Traditional Chinese medicine strongly believes in “preventative” healthcare, meaning staying healthy and preventing illness is its priority rather than curing one’s self after you fall ill. According to Chinese medical theory, our bodies are categorised into three basic types – cold, heat, and damp. Maintaining balance is key to a healthy body. Most urban-related illnesses or conditions are a result of imbalances, which accumulate from poor lifestyle habits. Once you understand our body type, you can apply the right Chinese medical solutions to your diet and lifestyle to achieve a healthy balance!
How do you determine your body type? Our body type is like our personality – difficult to define simply. You could be tough on the exterior and a softy at heart, and similarly, your body type may be a combination of cold and heat. Nothing in this world is black and white! To explore the nature of your body type, consider the characteristics of a few patterns below:
Symptoms of Cold:
1. Pale complexion/pallor
2. Aversion to cold
3. Preference for warm drinks
4. Cold hands and feet
Cinci’s simple tea remedy:
Ingredients: Cinnamon powder, small amount of brown sugar, 2 apples (the cinnamon warms the kidney, eradicates coldness and relieves pain)
Preparation method: Chop apples into cubes and cook with three bowls of water for around half and hour until the liquid reduces to approximately two bowls. Add sugar and cinnamon to taste.
Note: Cinnamon is a heat-heavy substance and is not suitable for those with “vacuity-heat” or excess heat, pregnant women, menstruating women, or those suffering from blood-related disorders.
Symptoms of Heat:
1. Reddish complexion
2. Dry or red eyes
3. Often thirsty, preference for cold drinks
4. Dry lips
5. Concentrated, yellow urine
6. Dry, hard stool
7. Often constipated
Cinci’s simple tea remedy:
Ingredients: Small amount of wolfberries, chrysanthemum, ginseng
(Ginseng: clears heat; wolfberries: nourishes the liver and kidney; chrysanthemum: clears heat and releases toxins)
Preparation method: Heat all ingredients together in a cup of hot water for 15 minutes.
Symptoms of Dampness:
1. Distress in the chest area and sensation of fullness, or feeling bloated in the stomach
2. Small/loss of appetite
3. Sensation of heaviness in the head and body, fatigue
4. Swollen eyes, face
5. Large amount of vaginal discharge for women
6. Soft, loose or sticky stool
Cinci’s simple tea remedy:
Ingredients: 20g coix seed (promotes diuresis and strengthens the spleen), 20g hyacinth bean (strengthen spleen and expel dampness), rock sugar
Preparation method: Wash ingredients, place in pot with 1500ml of water, bring to a boil and simmer for 20 mins. Add a small piece of rock sugar to taste.
Body Types in Children
Children have generally more heat than adults. In Chinese medical practices, we believe that children are not fully matured and have a lot of yang energy, which is like a ball of fire. This isn’t a bad thing though, upward energy helps them to grow! However, it is also important for children to achieve balance through their diet. Ingesting too much “cold” food will affect their growth, and too much food with “heat” may cause them to become irritable or constipated, or suffer from rash, red eyes or sore throat. In addition, many causes of your child’s illnesses are due to heat-related problems, such as flu caused by wind-heat and fever, or sore throat.
Quick and easy kid-friendly remedies for constipation:
Figs are neutral in nature and are great for the elderly, infants and pregnant women. The fruit nourishes the lungs, strengthens the spleen and increases appetite while loosening the bowels to relieve constipation. Two to three figs a day also works to relieve haemorrhoids in the elderly and pregnant women, and encourages milk production for nursing mothers as well.
Cinci’s fig and pear tea remedy:
Ingredients: 1 pear (increases fluid production, moistens dryness, clears heat and reduces phlegm), 3 figs, chopped (nourishes the lungs and reduces phlegm)
Preparation method: Rinse all ingredients and chop into small pieces. Combine with 1000ml of hot water and cook for 20 minutes.
2. Dragon Fruit
Dragon fruit is cool in nature and works to loosen the bowels to relieve constipation. Because of its cool nature, it should only be eaten two to three times a week for children. This fruit is not suitable for those exhibiting pallor, weakness in the limbs, are prone to experience diarrhea or other cold-related symptoms, and menstruating women.
Chrysanthemum & Honeysuckle soak remedy for kids with heat rash / minor allergies:
Chrysanthemum and honeysuckle are both cold in nature and are helpful for clearing wind-heat and eliminating toxins:
Ingredients: 10g chrysanthemum, 10g honeysuckle
Preparation method: Combine ingredients with 1000ml of water and cook for 10 minutes.
Use: Pour into baby’s bath and bathe baby with this water, or soak cotton balls in half a cup of the mixture and apply to affected areas. This may be done multiple times a day. Please note that this water should not be kept overnight and should also be avoided by children and babies with glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase (G6PD) deficiency.
Once we have understood the different body types, let’s explore how traditional Chinese medicine classifies food into hot and cold categories. This is especially important for children – just because they eat smaller amounts does not mean we should feed them the same foods multiple days in a row. For example, if you bought too many cherries (cherries are warm in nature), do not allow your children to eat them for four days in a row, otherwise they will suffer from excess fire! The lists below should give you a basic idea of how foods are classified according to traditional Chinese medicine.
Cold body type: consume less from “cold” foods group
Heat body type: consume less from food with “heat” group
Damp body type: consume less of both “cold” and “heat” groups
*neutral foods can be consumed by all body types
1. Cold foods: Salads, fruit juices, most cold foods, most melons and vegetables, bananas, young coconut, pears, lemon, kiwi, eggplant, cucumbers, winter melon, mushrooms, tofu, sea urchin, crab, pork, most fish, hotpot
2. Foods with “heat”: Stir-fried dishes, dried fruits and nuts, most sweet foods, most grilled and baked foods, alcoholic beverages, coffee, pineapple, longan, lychee, mango, durian, cherries, peaches, guava, chestnuts, garlic, ginger, spicy foods, chicken
3. Neutral foods: Most steamed or stewed dishes, white rice, pasta, noodle, oats, red grapes, figs, apples, papaya, avocado, green beans, soy beans, red beans, carrots, black radish, zucchini, okra, peppers, sweet potato, corn, lamb, beef