2 Foods You Should Never Eat If You Have a Virus

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Seeds and nuts can be great sources of plant-based protein and valuable nutrients, especially for people eating mostly raw foods and vegetarian diets. But some components of seeds and nuts boost immunity, while other components can actually lower your body’s resistance to viral infections. These can be the foods that feed viruses.

When you have a virus, take special care as seeds and nuts contain high levels of the amino acid arginine.

Vitality SuperGreen, found in the new Body Ecology Antiviral Protocol, is a preferred source of vegetarian protein as an alternative to nuts and seeds. Try it as a nourishing morning drink or an afternoon energy booster and pick-me-up!

Yes, nuts and seeds can be great vegetarian sources of protein and nutrients, but watch out if you have a virus — nuts and seeds can encourage viral infections!

So what should you eat when you have a virus? Click here for more information on the Antiviral Protocol.

The Good

Besides providing a valuable and a vegetarian source of protein, both seeds and nuts also provide helpful essential fatty acids. These omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids play a crucial role in brain function and encourage normal skin, hair, and bone growth. They also regulate metabolism, maintain reproductive function, and can prevent depression.

As research has told us time and again, there are plenty of reasons to love nuts and seeds. Eating nuts more than three times a week could help you to live longer — by reducing the risk of death caused by cancer or heart disease.1,2 Nuts can not only lower the risk of death among men and women, but they may help to improve cognitive function in older adults, again thanks to a hefty dose of brain-protective fats.3,4 Even the humble sunflower seed has been hailed as one of the “top nuts” for lowering cholesterol to improve heart health, out of 27 nuts and seeds reviewed by the American Chemical Society.5

But despite their many health benefits, you might have a hard time digesting most nuts and seeds when you first start Stage 1 of The Body Ecology Diet. This is a time when your “digestive fire” is most likely to be quite low. This problem should correct itself over time as your inner ecosystem becomes increasingly fortified with great tasting fermented foods and beverages. For some people, however, nuts and seeds will always be hard to digest — so simply avoid them.

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In our bestselling book The Body Ecology Diet, you will note that the only nuts we recommend eating as you start the diet are almonds. Almonds are the most alkaline of the nuts.

Soaked seeds like pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds are acceptable on the initial stages of The Body Ecology Diet, but sesame seeds are not. While all nuts and seeds are high in copper and oxalates, sesame seeds have an extremely high copper content, and we get reports that they do not work well for many people. Peter D’Adamo, author of Eat Right for Your Type, found that blood types B and AB test poorly for sesame seeds.6

So are nuts and seeds right for you on a regular basis? Here’s where the Body Ecology Principle of Uniqueness comes into play. You are basically an experiment of one. So experiment and see what works best for you.

There is another time when it is best for virtually everyone to steer clear of nuts and seeds.

2 Foods That Feed Viruses to Avoid: Nuts and Seeds

When you have a virus, take special care as seeds and nuts contain high levels of the amino acid arginine. While research has been conflicting at best, some studies show that arginine may actually encourages attacks of herpes-like viruses.7,8 A diet with too much arginine enhances the growth of low-grade chronic (often unnoticed) viral infections, as well as bouts of chicken pox, shingles, mononucleosis, or even just a common cold sore (herpes)!

So when you feel a virus coming on, or you suspect you are harboring low-grade chronic viral infections, be sure to avoid arginine-containing nuts and seeds.

If you are a raw foodist or vegetarian and rely on seeds and nuts for protein, Body Ecology’s Vitality SuperGreen can be a great plant-based alternative that provides an excellent source of complete, easily-assimilated protein, enzymes, vitamins, minerals, lignans, essential fatty acids, nucleic acids, and beneficial microflora. Proteins are also in the grain-like seeds recommended on The Body Ecology Diet: quinoa, millet, amaranth, and buckwheat.

Our recommended fermented foods and beverages contain protein, and they also greatly enhance your ability to digest all proteins. Even better, the Body Ecology Immune Power Protein Shake provides a complete source of vegan protein and may help to calm inflammation and boost immunity.

There’s been a big buzz about Body Ecology in the news. Here’s our latest feature in The Chalkboard.

Anti-Viral Lysine to the Rescue

Since viruses do not respond to antibiotics or most other traditional treatments, a healthy diet is the best way to encourage healing. Protect your body from susceptibility to viruses by lowering your intake of arginine and increasing your intake of another basic amino acid, lysine. Lysine boosts your body’s immunity and could protect you from future outbreaks.

Lysine has potent antiviral properties and actually prevents bacteria and viruses from spreading in your body! In regard to arginine’s potential to spread the herpes virus, the University of Maryland Medical Center states, “Lysine has antiviral effects by blocking the activity of arginine, which promotes HSV replication… Most experts believe that lysine does not improve the healing of cold sores. But supplementation may reduce recurrences or improve symptoms.”9

As a symptom-reducer, lysine is powerful, even showing promise in relieving the severity of a mental disorder like schizophrenia when taken alongside regular medication.10 This essential amino acid that the body cannot produce on its own is easy to find in Body Ecology-friendly grains like amaranth and quinoa and is plentiful in fish.

Avoid these sources of arginine if you have a virus:

  • Nuts and seeds: Peanuts, almonds, pecans, cashews, etc.
  • Chocolate
  • Caffeine
  • Oats
  • Soybeans (unless they are fermented, such as miso)

Add these foods rich in lysine instead:

  • Fish
  • Body Ecology grain-like seeds: Amaranth, buckwheat, and quinoa.
  • Cow’s milk kefir: Dairy kefir should be avoided on Stage 1 of The Body Ecology Diet while the inner ecosystem is healing and can be integrated on Stage 2 if it is well-tolerated.

