THE KEY PRINCIPLES OF PHYSIOLOGIC CONSTITUTIONS ARE:
- any nutrient and food can have opposite biochemical effects in different individuals
- any symptoms or degenerate conditions can be caused by opposite biochemical imbalances
- diseases are the result of underlying metabolic imbalances, and so the treatment of disease is the treatment of the underlying metabolic imbalance
- in a particular individual there is one homeostatic regulatory system that dominates these other systems
- which system dominates will determine how a particular diet or nutrient behaves in one’s system
- to accurately select a proper diet and nutrients, one needs to know the dominant system and metabolic type
Considering where you fall on these spectrums can help determine your dominant body systems:
- Autonomic nervous system: a continuum ranging from sympathetic-dominant (fight or flight instincts) to parasympathetic-dominant (stimulates at rest and digest instincts)
- Oxidative system: a continuum ranging from fast oxidation of glucose to slow oxidation of glucose
- Ayurvedic psychophysiological: constitutional tendencies as found in the dosha forces kapha, pitta, and vata
- Acid/alkaline system: a continuum ranging from acid to alkaline forming foods
- Endocrine glands: ranging from the dominant endocrine type to the least dominant (adrenal, thyroid, gonadal, and pituitary)
- Lipo-oxidative system: a continuum ranging from catabolic-aerobic-acid versus anabolic-anaerobic-alkaline
- Blood type: such as Type O, A, AB, etc., associated with lectin sensitivity
Once we determine the dominant physiologic system of an individual, we can begin to develop a diet that works to balance that system and effectively achieve homeostasis (balanced physiologic functioning of the biologic system) and optimal health to the overall organism (in this case, you!).
1. Autonomic nervous system:
when the body receives information from our external environment it stimulates certain bodily processes through the sympathetic or parasympathetic nervous system. Many people overuse their sympathetic systems and don’t take enough time to rest in a parasympathetic state. This dominant system is found in about 40% of the population.
|Sympathetic Nervous System||Parasympathetic Nervous System
|Function||To defend the body against attack||Healing, regeneration, and nourishing the body|
|Overall Effect||Catabolic (breaks down the body)||Anabolic (builds up the body)|
|Activated Organs and Glands||The brain, muscles, insulin pancreas, thyroid and adrenal glands||The liver, kidneys, enzyme pancreas, spleen, stomach, small intestines and colon|
|Increased Hormones and Substances||Insulin, cortisol, and thyroid hormones||Parathyroid hormone, pancreatic enzymes, bile and other digestive enzymes|
|Activated Bodily Functions||Raises blood pressure and blood sugar, and increases heat production and circulation||Activates digestion, elimination, and the immune system|
|Psychological Qualities||Fear, guilt, sadness, anger, willfulness, and aggressiveness||Calmness, love, contentment and relaxation|
|Factors That Activate This System||Stress, fear, anger, worry, other negative emotions and thoughts, excessive thinking and too much exercise||Rest, sleep, meditation, relaxation therapies and feelings of being loved and appreciated|
Sympathetic Dominant – tend to be more acidic, tend to be taller and thinner, when out of balance they tend to get acidosis, dry skin, constipation, dry eyes, indigestion, heartburn, insomnia, hypertension, irritability, sweet cravings, emotional instability, tachycardia, tendency to infection, and decreased appetite.
Parasympathetic Dominant – tends to produce a more alkaline environment, tend to have broad shoulders and narrow hips, when out of balance, such people may get too alkaline, with oily hair, diarrhea, excessive appetite, lethargy, apathy, low motivation, decreased sex drive, allergies, hay fever, low blood sugar, heart irregularities, chronic fatigue, poor concentration, and depression.
the oxidative system operates on a continuum ranging from fast oxidation of glucose to slow. It is the most common dominant system found in approximately 60% of the population.
The primary function of the oxidative system is to convert proteins, fats, starches, and sugars into cellular energy in the form of ATP (adenosine triphosphate). ATP is the biological form of energy storage at the cellular level. There are two main biochemical energy cycles at the cellular level that produce ATP. One is called glycolysis and the other is called the citric acid cycle. Glycolysis provides about 33% of the cellular energy. The citric acid cycle, when operating optimally, produces about 66% of the cellular energy. To make each of these cycles work optimally and efficiently, there needs to be an optimal ratio of raw materials coming from sugars, protein, and complex carbohydrates in a person’s diet.
