Traditional Chinese Medicine Reveals
Problems from Cold Foods & Beverages
In order to maintain a normal healthy metabolism, everything we eat or drink should be close to our body’s normal temperature. However, particularly in hot weather or as a matter of habit, almost everyone likes to drink cold beverages or eat cold foods (like ice cream) without noticing the potential problems that will be encountered or connecting it to the temperature of the food or drink you take into your body.
When we eat or drink, our stomachs produce enzymes needed for digestion that can only survive in a limited temperature range in the body. When cold food or drink is ingested, our bodies have to counteract the temperature difference in order to preserve a suitable environment for these enzymes in the stomach for our digestion to function well. However, when cold food and/or beverages enter the esophagus, it encounters the warm vaporized fluid in the lungs. The result is phlegm formed in the lungs which lowers lung function and capacity. Prolonged ingestion of cold food and drink can cause coughs, susceptibility to the flu or other illnesses, dry skin and numerous other symptoms. Moreover, the phlegm blocks the free flow of energy up and down the body which can impair the affected person’s ability to maintain a normal temperature.
Because everyone’s constitution is different (whether from inherited traits or an acquired condition), there will be different reactions to ingesting cold substances. “Cold Constitution” people have a lower body temperature and are unable to raise their stomach temperature sufficiently to counteract the cold food and drinks. For our digestion to function properly, it needs sufficient energy and heat to contract and push food through the digestive track. Cold food and drinks will lower the stomach’s temperature which in turn slows down the digestion process and can cause indigestion. If cold substances are too frequently ingested, the person will often have a poor appetite and experience weight loss. On another hand, the digestive tract will retain food for longer periods of time to allow bacteria additional time to complete the digestion process. In turn, this generates more gas that can cause bloating in the stomach or abdomen.
The cold food and drink will cause congealing in the intestinal walls which can become compacted and stick together. If this happens in the small intestines, it will cause flatulence. If in the large intestines, it will cause constipation for lack of energy/strength to move the bowels forward (there is typically no pain in this case); or diarrhea where the body tries to expel coldness from the body. The urinary bladder lies directly in the front of the small intestines. If the small intestines are too cold, it will cool down the urine in the bladder and make it more difficult for the bladder to hold the urine. This can result in clear urine, urgent and/or frequent urination in some cases incontinence. If a women who is in the age range of pregnancy trying to get pregnant but ingests cold foods and drinks, her uterus will absorb the coldness from the food and drink resulting in a negative environment for conception and sustaining a healthy fetus to a full term birth. This is one of the most common causes of infertility.
The “Hot Constitution” people (yang shen or yang excess) have excess heat in their bodies. When cold substances enter these person’s stomachs, they easily gather or generate enough body heat to warm up the digestive tract as it encounters the cold food. Later, the heat generated is dispersed and the temperature of the body will drop. However, the stomach temperature will not return to its normal temperature and stays higher than normal. After time, the stomach will gradually become overheated. This can cause the excess stomach heat to escape up the esophagus resulting in a dry mouth and persistent thirst. Another symptom is that foods will rot while in the gut faster than in a person with a healthy digestive tract. This can cause constant hunger resulting in overeating that causes weight gain. Others suffer from hyperactivity from an overactive stomach and experience weight loss.
The excess heat in people with Hot Constitutions also extends and expands the intestinal walls which gradually thicken while the intestinal folds become larger and larger. There can allow waste products and gas to enter the intestinal walls and cause cysts. The expanded intestines also hold more food and/or fecal matter which causes the abdomen to protrude. As the waste products pass through the intestines, the increased heat within the intestines vaporizes water more quickly than normal causing constipation. If the turbidity of the constipated gas passes through the large intestinal wall, and then the diaphragm, hot vapor may enter the brain and cause manic. All of the manic patient has constipation. If vaporized water enters a woman’s fallopian tube, it blocks the egg from descending down to the uterus and will cause infertility. Therefore, it’s important to keep bowel movement smoothly.
Once the connection between the ingestion of cold foods and drink and health problems is understood, you will be careful to drink water at or near room temperature which is closer to the body’s normal temperature than refrigerated or iced drinks or cold foods. As a general rule, avoid cold food as well. For example, at the salad bar, if the food is sitting on ice it’s better to allow the food to warm up a bit before it is eaten. In the winter when the temperature is lower, drink warmer water.
The temperature of cold food and drink is obvious, so you can easily avoid them. However, in Chinese Medicine, foods are also classified according to their inherent hot or cold properties. These also can affect the temperature of the body over time, and will be discussed in a future article. Majority of the fruits and vegetables are cold property.
