Archive for September, 2015
As I’m creating formulas or working with clients in the treatment room, I’m often wonderstruck by the intricate beauty of our skin. As an essential part of the body’s immune defenses, skin protects us against infection, with incredibly exacting precision. Skin cells are so intelligent, discriminating between potentially detrimental microorganisms and the beneficial, symbiotic microbiata that actually help promote immunity. And, as we all know, the relationship is reciprocal: a strong, stable immune system results in glowingly healthful skin. At this time of year, as many of us transition into cooler weather, the body is especially vulnerable to infection. It’s a great time to shore up the immune defenses with a super-boost of beneficial nutrients. Incorporating broccoli and spinach (both rich in Vitamin A) is a wonderful way to empower your diet, while also including almonds (packed with Vitamin E) or Green Tea (a fantastic antioxidant). Vitamin C, of course, is our culture’s classic remedy, an antioxidant that supports the immune system (and also encourages healthy collagen production). It’s one of the key ingredients in many of my favorite formulations—from Purifying Cleansing Gel to Essential-C Tonic and Antioxidant Crème, with Neroli and Orange. In the ancient ayurvedic tradition, these seasonal transitions are very important for maintaining balance, and one of the most sacred medicinal remedies, turmeric, offers a wealth of benefits to immune health and to skin as autumn arrives. For more than 4,000 years, turmeric has been celebrated as a natural antibiotic and anti-inflammatory. It offers detoxification, purifying and nourishing skin, as well as energetic cleansing and a purification of the inner life-force. If you’re feeling low-energy, or like you might be coming down with a cold, or if you’d simply like to take advantage of all that turmeric has to offer, there are plenty of creative ways to incorporate this gorgeous golden root into your day—in soups or sauces, rice dishes or smoothies. As many of you know, I love to start the day with a glass of hot water and lemon. Mixing in a 1/8 teaspoon of freshly grated turmeric root, and a little raw honey, and, perhaps a little fresh ginger, electrifies that morning ritual. Some like to keep a little jar of honey and turmeric paste on hand (1/3 cup raw honey to 2 1/2 teaspoon of turmeric is Heidi Swanson’s recipe), stirring a little spoonful into hot water every now and again to keep the bright, bold cleansing vibes going strong all day long. Please take great care of yourself this fall!
Here in Palm Beach, we are happily blessed all year round with beautiful fruits and vegetables at our local farmers’ market, but in September there’s a special buzz in the air as the traditional Fall harvest invites us to re-invent the ultimate salad, bringing together bold new tastes in order to absorb a seasonal burst of supercharged nutrients in support of great eating and good health. Naturally, some of the most delightful powerhouse ingredients also boast a whole host of incomparable benefits for skin. Take kale, for example, skin’s favorite nutrient-dense super-food, full of the potent antioxidant Lutein, which supports healthy cell growth, as well as an array of immunity boosting vitamins. Gorgeous sun-ripened heirloom tomatoes are packed with Selenium, another strong antioxidant that helps to repair skin. Fresh broccoli, just lightly steamed, if at all, is packed with Vitamin C. And nothing beats the crispy and crunchy toppings—seaweed, seeds and nuts, rich in fatty acids, selenium and zinc. Of course, though we may forget what our grandmothers knew so well, all vegetables are not created equal, and sometimes eating for vitality requires looking with fresh eyes at what goes into our shopping baskets—and, ultimately into our bodies. No matter how pristinely packaged that drab, pale sack of supermarket spinach may be, it's probably not the uplifting, healing, nurturing choice we’ve been searching for. The salad I crave isn’t sad and penitent or rote, but a robust and utterly flavorful celebration of all that’s delicious and satisfying, with each ingredient selected just at the peak of its ripe perfection. Let's go local. And let's go for what looks irresistibly, divinely beautiful while the harvest is in full swing. This week, why not leave the shopping list behind and let intuition lead you through the market. What does your body hunger for? Let the beauty of the bounty call you—heart, body and soul—towards those items that you just can’t help bringing to the plate.
Slipping into a new season provides a great opportunity to change rhythms. If your summer was dreamy and loose, transitioning to fall might mean a return to structure—and to good sleeping habits, one of the most fundamental paths to healing body, mind, spirit and skin. We all know the telltale signs of a sleepless night—the dark circles and the dullness—but new scientific studies show that sleep deprivation effects every aspect of wellness, from cardiac health to brain function. Of course, sleep loss also increases signs of aging—the fine lines, uneven tone and reduced elasticity. When we sleep, our cells work to undo the environmental damage of the day, making deep repairs at the foundation, and making sleep radically important for the skin. During sleep, collagen destroying cortisol levels are at their lowest, while growth hormones prolactin and melatonin, as well as anti-inflammatory beta-endorphins, are at their highest. At the same time, skin is at its most vulnerable at night, with its ability to retain moisture greatly decreased, making a carefully chosen night cream essential. During this prime-healing span, when absorption is also optimal, skin needs rich nutrients, as well as protection against further moisture loss. But while there are a handful of incredible formulas available to support health and healing, nothing can replicate the benefits of a solid eight hours of rest—yes, eight! Nothing beats sleep. I like to begin my evening ritual by cleansing my skin, reflecting on my day, gearing down with gentle intent. Another useful suggestion made by sleep experts is to turn off electronic devices a full 90 minutes before going to bed, switching over to reading instead. Another is keeping a consistent bedtime. If you think of it, constantly altering your bedtime or waking time is like being continually jet-lagged. If you put your heart into it and commit to a new sleeping plan—even just for a month—I think you’ll agree that the body simply loves this so-simple luxury. Down time is actually our primetime, re-balancing everything you need to meet each day with the full force of your spirit. Sleep tight!