Phlegm and Dampness Body Constitution

Understanding Phlegm And Dampness Body Constitution

In a healthy person, there is little or no phlegm because the body can efficiently convert most foods and fluids into useful substances for the body to use.

The spleen plays an important part here because in TCM, we believe that the spleen is the main organ that converts and absorbs nutrients from the food we eat and delivers them to all parts of our body.

When the spleen cannot absorb and transport nutrients efficiently, the excess substances that can’t be used by the body will be stored as phlegm and dampness, which eventually creates health issues in the long run.

Do note that the phlegm mentioned here refers to both visible phlegm (that is formed in the upper respiratory system and can be coughed or purged out) as well as phlegm that is not directly visible (stored in various parts of the body such as belly, legs, etc).

The following symptoms are some of the obvious signs of a person with phlegm and dampness body constitution:

  1. Feeling of heaviness

    People with phlegm and dampness body constitution will often feel a sense of heaviness in their body as they carry out their daily activities. This ‘heaviness’ refers to a feeling that the person experiences and bears no relation to the actual body weight. People of phlegm and dampness body type may be underweight or in the acceptable weight range but still feel that their body feels heavy.

  2. Soft belly fat

    For people with phlegm and dampness body constitution, they will find that their belly is bigger and softer than most people. This does not necessarily mean that they are overweight. For some people, the other parts of the body seem slim but there is a significant amount of soft fat accumulated around the belly area.

  3. Sticky feeling in the mouth

    Some individuals of phlegm and dampness body type will experience a sticky feeling in his/her mouth most of the time.

Common Issues With This Body Type

It is important that we learn how to bring our body (from phlegm and dampness body constitution) back to a more balanced state as having phlegm and dampness in the body over a long period of time can cause all kinds of diseases.

The following body issues are commonly associated with the phlegm and dampness body type:

  1. Incomplete bowel movement

    As the spleen is weakened and affected by dampness, it is common for people with this body constitution to experience loose, sticky stools (that can’t flush cleanly). They have difficulty emptying their bowels completely and may have to visit the toilet more often as a result.

  2. Chest tightness with phlegm

    For individuals whose phlegm and dampness occurs mainly in the upper respiratory area, they will experience chest tightness due to phlegm obstruction. (Note: The phlegm here is not caused by eating certain foods.)

  3. Stomach bloating

    It is common for people of phlegm and dampness body type to experience bloated stomach because the spleen has difficulty processing the food that is consumed. The severity of stomach bloating will also depend on the types of food that they eat.

  4. The starting point for many kinds of diseases

    In TCM, there is a saying, “百病生于痰” – it means many types of diseases arise from having too much phlegm (visible and non-visible forms) in the body.

Bringing Your Body Back To Balance

You do not need to be overly worried if you have phlegm and dampness body constitution (if you’re unsure of your body type, click here to take the TCM body constitution test).

By making adjustments to your eating and lifestyle habits, you can help your body to regain a state of balance and enjoy stronger immunity and better life quality!

Let’s check out what foods are suitable for your body constitution and the lifestyle changes you can make to improve your health!

Top Recommended Foods To Eat

Eating the right foods and avoiding the wrong foods (which will be covered in a later section) is the first step towards bringing your body back to a more balanced state.

Foods that can benefit people with phlegm and dampness body constitution are those with spleen-strengthening and dampness-removal properties.

Adding these foods to your diet or increasing the intake of these foods will help to improve your body constitution and return your body to a more balanced state.

Following are the top 5 recommended foods that will benefit you if you have phlegm and dampness body constitution (as a general rule of thumb, please consume all foods in moderation):

1. Chinese Barley (Chinese Name: 薏苡仁)

Chinese barleyChinese barley is one of the best foods for people with phlegm and dampness body constitution because it helps to clear dampness in the spleen, and it is useful especially for relieving water retention in the lower body (which is a symptom of body dampness).

When purchasing barley, do take note to choose Chinese barley and not Holland barley as the former is more effective in clearing body dampness.