Moreover, for illness person, it’s better to have at least room temperature water and foods to intake. It’s better to intake warm drinks and foods. Due to most of them have yang deficiency due to they have low body function and/or immunity, the cold drinks and foods will take away more yang from the body. It’s especially important to not supply cold drinks and foods for weak patients such as kidney dialysis patients, parturient women, cancer patients, elderly patients, etc. For the knowledge of yin and yang, please refer to “Traditional Chinese Medicine Theory“.
Be remember that all of the above mentioned problem, we can use acupiuncture, moxibution and/or herbs to treat.
For a summery, you can check Cold Foods Drinks Caused Problems chart.
- When cold food/drinks entered esophagus, the coldness can make esophagus gradually become colder. It causes esophagus gradually lost its elasticity and became harder. Prolonged, it leads hard to swallow. Moreover, the coldness makes throat organism becomes harder and lost its elasticity and easily causes choking due to when food entering the esophagus, the epiglottis closes off the passage to the windpipe becomes too slow.
- Aorta aneurysm: Aorta is nearby esophagus. When icy cold water or ice chips enters esophagus, it likes winter time, the vaporized water encountered icy cold, it is frozen to be water drop or ice. Moreover, it combined with the other flowing substances in the blood vessels wall, prolonged, it splits blood vessel walls leads aneurysm.
- It’s the same with the abdominal blood vessels aneurysm patients who are icy cold foods/drinks lovers. When the flowing substances inside abdominal blood vessel walls encountered coldness, they starts condensing and freezing, prolonged, becomes aneurysm.
- If cold foods/drinks transfer coldness through esophagus to lungs, the vaporized substances such as nutrition, moisture, etc, that will be delivered to skin to nourish and moisture skin encountered coldness will be condensed and become phlegm. When phlegm accumulated too much, will cough to try to expel the phlegm out off the lungs and body.
- Coldness inside lungs transfers to heart: Due to heart is not far away from esophagus and stomach. If intake cold foods/drinks often, coldness for surely transfers to heart membrane and heart muscle to make inside fluid frozen and make the heart enlarged. Meanwhile, the heart valve due to cold and lost its flexibility to close well. However, heat from hot herbs or moxibution with acupuncture can make them recovery flexibility again after expel the coldness. No surgery is needed.
- Heart controls sweating. If coldness from cold foods/drinks transfer to lungs is easily to transfer to heart. If heart wants to expel the coldness out off the body, it can go through cold sweats form palms and the soles of the feet.
- Uterus tumor getting worse: It usually relates with worse emotional stress. However, I encountered a case who refused emotional stress factor. MRI showed her tumor only grows on one side taht facing the intestine. But she told me that sometimes she felt the tumor was heavier. I asked her when? It’s happened after drink water. I asked if she drank cold water? Yes, it’s usually from refrigerator. It’s due to coldness made the flowing substance inside tumor condensed and became heavy. After body temperature warmed uterus up and the fozen substances could flow away, that made her feel uterus tumor became lighter.
- Besides above mentioned. Cold constitution people has weak yang energy, their defense energy is weak and easily get sick, poor energy. Moreover, the coldness inside body is easily to cause pain due to cold congeals muscles and tendons to nake them tighten. Meanwhile, cold body persons should concern about their heart, kidney’s problem. In addition, cancer patients also have cold excess body. You ought pay attention to cold foods/drinks caused health problems.
Ancient times, there was not medical equipment to verify Chinese medicine theory. Plus there are many modern diseases. They were not mentioned in classic medical books. It means that they might not be discovered or not been recognized. I put them in writing in order to catch your attention for cold foods/drinks caused health problems and prevent you sick.
If you want a quick review, please click on Cold Foods Drinks Caused Problems Chart Rev 1.
If you intake cold drinks and foods, or you are a vegetarian who intakes cold property fruits and vegetables, you can dry fly raw ginger slices or bake raw ginger slices until turning to yellowish. Then, either to make tea as spicy as you can tolerance to drink or you can use them to cook with your soup or dishes. Prolonged, it can make your body warmer.
If your body is severe cold, please visit an acupuncturist to use herbal formula or moxibution to expel the body coldness.
If your situation is not too severe, you can do self-healing.
Meanwhile, please read:
© 2011 Frieda Mah, L.Ac.; © 2013 Frieda Mah, L.Ac., NGH C. Ht.