with an acidic mantle that keeps harmful organisms away from us.

The skin and hair structure in children is one of the last major systems to be formed. The sweat glands which help regulate temperature, eliminate toxins from our body and help maintain the skin’s natural acid mantle takes upto 3 years to form. This means that babies stay sweet smelling longer, but this also means that their body does not have the mechanism to readily eliminate toxins like adults do.

5 simple ayurvedic tips to care for baby's skin : baby's skin is extremely under developed and therefore vulnerable

This means that they can handle far smaller toxic loads than adults – so it makes NO sense to keep on massaging them and washing them with toxin filled synthetic oils, lotions, creams and soaps. Even if the label says that it is “gentle” and will not make your baby cry.

How should we be protecting and caring for baby’s skin instead? Read on below for 5 simple ayurvedic tips to care for baby’s skin.

5 simple ayurvedic tips to care for baby’s skin

1. Follow the 3 step ayurvedic fabric washing routine for baby’s linen and clothing

Baby’s skin is under-developed and fragile. It lacks the ability to resist attacks by micro-organisms, fungal organisms and small insects and bugs. Therefore Ayurveda recommends that baby’s skin is to be cleansed with suitable herbs.

Step 1: Wash with a natural detergent

Ayurveda also recommends that all fabric coming into contact with baby’s skin is cleansed thoroughly in natural, non irritating, anti bacterial, “Rakshoghna” herbs like Shikakai, soapberry, Triphala, Vacha, Neem, etc.

To prevent rashes, contact dermatitis, we recommend double rinsing baby’s linen, cloth diapers and clothing using only a gentle natural detergent.

When we use the words “gentle, natural detergent” we mean a completely plant based herbal detergent. Any other detergent which uses either castille soap or SLS is too harsh for baby’s skin. If using a synthetic detergent, consider switching to a completely natural detergent.

5 simple ayurvedic tips to care for baby's skin : always wash baby's clothing in a pure, plant based detergent

Step 2: Line dry in hot sun

After washing baby’s clothing in a completely natural detergent, line dry it in the hot sun (forenoon sun is recommended).

5 simple ayurvedic tips to care for baby's skin : line dry baby's clothing for natural anti bacterial effect

Step 3: Fumigate with natural herbs

Additional fumigation of dried clothing is recommended in very young or delicate infants or in humid and wet weather. Fumigation can be done in pure sambrani (benzoin resin) or Guggulu resin.5 simple ayurvedic tips to care for baby's skin : additional natural fumigation is excellent for premature or very young babies

Why is a 3 step washing routine a part of a post that is titled “5 simple ayurvedic tips to care for baby’s skin”?  In our experience at Krya, synthetic detergents are the culprit for a huge host of skin related issues for baby.

Many parents who are told that their baby has contact dermatitis and are pained to see baby suffering with a constant itchy skin rash find that it vanishes when the detergent is changed. Switching to a good ayurvedic fabric washing routine can do wonders for baby’s skin health.

2. Massage baby everyday before bath with a nourishing botanical oil

As baby’s skin is still under-developed, the sebaceous glands are not fully formed. Therefore there is a decreased production of natural oils to coat the skin. In adult skin, the natural sebum also forms the skin’s barrier function. So in the absence of this, the baby’s skin has to be assisted through daily massage using a mildly acidic, herb infused botanical oils.

Oil application of the skin has a twofold effect: the herb infused vegetable oil is able to penetrate the skin easily and nourish it, ensuring baby’s skin does not go dry.

It also has the ability to work with the skin to boost its barrier function. This increases the baby’s immune response and improves the body’s ability to protect itself from harmful micro organisms.5 simple ayurvedic tips to care for baby's skin : daily oil massage with a good botanical oil supports baby's skin health

Krya recommends daily oil massage of the baby 15 minutes before the bath to boost the skin’s natural oils and improve skin’s barrier function. This everyday oil massage with a good botanical oil is a critical part of the 5 simple ayurvedic tips to care for baby’s skin. This oil massage ensures that baby’s skin is well hydrated, and well supported and the right synergistic bacteria are encouraged to colonize.

3. Cleanse baby’s skin with right products

As baby’s skin is still under-developed, the sweating mechanism is not present. Therefore it is important to assist the skin in its thermoregulatory function.