Needs of Fast, Slow, and Mixed Oxidizers:
Fast: people whose metabolism burns glucose quickly and have too much activity in the glycolysis cycle. In this case there is an imbalance with the metabolites of the fat and protein metabolism, which is insufficient to match the excess of metabolites such as pyruvate from the glycolysis cycle. To get the correct mix, fast oxidizers need to eat more protein and fat to produce more acetyl-CoA to keep up with the high glycolysis metabolism. The best diet balance is high protein, 50-55%; low carbohydrate, 30-35%; medium fat, 20-25%; tendency to be acidic.
Slow: A person with a slow oxidative metabolism processes glucose too slowly in the glycolysis cycle and therefore does not create the proper fuel mix with the catabolic products of fat and protein metabolism. The result of this poor mix is a slow-down of the production of energy in the cells. Adverse psychological effects of this include documented cases of anxiety, depression, and obsessive-compulsive disorders. The best diet balance is low protein, 30-35%; high carbohydrate, 55-60%; low fat, 10-15%; tendency to be alkaline.
Mixed: The best diet balance is medium protein, 40-45%; medium carbohydrate, 40-45%; medium fat, 15-20%; tendency to be optimal pH 7.46.
Ayurvedic psychophysiologic constitutional tendencies as found in the dosha forces vata, kapha, and pitta.
Vata Constitutional: How to Stay in Balance
- Live in a warm, moist, tranquil environment with a minimum of wind.
- Keep warm.
- Live moderately and in a balanced, regular way in harmony with Earth cycles.
- Always be gentle to oneself.
- Avoid all physical, emotional, and mental excesses.
- Eat warm and moist foods that have some oil content and do not stimulate gas (avoid beans).
- Avoid drinks and foods that have been chilled, frozen, or have ice cubes.
- Eat foods that have sweet, salty, and sour tastes and are not light and dry (avoid dried or dehydrated food).
- Get adequate sleep.
- Meditate regularly to maintain a calm mind.
- Try to make the environment as secure and safe as possible.
Vata: Behaviors that Lead to Imbalance
- Avoid calm, soothing environments.
- Be excessively physically and mentally active with travel, over scheduling, overworking, excessive fasting, or extended periods of any extreme.
- Live chaotically without any regular schedule or rhythm connected with the natural Earth cycles, such as working a graveyard shift, eating irregularly, and being on the run.
- Don’t get enough sleep, rest, or meditation.
- Live in a windy, cold environment.
- Use cocaine, speed, and other drugs.
- Overly act out or suppress feelings.
- Eat dry, frozen leftovers; cooling, light, bitter, astringent, and pungent foods.
- Engage in worry, fear, and excess mental activity.
Kapha Constitutional: How to Stay in Balance
- Lead an active, creative, and stimulating physical, emotional, and mental life.
- Have daily exercise and stimulating friends and work environment.
- Minimize TV viewing.
- Eat foods that are warm, dry, pungent, bitter, and astringent.
- Minimize sweet, salty, oily, heavy, and sour foods.
- Eat an 80% raw-food diet.
- Eat the minimum to feel satisfied.
- Minimize fluid intake to three or four cups per day.
- Express your feelings in the moment.
- Throw away the turtle shell you wear and try to interact with the world.
- Maintain only those spiritual practices that keep you in contact with God’s divine nature and purpose for you.
Kapha: Behaviors that Lead to Imbalance
- Become a couch potato by overeating fatty, oily, fried foods, getting no exercise, and napping after meals.
- Eat at least one sweet, oily dessert and lots of ice cream and other dairy products each day while watching TV.
- Overeat and concentrate on sweet, oily, salty, and cooling, frozen, chilled, and watery foods.
- Eat an excess of wheat bread and pastries.
- Avoid all exercise.
- Suppress all creativity and do one’s best to become inert mentally and physically.
- Create no waves in your life or job and do a lot of repetitive work.
- Use tranquilizers to excess and hypnotics.
- Avoid all emotional expression and all conflict.
- Live in a wet, humid, cold climate.
- Be a collector.
- Become deeply involved in ritual and orthodoxy.
Pitta Constitutional: How to Stay in Balance
- Live in a cool and calming personal, social, and work environment.
- Avoid excess heat, humidity, and steam in the environment, such as hot tubs and excess sun, as well as in all relationships and activities.
- Meditate regularly and strive for peace with self, friends, and humanity.
- Learn to express feelings and thoughts in constructive and supportive ways to those around you.
- Focus on being in a state of universal, unconditional love.
- Eat cooling, sweet, bitter, and astringent foods, with an emphasis on fruits and vegetables.
- Eat a bland, 80% raw-food diet.
Pitta: Behaviors that Lead to Imbalance
- Live in a hot, dry climate, exercise in hottest time of the day, and wear tight clothing.
