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[Weekender] Body type determines eating choices

By 줄리 잭슨 (Julie Jackson)

Published : July 22, 2016 - 17:15

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You do not have to look far to stay healthy during summer, as run-of-the-mill foods such as watermelon and cold buckwheat noodles can do the trick, according to Korean traditional medicine.

The key is to understand the strengths and weaknesses of one’s own body and its organs, said Korean medicine professor Lee Young-jong from Gachon University.

For instance, some people tend to sweat more than others during summer, which makes them lose energy easily.

“But for certain people, sweating in fact does not affect their energy levels. So different food can help different people, according to their types and needs,” he explained. 

Professor Lee Young-jong of Gachon University’s college of Korean Medicine. (Lee Young-jong) Professor Lee Young-jong of Gachon University’s college of Korean Medicine. (Lee Young-jong)

According to Korean traditional medicine, people are divided into four body types: “Tae-yang,” “Tae-eum,” “So-yang,” and “So-eum.”

A visit to a traditional Korean clinic can help identify each type, but each category has some basic traits.

Those who fall under “Tae-yang” have large lungs and a small liver, and they are also usually highly sociable and ambitious.

Meanwhile, “Tae-eum” individuals have a large liver and small lungs, and they are thought to be reliable and conservative.

Those who belong to “So-yang” have a large spleen and small kidneys, and they are often creative and emotional.

Lastly, those who are “So-eum” have large kidneys and a small spleen, and they are usually organized, reserved and well-behaved.

Professor Lee said those who are “So-eum” tend to lose energy once they sweat a lot. They also lose their appetite easily when they are stressed or tired. This is because they have small spleens and as a result, many of them have poor digestive systems. Lee recommended samgyetang and other warm chicken dishes in summer for such individuals. He also advised them not to consume cold food such as ice cream.

Beef is known to boost energy for those who are the “Tae-eum” type, according to Korean medicine experts. (123RF) Beef is known to boost energy for those who are the “Tae-eum” type, according to Korean medicine experts. (123RF)

Meanwhile, those who are “So-yang” tend to have a lot of heat within their bodies, due to their large spleens. Lee said this particular group is vulnerable to temperament problems during summer, as the hot weather is not compatible with their “already warm” organs. As they usually have strong digestive systems, consuming cold foods does not damage their health, he added. Lee recommended watermelons, vegetable juice and other Korean melons for them, as well as duck and pork.

On the other hand, those who are “Tae-eum,” generally have weak respiratory systems, according to Lee. Hence, exercise that improves lung capacity, such as running, is recommended for them.

Unlike the other types, sweating can be good for those who are “Tae-eum,” and many of them feel refreshed, rather than tired, afterward. Beef can also help strengthen their stomach and muscles. Porridge made of eels or Chinese yam, as well as walnuts are also recommended.

Individuals who are “Tae-yang,” also contain a lot of heat within their bodies. They are especially vulnerable to nausea and even vomiting during summer. Lee recommended that they eat seafood, such as shrimps and sea cucumber, as well as buckwheat noodles.

As for the popular Samgyetang, or ginseng chicken soup, Lee said that having the dish once during summer would not be harmful, but those who are “So-eum” benefit from the warm chicken soup the most. He also advised those who are “So-yang” and “Tae-eum” not to have this dish too frequently.

By Claire Lee (dyc@heraldcorp.com)