I am usually asked about the manner in which the personality type affects health. If you have read my book Know Yourself and are familiar with the four personality types – sanguine, choleric, melancholic and phlegmatic – you would have probably noticed that there are some common physical characteristics of each type. If you have not noticed this, keep looking. Itis a fascinating and incredibly interesting pastime and I do not want to steal your realisations and personally developed insights. I do intend to talk about it at some point but please enjoy the journey of discovery for yourself.
The hot outwardly active types – sanguine and choleric – have strong digestive systems. The sanguine’s digestive system is the more robust of the two. The two cold or outwardly less active (but inwardly more active) – melancholic and phlegmatic – have weaker digestive systems. The phlegmatic’s digestive system is the weaker of the two.
Digestion takes heat – activity – and moisture – flexibility – to complete and so the act of digestion consumes these two energies. Since the hot types have more internal heat, their digestion is strongest. Heat or activity drives digestion whilst flexibility provided by moisture allows the body to respond, digest, absorb, integrate and expel, without the dry rigidity that prevents digestion being completed. Moisture without heat causes stagnation – cold – and so the phlegmatic’s digestion is weakest.
|Personality Types and Digestive Strength|
|Qualities||AIR – hot/moist||FIRE – hot/dry||EARTH – cold/dry||WATER – cold/wet|
We gain energetic resources from our food, since benefitting from food requires that it must ultimately be transformed into energy or tissue and the transformation into tissue takes energy. So digestion takes energy and we must be careful to get more out of the food that we consume than we lose ingesting, digesting, transforming and eliminating. Too little and we spend our reserves, losing the internal metabolic heat and moisture/flexibility necessary for everyday metabolic activity. Too much food consumes more energy digesting, eliminating and keeping the body safe from toxic by-products that will inevitably end up in the lymphatic system. Both overeating and undereating are harmful to the body and consume the energies of heat and moisture necessary for metabolic responsiveness, flexibility and digestion. Both cause imbalance and ongoing internal disharmonies that start the progression into disease.
The appetites of both dry types tend to be ravenous since they tend not to store much reserves, whilst the appetites of the wet types tend to be moderate, though the sanguine is driven by delight in food and the phlegmatic can be said to gain weight from merely drinking water.
Generally each type requires that which it lacks. The dry types require moistening foods, whilst the wet types require drying foods. The cold types require heating foods whilst the hot types cooling ones. We will look at the fundamentals of understanding this in The Energetic Qualities of Foods.