- Avoid cool and peaceful places, relationships, and lifestyles.
- Act out all aggressive, angry feelings and thoughts.
- Be a bully.
- Work in a high-stress, competitive job.
- Keep life as frustrating, warlike, argumentative, and agitating as possible.
- Associate with people who share and encourage these toxic behaviors.
- Do not meditate.
- Drink alcohol in excess and use marijuana, speed, and cocaine.
- Eat large amounts of spicy, hot, oily, sour, acid-producing, and salty foods.
- Indulge in large amounts of red meat, tomatoes, hot peppers, garlic, onions, sour foods, yogurt, and caffeine.
depending on your body composition, different foods can create an acidic to alkaline internal atmosphere. A proper acid-alkaline balance of the system is intimately and critically related to good health.
What is fascinating about this is that the same food or supplement in people who are oxidative system-dominant will have the opposite effect in a person who is autonomic system-dominant. For example, calcium in a sympathetic-dominant person will create more sympathetic dominance imbalance and acidity. In a person whose system is dominated by the oxidation homeostatic mechanism, calcium will cause slower oxidation and move the system toward alkalinity.
Potassium and magnesium will alkalinize a person whose autonomic nervous system is dominant and will acidify a person who is oxidative-dominant. As you can see, this completely opposite effect has great clinical significance as far as what is healthy for different people.
Fruits and vegetables in the oxidative-dominant system will cause the blood to move to the acidic side. In the ANS-dominant person, fruits and vegetables will cause the blood to move in an alkaline direction.
Protein acidifies the blood in ANS dominants and alkalinize the blood in oxidative-dominant people.
The startling point here is, it is not the food or nutrient that determines the alkaline or acid effects in the body. It is the dominant system of that person which determines whether a nutrient will react in an acid or alkaline way in the body.
It is a good practice to test your urinary pH on a regular basis until you are familiar with how your body reacts to different foods, drinks, and supplements. Testing first urine of the day, drinking a liter of water and testing the second urine of the day will give you a baseline. Then testing the next urine after each meal will help you see how your body reacts. You can eat the same meal and take your supplements one time and then not take them another to test whether your supplements are adversely affecting your acid/alkaline balance as well.
It is important to understand that one cannot tell which foods are acid or alkaline by the taste. There are several factors that determine whether a specific food renders the body more alkaline or acid. For example, a ripe organic lemon, which is a food that contains high concentrations of organic acids, tastes acidic, and is classified as an acidic fruit, is actually an alkaline-forming food. This is because its high concentration of alkaline minerals has an overall effect of increasing the alkaline reserve of the body, thereby making the body more alkaline. The lemon’s mild organic acids act as cleansing agents in the stomach. In the process of digestion these acids are oxidized into carbon dioxide and water, and therefore do not create an acid condition in the system. Calcium, magnesium, sodium, potassium, and iron are the main alkalinizing minerals. Foods that have high concentrations of these minerals are considered alkaline-forming foods in ANS-dominant people. Foods that are high in sulphur, phosphorus, iodine, and chlorine are acid-forming foods for ANS-dominant people. Most natural foods have both acid and alkaline forming minerals in them. If the acid-forming minerals are greater in concentration, then the food is considered acid-forming and vice versa.
endocrine glands ranging from the dominant endocrine type to the least dominant are adrenal, thyroid, gonadal, and pituitary glands. The endocrine system approach helps to point out which organ system needs to be fed for optimal functioning and weight loss. One way to recognize your type is to look at your body shape.
Adrenal types tend to be long, strong, and powerful with a thick, muscular body, broad shoulders and waist, and squarish head and fingers. Their weight tends to accumulate in their belly and across their shoulders. They have strong digestion and tend to crave meat and salty foods. They are usually warm, outgoing people with strong endurance.
Thyroid types are tall and thin with long fingers. They put on weight around the midsection. They tend to be nervous and to have an erratic flow of energy.
Gonadal types (who are mostly women) tend to be pear-shaped with weight on the buttocks and thighs. Their upper bodies are smaller than their lower bodies. They like fatty and spicy foods. They tend to be nurturing, steady, and responsible people.
Pituitary types tend to have a large head in relationship to their body. They tend to be creative and intellectual and like dairy products. Their weight tends to accumulate all over rather than in specific areas.