For thermoregulation, the srotas (minor channels of the skin) need to be massaged, detoxified and cleaned well every day. The massage of the skin every day helps deep cleanse the srotas.

Snana (bath) that follows should be done using a mixture of grains, lentils and Ayurvedic herbs. This mixture has the capacity to gently massage the srotas, and remove toxins along with excess oil. When the srotas are active and clean, they can do the job of thermo regulation properly.

5 simple ayurvedic tips to care for baby's skin : Baby should be bathed with the right herbal ubtan

As per Ayurveda (unless you live in a very cold climate), the srotas should not be masked or covered after a bath with any moisturising substance. This brings down their activity. This is why Taila abhyanga (oil massage) is done in Ayurveda before the Snana.

Many parents write to us asking for the best moisturizing lotion that can be used on babies. They are surprised when we ask them to do a pre-bath oil massage and use a Krya baby ubtan instead. When we cleanse skin correctly, there is NO NEED to apply any post bath moisturisation. Also this application blocks the skin and impairs its functioning. This is why correct cleansing is an important part of our post on 5 simple ayurvedic tips to care for baby’s skin.

4. Keep baby warm

Because of the unformed nature of baby’s skin, infants are very sensitive to temperature and changes in humidity. Because of their growing nature and diet which is high in liquids, they are prone to kapha dosha imbalances. Hence Ayurveda suggests the following:

Keep infants well covered and slightly warmer than you would keep yourself. Protect all vata based organs like skin, feet and ears, especially when taking baby out in the open.

5 simple ayurvedic tips to care for baby's skin : Always protect baby's core temperature

Babies must be bathed in warm, and not hot water. Check the temperature before bathing baby.

Baby’s nursery should be kept slightly warm, and draughts of wind must not be allowed inside. Fumigation with rakshoghna herbs atleast once a day, especially in late evenings is advised to keep infection at bay.

5. Bathe baby with a special herb infused water

To boost baby’s immunity, support skin and keep micro organisms and diseases causing germs at bay, Ayurveda recommends adding s special herb mixture to baby’s bath. A simple herbal decoction can be made at home using either Neem or Tulsi leaf. Neem leaves is used when the weather is hot and Tulsi leaves when the weather is cold. The leaves can be added in the following manner:

How to make a bath steep for baby’s bath:

Mild decoction: Boil 4 – 5 Neem / tulsi leaves in 1 glass of clean water. Boil until the water reduces in half. Strain and add to baby’s bath water. Ensure the temperature of the water is suitable for baby’s skin before bathing her.

5 simple ayurvedic tips to care for baby's skin : It is a good idea to add ayurvedic herbs everyday to baby's bath water

The same decoction can also be done with dried Neem leaf or Dried Tulsi leaf powder. In this case, boil the decoction until it reaches ¾ the original volume, strain and use.

To sum up:

Baby’s skin is fragile and vulnerable. As the skin system is under developed, the products we apply on baby’s skin must protect and support its healthy growth.

Ayurveda offers worried parents many wonderful solutions to holistically nurture and care for baby’s skin. These solutions are specific and range from how baby’s linen must be washed to how baby must be bathed.

We hope you found these 5 simple Ayurvedic tips to care for baby’s skin useful and easy to follow. Please do try them out yourself or forward the same to a friend in need.

If you have any questions or queries on the same, please write to us.

Krya products recommended for baby:

  • Krya baby massage oils – made using authentic ayurvedic herbs, and organic cold pressed vegetable oils processed through a rigorous ayurvedic manufacturing process. Can be used from the time a baby is 1 week old
    • Krya traditional baby massage oil with Bala & ashwagandha – traditional formula that aids baby’s muscle development . Can be used from the time a baby is 1-2 days old. Not recommended for babies with sensitive skin, dermatitis, eczema or psoriasis. For these conditions, see below.

5 simple ayurvedic tips to care for baby's skin - Use the Krya traditional baby massage oil everyday

5 simple ayurvedic tips to care for baby's skin : Use Krya baby ubtans to gently yet thoroughly cleanse baby's skin. does not irritate sensitive skin.

