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In Classical and Medieval times, it was thought that the human body was composed of four kinds of fluid: blood, choler or yellow bile, phlegm and melancholy or black bile. Physical and mental characteristics were explained by people having different proportions of 'humours'.
The system is particularly associated with the teachings of Galan (AD 129 - 199) a Greek physician, who wrote several works on food and nutrition.
The theory went further, and by the 16th century, foods themselves had different qualities - being marked on a scale of 1 to 4. thus strawberries were cold and dry in the first degree, while dates were hot in the second degree and moist in the first degree. Diners would find themselves faced with a never-ending variety of 'complexions'