In viewing diet intake from the endocrine perspective, we learn what foods to avoid. If we eat foods that overstimulate our key energy endocrine gland, the gland eventually becomes exhausted. The metabolic rate slows down and we gain weight according to our endocrine type. Pituitary types should avoid dairy products. Thyroid types should avoid a high-complex-carbohydrate diet and go to a high-protein, moderate-fat, and low-carbohydrate diet. Adrenal types do best if they minimize red meat, salt, and cheese. Gonadal types do best if they minimize saturated fats and spicy foods.
the lipo-oxidative system operates on a continuum ranging from catabolic-aerobic-acid versus anabolic-anaerobic-alkaline. This process makes the point of how individualized our responses are to different medicines and even different phases of the disease process.
Anabolic-dominant – these people posses a quality for the positively charged alcohols, anines, and amides. This type tends to have less selective cellular membrane permeability. The more anabolic they become, the tighter the membrane becomes in a way that keeps nutrients out and toxins in the cells. The cells tend to have a more anaerobic metabolism and build-up of lactic acid. As the cells become more acidic, the other buffer systems, especially the extracellular fluids, become more alkaline to buffer the acidic cells. In these people, the urine becomes alkaline. They need to decrease their essential fatty acids and increase their saturated fat intake. They do better with a high-complex-carbohydrate diet that is moderately high in saturated lipids.
Catabolic-dominant – these people posses a quality for the negatively charged acids, aldehydes, and ketones. This type tends to have an excessive membrane permeability that allows their nutrients and toxins to move in and out of the cells in a disorganized way. Their cells become too alkaline, and to compensate, their extracellular buffer systems become more acidic and hence the urine becomes more acidic. They have a more aerobic metabolism. The best diet for these people involves minimizing saturated fats and increasing essential fatty acids. They need a high-protein, moderately high-fat, and low-carbohydrate diet.
6. Blood Type:
blood types, such as Type O, A, AB, etc., associated with lectin sensitivity.
O’s are the oldest blood type, hunter gatherers; they need fewer carbs and have higher fat and protein needs. They have hearty digestive tracts and an overactive immune system. It is important to get your food as close to what nature intended. Dairy and grains are best avoided by O’s. Eggs and dairy are poor protein sources for O’s. Pea protein is the best with 65.4% bioavailability versus less than 5% for any cooked meats. Veggies (raw fiber), healthy fats, and oils (coconut oil, walnuts, chia, etc,) aid efficient digestion, prevent fluid retention and increase intestinal mobility.
- Some foods that can cause sensitivities for O’s are wheat, soy, peanut, and kidney beans
A’s were the first vegetarians, farmers & cultivators, they need less fat and protein. It is important to get your food as nature intended, they have a sensitive digestive tract and low stomach acid leading to low ability to digest and absorb nutrients properly. Meat is considered toxic because of A’s low stomach acid. The meat may not be properly digested and will putrefy in the intestinal tract. It will be stored as fat and will increase digestive toxins. Dairy provokes insulin reaction and inhibits nutrient metabolism. Almost all veggies, healthy seeds, and oils (pumpkin, olive, flax, etc.) aid efficient digestion, prevent fluid retention and increase intestinal mobility.
- Some foods that can cause sensitivities for A’s are lima beans, tomato, eggplant, and garbanzo beans
B’s are the nomads; they require a balance of macronutrients, have strong immune systems, and tolerant digestive systems. It is important to get your food as nature intended and B’s do best eating the best of the fruit and vegetable kingdoms, and have the widest array of acceptable food choices. B’s have a tendency to have liver issues so it’s especially important for them to eat greens to assist in liver detoxification.
- Some foods that can cause sensitivities for B’s are chicken, corn, soy, and lentils
Sorting out the most appropriate diet in this complex field requires looking at all the factors. The most important point to remember is that we are unique individuals, and we best serve ourselves by developing a diet pattern that is unique to our physiology.
There is no one diet for everyone nor one nutrient that will work miracles for everyone. Conscious eating means to remain conscious. It implies being your own scientist and entering into a process of trial and error as you finetune your diet. Rediscovering how to eat in a way that best enhances our health, well-being, and joy is a noble endeavor. When we change our diet so that it is optimal, it positively influences all our biological systems and every aspect of our health and well-being.
There are three essential questions to remember:
- Am I emotionally stable after eating?
- Do I have increased physical energy after eating?
- Am I craving any foods?
The answers to these questions cannot be obtained from any book. They must come from our own experience. This is the most important key to conscious eating.
I understand that doing this kind of research on yourself is intense and time-consuming. If you are interested,
I am here to help.
I can determine all of your dominant body systems with an in-depth quiz that I developed. The answers will help me create an initial plan to get you on your path to optimal health.
- Cousens Md, Gabriel (2009-03-03). Conscious Eating: Second Edition (Kindle Locations 857-864). North Atlantic Books. Kindle Edition.