  • Krya detergent – completely natural, plant based herbal detergents to cleanse baby’s linen without irritating baby’s skin
    • Krya Classic Detergent – made from forest collected soapberries. Recommended for premature babies and infants with skin conditions5 simple ayurvedic tips to care for baby's skin : Use the Krya natural plant detergent to wash baby's clothing and linen
    • Krya Lemon detergent – Made from forest collected soapberries, lemongrass and lemon – for all other infants

 

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Men’s skin care basics: caring for and maintaining skin through Ayurveda

Krya men's skin care basics: a 5 step ayurevdic skin care routine for Men
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Reading Time: 7 minutes

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Is men’s skin care even required as a category? This question has promoted thousands of searches online with people wanting to find out the exact difference between men’s skin and women’s skin. It has also triggered the rise of a high range of men’s skin care products. Is this interest in men’s skin care justified? What are the differences between Men’s skin and women’s skin? How does Ayurveda recommend we care for Men’s skin? Today’s post will explore this topic.

Men’s skin care – skin structural differences:

Dermatological and hormonal research tells us that the composition of hormones in the body determine several factors in the skin. The hormone composition in the body determines the thickness of the skin, its texture, its smoothness, the oil secretion in the skin and the way it ages.

Testosterone and the androgenic male hormones help produce coarser and thicker skin, and thicker hair. This set of hormones also influences sebum production – so men’s skin is oilier then women’s skin. The collagen structure in Men’s skin is different from women. Due to the presence of cross links, Men’s skin sags lesser compared to women, and therefore ages less.

Krya post on basics of Men's skin care: Men's skin is structurally different

When androgenic hormones are elevated, or unbalanced, skin becomes oilier, and adult acne occurs.

Estrogen and its sub set of hormones which are found abundantly in women, and to a lesser degree in men also influences Skin. Estrogen has a strong influence on skin moisture. Estrogen can increase or decrease the presence of glycosaminoaglycanes (GAG) in skin. GAGs can increase collagen production skin, helping skin stay firmer and less wrinkled longer. GAGs also maintain epidermal thickness and internal moisture. So skin stays plumper and hydrated and wrinkle free longer.

Krya men's skin care basics: women's skin is naturally clearer, smoother and softer.

When estrogenic hormones are elevated, the skin develops conditions like hyper-pigmentation, melasma, etc. This is a common phenomenon during pregnancy.

Men’s skin care– common problems we have noticed at Krya

At Krya, we have noticed certain special problems in Men’s skin which has to do with its structure and composition. In general, pitta dosha is extremely aggravated and unbalanced in Men. Therefore we see very unbalanced and high sebum production, with constant breakouts, and large, visible open pores.

Krya men's skin care basics: men's skin often has high oil production, visible open pores

Culturally (although this is changing), Men are not as aware of skin care and good routines as women are. We have many complaints of acne scars and blemishes which are due to unchecked picking of acne while young.

We have observed a lot of impatience when dealing with common Pitta problems like Acne among our male consumers. They choose very harsh oil control face washes and soaps to cleanse skin. This is from the mistaken belief that harsher cleaning will remove oil better. But in fact, as we have discussed before, this harsh cleansing only aggravates greater and denser oil production aggravating the problem.

Krya Men's skin care basics: harsh cleansers increase skin oiliness by aggravating skin

Oil production is very high around the hair follicles. So we see greater acne breakouts in the beard and chin area among men. Again, due to impatience, many men simply shave over acne, spreading the micro organism over the face, aggravating the breakouts.

Men’s skin also is much more exposed to pollution and environmental toxins. Due to the thickness of epidermal and dermal layer, the Srotas are thicker and longer in Men. This means there is greater space for dirt and toxins to hide inside the srotas. This makes the skin look dull and feel coarse if the skin is not cleansed periodically and properly.

Krya Men's skin care basics: smog and environmental pollution increase toxin accumulation in men's skin

A good set of men’s skin care products should therefore tackle all these identified issues.

An Ideal Ayurvedic men’s skin care routine

Men’s skin suffers from aggravated Pitta-Kapha dosha when skin is not maintained or cleansed properly. This results in greasy, oily skin, white heads and blackheads, and dense breakouts when younger. As age increases, the pores enlarge, skin texture becomes rough and leathery and pores become more and more visible.

Therefore, the key in Ayurveda to caring for Men’s skin is twofold. The first part lies in balancing pitta and kapha using the correct herbs. Next, Srotas have to be cleansed gently, yet thoroughly. We must not over cleanse the srotas, and we must leave them toxin free, yet supple and elastic.

Krya men's skin care basics: Important to cleanse skin correctly. Skin should retain its elasticity and yet be completely clean

Men’s skin, especially as it ages, can get dehydrated if there is high sun exposure. High sun exposure removes moisture from the topmost layers of skin. This traps heat and dust within skin as the srotas become dry and unable to expand and contract and perform their role of toxin elimination.

Therefore, a good skin care programme must also focus on nurturing the skin and supplementing moisture, to prevent photo aging and dryness.

The 5 step Ideal Ayurvedic men’s skin care routine:

  1. Cleanse skin with cool water and using a completely natural, Sulphate free, detergent free, gentle cleansing face wash. We recommend using the Krya Men’s face wash. Avoid hot water and foaming cleansers on Men’s skin.
  2. Through the day, if you are indoors, revive tired and Pitta aggravated skin by spraying rose water or splashing , pure, clean, cool water on skin. If you are travelling outdoors, protect skin by covering it with a full frontal helmet. Once you are back home, cleanse skin with a gentle herbal Men’s face wash to remove any accumulated dirt and toxins.
  3. At night, apply a pitta balancing, evenly nourishing skin oil. Do not use petroleum based moisturisers as they will simply clog skin further. We recommend using the Krya Classic skin facial serum instead.
  4. Once a week, we recommend application of a healing Lepa. If your skin is acne prone, we recommend the Krya anti acne face mask. If you travel outdoors extensively and have high sun exposure, we recommend the Krya after sun face mask. For everyone else, the Krya Classic face mask works.
  5. Aggravated Pitta responds very well to an abhyanga and frequent hair oiling. Many of our male consumers find a reduction in photo sensitivity and pitta related skin issues with regular hair oiling. The Abhyanga is a once a week re-set which is a must for Men. It helps balanced aggravated vata and pitta and greatly improves skin and hair health.

What goes into the Krya men’s face wash?

The Krya men’s face wash is our carefully formulated offering for Men’s skin. We use 33 skin nurturing, pitta balancing, oil balancing and skin improving Ayurvedic herbs, lentils, flowers, roots and fruits in this formulation.

To help deep cleanse hidden impurities and toxins, we use a special mixture of medicated Lentils and grains including Tavakshira, Desert Date, and our medicated Whole heritage Mung bean. This unique combination helps deep cleanse skin of hidden impurities, and toxins without robbing it of its natural oils and elasticity.

Krya men's skin care basics: krya men's face wash is a specially formulated unique herbal facewash powder

To scoop clean the longer and thicker Srotas, we use a special mixture of millets that improve circulation, brighten complexion and help scoop out toxins. These millets include heritage, organic Red Sorghum grains renowned for their skin brightening effect.

To balance oil, balance Pitta ad heal breakouts, we use Pitta balancing , astringent, healing herbs like Bael fruit, Khadira, Kala Jeera. Woody fragrant herbs like Indian Sarsaparilla, India Liquorice, Durva and Punarnava help correct scars, and improve skin texture and appearance.

How to use an herbal face wash powder?

Readers may be taken aback when they realise that all of Krya’s face wash products are powders. By maintaining a powder format, we are able to concentrate a high amount of nutrition by using whole herbs in our products. We also completely avoid the use of synthetic preservatives, fillers and thickeners giving you a toxin free product.

To use our herbal face wash powders, simply take the required quantity and mix in clean water to make a thick paste. Apply this paste gently in an upward direction over your face and neck avoiding the eye area. Leave it on for 30 seconds before rinsing off with cool, clean water.

To sum up:

The structure of Men’s skin is different physiologically from Women’s skin. These differences have to do with the interplay of hormones in the body. When the hormonal balance changes, there are corresponding changes and problems in the skin’s structure.

Due to the influence of androgenic hormones, men’s skin is naturally thicker, has a better collagen matrix and is well supplied with sebum. However, the sebum balance is delicate and can easily get aggravated in polluted environment, with a poor diet or when aggressive cleansing products are used.

This could result in large visible open pores, unchecked oil production and frequent breakouts leading to blemishes and scars.

This post discussed a detailed, holistic and completely natural, men’s skincare routine that helps care for and nurture men’s skin. If this routine is followed along with a healthy diet and good lifestyle, we can prevent skin aging and maintain the health and aesthetic appearance of men’s skin.

In case you have any queries on how to maintain your skin, or would like to gift our products to the wonderful men in your life and have queries, please write to us.

 Krya products suggested for Men’s skin care :

Cleansing:

Lepa (Herbal face mask)

Krya after sun face mask to soothe and nourish sun ravaged skin.

Facial serum:

Pitta Reducing Products:

Krya Men's abhyanga system: helps balance and re-set doshas. Recommend to be used atleast once a week every week.

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Don’t kill the Dead Sea : on biological conservation & harvesting resources responsibly

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Reading Time: 4 minutes

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A crucial but unspoken part about running a Botanical company is displaying an appreciation for and sensitivity towards conservation. India contains literally thousands of medicinal herbs which are great for skin and hair. However, a few of these herbs are much more famous among consumers and therefore make a product easier to market or sell.

 

It will come as no surprise that the more famous a herb gets, the more vulnerable the plant becomes to over exploitation or stripping.

 

A case in point is Sandal and Red Sanders. Both these trees are very vulnerable to smuggling and over exploitation. Over exploitation means that there is simply too much careless logging happening of the trees without enough time and space being given to conserve the existing population. And when we continue to demand these trees, we permit unlicensed cutting, rampant smuggling and fuel a parallel economy where human rights are strongly affected.

 

This is why at Krya, despite easy availability of unlicensed Red Sandal, we refuse to use it in our products. We do not want our money and your money to support illegal trade and smuggling of this vulnerable plant.

 

We do use small amounts of Sandal in our products. This is purchased from a government authorised license holder who is permitted to log restricted amounts of Sandal. This means that we get Sandal only in small quantities and the costs that we get it at are extremely high. This also means that we get the genuine Sandal. Which has been logged responsibly under checks and balances. And given the Sandal is a rare and expensive herb, we learn as a company to use it judiciously, only in the appropriate formulations where Sandal is strongly required – therefore the system keeps everyone in check.

 

We have strongly resisted using imported materials in Krya, despite their obvious value for skin and hair. There was a time when Dead Sea minerals were a huge “in” resource to be used in skin and hair care formulations. It stands to reason that the Dead Sea is a finite resource. If every single person in the world wanted to treat their hair and skin with the minerals from there, we would not have a Dead Sea left.

 

Similar is the case with soil based products. Green French clay and Moroccan Rhassoul clay are both extremely nutrient rich soils that are beneficial for skin and hair and can be used for different complaints. However, this is soil that is endemic to a particular region and has been created by a unique set of factors that is specific to that region. For example, French green clay was first identified in rock quarries in southern France. Their unique green colour comes from iron oxides that occur naturally and decomposed kelp seaweed and algal plant matter giving the clay its natural tint. The process of forming this clay is extremely old – and the clay samples we get today could be tens of thousands of years old. IF we simply take this clay away, from across the world, we are depleting the local environment of this natural soil WITHOUT doing anything to add it back to the soil.

 

The same maxim holds for Moroccan Rhassoul clay too.

 

There are 4 principles that should be held onto when using natural resources:

 

  1. They should be harvested carefully with a view of ensuring that the plant / animal / mineral being harvested is not stripped and decimated from its natural surroundings. The harvesting technique should ensure rotation so that we give enough time for this resource to re-generate so we are not depleting it by our actions.
  2. They should be used carefully and not frivolously. Every ingredient must be used in the right quantity, not wasted and should go towards treating the ailment the ingredient helps cure.
  3. We should use easily renewable plat resources first – this list includes fruits and flowers which are meant for harvesting. This list also includes plants that are easy to cultivate, have a short life cycle and do not depend upon very strong environmental forces to form (erg: volcanic soil, dead sea minerals, Shilajit, etc)
  4. The use of ingredients must be LOCAL and SEASONAL. This is a maxim given in all the Ayurvedic texts which state that herbs which are LOCAL to you tend to work best for you. So even if “French green clay” or “Moroccan Argan oil” sounds great, what will probably work best for us in India are Coconut or Sesame Oil and any one of our medicinal herbs.