Heal Your Inner Ecosystem and Boost Your Immunity

The Body Ecology Diet (BED) provides a great way to protect your body from viral and fungal infections by cultivating a lavish inner ecosystem of beneficial bacteria. With a focus on adding fermented foods and drinks, following the Body Ecology program populates your intestines with probiotics that aid digestion, increase nutrient absorption, and boost your immunity — making you less susceptible to infections of all kinds.

Keep in mind that until your inner ecosystem heals, most nuts are too acid-forming to consume.

Nuts and seeds can be a wonderful addition to a healthy diet, but if you have a virus, decreasing your intake of the amino acid arginine and increasing your intake of lysine can help your body heal. With proper nutrition, you’ll lower your likelihood of suffering from common viruses.

If you’re ready to start the healing process and need to get a virus under control, we urge you to begin with our complete 4-10 day Antiviral Protocol. The Body Ecology Living Cookbook also has tasty and delicious low-arginine solutions for everyone, including people following vegetarian and raw food diets. It contains flavorful recipes with key foods mentioned in this article, like Heidi’s Onion Pie with amaranth crust.

What To Remember Most About This Article:

Nuts and seeds are known to be healthy foods — unless you have a viral infection. When you’re sick, nuts and seeds can encourage the growth of viruses in the body. The reason? They contain the amino acid arginine in high levels, which has been known to trigger attacks of herpes-like viruses and further the growth of low-grade viral infection.

If you are trying to recover from a viral infection, arginine-rich nuts and seeds are best to avoid.

While viruses do not respond to antibiotics, improving your diet can help to support healing in the body. You can strengthen your body’s natural defense by reducing arginine intake while increasing the intake of another basic amino acid called lysine. Antiviral lysine can help to strengthen immunity and protect against viral outbreaks.

To heal from a virus and reduce the risk of infection in the future, it helps to support your inner ecosystem with the beneficial bacteria that it needs to thrive:

  • Drinking a fermented drink like Passion Fruit Biotic daily can aid digestion and nutrient absorption, while boosting immunity.
  • Instead of eating your favorite nuts and seeds, try Vitality SuperGreen as a nourishing vegetarian protein alternative and tasty morning drink, rich in vitamins, minerals, and beneficial microflora. Our chocolate Immune Power Protein Shake also provides a complete source of vegan protein.
  • On Stage 2 of The Body Ecology Diet, you can enjoy milk kefir as a probiotic-rich source of lysine, if it is well-tolerated.
  • Check out our bestselling book The Body Ecology Diet for more information on the recommended nuts to eat or use The Body Ecology Living Cookbook to make low-arginine recipes that support your healing.
  • Try the complete Body Ecology Antiviral Protocol. It includes immune-strengthening products, the Antiviral Webinar and transcript, and the ultimate recovery e-book to help suppress your virus within just 10 days.


  1. Marta Guasch-Ferré, Mònica Bulló, Miguel Ángel Martínez-González, Emilio Ros, Dolores Corella, Ramon Estruch, Montserrat Fitó, Fernando Arós, Julia Wärnberg, Miquel Fiol, José Lapetra, Ernest Vinyoles, Rosa Lamuela-Raventós, Lluís Serra-Majem, Xavier Pintó, Valentina Ruiz-Gutierrez, Josep Basora and Jordi Salas-Salvado. Frequency of nut consumption and mortality risk in the PREDIMED nutrition intervention trial. BMC Medicine, 2013; 11: 164 DOI: 10.1186/1741-7015-11-164.
  2. Sabine Rohrmann and David Faeh. Should we go nuts about nuts? BMC Medicine, 2013; 11: 165 DOI: 10.1186/1741-7015-11-165.
  3. Piet A. van den Brandt, Leo J. Schouten. Relationship of tree nut, peanut, and peanut butter intake with total and cause-specific mortality: a cohort study and meta-analysis. International Journal of Epidemiology, June 2015.
  4. Cinta Valls-Pedret, Aleix Sala-Vila, Mercè Serra-Mir, Dolores Corella, Rafael de la Torre, Miguel Ángel Martínez-González, Elena H. Martínez-Lapiscina, Montserrat Fitó, Ana Pérez-Heras, Jordi Salas-Salvadó, Ramon Estruch, Emilio Ros. Mediterranean Diet and Age-Related Cognitive Decline. JAMA Internal Medicine, 2015; DOI: 10.1001/jamainternmed.2015.1668.
  5. American Chemical Society. “Sunflower Seeds, Pistachios Among Top Nuts For Lowering Cholesterol.” ScienceDaily.
  6. D’Adamo, Peter, and Catherine Whitney. Eat Right 4 (for) Your Type: The Individualized Diet Solution to Staying Healthy, Living Longer & Achieving Your Ideal Weight: 4 Blood Types, 4 Diets. New York: G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 1996. Print.
  7. “A multicentered study of lysine therapy in Herpes simplex infection,” by R.S. Griffith, et al. Dermatologica. 1978;156(5):257-67.
  8. Virology. 2008 Apr 25;374(1):23-32. doi: 10.1016/j.virol.2007.11.014. Epub 2008 Jan 28.
  9. “Lysine.” University of Maryland Medical Center.
  10. Caroline Wass, Daniel Klamer, Evangelos Katsarogiannis, Erik Pålsson, Lennart Svensson, Kim Fejgin, Inga-Britt Bogren, Jörgen A Engel and Birgitta Rembeck. L-lysine as adjunctive treatment in patients with schizophrenia: a single-blinded, randomized, cross-over pilot study. BMC Medicine, (in press).
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