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Ayurvedic Superfoods


Ayurvedic Superfoods or Super Confused

From Ashwagandha-infused smoothies and ghee-enriched coffee to Shatavari cookies, Tulsi Matcha lattes, potent Turmeric Moringa shots and “Ayurvedic” Cacao ceremonies with a dash of cardamom – the world of Ayurvedic superfoods is certainly enticing.

But are they actually good for you?

The fad of Ayurveda is fast moving through the Western world and unfortunately calling something “ayurvedic” whether it’s a superfood, super skincare blend or delicious herbal tea simply IS NOT “ayurvedic” without consideration of the individual using the products at play. Ayurvedic practice does not actually recommend many of these presentations or combinations. And much of this amounts to merely playing with Indian herbs instead of understanding how these herbs work. Such superficial engagement fails to harness the full potential of these potent herbs and respect the comprehensive understanding an Ayurvedic approach to Superfoods really entails.

What does ‘Ayurvedic’ even mean?

Let’s get back to the basics. Ayurveda simply means ‘the science of life’. It provides fundamental wisdom on simple, yet profound healing strategies. These include the theory that ‘like increase like’. There is a cause and effect of what we take into the body. Alongside the notion that genuine health is a harmonious balance of our physical constitution, physiological processes, and a state of inner peace and happiness. While one can dissect these concepts into more intricate components, the essence of Ayurveda promotes the intake of substances that counteract imbalances and encourages the cultivation of joy as a cornerstone of wellness. To dive deeper into the principle of ‘like increases like,’ it suggests that an excess of one element could potentially amplify an excess of another, demonstrating a cause and effect relationship.

Superfoods like chia seeds, acai, cacao, maca, ashwagandha, tulsi, brahmi, reishi, lions mane, turmeric, celery juice, wheatgrass and so many more have been celebrated as universal remedies, and while they can indeed contribute to health, Ayurvedic principles suggest that these are not one-size-fits-all solutions.

Take Ashwagandha, for example. It’s a warm, heavy herb, challenging to digest for those with poor agni or a weakened digestive and elimination system. Its warming properties can increase heat in the body, which should be monitored for those with a tendency towards excess Pitta dosha, those living in a warm climate, or during the sweltering peak of summer. Moreover, when Ashwagandha is blended into cold smoothies alongside an assortment of fruits, nuts, or seeds, it becomes even heavier, harder to digest, and can further challenge the digestive system. This could make it nearly impossible for the body to extract the nutrients from such a complex mixture, leading instead to a buildup of undigested gunk in the system. (We talk all about Ayurvedic Smoothies and share our favorite here.)

When I began my health education journey 20 years ago I thankfully found myself studying in the hands of Michael and Leslie Tierra and the East West School. Their presentation of herbs was brilliant, offering comparative studies in Western Herbalism, Ayurveda and Chinese Medicine. The concepts of Ayurveda came through so clearly that it made it easy for me to decide on a clear track moving forward.

The presentation of Ayurvedic herbs, superfoods, and the concept of ‘food as medicine’ emphasized that treatment should consider the individual, their digestive state, their environment and season, as well as their unique healing journey.

At that time, I was working at Celestial Natural Foods in Hawaii, nibbling away on all the superfoods I had access to, researching various tinctures and tonics, testing them as I could. However, despite consuming so many “healthy” products, I noticed that my digestion was getting wonky, my menstrual cycle suffered and it didn’t make sense. Once I started working with an Ayurvedic Practitioner and paying closer attention to the qualities and tastes of my dietary intake, I quickly experienced a shift and restored balanced health. Very soon after I also became pregnant with my first child.


Everything in excess is opposed in Nature‘ – Hippocrates

Hippocrates got it right from the start. Say that line again, ‘Everything in excess is opposed in Nature’. We need rain, but too much makes a flood. Too little makes a drought. We like sun but too much makes us burn, too little makes us sad. We love food but too much makes us heavy, too little makes us light. This principle applies equally to superfoods and the qualities and elements they contain. Just like with any food, beverage, activity, or action, we need to consider how our body and mind process it, and determine the quantity that best supports overall balance.

