Nutritional Recommendations During the Coronavirus Pandemic
Good afternoon everyone,
My prayers are with all of you during this time of uncertainty in our world.
We are all being deeply affected by this pandemic and I wanted to put out an article this weekend regarding the current outbreak of Coronavirus/ Covid19. This virus is something new to all of us and a virus that our bodies have not been exposed to before. All the regular treatments, herbal therapies, and vaccines given for regular flu outbreaks and viral infections have not been fully tested with Coronavirus. This means that we really do not know what kind of effect the regular therapies we are used to treating viruses will work the same way for this virus strain.
Having said that though, what we can do is use what we have available to us and to use the knowledge we do have for any type of illness that invades the body. Now is the time to take the best care of ourselves as much as possible. I wanted to give you some dietary ways to keep your immune system healthy and if possible, to be able to resist this virus if exposed.
This virus strain, known as the Coronavirus is categorized as a cold/damp type of pathogen in TCM, Traditional Chinese Medicine. What does this mean exactly?
According to TCM, Traditional Chinese Medicine, a cold and damp body constitution is seen as having slow circulation and metabolism and with an excess amount of fluid secretions in the body, especially phlegm or mucus. When these excess fluids collect, they can form a sticky and congealed state that can have an affinity for hosting pathogenic substances. This state also blocks the proper flow of energy in the body, which can cause stagnation in the joints, skin, lungs, and large intestines.
There is a saying in Traditional Chinese Medicine that the earth elements create dampness and the metal elements stores it. The earth elements in the body are the stomach and the spleen and the metal element is the lung and large intestine.
When dampness occurs because of faulty digestion, this excess of sticky fluids (phlegm), ends up in the lung and large intestine. Cold and damp states can also be caused by pathogens lodged in the body, which have not been properly expelled.
Does this scenario sound familiar to you based on the information we’re hearing regarding the Coronavirus? One of the reasons this virus is so much of a concern is the nature of the cough it produces. There is shortness of breath followed by a dry cough, meanwhile the lungs can start to fill up with damp fluid, pus, and dead cells, causing possible pneumonia to occur.
I am going to share a few ways to keep our body out of a cold, damp condition to reduce our susceptibility to this virus because this virus is attracted to dampness.
First of all, how do we know if our bodies are in a cold and damp state?
Symptoms of Cold and Dampness in the Body
The number one symptom, is excess phlegm in the body. Do you blow your nose frequently, have ears that get blocked (excess ear wax is really congested mucus), wake up with mucus in eyes, nose, coughing, spitting up mucus, frequent colds, sinus infections, any kind of excess discharge from the body, including overactive bowels.
Make sure you are looking at your bowel movements too. If your bowel movements are heavy, sticky, or if they leave skid marks in the toilet before or after flushing, then you have too much dampness in your body.
Also look at your tongue daily. Your tongue should be pink (not red). If your tongue has a thick white or yellow tinged coating on it, especially in the morning, then you also have too much dampness in your body. Your tongue is a mirror of your digestive system.
Some other tell-tale signs you could be in this state are the following;
Feeling of congestion just below the chest
loose bowels, mucus in bowel movements
feeling of heaviness
easily gain weight
cysts and masses
swollen lymph nodes
dull, achy joints and joint soreness
water retention, edema, swellings
exposure to mold, symptoms are worse on rainy and humid days
predisposition to worry and overthinking, emotional heaviness
If you feel tired, heavy, achy, and drug down often, you are probably dealing with this type of condition.
One of the best ways to make sure you do not get into this state or to help shift you away from this state is movement. Please make sure you are moving daily and often throughout the day. When we move our body, our lymph system can filter and drain properly, which helps to prevent stagnation. Think of the season that we are moving into right now, spring. When the snow and ice start to melt after winter, the movement of the earth starts shifting into a more liquid or moving state. We need to keep the water moving. If this movement gets plugged up, like a damn that is blocked, the river cannot flow properly and will get clogged or muddy
This is the same way our bodies function as well. If the movement of our body stops or slows down, we get blocked and are more apt to be in a dampened or clogged (stagnant) state.
Also, get out in the sunshine…remember sunshine is warming and nourishing to your body.
Some wonderful ways to move daily are to walk, cleaning the house, do jumping jacks, rebounding, dancing, tai chi, yoga, Pilates, strength training, whatever you can do to move…just do it!
Another wonderful way to get the lymph moving is to sweat!
If you have a sauna, get in it and sweat! Saunas are warm and drying to the body. Sweating in a sauna can help to move excessive dampness from the body, increase circulation, and tonify the spleen.
If you do not have a sauna, take hot Epsom salt baths to make yourself sweat. This is important to be doing several times per week for your overall health and to boost immunity.
If we are dealing with a cold and damp state, we want to be eliminating foods from our diets that can impair digestion and create stagnation. These types of stagnating foods interfere with the Spleen, which contributes to internal dampness. Remember, that the 2 organs in the earth element are the stomach and the spleen. We need to eat foods that support these systems and eliminate or reduce the foods that aggravate them to move out of a cold and damp body state.