 

If we harvest and use herbs and resources as per the above 4 principles, we will not over exploit or drain our resources in one area.

 

The next time you shop for a skin / hair care product and it is advertised as containing imported ingredients like Dead Sea Minerals, Moroccans Argan Oil or rare Amazonian herbs, do consider buying something local instead. And when you are buying something local, and it advertised as containing extremely rare and expensive and hard to procure ingredients like Red Sandal, Shilajit or Saffron, check for its authenticity and legality as well.

 

Remember, we don’t just buy. We vote and send out a statement about the ethical, business and moral practices we would like to see around us. .

 

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Eating for Good Health – An Ayurvedic Perspective : Part 1

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Reading Time: 11 minutes

I am often asked what Ayurveda prescribes as a healthy diet. I hesitate to write down a fixed diet plan for many reasons: there are many diet fads these days which have become accepted as healthy diets (for example the vegan diet, keto diet, millets diet, etc). Most of this is contrarian to the principles espoused in the texts.

1. universally healthy

The second is that Ayurveda is the ultimate customised medicine. The texts opine that health, regimen and medicine should all be customised to the individual, and what works for one individual is especially unique to him / her. Therefore, what works for you is a customised blend of your food culture, what you are used to your prakriti, and where you live.

2. customised approach
The third is a very interesting reason: Ayurveda recognises the importance of “patterns and habits” in the way we eat, behave and live. The Acharyas tell us that even a great diet. Or a set of behaviours considered universally healthy cannot be suddenly introduced to the system, as the system, which has reached a sense of balance with whatever it is doing, will rebel in shock. So for someone who has persisted on a diet of fried bacon, bread and no vegetables, cannot be suddenly asked to substitute fish for fried bacon and introduced to a whole lot of vegetables. The Acharyas tell us that for the system that has been used to food which we consider unhealthy will react to healthy food (if introduced suddenly) like it would react to poison!

3. gradual is better

Obviously our notion of what is healthy food ad not healthy food will have to vary by region, season and availability of food. So if you live in a dry, hot desert I cannot tell you to eat broccoli all the time, despite the fact that it is considered a nutritional superfood.

 

So rather than speak about specific foods to eat, we focus our posts on how to eat. We saw a post this week on eight Ayurvedic eating techniques, and how chewing food well, eating on time, eating when hungry, etc are timeless principles of healthy living. We saw how even the right foods eaten wrongly can cause distress to the body.

 

Speaking further on foods to eat, here is our 2 part series on Ayurvedic eating for good health. Again, these posts are in the form of eating principles, and cover aspects of eating like ethical diets (vegan / vegetarian), eating timings etc. These are atleast as important as what you eat, so do read on.

 

As with all new information, please read this with an open mind. The science of Ayurveda has evolved over thousands of years and is extremely sophisticated in its understanding of both food and its effect on human beings. Many of the things I have written down may seem contrarian to what we believe in now – but the system has survived and thrived for thousands of years

  1. Timing is everything (in health, food & life)

The time of eating is at least as important as what you eat and depending upon your body’s condition, it is sometimes more important than what you eat.

Every organ system is said to have a particular time to cleanse itself and do necessary repairs. For example, the liver, the seat of pitta in our body, cleanses itself around midnight. Cleansing of organ systems occurs ONLY after digestion is through, nutrients have been extracted and toxins have been removed from the body. So if you are eating dinner at 11 pm, your organ systems will NOT cleanse themselves, and will wait until the next available time slot to do so. Which means your body will feel dull and sluggish the next morning (especially if you are consistently eating late).

This does not mean you can get away with eating junk food like a burger everyday at 7 pm for dinner. Do read point 2.

This is corroborated by many systems of traditional medicine. TCM opines that the window to eat breakfast is between 7 am – 9 am. When you consistently eat breakfast after this window, your chi energy or stomach fire energy gets weak and dampened. This in TCM is said to lead to digestive disorders, high production of gas in the system and an inability to digest foods leading to a high accumulation of toxins.

4.damp agni

 

  1. Ideal food is local, freshly cooked, lightly spiced and eaten warm. No spoiled food should be eaten. And no food should be stored, re-heated and eaten.

