Food for Windy Types and Mental Health
From the Sowa Rigpa point of view, mental health is predominantly based on the balance of the Wind element (Lung humor). There are several factors that influence your physical and mental well-being. For example, you may have a genetic predisposition to some imbalances, but more important is your epigenetic exposure: environment, diet, lifestyle, that trigger the actual genetic expression.
Tibetan medicine, an energy-centered tradition, like Ayurveda and other Eastern medical systems, describes that we are born with the dominance of particular elements and humors. It is called constitution or typology. It determines our body structure, metabolism and temperament, and our tendencies towards particular imbalances. While you can’t change your constitution or genes (not yet at least), you surely can influence your health by what you eat and how you live.
Wind (Lung] types have a highly complex nervous system, that tends to be easily overstimulated. These are often highly sensitive, creative, expressive people, with deep emotional life. They may have difficulty concentrating and light sleep or insomnia. These types also tend to lose weight easily, have unstable metabolism, irregular and hard bowel movements. They may have dry skin and thin hair, cold limbs, and migrating pains. I find Lung types similar to Highly Sensitive Person, the term created about 30 years ago by dr Elaine Aron.
Sowa Rigpa says it is because of the inborn predominance of the Wind element, which manifests its characteristics- light, dry, cool, moving, rough and hard.
If you are such a type, you may have noticed that you don’t like cold, dry and windy places. Light food like salads and vegetables (otherwise healthy!) make you feel worse, not mentioning coffee and energy drinks. Lack of sleeps knocks you out, especially as you get older. Such an inborn dominance of the element predisposes us to Wind disorders, starting with insomnia, anxiety, bipolar disorder, and a wide range of neurologic disorders. On top of that Wind excess can aggravate any other disorder in any of the organs, thus it is crucial to control it.
Psychiatrists know that with the summer there is always an increase in anxiety, panic attacks, psychosis, and even suicidal attempts. Seems that increase of light, longer days and shorter nights influence our circadian rhythm and increase Wind element. Wind accumulates in spring, with a changeable weather and manifests most in June and July.
The second season when you can notice Wind excess is early winter. In this cold time we deal with increase of depression (lack of light).
To put it simply, Sowa Rigpa diet is based on the principles of the taste and potency. It uses opposite characteristics to pacify Lung: warm, heavy, soft, and oily food. Here is what thousand years of experience recommend:
- Meat and bone broth. Best is long cooked, for many hours, with a bit of wine or apple cider vinegar, root vegetables and spices. You don’t need to eat a lot of meet, but the broth has a truly healing effect on so many aspects of your health, including gut health, nervous and hormonal systems.
- Fat and oils –sesame oil, avocado, olive, butter, and especially ghee. You can also use coconut oil, for cooking it (or ghee) is safer than any seed oils. Especially heavy and pacifying Wind is lard and bone marrow.
- Seeds and nuts – warming and heavy, they contain oils, proteins and many micronutrients. I recommend soaking or frying them before eating – it will make the digestion and assimilation of nutrients much more easy. The best are sesame seeds (tahini f.ex.) and flax seeds. Also chia seeds are good, due to Omega 3 content.
- Root vegetables – they have heavy characteristics and help Wind get “rooted”. The complex polysacharides have beneficial effect for gut flora.
- Onion and garlic (cooked, not raw). Heavy, spicy and warm, add them to your broth and veggies. Many Buddhist teachers don’t advise eating garlic and onion, you wonder why? Because it makes you more sleepy – not ideal for meditation, but perfect for Wind imbalance!
- Milk and dairy (organic, and only if you tolerate them) – heavy, but cooling, so not so good if you have Phlegm disorder (Beken – Water and Earth elements). Try the organic homemade full fat yoghurt that can pacify your Lung and also support the gut flora with beneficial bacteria.
- Spices – aromatic like nutmeg, clove, anis, caraway, cumin, cinnamon, and ferula asafetida (called also Devils dung – smells like hell, but is very effective!).
If you are a vegetarian, I would advise to eat more seeds and nuts, especially flax and chia (Omega 3), and eat your veggies (root vegetables and greens, such as nettles, spinach, kale) warm – cooked, roasted or fried, not so much raw. Avoid being “grainitarian”, don’t make grains your main food (lectins in grains can irritate the gut lining and trigger a wide range of disorders). Often add baker’s yeast (dry, inactive one) for the vitamins B content, or supplement it (especially B12). Supplement also vitamin D3 with K2, zinc, and Omega 3 (now available from phytoplancton, not from the fish) or more, depending on your health status.
Recipes for Lung
that bring deep sleep and mental calmness :)
- Lung broth straight from the Tibetan pharmacopeia: Cook beef or sheep bones with meet, add garlic, onion, red wine, a bit of salt (and asafoetida) and brown sugar. It is said to pacify all the Wind excess in your body. A cup of such a drink can be taken as medicine before sleep
- Tibetan garlic soup – take peeled garlic cloves and cook in a broth (or milk if you tolerate it well) until it becomes smooth. Add salt, a bit of pepper and nutmeg to taste. Mix to create a creamy soup and serve with sesame seeds. If you let it ferment for 3 weeks in barley grass, it becomes a rejuvenating tonic (chulen) for Lung constitutions.
- Baked root vegetables: cut peeled sweet potatoes, carrots, beetroot and pastinak (you can use also other root vegetables, I chose these ones because of their sweet and aromatic taste). Spinkle with salt and olive oil, bake in the oven on about 200C. I use it as a side dish, for ex to roastbeef or other meats.
- Tapioca pudding – soak tapioca pearls in water (best overnight, or at least 30min), add milk/or coconut milk (about 5 times more, depends how thick you want it), a pinch of salt, vanilla, optionally more Lung spices to taste. Cook on low heat frequently stirring, until pearls become transparent. You can also beat separately 2 eggs and mix with tapioca (but don't boil!) for the custard like texture. Top with fruits of your choice.
- Masala chai – mix anis, nutmeg, clove, cardamom, cinnamon and pepper/long pepper (optional – for cold types). These ingredients are also common in Tibetan herbal formulae for Lung. Take half a teaspoon of spices for a glass of boiling water, can add a bit of black tea. To have it original Indian style drink it with milk and brown sugar. You can also add almond milk, or even butter (alike Bulletproofe coffee).
More teas for Wind that can help you relax and sleep deeper are: nettles, chamomile, Tulsi, lavender, Lemon balm, and hops.
Other Lung pacifying recipes from the world quisine:
French onion soup,
Russian fried kartoshka (potatoes with onions and lard)
German schnitsel with potatoe puree
Czech liver pate
Eggs Benedict or omelette
Indian curry (but not too spicy)
Nepali Palak Paneer (spinach with Paneer cheese)
This is not a medical advice and does not replace a standard healthcare. In case of any health issues contact your health provider. The author is not responsible for any health effects.
Next to come:
Food for Fire Types and Inflammations
Food for Phlegmatic Types and Metabolic Disorders
 The Root Tantra and Explanatory Tantra of Traditional Tibetan Medical, Yuthok Yonten Gonpo