School of Ayurvedic Diet & Digestion
Dry is identified by lack of moisture, lack of fat, or anything that causes diuresis.
Dryness & AgingDryness is the measure of wear and tear on the body and a cardinal sign of aging. "Dry is old, oily is young." Baby fat is the plump picture of youth, but dryness shrinks tissues, just like a shriveled raisin. Dryness highlights wrinkles and effects of aging on the skin.
Chronic dryness is irritating to tissues, causing heat and inflammation. Although dryness can come from dehydration and astringency, classic dryness refers to the roughness associated with lack of fats. Fats are essential to health, especially omega-3 fatty acids, because they are the basic building blocks of all cell membranes.
Dryness & Emotions'Snehana,' meaning 'oil,' is also the word for love in sanskrit. Oil is pleasing and attractive, but dryness creates separation. Healthy dryness can be carefree and cheerful, but pathological dryness creates lack of interest, fear, loneliness, and isolation. Pain is dry. Oil is the picture of affluence while dryness is the symbol of poverty, frailty, and depletion.
Digesting Dry Fruits & Granola BarsDry foods, including dense foods such as nuts, absorb moisture. The body hydrates dry, dense food with saliva and secretions from the stomach to make a sauce. The source of these secretions is the blood. The loss of fluids to digestion in dry Vata individuals can be significant and lead to dehydration of organs. Soak dried or dense foods, like granola bars, before eating them, and take sips of warm water between bites.
Some foods, like dry fruits, are dry due to lack of water. Other foods, soaked or not, are dry due to diuretic quality. High potassium foods like potatoes, dandelion greens, and beans are diuretics. Popcorn is highly drying because it lacks water and corn is high in potassium. Adding electrolytes, such as a pinch of salt, balances the effect of diuretics. Salt added to water increases water retention in the kidneys.
Causes of DrynessBitter greens like kale scrape fats from tissues, aid weight loss, and increase dryness. Dried fruits, dense nuts, and diuretics are drying. Exercise, sweating, fasting, skipping meals, lack of sleep, lack of routine, thinking, vomiting, and diarrhea all create dryness.
Development of DrynessSkipping meals makes the "blood dry." Dry blood means that blood is thin and lacking juiciness, sweetness, and emolliency. Fasting and skipping meals is the quickest way to make the blood dry. Dry blood is therapeutic for high Kapha and is especially useful in the spring season.
Skin is generally high in fats and it is the first organ to suffer when blood becomes pathologically dry. Some symptoms of dry blood and dehydration include dry skin, dry mouth, chapped lips, increased heart rate, headaches, and dark colored urine. The coating on the tongue is digested and becomes clear. The eyes, nasal passages, sweat glands, and all mucosal and glandular secretions begin to dry up.
Dry glands leads to poor digestion and the inability to absorb nutrients from food, further aggravating the condition of dryness. Downstream in the small intestine undigested food begins to ferment, turning gassy and toxic. Dryness of the colon causes constipation, which can progress to more serious bowel conditions.
The liver stores glucose, the energy currency of the body, much as a potato stores nutrients for the rest of the plant. Dry blood creates a dry liver deficient of glucose, leading to hypoglycemia. Poor circulation and toxicity associated with chronic dry blood leads to dry, cracking joints, rough skin, and inflammation. Pathological dryness also creates brittle hair and nails, dry wheezing, tissue depletion, and impotence.
TreatmentA daily full body oil massage will help reduce dryness. Vata and Kapha should use sesame oil. Pitta can use sunflower oil. Drinking teas fortified with electrolytes, including salt and sweeteners, can help rebuild internal fluids. A teaspoon of ghee with meals is also recommended. Stress management and routine are important lifestyle habits which can help reduce dryness.
About the AuthorJohn Immel, the founder of Joyful Belly, teaches people how to have a healthy diet and lifestyle with Ayurveda. His approach to Ayurveda exudes a certain ease, which many find enjoyable and insightful. His online course Balance Your Ayurvedic Diet in a Week provides tools for gracefully healing with Ayurveda to thousands. John also directs Joyful Belly's School of Ayurveda , which specializes in digestive tract pathology & Ayurvedic nutrition. John and his wife Natalie recently published Explore Your Hunger: A Guide to Hunger, Appetite & Food.
John's interest in Ayurveda and digestive tract pathology was inspired by a complex digestive disorder acquired from years of international travel, including his public service work in South Asia. John's commitment to the detailed study of digestive disorders reflects his zeal to get down to the roots of the problem. His hope and belief in the capacity of each & every client to improve their quality of life is nothing short of a personal passion. John's creativity in the kitchen and delight in cooking for others comes from his family oriented upbringing. In addition to his certification in Ayurveda, John holds a bachelor's degree in mathematics from Harvard University.
John enjoys sharing Ayurveda within the context of his Catholic roots, and finds Ayurveda gives him an opportunity to participate in the healing mission of the Church. Jesus expressed God's love by feeding and healing the sick. That kindness is the fundamental ministry of Ayurveda as well.