Ayurveda frowns upon the wonders of modern food preservation. In fact, the Charaka Samhita specifically says that for good health one should not eat too much of pickles, traditional papads or even traditionally salted and preserved vegetables (like vadagam and vathal).These references are to HOME MADE preserved vegetables, lentils and fruits. So this definitely rules OUT eating preserved, commercially processed foods like biscuits, sauces, etc which have a shelf life of 1 year or more (so most of the time we are eating stuff that has been made at-least 6 months ago in a factory and would contain several harmful chemical preservatives).
5. processed food
Local in Ayurveda means something that not only grows naturally within 100 miles of where you live. It also means eating foods you and your digestive system are accustomed to. So if you have grown up eating rice, rice will suit your system the most. Not quinoa. And not even millets. Any new food must be slowly introduced to your digestive system. (This does not take away from your responsibility of sourcing high quality food. Most of us grew up eating untainted, pesticide-free food – so this naturally means you should source the same now. And not just buy the first available pesticide sprayed pack of rice you find in the supermarket).

6. local food
The point about spoiled food is an interesting nuance and goes to our food culture. For example cheese eating is not a practice that is universal to many parts of India. It is usually common only in cold and hilly regions. In hot and humid regions, fermenting a dairy based food will quickly lead to rot, mildew and fungus. However the same food is very well preserved in a cold, hilly region.

Cheese, especially aged cheese, tends to be very salty, sharp and concentrated. In Ayurveda, this has all the makings of a pitta food group. So it makes sense to eat this food, if it is eaten traditionally, in a cold, hilly region where the atmosphere is low in pitta dosha. The pitta in the food is welcome to stimulate digestion.

7.cheese

However in a hot, humid city like Chennai or Hyderabad, where the atmosphere is full of Pitta, the pitta dosha from the cheese would over stimulate pitta dosha. Which is probably why in practice, it does not form a part of traditional food.

If you live in the city of your childhood, it is probably best to stick to your traditional food practice. If you live in a foreign city, it is still better to stock to your traditional food unless the weather and climate is dramatically different from what you are used to. If you are living in an utterly foreign land, it makes sense to slowly acclimatise and add foods and eating practices local to where you live, while continuing to eat traditionally most of the time.

 

  1. An ideal food for you is something that is digested quickly by you and puts the least amount of stress on your digestive system. This can differ from person to person.

Ayurveda believes the more effort the body has to take in digesting your food, the more energy is diverted away from your organ systems. Also, depending upon your state of health, if your food is difficult to digest, there is a possibility that your body will not complete the job of digestion within the allotted time. The longer your food sits in your body without being processed, the more poisonous it becomes to your body.

8.putrefecation

 

Food that is undigested and sits around in your body becomes “Ama” or undigested waste + toxin. Ama prevents the healthy functioning of your organ systems and leads to faster aging and illness. Ama can accumulate across every organ system, but is linked primarily to an improperly functioning digestive system, brought on by eating improper food.

Now how your digestive system will respond to your food group is completely unique. Some of us can easily digest fried food, and can eat copious quantities of this without losing sleep or productivity. Others are extremely sensitive to certain food groups: a single Chinese meal can set us back by 2 – 3 days when we feel dull and sluggish.

9.digestive ability
These digestion patterns tend to change as we age, and by season. They also change when we are under a high amount of stress. So it is important to listen carefully to your body and develop a sense of what works for you. Limit food experimentation to a window where you can take the consequences, and always plan for “cheat” or “treat” days.

  1. Many foods we think are healthy and should be eaten in copious quantities are considered unhealthy in Ayurveda

Many foods that we now consider healthy and are eating a lot of are considered difficult to digest in Ayurveda or are considered unbalanced as they are very high in one particular dosha: these include raw vegetables (yes salads!), raw sprouts, millets, brown rice or cereals with a high amount of husk on them, fermented foods like idly and dosa, cheese, curd, milkshakes. These must be eaten with the proper preparation and caution and at times when the body is capable of digesting them.

Example 1: Fermented foods like idly and dosa are considered high in pitta as they are sour foods. Eating them every day for breakfast will mean your pitta will increase. It is important to balance them with something like a coconut based dish as coconut is both cooling (and high in kapha) and will balance the pitta in the idly / dosa. (Please note that this does not apply if you spike your coconut chutney with an impossibly high amount of green chillies). Eating a fermented food with another pitta heavy dish like a Sambhar high in tamarind or acidic tomato based chutney will not be balanced.

