Dreaded ‘Dampness’ in Western Diets and How to Fix It

Processed and sugary fast-foods, like MacDonald's, are 'damp' forming foods, according to traditional Chinese medicine.
(Image: flickr.com_Keoni Cabral_cc)
Processed and sugary fast-foods, like MacDonald's, are 'damp' forming foods, according to traditional Chinese medicine. (Image: flickr.com_Keoni Cabral_cc)

In traditional Chinese medicine, excessive dampness is the root cause of many modern type diseases and ailments. Fortunately, these diseases are avoidable through a healthy diet. Wheat and sugar, I’m sorry to say, are the main culprits.

To understand how these two naughty foods affect your system, I’m going to take you on an excursion into the inner-workings of your body—namely, the engine room, your stomach.

Now, visualise that your body is like a car that needs fuel, which is food—obviously. And like gas, it’s best if it burns clean, so your engine doesn’t get choked up.

So what happens when you put in dirty fuel, like sugar?

The body begins breaking it down and converting it to usable energy. But after the energy is used up, toxic substances not burned up  will accumulate over time. In traditional Chinese medicine, dampness is created by imperfect digestion.

A little bit of dampness is good; it keeps your skin supple and keeps your organs lubricated. However, too much damp results in excess mucus, greasy skin,  sinusitis, bloating, weight gain, fatigue, and a foggy brain.

If that’s not enough, after a few more years of build-up, the damp condition escalates and begins to heat up. This causes painful inflammation, such as arthritis.

Sounds scary, right? Don’t fret, you can choose to eat foods that create a clean burning metabolism. You’ll feel lighter, more energetic, and enjoy better moods, without the extra sugar you thought you needed.

Help your body to burn clean (and return to your true weight)

  • Green leafy veggies, top of the list!  Lightly steamed and sautéed is best, avoid raw.
  • Rice, a great carb that is filling and easily digestible.
  • Rye, millet, spelt, barley, buckwheat and quinoa, soaked before cooking. There are a plethora of grains that you can substitute for wheat.
  • Beans, beans… a versatile and wholesome filler, source of fiber and protein. I recommend adzuki, as it has a damp-draining effect.
  • Yellow vegetables, such as carrot and squash, are highly beneficial and support digestion.
  • Aromatic spices are like a medicine for the tummy. Turmeric, garlic, ginger and cinnamon give your digestion a kick start.
  • Animal protein, in small servings. You don’t need much meat to give you the protein that you need.
  • Citrus zest. Lemon and orange not only give high amounts of vitamin C, but also help to drain excess damp from the body.
  • Warm water and tea. Avoid cold, carbonated, and sugary drinks, which extinguish your digestion fire.
  • Eat your largest meal at lunch or early in the evening.  Eating late strains the digestive system.
  • Exercise for at least 20 minutes a day to move stagnant energy out of the body.

To stop dampness choking up your engine, keep sugar, wheat, highly processed foods, and dairy food to a minimum. Replace the bulk of these with nourishing, filling, and healthy choices from the list above.



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