There are several reasons why – according to traditional Chinese medicine – women should refrain from drinking cold water and eating cold foods during periods.
In the United States, ladies often use fanny-pack heating pads – or if you’re a college student, a microwaveable purple hippo heating pack sitting snugly in the waist of their sweatpants.
Instead of this, Chinese girls drink hot water, tea, soup, and eat only warm dishes.
Ever since Chinese girls start their period, their moms enforce the temperature rules. A Chinese mom may never say the cold would make her daughter sick, but the repetition makes young girls skeptical that anything other than warm food and drink would be soothing. They still don’t eat or drink cold things during shark week.
Chinese women teach their daughters not to drink cold water, especially during their periods, as it can mess with their health. Here are a few reasons why – according to traditional Chinese medicine – women should refrain from drinking cold water and eating cold foods during periods.
Cold may mean imbalance
Consuming cold drinks may not be the norm internationally. While we often receive a glass of cold water alongside our meals at a restaurant, in China you would get a cup of steaming hot tea instead.
According to ancient Chinese medicine, drinking cold water will harm the balance of your body and also affect your skin and health. Drinking a glass of warm water in the morning, however, helps kick-start the digestive system. Hot water and warm water, because of its temperature, supposedly aids blood flow.
As your blood circulation increases, it helps detoxify your body and reduce painful contractions of muscles. Sore throat? Drink some warm water. Menstrual cramps? Stop drinking cold stuff and switch to some hot water.
Consuming cold foods, literally cold in temperature like ice cream or foods with cold properties like green tea, are said to bring discomfort and imbalance in your body during your period.
The traditional approach
In Chinese medicine, the uterus and the liver are closely related. The liver maintains patency or free flow of the qi, or vital energy of the body. The liver, spleen and kidney channels run through the pelvis and all can affect menstruation.
If any of these channels are blocked, congested or deficient, this will usually manifest in women as some sort of menstrual problem. If there is free flow, there is no pain: if there is pain, there is no free flow.
Chinese medicine places great importance on diet, especially on cooked as opposed to raw food. Cooking makes the nutrients in foods more easily assimilable, resulting in a greater net gain. A woman‘s diet during her menstruation should consist of warm foods. Drinking too much liquid and especially cold liquids with meals can cause stagnant qi.
Accumulation of cold-causing blood stasis leads to uncomfortable side effects. Coldness and dampness can be generated by overeating cold, damp foods. Cold foods include anything eaten chilled, frozen and cold. They also include most raw vegetables and fruits, dairy products, oils, nuts, sugar, fatty foods, and citrus fruits.
The signs and symptoms of accumulation of cold causing blood stasis in the lower burner include cold, fixed pain in the lower abdomen relieved by warmth, a dark, clotty menstrual discharge, aversion to cold, late or absent period, back pain, diarrhea, vomiting, nausea, and loss of appetite.
Precaution doesn't hurt
According to Chinese medicine experts, while you are on your period, you should avoid drinking cold water and eating cold foods as they worsen menstrual cramps. The muscles in the ovary and the vaginal walls tense up. These muscles cannot stretch further, which is why it leads to discomfort. For easy blood flow, drink warm water and avoid very cold and sugary items to keep away the inflammation.
So, it's advisable to have warm or hot water during those five days in the month. A doctor in traditional Chinese medicine will always say that it's better to have warm water as it helps soothe pain and also helps in partial riddance of period cramps.
All this, however, depends from person to person. Every woman has a different body system that works according to the different types of the body. While most may feel absolutely okay after consuming cold items, some may experience severe cramps. Our suggestion is to know what your body is used to and act accordingly.
However, taking precautions doesn't hurt either. Eat and drink items that help produce heat in the body in order to let the blood flow without hampering your health. Include more green leafy vegetables, nuts, whole grains and green tea in your daily diet (except when menstruating, of course) to ensure happy and healthy periods.