Know Your Body Type: The Importance of Body Constitution to Boost Health (Part 1)
Have you ever wondered why your body would have some tendency to get those small ailments? For example, always feeling cold in your hands or feet, easy to catch a cold, always dry in your mouth, developing rashes when changing into another season etc. It may not be a big deal, but it still bothers you sometimes. Actually, we have a word to describe these features or tendencies: they are all related to your Body Type.
The concept of body type is important to traditional Chinese medicine. In TCM, each one of us has a unique body constitution. Your body type changes through time and it impacts our health, how we behave and what we feel. Knowing and understanding your body type is the key to developing medical and nutritional programs that are tailored to your specific needs. Let’s explain this concept in details:
Chinese Medicine follows nine body constitutions. These are:
- yang deficiency
- yin deficiency
- Qi deficiency
- Qi stagnation
- blood stasis
- Neutral or balanced
In this Part 1, we are going to talk about four body types which are prone to deficiency features: Yang deficiency, Yin deficiency, Qi deficiency and allergy.
People with yang deficiency lack warm energy. They can’t tolerate cold weather or cold food. They also have weak digestion, pallid complexion or sometimes swollen limbs. It is also difficult for them to maintain the warmth in their hands, feet or even waist and back. This is the result of a deficiency in the natural store of Essence in the kidneys. As kidneys are important to the warm energy in the body, we can say that those with yang deficiency also have weak kidneys.
To better their health, they are encouraged to limit and monitor their intake of raw and cold food such as ice cream, cold drinks,watermelon and sashimi. Warm food like beef, cinnamon and ginger can also help them. As for the lifestyle, they need to always keep their body warm. Hence, mild exercise is highly encouraged on a regular basis.
In contrast to yang deficiency, people with yin deficiency lack yin which is the cooling energy of our body. Also called true yin, kidney yin is the one responsible for body fluid foundation and flow to other organs and tissues. As yin is lacking, you may experience too much heat in the body that can result in health conditions such as acnes and ulcers. Constant feelings of being thirsty, palpitations and night sweating may also be experienced by those with this body type.
Food nourishment to tonify the yin energy is the key to address this. Traditional Chinese Medicine practitioners may recommend eating food that has more water such as tomatoes, bananas, yams, avocados and pears. Yin deficient people will also be recommended to limit their intake of food that will increase warmth in the body like curry, pepper or chili. As for exercise, yoga and stretching would help.
Those with qi deficiency are characterized to not have sufficient energy to do their normal or regular routines. Having low energy would have a domino effect on other body parts. Other effects of this are experiencing hair loss, increased aging and muscle softening. All of these are due to having a weak spleen and weak lungs, the two major organs to regulate our energy intake.
Since the spleen is responsible for food digestion and water absorption in our body, then those with qi deficiency might experience indigestion from time to time. Food nutrients may not also be properly absorbed by the body.Hence, the lack of energy. As for the weak lungs, it is expected to experience coughing as well as a weak immune system.
How do we address this? In our clinical practice, our TCM practitioners would recommend to eat foods that can strengthen the spleen and the lungs. These include potatoes, chicken, peanuts and soybeans. If you are qi deficient, you also need to limit your consumption of garlic, coriander and raw radish as these are not suitable for this body constitution.
Mild exercise is recommended regularly. Stay away from windy areas after you have done strenuous physical activities to protect the energy inside.Above all, complete sleep hours and keeping warm at all times will further strengthen the lungs and the spleen.
Also known in TCM as Inherited Special Body Constitution, allergy is hereditary and has an impact on your kidney and lungs. People with this body constitution are prone to allergies. They are sensitive to medications, food, smell & pollen, nasal and skin allergies. They often suffer from blocked nose and rashes too. Above all, they have the tendency to be diagnosed with asthma and are susceptible to chronic conditions due to changing seasons.
Although we cannot change the inherited feature of this body constitution, we can further strengthen the lungs and kidney functions. As a solution, you need to find out your allergens and stay away from them. Appropriately using ginseng and cordyceps also help improve your sensitivity.
Ensure that you have a good balance of meat and vegetables in your regular diet and stay away from eggplants, buckwheat, chili and goose. Good hygiene practices are also important if you have this body constitution.
Understanding body types not only guides us for a more balanced lifestyle, but also provides important information to make diagnosis and decide for treatments. In our clinical practice, Dr. Michelle Zhang and Dr. Clara Chan ensure that they take into consideration the client’s body constitutions when providing the health needs of their clients.
We also offer a body type test to help our clients have an extensive understanding of their own body constitution and use the results as a guide to their lifestyle, dietary and other health behaviors.
*Disclaimer: diagnosing body type requires professional skills and experiences. If you want to know what exact body type you have, better contact a registered Chinese medicine practitioner for a consultation.