Keeping “Cool” the TCM Way

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Months from June to August can get really hot in tropical Singapore. What do you do to keep yourself cool? Apart from staying in air-conditioned room, what other things can we do so that the heat is not too unbearable?

According to Traditional Chinese Medicine, whether we feel warm or cold is not only affected by our external environment, but also by our internal environment – our own body. A large part of our internal body is maintained by the food we eat.

Here are some food items that help us keep the body cool and some that make it feel warm. To cool down the body, take more cooling foods and avoid or take less warming foods.

  1. “Cooling” Foods
    • Watermelon
    • Pear
    • Orange
    • Grapefruit
    • Green vegetables such as celery,  mustard greens and water cress
    • Bitter gourd
    • Cucumber
    • Winter melon
    • Green bean soup
    • Coconut water
    • Barley water
    • Chrysanthemum
    • Luo Han Guo (Monk fruit)
    • Xia Ku Cao (Prunella Spike)
  2. “Warming” Foods
    • Mutton
    • Beef
    • Mackerel
    • Food prepared under high heat (deep-fried, grilled and baked)
    • Chocolate
    • Chilli
    • Ginger, garlic, onion and chives
    • Chinese spices
    • Indian spices and curries
    • Black glutinous rice
    • Red bean soup
    • Longan
    • Cherry
    • Lychee
    • Wine and hard liquor
    • Coffee and black tea

It should be noted that too much cooling food is not good for the body either. We should always observe our body’s responses to food and not take a certain type of food excessively. Signs to look out for upon over-consumption of cooling foods include stomachache, diarrhoea, bloatedness, and joint pain (especially among elderly). Young children, the elderly and those with asthma should especially be careful not to take too much cooling food.

It is also best to avoid cold and iced beverages. Although they cool down the body, they have a negative effect on our digestive system and metabolism. They can also cause menstrual cramps in ladies and even infertility in the long term.

(by Tan Shiau Tse, TCM Physician, Copyright® HST Medical Pte Ltd)