For the better part of our time here on earth, ice cream did not exist. Neither did sodas, iced tea or even, beer. Enter the refrigerator, and our relationship with food changed dramatically—from being able to store food longer without spoilage to developing an unnatural taste for chilled foods (behold the Jell-o mold!). These foods that now define our culture, like soda, beer and ice cream, simply aren't the same product without refrigeration. Imagining warm beer, flat soda and runny Ben & Jerry's makes the absurdity of the situation even more obvious. Refrigeration is certainly a helpful tool in our evolution, but it has led the way to what some experts suggest is actually an unhealthy addiction to cold foods, which also has negative consequences for our health.
According to Traditional Chinese Medicine—a practice that long precedes the icebox—cold and damp foods (not just sodas and beer, but also yogurt, cheese, butter, milk, etc.) can damage the spleen. In TCM, the spleen represents more than just the organ itself, but a whole system of the Earth element in the body. Too much cold and wet makes the earth muddy, and the spleen's function in helping to absorb nutrients can be severely diminished if the body is regularly exposed to wet and cold foods. Lack of proper absorption can throw off virtually any and all of the body's systems, leaving space for disease and illness to emerge.
The human body has still not quite evolved to handle cold foods, so it will actually expend energy warming up the cold foods you put into it. Yes, that can mean burning a few extra calories, but they're negligible compared to the amount of energy taken away from other functions—like proper digestion, healing and preventing illness—that get compromised by the redirection of energy to melt that icy popsicle you just sucked down.
Excessive consumption of cold foods may also lead to a number of health issues including fatigue, weight gain, cysts and tumors, the development of unhealthy bacterial infections, excessive bloating and gas, brain fog, chronic sinus infections and problems with elimination.
Eat cold foods as if they're all ice cream—which means, eat them sparingly. Drink room temperature water, and (as if you need another reason) avoid sodas and sugary soft-drinks. Let foods warm to room temperature before eating. And don't refrigerate items that don't need it—many fruits and vegetables do better on the counter than in the crisper.
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