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How to Build a Morning Routine to Transform Your Life
By Dr. Josh Axe
October 11, 2018
Ayurveda is a 5,000-year-old system of natural health that’s truly stood the test of time. First originating in India, it’s actually considered by many to be the oldest health system there is.
The primary goal of the Ayurvedic tradition is to help people live long, healthy and balanced lives. In fact, the very word Ayurveda itself means something in Sanskrit similar to “lifespan built on knowledge” or “science of life.”
And one key element of living a more Ayurvedic, balanced life is creating a morning routine.
Creating a routine is essential in establishing balance in your body and mind. In fact, just a simple morning routine can make a huge difference.
Some examples of positive side “benefits” of creating a morning routine (and sticking to it) can include:
Maintaining your normal biological clock
Supporting healthy digestion
Reducing binge eating episodes
And so much more...
Creating a morning routine is best done in small, sustainable steps.
In fact, a 2012 study published in the British Journal of General Practice found that habit-formation advice, paired with a “small changes” approach led to high success rates. The key is when creating a daily routine, take small steps so the routine becomes second nature. In fact, some study participants reported feeling the healthy habits “worming their way into your brain.” Another reported feeling “quite strange” when skipping their daily routine.
With that in mind, here’s a list of ideas you can draw from to start creating a healthy morning routine that works for you. Remember, start small and only add on once your initial tasks become “second nature.”
Rushing out of bed is one of the worst ways to start the day. Instead, focus on waking up closer to sunrise, reserving several minutes to say a prayer or feel gratitude before letting your feet hit the floor.
Prayer and meditation have been shown to:
Help reinforce good habits
Gently using a metal tongue scraper is a key morning routine activity in Ayurveda. The practice is said to support digestion and aid in supporting healthy detoxification.
Used primarily in the Ayurvedic tradition, oil pulling — known as gandusha in Ayurveda — specifically coconut oil pulling, is a fantastic oral health method that’s simply done by swishing a tablespoon of oil (typically coconut oil, olive or sesame oil) in your mouth for 10 to 20 minutes before spitting it out and then brushing your teeth.
Oil pulling works by cleansing the oral cavity in a similar way that soap cleans dirty dishes. It literally sucks the "dirt" out of your mouth and creates a clean oral environment that contributes to the proper flow of dental liquid that’s needed to support overall oral health.
This unbelievably effective method has been used for centuries to support oral health and overall health.
Drinking a glass of room temperature water after finishing up your dental care is key. Adding a squeeze of fresh lemon is often recommended. Just be sure to skip the ice. That’s a no-no in an Ayurvedic morning routine. (Ice, in general, is not recommended.)
Ayurveda is focused on building “digestive fire,” keeping your metabolism, AKA your internal furnace, running smoothly. Skipping breakfast is an unfortunate side effect of modern-day living, but by waking up closer to sunrise, you should have more time to prepare and eat a fresh, simple Ayurvedic breakfast.
Fall Ayurvedic breakfasts often feature some of the following ingredients that are higher in protein and fat, mushy and served hot to help you feel more grounded this time of year:
Cream of rice
Hitting the higher protein recommendation for breakfast can be challenging, so I have a quick tip for boosting protein intake, while increasing collagen as well: Add a scoop of collagen powder to your oatmeal or warming morning drink.
Some of the benefits of collagen include:
Supporting joint health
Support for healthy skin and hair
Supporting gut health
We need a balanced gut to help build that healthy "digestive fire." But probiotic levels in the gut can come under siege by:
Overuse of certain over-the-counter items
Lack of Exercise
Poor sleep habits
Probiotic-rich foods like kefir, yogurt, kimchi, sauerkraut, raw goat’s milk, kombucha, fermented vegetables and apple cider vinegar can help support a healthy gut. But adding a high-quality probiotic supplement can also offer support.
There are seven specific things you want to consider when looking for a probiotic supplement:
Brand quality — Look for reputable, established supplement brands with readily available customer reviews.High CFU count — Purchase a probiotic brand that has a higher number of probiotics, from 15 billion to 100 billion.
Survivability and Strain Diversity — Look for strains like Bacillus coagulans, Saccharomyces boulardii, Bacillus subtilis, Lactobacillus plantarum, Bacillus clausii and other cultures or formulas that are formulated to help ensure probiotics make it to the gut and are able to colonize.
Prebiotics and Supplementary Ingredients — For probiotic bacteria to grow, they also need prebiotics. High-quality probiotic supplements will have both prebiotics and other ingredients designed to support healthy digestion and a healthy immune system. Examples of these ingredients are (preferably fermented) flax seed, chia seed, cañihua seed, astragalus, ashwagandha, hemp seed, pumpkin seed, milk thistle, peas, ginger, mung bean and turmeric, among others.
Stability and Organism Types — Some probiotic strains need to be kept cool in order to preserve their potency. This applies to their production, transport, storage and sales. Others are shelf-stable, and don’t require refrigeration. Unfortunately, many refrigerated probiotics struggle to make it past the stomach because they aren’t as stable or resilient. Instead, look for a shelf-stable product that features soil-based organisms.
Sugar — Sugar is not a good food source for probiotics. Prebiotics are the food source meant to keep probiotics alive. A synbiotic is a supplement that features both prebiotics and probiotics. I believe the best synbiotics involve healthy plant starches and fiber.
“Living” — “Live and active cultures” is typically a better bet than “made with active cultures.” After fermentation, the product may be heat-treated, which often diminishes both "good guy" and "bad guy" bacteria (extending shelf life).
Adding a multivitamin to your morning routine can be a great way to fill in nutritional gaps that your diet may have. Ideally, you’ll begin getting more and more key nutrients from foods, but in today’s modern world, shortfalls are common.
Multivitamin benefits may include:
Filling any nutritional gaps
Supporting a healthy pregnancy
Promoting proper growth and development
Helping to maintain bone strength
Supporting cognitive health
Supporting eye health
Supporting cardiovascular health
Tips for finding a great multivitamin:
If you have special nutritional needs, you may want to consider a multivitamin tailored to you. Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding, for example, may want to opt for a prenatal vitamin whereas older adults can select a multivitamin that contains the specific nutrients that they need.
Additionally, be sure to check the multivitamin ingredients label carefully to be sure your supplement isn’t loaded with artificial fillers and additives, which are often used to extend shelf life and cut costs but can end up adversely affecting the nutritional value of your multivitamin.
Look for multivitamin brands that produce supplements using real, whole-food sources rather than synthetic ingredients. Ideally, I believe that multivitamins should also be fermented, which means that they have undergone a natural process that, generally, allows them to be digested and absorbed more efficiently.
The right supplements can make a big difference, but finding formulas you can trust can be hard work. To take the guesswork out of which specific supplements to add to your morning routine, I’ve put together a Daily Morning Essentials Kit complete with my top-rated collagen, probiotics and a fermented women’s multivitamin.