If you read this blog, you probably already know how much our diet affects our skin. What we eat impacts our bodies profoundly, so it makes sense that this applies to our skin too – the body’s largest organ. But what about how we eat? Namely how we prepare our food?
The secret ingredient is….
According to Ayurveda this is just as important as the foods we choose. And, we can even mitigate the negative effects of eating foods that are wrong for us through properly preparing it. For example, those of us who can’t digest beans very well can lessen gas and bloating by soaking them in water with spices before cooking, then cooking them for longer. Proper preparation is a magical ingredient that can change how our bodies accept and process our food.
Cooking for Hydration
So how can we cook for anti-aging and hydration? Too often I meet clients who choose excellent ingredients but are not cooking their dishes in a way that they can absorb nutrients as well as support their goals.
The first step to eating for hydration is to choose water-rich ingredients. We need to opt for foods full of hydration like crisp fruits and veggies. While foods like sweet potatoes, legumes and animal protein all have their health benefits, they’re not water-rich. A yam ain’t got nothin on a stick of celery – and dense meats and starches are often dehydrating. I’m not saying not to eat these, it’s all about balance and ratios. In the dehydrating winter weather, I opt for increasing my plate real estate with hydrating least greens etc.
Now for how prepping to increase our skin’s hydration. Well we need to preserve the moisture within our food. This means not overcooking our dishes. Barbecuing, deep frying and braising evaporate the water from our food and are drier ways to cook. You an even tell just by looking at your food before and after – throw some veggies on the grill and they’ll have lost volume from the water loss.
Cooking on high heat and for long periods of time does this. In Ayurveda, if is also said that this infuses our food with pitta (fire) energy that can be heating and lead to inflammation in high pitta people.
When I’m feeling dry I choose to steam. Eating raw food in cold weather is often unappetizing and a lot of work for our digestive systems to break down but steaming until al dente is just right. So, if you’re hoping to increase skin hydration, try looking beyond your grocery list and consider how your making your dishes too.