A saying that explains this so well is from Daverick Leggett:
“When we eat, the question is not so much whether a particular food is good for us but rather how skilled our Spleen is at extracting the nourishment from it.”
Foods That Cause Cold and Damp Conditions
DAIRY (probably the biggest mucus producing food-except for fermented dairy, such as plain yogurt and kefir)
sugar, sweets, and refined white flours, and grains
fried, greasy, and fatty foods
foods containing yeast and mold, such as; mushrooms, alcohol, dried fruit, leftovers, conventional meat, coffee, and chocolate, peanuts, excess fermented foods, and excess foods with vinegar
raw cold and frozen foods
excess raw fruits (especially bananas, oranges, and tomatoes) excess raw vegetables (especially peppers)
Eggs, soy products, and too much salt
Also, very important here to make sure your foods are warm or room temperature before eating them. Do not eat cold drinks or eat cold foods, even raw salads are considered cold. If you want to eat salads, warm them up by gently sautéing them first or place a small amount of something warm on top of your salad, such as warm wild rice or quinoa. You want to be staying away or decreasing any type of cold foods. Drink fresh juices right when you juice them and if you refrigerate leftovers, let your juice come to room temperature before drinking it.
Cold beverages and cold foods of any kind, including raw foods contribute to this cold, damp condition in the body.
Foods to Eat to Move Out of a Cold and Damp Condition
Eat warm foods! No cold foods or drinks!
Celery, onions, turnip, asparagus, pumpkin, mustard greens, parsley, radish, daikon radish, watercress
Apple, apple peel, orange peel, tangerine peel (organic only for peels), blueberries, cranberries, lemon, lime, grapefruit
Eat a lot of these! Bitter, aromatic, and pungent herbs; Cinnamon, ginger, cardamom, nutmeg, cloves, chives, rosemary, thyme, dill, oregano, sage, coriander, fennel, black pepper, peppermint, hibiscus, green tea, lavender, nettle, marshmallow, red clover, raspberry leaf, dandelion root, gentian root, angelica root, elecampane, Oregon grape root, licorice root, horseradish, garlic, onions
Turkey, duck, quail, mackerel, beef, lamb, venison, trout
Raw clear honey, monk fruit sweetener, green leaf stevia
Adzuki beans, mung beans, kidney beans
Rye and basmati rice
Try to eat an many of these foods as possible. Even if you do eat some cold foods, try to only do a minimal amount. Try to eat the majority of your foods warmed.
Eat soups, stews, warmed, mildly sweet, pungent foods to stoke your digestive fire and to encourage circulation in the body.
I’m going to attach some good soups and recipes that you can prepare that have this specific nature.
Also, here is a wonderful recipe to add:
Kitchari is well known as Ayurveda’s perfect food. It is recommended to eat in times of recovery and to aid a digestive system that is stressed.
Kitchari is a complete protein, full of fiber, and cleansing to the digestive tract. Kitchari is very easy to digest and is warming to the body. The pungent and aromatic herbs we will be using in this recipe are warming and are indicated in cold and damp conditions.
Kitchari uses mung beans as one of its main recipe components because they are the easiest bean to digest.
One of the herbs I am adding into this recipe is called Asafoetida, also called hing. This spice is known for its sharp and heating properties. Hing assists in digestion, soothes spasms, prevents and expels gas, and its pungency stimulates the body to increase blood flow and gastric juices to the intestines, which significantly improves digestion.
1 cup basmati rice
3/4 cup mung beans (if possible, soak beans in water for 4-6 hours to before using in recipe)
2 TBSP ghee, avocado oil, or coconut oil
4 cloves garlic (minced)
1 bunch fresh parsley (chopped)
1 yellow onion (chopped)
1 large piece of fresh ginger root-about the size of your middle finger- (finely chopped)
1 fresh piece of turmeric root-size of pinky finger-(finely chopped) or 1 tsp dried turmeric powder
2 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp asafoetida powder
6 cups of bone broth, vegetable broth, or water
Salt and black pepper to taste
In a large saucepan, lightly sauté onion, garlic, ginger, turmeric, cumin, coriander, and parsley in ghee or oil until lightly golden. Add broth or water, mung beans, and rice and bring to a light boil. Turn down heat to a simmer and place lid on pot. Simmer for 25-30 minutes or until rice and beans are tender. Check often and stir well throughout simmering time to prevent rice sticking to bottom of pot.
Season with salt and black pepper.
You may add 1-2 cups sautéed greens, such as; kale, spinach, nettles, chard, or dandelion greens to the kitchari before serving or place fresh raw greens on plate and spoon hot kitchari on top. Enjoy!
Here are some other recipes that are very good for cold and damp conditions in the body. These recipes also support the immune system: