5 ‘Weird’ Chinese Habits that will Actually Improve Your Health

2020-12-01 15:19:14   来源:eChinacities   

Although the culture shock for first-timers in China is nowhere near as bad these days as it was 20 or 30 years ago, certain Chinese customs still, to this day, continue to baffle foreigners. Some may seem backwards, others counter-intuitive, more still just plain weird. But when you take a step back and look at the science, in some cases at least, these Chinese idiosyncrasies actually make a lot of sense. Let’s take a look at five ‘weird’ Chinese habits that will actually improve your health.


1) Poppin' a Squat

Last year, a new roommate moved into my Chinese dorm before immediately moving out again when he discovered, to his dismay, that we only had squat toilets (*gasp*). With the astounding economic growth China has seen since its reform and opening up, one might assume squat toilets would be one of the first things to go. Chinese people, however, still often maintain that the squat toilet is superior and, when given a choice in a bathroom with both, stick to the devil they know. As far as many Chinese people are concerned, sit-down toilets are for elderly people who can no longer ‘assume the position’.

As much as Westerners tend to hate them, squat toilets are actually more healthy for a number of reasons. Firstly, they are arguably more sanitary as there is no skin-to-throne contact, although the less said about the situation on the floor, the better. Secondly, the Chinese have long known that the position from which they do their business is much healthier for the body. Studies have shown that pooping is quicker and more comfortable while squatting as, without going into too much detail, everything is at the right angle. Even wellness freaks in the West have started to catch on, with ‘pooping stools’ — which can be placed in front of a toilet to raise the knees up to a more squat-like position — the must-have accessory of the moment.

Daily squatting activities are also clearly good for flexibility. Who isn’t impressed by the old folk in the parks with their legs up on the railings? I heard Chinese people have extra developed leg muscles from using squat toilets, which in turn makes that position much more comfortable. Now you know why the so-called 'Asian squat’ is such a popular resting pose here, even outside of toilet duties.

2) Drinking Hot Water

When my family visited China recently, they were quite taken aback whenever they were served lukewarm/scalding hot water and room-temperature soft drinks and beer, especially since it was the middle of summer. Even among those who are aware of China’s preference for hot water, many assume it’s simply a necessity to fight the notoriously bacteria-tastic tap water.

Sterility is definitely part of it, but the Chinese also prefer drinking warm/hot water because they think it brings health benefits, as does an increasing consensus of experts in the West. Many of China’s beliefs about the benefits of drinking hot water come from the laws of Chinese medicine, which dictate that cold drinks are bad for your chi. Search the web for "health benefits of drinking hot water”, however, and you'll find a slew of more Westernly acceptable factoids that you might never have thought of.

For example, warm water, being closer to blood temperature, is more easily absorbed by the body and therefore more thirst quenching. Drinking warm water in the morning before breakfast is also said to clear out the kidneys, prepare the stomach to digest food, and regulate bowel movements. Good to know. Perhaps the most alarmingly, some believe drinking cold water after eating a meal causes the oils of the just-consumed food to solidify in your system, gradually turning to fat which can lead to — you guessed it — cancer! While the Western medical community has yet to completely support this theory, perhaps it’s best to err on the side of caution and stick to warm drinks from now on (excluding beer and milkshakes, of course).

3) Limiting Air Conditioning

Kicking the addiction to AC seems to be another trend that the West is slowly adopting from China, perhaps in light of rising energy costs and the climate crisis. The Chinese have long theorized about the hidden dangers of air conditioning and, therefore, try to use it as little as possible. Their logic is similar to the above point; basically that cold things are not good for your health.

We can consider the logic behind this from two different angles. Firstly, it’s been proven that regions with warmer climates tend to have slimmer, more healthy populations for the simple reason that the body has to work harder to do less in hotter climates. Conversely, people will instinctively pack on a nice thick layer of fat in colder climates to insulate themselves from the frigid temperatures.

The second argument against excessive use of AC is that those clogged up fans and filters are a breeding ground for dust and germs. Many also believe that the frequent passing in and out of polar opposite climates messes up your body's immune system and makes you more prone to getting sick. I honestly think I can attest to this myself. After a few months of waking up every day last summer with a sore throat, it dawned on me that the AC might be the culprit. Now I use a fan and I am sore throat free!

4) Family-Style Chinese Dinners

Do you remember how confusing your first Chinese banquet was? Sitting at a giant lazy-Susan packed with 30-odd dishes you didn't recognize. By the time dinner was over, you had sampled everything, were no doubt stuffed, and three hours had gone by. Surely there must be a more straightforward, quicker way to eat.

In the West, although we love a good buffet, it’s more common that each person eats their own dish to themselves with little sharing occurring, except maybe at the dessert stage. But this is China! If you go out to dinner with other people, it’s downright insulting to order for yourself.

So what are the health benefits the Chinese eating style? Although many Chinese dishes are literally covered in oil, the the act of sharing multiple plates makes up for this with the sheer amount of foods groups that can be covered. A burger and fries is basically just protein, fat and carbs, while the ingredients of a variety of Chinese dishes will more closely resemble one of those old ‘food pyramid’ diagrams. You’ll get a whole range of different meat, fish, plant proteins and veggies, meaning you’re getting your daily dose of phytonutrients and omega-3 fatty acids (and all of that other dietary jargon).

What’s more, the drawn out nature of Chinese dinners are better for your digestive system than shoving down a whole bunch of food super quickly. Just be sure to use serving chopsticks so you don't spread germs!

5) Hiding from the Sun

Weird and wonderful fashion items that help Chinese people stay out of the sun are often a topic of ridicule among foreigners — facekini, anyone? But while it can be fun to poke fun at particularly out-there ensembles, it’s important to note that some of these…unique…fashion accessories are more than just statements of individuality. They are, in fact, both practical and healthy.

Take, for example, the GIANT reflective visor hats that you will see people wearing (often while on a bike or moped). Tacky? Yes. Practical and healthy? Double yes! Wear one of these bad boys and you won't just protect your eyes and face from sun damage, but also from all that kicked up dust from the road. The same can be said for the detachable sleeves that many Chinese wear and the use of umbrellas on sunny days. We may find these things weird when we first move to China, but the ever-youthful locals arguably have the last laugh.


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Copyright © 2012- TodayInteract. All Rights Reserved.
Copyright Changsha TodayInteract Technology Co., Ltd