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5 Types of Body Constitution Prone to Obesity

In tradition Chinese medicine (TCM), there are five types of body constitution associated with obesity. For each type, this article lists the symptoms and the recommended foods that can help to reduce weight and burn fat (please consult a TCM physician for a proper diagnosis first before embarking on any health regimen).

1. Dampness stagnation due to spleen deficiency


  • swelling
  • fatigue
  • lack of strength
  • reduced urine volume
  • poor appetite
  • bloated stomach
  • breathlessness after minor exertion
  • pale tongue with greasy coating
  • thin and weak pulse

Suggested foods:

  • pearl barley
  • gorgon fruit
  • Chinese yam
  • Hyacinth beans
  • adzuki beans
  • fungus

2. Dampness and heat in stomach and spleen


  • nausea
  • limbs feel heavy
  • bad breath
  • constant thirst that can’t be quenched
  • constipation or diarrhoea
  • reddish tongue with thin, yellowish coating
  • taut and rapid pulse

Suggested foods:

  • cucumber
  • green beans
  • bean curd
  • celery
  • water chestnut
  • daylily
  • bitter gourd
  • winter melon
  • asparagus
  • lettuce

3. Deficiency of yin with endogenous heat


  • rapid digestion
  • constant thirst that can’t be quenched
  • yellowish-red urine
  • constipation
  • reddish tongue
  • weak and rapid pulse
  • night sweats
  • fatigue (in the elderly)

Suggested foods:

  • bitter gourd
  • kelp
  • seaweed
  • spinach
  • pumpkin
  • white fungus
  • sealwort
  • fragrant Solomon seal rhizome
  • Chinese yam

4. Stagnation of liver qi


  • feeling of fullness in the chest and below the ribcage
  • bloated feeling in the upper abdomen
  • irregular menstrual cycles (in women)
  • insomnia
  • depression or easily irritated
  • constipation
  • reddish or pale tongue with white, greasy coating
  • weak pulse

Suggested foods:

  • lime
  • bamboo shoot
  • lotus root
  • lily bulb
  • carrot
  • hawthorn
  • rose

5. Deficiency of yang in the spleen and stomach


  • obesity
  • feeling of coldness in stomach and limbs
  • fatigue and lack of strength
  • soreness and weakness in the waist and knees
  • swelling of the face
  • bloated stomach and diarrhoea
  • pale tongue with white, greasy coating
  • thin and weak pulse

Suggested foods:

  • Chinese yam
  • pearl barley
  • leeks
  • pine seeds
  • walnuts
  • desert broomrape
  • mutton

This is an adaptation of an article, “Chewing the Fat”, which first appeared in Issue 11 of Natura magazine

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