Food is indeed medicine. Which means we must consider which foods to consume to support the needs of our own unique body structure. In our household, we employ a seasonal approach to our diet. We incorporate ashwagandha and extra turmeric during the winter months, juice greens in the late spring and early summer, make a cooling coriander ‘hima’ in the summer heat, and utilize a variety of herbs and ‘superfoods’ throughout the year – but all of this is done mindfully.

Ayurveda is about bringing consciousness to action. Understanding the why behind the what.

Everything in the natural world acts like a remedy or a poison depending on when, how and how much it is used. By following the time-honored practices of Ayurveda, we can discern when and how to use superfoods and healing herbs to benefit us within the ebb and flow of our daily lives, seasons, and overall lifecycle, always mindful of our digestive system’s capacity to handle them.

So the next time you are at the juice bar and they offer a boost of ashwagandha for $2 to your latte or a noni shot with your wheatgrass, take a moment to reflect on the Qualities of Nature (we have a lengthy article, read about them!) Consciously consider what your body feels like right NOW. What might support reducing excesses and restore balance in the very moment. Weather changes, schedules shift and we feel different each day. We should adjust our choices in what we bring in through the senses accordingly.

Real Talk on Modern Ayurveda

If you know me, you know the fluff comes out in class AND I find this topic to be slightly Pitta-provoking so I left it for the end. Allow me to reiterate: Ayurveda is NOT about Indian herbs, superfoods, trendy diets, restrictive practices, or casually labeling something as ‘Ayurvedic.’ It is NOT the turmeric lattes, the aphrodisiac cookies, the sandalwood scented face scrub or vata granola bar. Do not get confused or misled.

Ayurveda is a medical system that encompasses the study of life itself.

Far from a fleeting trend, it’s a time-tested body of knowledge that yields benefits when properly applied. With social media taking center stage for where people are sharing health information be mindful of what you share, follow and take in through your senses and the mind. Marketing assistants are often not trained as medical professionals and there is a wide range of misinformation, sales being targeted at you through key words, and ultimately confusion even by once trusted companies and leading guides that have handed over their social media campaigns. Use discretion and always seek to learn the what and why behind any knowledge you share or more importantly bring into your body as food and medicine.

One of the primary reasons we place such a strong emphasis on education in our presentations is to underline this. That aside, understand that you have the power to practice Ayurveda simply with your own foods, backyard herbs, farm stand produce and an understanding that can look beyond the terminology that often confuses many and inadvertently diminishes the value of the system as a whole.

Ayurveda is about the choice to honor YOU. It is about finding what is local and fresh. Seasonal medicinals far surpass imported products and make them much more “ayurvedic”. Home made, home grown oils, teas, creams, scrubs and supplements can be created just for you with the knowledge of what to use when. This not only benefits your health but reduces packaging, expenses and it feels good!

Seize the opportunity to dive deeper into self-healing, herbal remedies, and family care through Ayurvedic principles in our 500 Hour Professional Ayurveda Program. 

One of the best places to start evaluating herbs and superfoods is by gaining a solid understanding of their taste profiles. In Ayurveda, every taste – sweet, sour, salty, pungent, bitter and astringent – plays a unique role in influencing our physiology and digestion. Sweet foods, for example, are nourishing but heavier to digest and require strong agni to metabolize efficiently. Sour foods stimulate salivation and enhance digestion, but when consumed in excess can overheat the system, potentially inciting an imbalance in Pitta dosha.

Learning about the 6 Tastes in Ayurveda is an empowering tool for making informed dietary decisions. Once you grasp this, you’ll intuitively understand what to eat and when, based on your body’s needs at any given moment, making you better equipped.

Whether you’re considering that Ashwagandha boost to your latte, sipping on your morning green juice, or planning your next meal, pause and ask yourself: Are these qualities what my body needs right now? The answer might surprise you.

Embracing the world of Ayurvedic superfoods doesn’t mean jumping on the latest trend. It’s about a conscious journey towards self-awareness and mindful consumption. Superfoods, despite their compelling label, are not a one-size-fits-all solution to health and wellbeing. Each of these potent herbs and foods carry specific qualities, properties, and potential side effects. All of these factors need to be considered against the backdrop of one’s individual constitution, current state of health, season, and location.

The essence of Ayurveda is about understanding and harmonizing with the rhythms of nature. Tuning into our own bodies, and making mindful choices that support our health and happiness.

The beauty of Ayurveda is in the balance.