What are your rituals around coffee? Coffee has become a sacrament in our culture. A client reports, "The only time my husband and I relax together is over coffee." My response, "If your marriage is dependent on coffee, you might be addicted."
Coffee surpasses tea as the number one consumed drug. It contains high amounts of caffeine, which stimulates the adrenals to release stress hormones. These stress hormones overstimulate the mind, and numb the heart. New trades routes brought caffeine to Europe in the 1500s, stimulating the 'Age of Enlightenment' and ending the middle ages. Before that time, the center of the mind was the heart. Since Enlightenment, the center of the mind is the brain. Perhaps the shift is due to caffeine consumption? Ayurveda comes from an older time where the mind was not separate from feelings and science was not separate from spirituality.
Native Meso-Americans drank coffee, ate chocolate and smoked tobacco as medicinal herbs, sacraments and in shamanic ceremony, a practice that continues to this day. However, many non-native Americans consume these substances daily, without the adequate knowledge of their potency or effects on the nervous system.
A Love Affair with Coffee
Can you remember what black coffee tasted like as a child? Most kids reject coffee. How have your taste buds changed? That may help you break the habit. Many of my clients drink coffee because the "like the taste," However, of all their coveted foods, usually coffee is the only food they drink daily.
Although we think we like coffee because of the taste, it's possible that the body learns to like coffee without our conscious participation because of its effect on our metabolism. Coffee offers the false promise of energy and vitality, and reorients all of our sense organs toward it. Vitality is the one substance all life forms crave.
However, all that glitters is not gold. The human body was not built for the break-neck pace of our lives in industrialized society. Covering up these uncomfortable life choices with coffee prevents growth & healing. As a general rule of thumb, in Ayurveda we never take an herb for more than 3 months in a row. Coffee, one of nature's most powerful herbs, is no exception.
Many people drink coffee when they are tired in the morning or at 3pm. People with aggravated Kapha dosha feel sluggish in the morning and need a 'pick-me-up'. If you have aggravated Kapha, avoiding heavy, oily, or sweet foods at night will bring a more authentic and vital 'pep to your step' the next morning. In the morning, wash your face with cold water, drink a hot cup of ginger tea, and practice a fifteen minute exercise routine to revive circulation.
If your adrenal glands are exhausted, you'll crave coffee most at 3pm. Unfortunately, the energy boost you receive after drinking coffee depletes the adrenals even further. This process is much like whipping a tired horse. Coffee is akin to a metabolic credit card. Sooner or later, you have to repay the debt. Ultimately, coffee increases exhaustion, anxiousness and fear, especially in Vata individuals who tend to have dry endocrine glands. Coffee over-stimulates the adrenals depleting them of fluids and creating more dryness. Licorice root in a warm glass or water nourishes the kidneys. Vata may combat tired afternoons with a homemade version of Gatorade(tm). Squeeze a wedge of lime and a pinch of salt into warm water.
Breaking the Coffee Addiction
Coffee has a heavy, hearty, oily quality that is more satisfying than a simple herbal tea with water. To wean yourself from coffee, instead try herbal teas with almond milk. Rice and oat milk work as well. Reduce your coffee consumption in half each month, replacing it with one of these, or your own favorite substitute. Spices such as ginger will provide more balanced stimulation during the process.
Vata and Pitta individuals can tolerate 1 or 2 cups of coffee a month, for leisure only, and never when exhausted or tired. Kapha individuals can tolerate 1-2 cups of coffee a week.
Coffee and Reproductive Organs
Coffee affects hormones. Post or peri-menopausal women should not drink coffee because it targets the reproductive organs. Non organic coffee is worse because it carries pesticides directly to reproductive tissue. Coffee irritates the lining of the digestive tract and should be avoided by people with digestive problems. It has a laxative effect. One study reports that coffee is linked to reduced breast size.
Withdrawal symptoms of coffee include constipation, headaches, and irritability. Since the body quickly habituates itself to coffee within several days, chronic caffeine consumption simply brings our energy levels back to normal, preventing a much needed crash.
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WHY EAT AN AYURVEDIC DIET?
