Live by Your Power Type
After eight years of treating over 10,000 women in her functional medicine practice, Dr. Taz Bhatia began to see a pattern emerge: There are, she believes, five predominant types of women. She calls them “power types,” and she wrote about their potential health implications in Super Woman Rx: Gypsy Girl, Boss Lady, Savvy Chick, Earth Mama, and Nightingale. Yes, we raised an eyebrow the first time we took the quiz in Bhatia’s book (which you can do online), but it was far more comprehensive than we expected. And the power types surprisingly reflected the state of our health more often than not.
At Bhatia’s practice, CentreSpringMD, in Atlanta, they do a traditional and thorough inventory of a patient’s history, a comprehensive physical exam, lab work, functional and integrative testing, and so on. But for many women, the power types serve as a shortcut to figuring out physical and emotional imbalances and how they might eat, supplement, move, think, or rest differently to bring themselves back to equilibrium. Of course, it’s not quite that reductive, and these categorizations aren’t a one-size-fits-all or five-sizes-fit-all deal. But Bhatia’s work is a really good starting point to better understanding your body and what it needs.
A Q&A with Taz Bhatia, M.D.
Do you see patients who don’t fit into one of the power types or who straddle more than one?
Definitely. Really, all of us could be any one of the power types at different phases of our lives. When I first—jokingly—named these five women, I thought of them as our shadow selves. At different times, we’ll have a stronger sense of one of these five people in us than the others. So at this particular moment, who are you most dominantly? If you’re straddling power types, look at both plans, try them out, and see what works for you.
How can knowing your power type inform your lifestyle choices or your health?
It’s really important to understand who you are emotionally, physically, hormonally, and nutritionally. You carry all of this information, and it dictates the way your life will play out. The power types help you connect the dots. Knowing your power type gives you a window into your chemistry and emotional landscape so you can take some of the guesswork out of how to eat and exercise, even what kind of beauty regimen to follow or what supplements to consider taking. The power types are designed to help you navigate the world of wellness and pick the tools you need. The magic happens when you get to a place where your health is really personalized so you’re not mimicking a trend or what someone else is doing.
What diet, supplement, and lifestyle adjustments do you typically recommend for each power type?
Many of my patients have adrenal or thyroid issues. For the diet, we focus on adding in protein, like nuts, seeds, small servings of meat, lentils, or beans; protein spaced throughout the day helps to manage adrenal cortisol dysfunction. We set up more-structured eating plans so they’re eating at consistent intervals. Cutting out gluten can also help because gluten is hard to digest and can be inflammatory for some.
A lot of Gypsy Girls do well on magnesium, B vitamins, or herbs that balance cortisol.
One of the biggest challenges for Gypsy Girls who like to stay up late is maintaining regular sleep. Magnesium can help them calm down so can they get into a nice, consistent sleep cycle.
Many also do well with the modalities that force you to get grounded, like acupuncture, massage, or craniosacral therapy.
They take in and harbor a lot of stress because they’re usually commanding, directing, or leading, and their digestive system is often weak. Going dairy-free and watching sugar to an extent may help. Boss Ladies should include a lot of gut-supporting drinks or tonics, fermented foods, kombucha, kefir, or bone broth, which all help to balance the gut. I like to add in apple cider vinegar and probiotics to support digestive enzymes.
I encourage patients to set aside two to three hours a week where they force themselves to take care of themselves and really de-stress. A lot of people just want to do high-intensity, adrenaline-inducing workouts, like spinning or running marathons, but often their bodies are craving calming energy to help settle the gut and manage the thyroid. So add in things like yoga, Tai Chi, or Qigong.
Shirodhara is an old Ayurvedic treatment that involves dropping hot oil right on your third eye, on your forehead, for instant relaxation. An old-fashioned hot-oil scalp massage is also great: Warm up oil and drip it on the forehead and vertex of the head, right at the scalp.
“The magic happens when you get to a place where your health is really personalized so you’re not mimicking a trend or what someone else is doing.”
A lot of my Savvy Chick patients do best following a combination of the Gypsy Girl and Boss Lady plans and going gluten- and dairy-free. We also focus on healthy proteins and structured eating. We add in B vitamins for energy and to help balance adrenal and thyroid issues.
They can benefit from acupuncture, massage, correcting sleep, and, most importantly, doing grounding work to know which part of them is out of balance. Is it that creative side or the go-getter? Identifying what’s off will help you know how to shift naturally.
Their biggest problem is usually with insulin. They will store fat or hold on to fat, or they’ll have elevated blood sugar. Watching high-yeast and high-sugar foods becomes super important. They typically need to be sugar-free, including artificial sugars. A fasting interval, up to fourteen hours overnight, can be beneficial. It’s more about cutting off when you eat before bed rather than eating breakfast later. We are metabolically less active as the day progresses. If you’re already insulin-resistant and you’re consuming a lot of food when your metabolism is less active, you may stay in fat storage regardless of how few calories you consume. Ideally, to get out of a pattern of eating super late, you find something else to replace it, whether it’s sipping tea or even journaling or meditation.
Earth Mamas do well on more vigorous exercise, something that gets their heart pumping and the sweat rolling, and many feel their best when they’re working out every day for twenty to thirty minutes. They should try to move throughout the day, too.
Lifestyle-wise, the biggest challenge tends to be boundaries. Often Earth Mamas are not being intentional about taking care of themselves because they’re always worrying about everybody else. They need to be nurtured the same as everybody else. Seeing a counselor or a psychologist or spending more time out with a best friend or significant other can help.
Remember that Nightingales are a blend of all women; they’re mission- and purpose-driven. They are self-sacrificing. They tend to get sick a lot, have immune system issues, and often are low in vitamin D or have weak digestive systems. They really need a nourishing diet: warm foods, not cold foods. They should be consuming gut tonics, like bone broth or kombucha, to rebuild the gut. They need protein but also a lot of good, healthy fat, like avocado, olive oil, ghee, or MCT (medium-chain triglyceride) oils in the form of coconut oil. Often they’re spilling or losing fat, which is why they can’t hold on to their fat-soluble vitamins.
Many do great on vitamin D, astragalus, turkey tail, or umcka, which is a medicinal plant from South Africa.
Try restorative exercises, like yoga, Tai Chi, or Qigong, that allow movement in a way that is calming without taxing the adrenals. Nightingales are a little delicate. They need rest, sleep, even just permission to take a nap for a period of time. They won’t be Nightingales forever; they need, too, that sense of being nurtured rather than always having to nurture everyone else.
Taz Bhatia, M.D., is an integrative and functional medicine physician. She’s the founder of CentreSpringMD in Atlanta, Georgia, and an acupuncturist and nutrition specialist. Bhatia is also the author of Super Woman Rx, What Doctors Eat, and The 21-Day Belly Fix. She also hosts her own podcast, The Dr. Taz Show.
The views expressed in this article intend to highlight alternative studies. They are the views of the expert and do not necessarily represent the views of goop. This article is for informational purposes only, even if and to the extent that it features the advice of physicians and medical practitioners. This article is not, nor is it intended to be, a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment and should never be relied upon for specific medical advice.