Singer, actress, model, and activist, Leona Lewis, chats with Poosh about using food as medicine through an Ayurvedic lifestyle, her favorite non-toxic skincare brands, the fruit she eats to keep her skin youthful and glowing, and what she wants to poosh herself to do more of this year. Read the full interview to learn about Leona’s Ayurveda journey and more healthy ways to live a balanced life.
How would you describe Ayurveda for those who don't know what it is? And can you share why you made the change?
Ayurveda is one of the oldest forms of self-healing. It actually means the “science of life” and it promotes healthy living that encompasses all phases of life, body, mind, and spirit. My mother passed this knowledge on to me through her study of herbalism and Ayurveda.
A few years ago I was diagnosed with an autoimmune condition that was causing me to feel extremely fatigued and weak. I was prescribed various medication, but the side effects were causing me even more problems. I decided to try alternative therapies and found that following an Ayurvedic lifestyle really helped alleviate my condition. When I returned to my doctors, they were blown away that I was almost fully back to a healthy place, without any medication.
I think that we really need to give our bodies the best chance of healing themselves before turning to harsh medication. Just like if we cut our finger, our skin forms a scab and then heals. Our body, under the right conditions, will heal itself.
What are the top foods you recommend for someone interested in starting an Ayurvedic lifestyle and using food as medicine?
I would suggest reading a book called Eat, Taste, Heal, by Thomas Yarema. It’s a great introduction to Ayurveda and gives an overview of its philosophy and how it works for each unique individual.
What are your top five pantry and fridge staples?
I always have rice, veggies, and mung bean dahl (similar to a curry) in my fridge no matter what. It’s a clean, simple meal that has all the nutrients and tastes amazing, especially with spices I use in the dahl. I’m big on seasoning, and growing up in a Caribbean family, we love to season everything.
I also usually have cooked fruit, like stewed apples, that I sometimes have with breakfast. For me personally, I need lots of warm foods that are easily digested. I also have amazing breakfast breads made with coconut, sugar, and spiced with ginger that I love.
What are the biggest differences you've noticed since adopting an Ayurvedic lifestyle?
I’ve noticed improved energy, better skin, and overall well-being, but most importantly, relief from the symptoms that came with my condition.
What are your favorite non-toxic skincare and cosmetic brands?
Everything we put on our skin is absorbed into the body. If we think about the amount of makeup we use in a year, for example, that’s a lot of chemicals being absorbed. I try whenever possible to use natural brands. Some of my faves are Ilia for makeup. Josh Rosebrook has a great cleanser and an amazing moisturizer called Vital Balm, if you need lots of hydration. I used to use coconut oil from my kitchen and put it on a cotton pad to take off my makeup, but now I’ve switched to coconut oil makeup remover wipes from RMS, which are fab.
I also use lots of oils from the Ayurvedic clinic in London. Their oils are second to none and are all created in the purest, truly Ayurvedic way.
What would you say is a good first step in adopting a more non-toxic lifestyle?
Cut out processed food and avoid harsh chemicals in and on the body. Additionally, cut out toxic people and situations—it’s also about our lifestyle, what we fill our minds with, and who we surround ourselves with. I like to take a holistic approach to every part of my life.
What are your favorite foods for beautiful skin?
I love the Triphala herbal remedy. I actually take the powder each morning along with my other herbs especially made for me by an Ayurvedic doctor. I’d really recommend for anyone who wants to improve their health naturally to see an Ayurvedic specialist.
Do you have a special morning or night routine?
I usually do oil pulling in the mornings. You take some coconut oil and swish it around in your mouth for about five minutes. I usually do this in the shower, then use a tongue scraper. It’s good for pulling toxins from the mouth, and as a singer, this is very important to me.
What's your favorite form of self-care?
A hot, candlelit bath with my favorite oils and a good book.
What do you want to Poosh yourself to do more of?
The other day my fiancé asked me, “When was the last time you did something for the first time?” I was on my way to a class but got scared at the last minute because I’d never done anything like it before. His words really resonated with me because we can often stay in our comfort zone where it’s familiar. I want to Poosh myself to do more things for the first time.