You can either cook Chinese barley with your rice or make a Chinese barley drink to enjoy its healing effects.

For more information on Chinese barley benefits and drink recipe, check out our blog post here!

2. Radish (Chinese Name: 白萝卜)

white radishOne of the reasons why phlegm forms in the body is due to poor regulating of Qi, and one of the best foods that can help to improve Qi flow is radish.

Radish has great benefits for the lungs, spleen and large intestine.

Its most prominent property is to regulate Qi and dissolve phlegm in our body, which makes it an ideal food for people with phlegm and dampness body constitution.

Radish is also especially useful for people who are having cough due to phlegm.

Radish can be eaten either raw or cooked.

For more information on radish benefits, check out our blog post here!

3. Hawthorn (Chinese Name: 山楂)

HawthornHawthorn is very suitable for people of phlegm and dampness body type as it helps to improve digestion and lessens the burden on the spleen.

In addition, for individuals with high blood cholesterol, hawthorn is helpful in lowering your cholesterol levels.

For more information on the benefits and ways to consume hawthorn, check out our blog post here.


4. Winter Melon (Chinese Name: 冬瓜)

Winter melonWinter melon has strong properties in dissolving phlegm and relieving water retention (a sign of body dampness), which makes it ideal for people with phlegm and dampness body constitution.

As winter melon is cold in thermal nature, it is recommended to be consumed during the spring and summer seasons.

Winter melon comes in fresh and dried forms – both forms work well so you can choose based on local availability and your personal preferences.

For fresh winter melon, you can steam it or add it to your soups. For the dried form, you can add it to your Chinese barley drink to further enhance its dampness-removal effects.

5. White Lentils (Chinese Name: 白扁豆 )

white lentilsWhite lentils are an excellent food for phlegm and dampness body type because it has strong properties in strengthening the spleen and removing dampness in the body.

It is also highly recommended for people who have loose stools.

You can consume white lentils by cooking it together with your rice.

List of Recommended Foods

Apart from the top 5 recommended foods mentioned above, here are more food recommendations that are suitable for phlegm and dampness body type.

Foods To Avoid

As mentioned earlier, avoiding the wrong foods is as important as eating the right foods in your journey towards achieving a more balanced body state.

For someone with phlegm and dampness body constitution, it is best to avoid the following (or reduce intake as much as you possibly can):

  1. Oily and fried foods

    Avoid foods that are oily and fried because eating them can cause your body to produce more phlegm and result in more dampness, which will further aggravate your body condition.

  2. Sweet foods and drinks

    You must avoid consuming sweetened drinks and sweet foods like candy, cakes and desserts. Sweet foods will increase the burden on your spleen and negatively impact its efficiency in converting nutrients from the food you eat.

Lifestyle Recommendations

Apart from making adjustments to your food choices, the following are additional advice to help you shorten the time to regain your body health:

  1. Take on a more proactive attitude

    People of phlegm and dampness body type have a tendency to think a lot about things, which can hold them back from taking action. However, thinking too much will hurt the efficiency of your spleen in the long run. By taking on a more proactive attitude and encouraging yourself to choose practical action over thinking will indirectly help your spleen in a way.

  2. Have smaller meals

    Take smaller meals, especially for your dinner. The reason is because eating too full will exert further stress on your weakened spleen. It is best to finish your meal when you are about 70 percent full.

    In addition, the habit of eating supper is a sure way to gain more belly fat. Do your best to avoid eating supper late at night (after 9pm) or skip suppers entirely if you can. Skipping supper is one of the best ways to reduce belly fat. Give it a try and experience the change!

  3. Exercise

    Exercising or engaging in physical activities that stimulate sweating will do you good as sweating is one of the most effective ways to purge dampness from your body. Brisk walking or slow jogging are good options to get started.

All the above lifestyle changes will help to improve your quality of life. Do give it a try!


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We sincerely wish you the very best of health!