F’ Yes to Fats!
If you’re reading this, there’s a good chance you grew up in the 80’s & 90’s, a time when we were indoctrinated with some damaging lies about food and nutrition. We were taught, a la the USDA Food Pyramid, that we could eat 11 slices of white bread a day and be on the right track nutritionally. We were also trained to believe that saturated fats were bad and “I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter” spray (yes, spray) was good. This myth (although I think of it more like a lie) did not benefit our nation’s health. It benefitted big food companies and subsequently pharmaceutical companies to deal with the damage caused.
It’s taken me the majority of my life to bust this myth and Ayurveda has really helped. Ayurveda celebrates fats used both internally and topically with great success for thousands of years. There’s even a technical word for it - Oleation, the inclusion of extra oil internally. For so many of us, giving birth permanently tips us into the category of being more dry in our skin, our hair, our joints. Additionally, research shows that low blood lipid levels (low levels of fat) are associated with low hormonal levels and depression. Our vital energies become depleted and we need a bit extra help staying supple and lubricated. Fats are the answer!
Here are some of my favorite fats and why I love them:
Obviously, this is number one! Ghee has a subtle quality to it that helps me feel like my rough edges, both internally and externally, are smoothed. It also brings me a great deal of pleasure which is essential medicine in motherhood. A bowl of warm basmati rice with a generous dollop of ghee, sea salt, and a squeeze of lime is forever satisfying to me. Beyond pleasure, it also helps overall rejuvenation, nerve function, hormone balancing, and bowel health. In India the golden food of the Gods even has a home with the deities. Gopala is a chubby baby version of Krishna who is known as the little ghee thief. He’s pictured with overturned jars of ghee, relishing in the richness of ghee.
I keep my daily supplementation simple with whatever herbs my acupuncturist recommends and a daily dose of EFA’s. My daughter is fascinated by my kitchen’s tincture bar and has come to be my supplement barista (with supervision) and when it comes to doling out my EFA supplement, she declares that it’s “Mama’s brain medicine”. It’s true. These essential fatty acids play a noticeable role in my cognitive function. When I get off track with taking them, I find I’m more edgy yet somehow less sharp. It feels like they provide lubrication to my brain and science supports that feeling. Fish oil is the best source and I like to think of my cognitive function swimming along more easily with fish medicine. It makes sense to me anyway! My favorite source is Nordic Naturals Postnatal Omega because it also has Vitamin D3 which supports immune function.
I updated my face care regimen to be fat-based after I gave birth. I found that the nature of my skin had become dryer and needed extra lipids to fill in the cracks. I now use both an oil cleanser and a face oil in place of cleanser and moisturizer. I also found that washing my face twice a day was too much. Instead, I flush with cold water in the morning before applying face oil and do the cleansing before bed. This is the right balance for me and it may be different for you. I only share what works for me to encourage you to mix it up and see what actually works for you in this season of your life.
Oil cleansers are most effective when they have some caster oil in the ingredient list and are surprisingly good for keeping the skin clear. The oil of the cleanser attracts the oil and dirt from the pores and draws it out.
Face oil gives me a glow and all day moisture that I really like on my skin. For maximum absorption, I combine it with a hydrosol. I put about ½ teaspoon of oil in the palm of my hand and spray a bit of rose water and briskly rub them together to emulsify them. Then I apply that mix to my face. I find that my skin absorbs the oil better with the help of a little moisture from the hydrosol. I particularly like blends that include jojoba oil, evening primrose oil, carrot seed oil, and borage seed oil.
Oleema makes a few excellent cleansing oils and face oils that aren’t too expensive.
Similarly to how I found my face to be drier after giving birth, my body also has benefited from including a daily slathering of pure oil. The best oils for me are coconut oil and raw sesame oil (not roasted). Coconut oil is more cooling and appropriate for summer hydration. Mostly, I use raw sesame oil and my favorite brand is Youthing Strategies. After our baths, my daughter and I put a towel down on the bed or floor and get to work oiling ourselves up. Another way of using oil that I find helpful is feet oiling. When I have anxious energy or trouble sleeping, generously oiling my feet helps ground me. A bit of sandalwood or lavender essential oil are wonderful additions too.
We take in much of our vital energy through our nose. We breathe in and out through these two small cavities and care of the nose is care of our main energy channel. In India, I experienced some more rigorous nasal oiling through nasya where I had melted ghee poured into my nose. As uncomfortable as it may sound, it’s immediately helpful in clearing and moisturizing these tender tissues. It also helps bring calmness to the mind. It is also said to help with snoring and sleep apnea. At home, I generally keep it simple with an oiled cotton swab in each nostril. It’s especially helpful after using a neti pot to irrigate the nasal passages. You can use raw sesame oil or an oil specifically for nasal oleation like this one from Banyan Botanicals.
Here’s to more ease and fewer rough edges!