In the first part of this 3-blog series, we have explained the importance of understanding your body constitution to your health. We also discussed the four different body types that are prone to deficiency features (yang deficiency, yin deficiency, qi deficiency and allergy). Now, we are going to explain the Chinese medicine concepts behind another 4 body types that are prone to accumulating pathogens. These are qi stagnation, blood stasis, phlegm-dampness and damp-heat.
Do you frequently experience chest and throat tightness? Do you find yourself consciously trying to take deeper breaths at times? If so, you might be one of those whose body constitution is qi stagnation.
In general, qi stagnation body type signals that our vital energy (qi)is not flowing smoothly in the body. When this happens, it could lead to a general sense of discomfort. Genetic factors, traumatic life events and a lack of work-life balance are the major contributors of qi flow slow down or inhibition.
The symptoms stated above can get more serious. If not addressed or managed accordingly, qi stagnation can cause people to experience breath shortness and different kinds of pain. If you are among those with this body type, you are also susceptible to insomnia and negative emotions like depression.
The key to managing this Chinese medicine body type is to RELAX. Having a diet of food with garlic, rosemary, leeks, black pepper, ginger and other strong-smelling food are encouraged. They also need to limit food that is hard to digest like sweet potato and sticky rice.
As they are often easily stressed, people with qi stagnation should create a relaxing environment for them to function well such as watching funny movies, exercising especially those with cardio routines and deep breathing sessions. It will also help if you keep moving at times.
The blood stasis body constitution essentially originates from weak qi distribution and flow. It impacts our blood circulation and often leads to dull and dry skin. At times, you will see skin bruises even if you don’t have any injuries and wounds. Other symptoms or telling signs of this Chinese medicine body type are migraines, hair loss, poor memory and black eye lids not due to insufficient sleep but also because of blood stasis in the entire body.
You should prioritise blood circulation promotion if you have this body type. Balanced diet is necessary. You need to cut your intake of fatty meat, dairy products and other greasy food. As for those foods that can help you, you need to include black beans, hawthorn berry, black fungus, ginger and radish in your diet.
Other pieces of health advice from our body constitution and Chinese medicine registered practitioners Michelle Zhang and Clara Chan are to prevent yourself from being too sedentary to prevent qi and blood congestion. It would help to carry out activities such as dance and tai chi. They also recommend seeking massage service from an expert to maintain smooth energy flow through the meridians.
Are you profusely sweating and are suffering from lethargy? Do you adapt poorly to rainy seasons and damp environments? Then if so, you may have this body constitution.
The phlegm-dampness body type mainly originates from spleen weakness. Having weak and imbalanced spleen will lead to ineffective water and food digestion and absorption. These undigested food will turn to phlegm, the Chinese medicine term for metabolic waste that creates an inner feeling of heaviness. On the other hand, the damp and wet part of the undigested food creates an inner humidity.
Cardiovascular diseases, overweight, high blood sugar levels, hypertension and high cholesterol levels are among the common signs that a person has this body constitution as the diet is rich in either salt or sugar. There are also less severe diseases that could signal it such as skin impurities, undesirable odor, excessive sweating or inertia. These could collectively impact the overall health as well as attractiveness of a person.
Eating food that would benefit the spleen like potato, red dates, onions and Chinese yam are highly recommended. You also need to stay away from greasy and sticky food like the fried ones. As for lifestyle, weight management and quitting drinking and smoking would help. Intensive exercise and more sunlight would also help strengthen your spleen.
The damp-heat body constitution is a byproduct of inefficiency both in the spleen and liver that impacts your digestion. The heat is due to the fact that your weakened spleen easily digests hot and spicy foods and beverages, while the other foods are left partially undigested. When this happens, it creates the inner “humidity” in your body.
When humidity builds up in the body, it causes skin and odor problems that affect the overall beauty, attractiveness and health of a person. Oilier skin and bad breath are the common signs of this body type.
Close diet monitoring is important to this body type. Limit your intake of greasy food to create a friendly internal environment for your digestive system. Keep some distance with barbecued and deep fried food. Stay away from pineapple, durian and mango, cold drinks and alcohol.
Instead, eat foods with job’s tears, lotus seeds, Chinese yam and red beans. These would help improve the condition of your liver and spleen.
As you can observe in our blogs, what we eat and drink and do matter. It is important that these are all in sync with our body types. Otherwise, it could lead to health problems in the long run.
Watch out for the final blog of this series. Once again, we would extensively discuss the final body type (neutral/balanced) to help you all have a more balanced, healthier and happier life.