Tuesday, July 22, 2014

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Ayurveda's Secrets for Beautiful Skin

By Linda Egenes and MAPI staff writers.

When I was a teenager my skin was a huge challenge. Blemishes and an oily nose were two problems I remember—not to mention blotchy coloring. Now that I’m more worried about wrinkles than acne, I’ve found out something that brings my quest for healthy skin full circle—antioxidants.

Yes, it’s true. From wrinkles to non-cystic acne and other skin issues, modern research is pointing to antioxidants as the way to combat a wide range of skin problems. Found in vitamins A, B, C, and E, and in minerals such as zinc and selenium, antioxidants help stop the ravaging effects of free radicals. Free radicals are the unstable molecules your body produces when it does not fully metabolize food or is exposed to ultraviolet sun rays, environmental toxins, pollutants or stress. Free radicals attack healthy cells and can lead to acne; premature aging; dull, lackluster skin; and other skin problems.

Okay, you say, I’m all for damage control. But where do I start? It turns out that the age-old system of ayurvedic health care, practiced for thousands of years before antioxidants were discovered by modern science, is uncannily suited to reducing free radicals and increasing antioxidants. Here’s what the ayurvedic experts recommend to improve your health and your skin.

Tank Up with Antioxidants

The ayurvedic diet includes plenty of fresh fruits, vegetables and grains. Antioxidants are especially abundant in grapes, blueberries, and pomegranates, but the key is to eat a wide variety of fresh fruits and vegetables. Did you know, for instance, that vitamin C is found not only in fresh-squeezed orange juice, but in many vegetables such as broccoli, and Brussels sprouts?

Simply by increasing the proportion of fresh fruits and vegetables in your diet to 60%, you can increase your antioxidant power and improve the quality of your skin.

Detoxify Your Diet

Because free radicals can be caused by eating foods that contain toxic pesticide residues, it’s best to choose organic foods whenever possible. And stay away from packaged or processed foods, as these contain chemical additives that damage your cells and your skin. Drinking plenty of water helps flush toxins from the skin—but make sure it’s pure and chemical-free.

For teenagers and anyone with especially sensitive “reactive” skin, eating toxin-free foods and limiting the fatty, sugary, hard-to-digest junk food can help in preventing breakouts. Radiant Skin is an herbal formula that purifies and supports the liver, cleanses the blood tissue of toxins, reduces excessive heat and oiliness, and promotes digestion. Its beneficial effects can be dramatic in coping with non-cystic acne, redness and other skin sensitivities, leaving your skin radiant and blemish-free.

Choose the Healthy Fats

Not all fats are bad for you. According to Maharishi Ayurveda, people with drier constitutions (Vata dosha) need more fat in their diets. And many people need more fat as they reach age 55 and older.

But choose your fats wisely. Recent research shows that hydrogenated oils—heavy in trans-fats and found in most processed foods—can cause inflammation throughout your body, damaging skin cells and accelerating aging.

Extra-virgin, first-cold-pressed olive oil is a monounsaturated fat that has healthy effects on the heart and skin—but it shouldn’t be heated to high temperatures above 320 degrees.

This chart provides a quick reference to the heating limits of most oils. For any oil, heating it beyond a certain point will start to destroy its nutritive qualities and create free radicals. Olive oil can be used in salads, to drizzle on vegetables or to sauté vegetables and spices at low heat. For baking or cooking at higher temperatures, use organic ghee (clarified butter), as its properties allow it to tolerate higher heat. It also has a purifying and nourishing effect on the cellular level of the skin.

For anyone in midlife or older, Maharishi Ayurvedic experts also recommend Youthful Skin Herbal Tablets, which are designed to provide nourishment to all seven layers of the skin, hydrating and rejuvenating from the inside out to promote supple, youthful-looking skin.

Reduce Stress Every Day

Free radicals also increase in your body when you skip sleep, are under stress, or “self-medicate” with cigarettes, alcohol or processed sugar. Maharishi Ayurveda recommends a daily routine that balances your activity with the regular practice of the Transcendental Meditation® technique, or other stress-reducing practices in your routine to allow the body to deal with the stress of the day. TM has been shown to be the most effective self-improvement technique for releasing stress by over 600 research studies conducted in major research institutions and universities. Daily yoga and aerobic exercise can also help keep stress in check.

Supplement Your Diet with Antioxidant Boosters

If you’re on the go and can’t balance your meals properly, Organic Premium Amla Berry is an ayurvedic formula made from Amla berries, which are rich in vitamin C. It is said to support the body’s digestive, detoxification and organ systems, helping promote soft, radiant skin.

Amla berry is also found in Maharishi Amrit Kalash Nectar, and when I take this regularly my skin seems to gets softer and more radiant and youthful looking. And no wonder—research shows that Maharishi Amrit Kalash is a rich source of a variety of antioxidants (one study alone found that a single teaspoon of Amrit Nectar contains an astonishing 1,000 times more antioxidant power than a vitamin C tablet). Due to the synergy of herbs included in this ancient ayurvedic formula, the antioxidants in Amrit are carried straight to the nucleus of the cell, beyond the lipid barrier.

In the ayurvedic tradition, Maharishi Amrit Kalash is known as the most powerful Rasayana (healing elixir) for rejuvenating your mind and body and creating beautiful, youthful skin. This age-old formula combats the stress of our modern lifestyle; nourishes, rehydrates and detoxifies the skin; and supports your immunity.

How to Make Your Own Ayurvedic Facial Cleanser for Your Skin Type

While reducing antioxidants can help anyone, other ayurvedic beauty techniques, such as the homemade facial cleansers below, are especially tailored to help your specific type of skin. If you do not want to make your own, try Youthful Skin Herbalized Clay.

Directions: First choose the facial cleanser recipe that matches your skin type. Then stir together all the ingredients and apply gently on your face using your fingertips. Let the scrub set on your skin, then using very slight pressure, flake the mask off into the basin. If the mask feels too sticky, use warm water to rinse. Dab your face with a soft towel, and follow with a good moisturizer.

For Oily (Kapha) Skin:
1 teaspoon toasted wheat bran
¼ teaspoon almond powder
½ teaspoon orange-peel powder
1 teaspoon lemon juice

For Dry (Vata) Skin:
2 teaspoons quick-cooking oats
¼ teaspoon almond powder
¼ teaspoon orange-peel powder
¼ teaspoon lavender-flower powder
2 tablespoons yogurt

For Sensitive (Pitta) Skin
2 teaspoons quick-cooking oats
¼ teaspoon almond powder
¼ teaspoon rose-petal powder
¼ teaspoon lavender-flower powder
2 tablespoons whole raw milk

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