10.idly

 

In this there is obviously a gradation. Freshly fermented idlis are lower in pitta dosha than 3 day old batter. Batter made at home is obviously superior to something bought from outside, because we can guarantee that no other additives like baking soda have been added. Idlis eaten in cold winter season are better for the body compared to idlis eaten in summer.

 

This is because in winter, the heat of the Idlis through Pitta dosha is opposite to the cold produced by the winter – so the load on the body is less. But an idly eaten is summer is far more stimulating to Pitta dosha.

 

When you are suffering from an intense imbalance of Pitta dosha, eating an idly everyday for breakfast can throw you out of gear and is not advisable.  The key, as always is finding balance.

 

Example 2: Raw foods are considered “lekhaniya” (scraping quality), and depending upon what kind of raw foods we are describing, they may be “rooksha” (dry), rough, and “guru” or difficult to digest.

 

An example of a “guru” raw food is raw beetroot. An example of a “rooksha” and “guru” raw food are raw sprouts. From a western, raw food perspective, eating raw food is considered healthy as we get access to many nutrients, vitamins and minerals that are destroyed when cooking. So eating the raw food as a juice, smoothie or as a salad is considered health boosting.

11.raw
Ayurveda however says that the process of digesting this raw food dampens or weakens Agni, hence this food is not properly digested (especially when consumed in quantities that are much higher than what we are used to). So despite eating healthy foods, we could be increasing the ama in our body as the act of digesting this healthy food has weakened Agni.

 

Seasonal fruits and fruit juices are not necessarily a part of this list. But even here, temperance is advised – you cannot suddenly force the body to eat, digest properly and assimilate a very large quantity of fruit juice of fruit salad. Depending upon your constitution this can aggravate Agni, leading to diarrhoea, or leave you feeling sluggish and listless.

12.fruits
Example 3: Millets are now extremely popular across South India as a healthy replacement to rice. Ayurveda however considers many Millets as dry and difficult to digest, which makes sense as they are traditionally dry land crop. Substituting rice completely with Millets will mean that your vata dosha will increase. This is welcome if you have a health condition like diabetes where kapha dosha is high – so here the vata of the Millets will balance excess Kapha. In fact, millet is prescribed in diabetes for just this reason instead of rice. But if you have no such health conditions and have decided to substitute rice completely with Millets, you will be drying out your body, especially if you do this very suddenly.

13.millets
The benefits of Millets must of course be experienced by you. But this should form a part of your experimentative 10% and must be prepared using the correct format and in doses where your body does not rebel or where other symptoms like aggravated vata dosha develop.

 

Here are some of the ways you can experiment with Millets:

Changing the format of the cereal changes how your body digests it – In millets, flour is easier to digest as you have broken down the cereal physically and are not depending upon your digestive system to do this job. So if you would like to introduce Millets into your diet, perhaps Millet flour is a better first step instead of the millet grains.

13.millet flour
The timing of eating is everything, especially for a difficult to digest food. Noon time, when the sun is at its peak, is considered the time when your digestive system is the strongest. So this is the time your body can handle the rigors of digesting a difficult to digest food. Like millets. OR Quinoa. (After preparing it properly).

14.lunch
This list which I have compiled is by no means complete or a prescription in itself. This merely represents a starting point to think about your diet and your health. As with everything, your body and your health are unique and what works for you is something you will have to evolve with time and experimentation.

Part 2 of this post will tackle more of what Ayurveda says about food. In the meantime, do remember, there are no shortcuts to good health and good looking skin and hair. It is built meal by meal, and choice by choice.


Krya’s range of skin care products for pitta prone, normal to oily skin can be found here. Our skin range for vata prone, normal to dry skin can be found here. Our anti acne skin care products can be found here.   Apart from this, we have a range of products for Sensitive Skin (skin that is eczema, dermatitis & psoriasis prone) and for Sun Tanned skin . We also have a large range of Abhyanga-Snana products. 

9-ubtan

Our products are inspired by Ayurveda. completely natural, toxin free and extremely effective. If you would like help choosing the right Krya product for your skin, please call us (075500-89090) or write to us.


 

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