Quirky Beliefs from our Singaporean Mothers (Food Edition)


Growing up in Singapore, most of us obediently abided by quirky beliefs from our mommy dearest that have been passed down for generations. From “Girl ah. You’re coughing, don’t eat chicken.” to “Aiyo, your body so heaty. Come drink Liang Teh.”. How much truth do these old wives’ tales carry? Our physicians weigh in!



#1 “Don’t eat dark soya sauce when you have chickenpox/wound. Later got scar.”

MYTH. Eating dark soya sauce after chickenpox or injury does not darken scars. Scars are a result of scratching which impedes recovery and increases the risk of infection. To avoid scarring, the best thing is to leave the wound alone and don’t scratch it!

-TCM Physician Sheryl Tay


#2 Mom every day: “Come drink Liang Teh/ Chrysanthemum Tea/ Barley. It’s good for you.”

IT DEPENDS. There’s no need to drink liang teh all the time if you’re not suffering from any prolonged heatiness due to body constitution. Even when there is an underlying issue, get it checked by a certified TCM Physician who can better advise you! In fact, prolonged consumption of liang teh might have adverse effects if it’s not suitable for you.

-TCM Physician Ardy Quek


#3 “You coughing. Cannot eat chicken!”

TRUTH IF… you’re suffering from a “heaty cough”. Chicken is a heaty food. If you have a heaty cough (with symptoms such as yellowish sputum, sore throat and/or constipation), then the consumption of chicken will not be recommended as it could increase your heatiness, worsening the cough.

HOWEVER… there are many types of coughs like wind-cold, phlegm-cold, phlegm-heat, yin deficiency, the list goes on. Skip the self-diagnosis and consult a TCM Physician instead!

-TCM Physician Sheryl Tay


#4 “Don’t keep drinking lemon/lime juice. Later gastric.”

NOT REALLY. There is little scientific evidence proving that lemon/lime juices lead to gastric unless an individual already has an underlying stomach issue.

That being said, excessive intake of low pH (acidic) juices can lead to various health concerns. The acidity due to high ascorbic acid (Vitamin C) in limes and lemons can dissolve tooth enamel and damage stomach linings which leads to a higher risk of stomach ulceration. Excessive intake can also worsen acid reflux symptoms. Like most food and drinks, consume it in moderation!

– TCM Physician Oh Xu Xuan


#5 “Cannot drink beer after eating durian! Will die one.”

MYTH. You probably won’t die unless you eat an awful lot of them or is allergic to either.

HOWEVER… Durian and alcohol both have a high amount of fat and sugar. Eating both in excessive amounts require your body to work harder to metabolise them, causing body temperature to spike, higher inflammatory states, and gas when you overtax your digestive and liver system which causes bloating and indigestion.

Although there is no scientific evidence showing that the consumption of durian with alcohol will lead to death, for the sake of your health, it is recommended not to take them together.

– TCM Physician Victoria Tan


Do you also have a quirky belief from your family you have not quite figured out its legitimacy? Let us know in the comments section below!


Note: Information provided is not a substitute for a physician or any form of medical care. Individual symptoms differ due to different body constitutions and diagnosis. One should consult a licensed TCM practitioner for accurate diagnosis and treatment.

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