Eating Ayurvedically makes you feel nourished and energized. An Ayurvedic diet is
tailored to your individual body type and the specific imbalances you are working with
at any given time. Ayurveda shows you your specific body type’s needs and what
should be favored in your Ayurvedic menu. Watch as you eat less but feel more satisfied because what you
are eating truly nourishes you. Since Ayurveda believes all disease begins in the digestive
tract, food is your first medicine. By eating a healthy diet that’s ideal for your body, you
experience optimal health.
Functional Ayurveda helps you assess imbalances through 20 main biocharacteristics
Aggravating these characteristics weakens your body and causes imbalance.
By knowing which characteristics are habitually imbalanced in your body, you will be able to identify and correct imbalances before you get sick.
Every characteristic has an opposite which balances it (i.e. hot balances cold).
You restore balance by favoring diet and lifestyle choices that increase the opposite characteristic.
Taste is used to sense the most basic properties and effects of food.
Each taste has a specific medicinal effect on your body.
Cravings for food with certain tastes indicate your body is craving specific medicinal results from food.
Taste is experienced on the tongue and represents your body's reaction to foods.
Sweet taste causes physical satisfaction and attraction whereas bitter taste causes discomfort and aversion.
Kapha should use less sweet taste while Vata and Pitta would benefit from using more sweet taste.
One of the first signs of illness is that your taste and appetite for food changes.
The six tastes are sweet, sour, salty, pungent, bitter, and astringent.
Do you crave foods with any of the tastes below?
According to the biocharacteristic theory of medicine,
people tend to get sick, over and over again, due to habitual causes and imbalances that are unique to the person.
Your body type summarizes this tendency, showing you the 'type' of conditions and imbalances that frequently challenge your health & wellness.
Using body type, you can also identify remedies likely to improve your strength and resiliency.
Your body type identifies physical and mental characteristics as well as your personal strengths and weaknesses.
The calculation of your body type is based on your medical history.
The 3 functional body types
are Catabolic (Vata), Metabolic (Pitta), and Anabolic (Kapha).
Catabolic individuals tend to break down body mass into energy.
Metabolic individuals tend to burn or use energy.
Anabolic individuals tend to store energy as body mass.
Catabolic people tend to be easily stimulated, hyperactive, underweight and dry.
Metabolic people tend to be rosy-cheeked, easily irritated, focused, driven, and easily inflamed.
Anabolic people are heavy, stable and grounded, but if they store too much energy, they could gain weight easily and have congestion.
Experiences vary according to the person and constitution. Individual results may vary.
The list of herbal-actions below has not be approved by the FDA and should not be used to treat a medical condition.
Stimulant laxatives induce bowel movements by stimulating peristaltic movement (the contraction of smooth muscle in the intestines). They are effective when used on a short-term basis. On a long-term basis, they can create dependency. Aka irritant laxativ
An antioxidant is a molecule that inhibits oxidation. Oxidation is a chemical reaction that can produce free radicals that lead to a chain reaction causing damage or death to cells. Antioxidants terminate these oxidation reactions.
Herbs that promote urine formation, thereby flushing the kidneys and urinary tract while eliminating any excess water retention. As diuretics reduce water retention, they are often used to reduce blood pressure.
Eating Ayurvedically makes you feel nourished and energized. Food digests with ease when
right for your body type (dosha). Healthy digestion is seen as the cornerstone of well-being in
Ayurveda. Healthy digestion generally prevents illness. If you do get sick, a strong digestive fire
reduces the severity of illness and increases your resilience. It also improves your mood. Once
you begin eating Ayurvedically, you will feel refreshed, vital and strong.
I am wondering, what would the effect on our bodies as a whole be if the coffee beans were not roasted, or so lightly roasted that they aren't burnt. I have this feeling that that might make coffee a little bit better for every ones seldom consumption.
Coffee may be beneficial for these symptoms. The suitability of any food for a condition is highly dependent on the individual.
Please see your doctor before using this food to treat a medical condition.
John Immel, the founder of Joyful Belly, teaches people how to have a
healthy diet and lifestyle with Ayurveda biocharacteristics.
His approach to Ayurveda is clinical, yet exudes an ease which many find enjoyable and insightful.
John also directs Joyful Belly's School of Ayurveda,
offering professional clinical training in Ayurveda for over 15 years.
John's interest in Ayurveda and specialization in digestive tract pathology was inspired by a complex digestive disorder acquired from years of international travel,
as well as 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.
Outside of work, John enjoys spending time with his wife and 6 kids, and pursuing his love of theology, philosophy, and language.