Dampness is a condition that can be created in the body by our internal or external environment. In Traditional Chinese Medicine, we look at the root of conditions similar to weather. Too much Heat, Cold and Dampness are common culprits for conditions such as arthritis, chronic fatigue, MS, cancer, candida, and much more. In 5 Element theory, dampness is often associated with the Earth element. Once it’s developed symptoms, such as low energy, feeling sluggish, mental fog, low motivation, weight gain, craving sweet foods….sinus congestion, post nasal drip, and….excessive mucous production can appear (just to name a few). It can lead to yeast/fungal growth and be a great harbor for parasites.
Long exposures to cold and damp conditions and contribute to it, but more often in our culture we see the development of it stem from internal environment. Foods that are too sweet, salty, mucus-producing, stale or rancid. It is also aggravated by excessive anxiety or worry, late night eating and overeating, antibiotics and oral contraceptives.
Once dampness is set in the body it can take time to resolve but can be done so by diet and exercise. Below are some tips on foods to avoid/limit and to include..
Be mindful of:
– Carbohydrates should be consumed moderately as they are mucus and acid forming, meaning even a small amount can contribute to yeast and fungal conditions. If chewed thoroughly and not over-eaten, carbs can become more alkaline and less mucus-forming.
– Very sweet or starchy veggies such as potatoes and concentrated sweeteners (check juices) are best avoided
– Most red meats, milk, and eggs, tofu, soy products, pineapple, salt and concentrated sweeteners have properties that promote yeast/fungal growth.
– Foods rich in oils can overwork the liver, weaken the pancreas, and cause dampness, so it is suggested that nuts, seeds, avocados, oils and other fatty foods are used very sparingly if at all. (Flaxseed oil is the exception and can be used up to 1 tablespoon a day)
-Avoid dairy, wheat, processed foods, refined flour, pastries, pasta, breads, and limit coffee, alcohol, sugar, sugar substitutes, peanuts and peanut butter, bananas, avocados
You’re good with:
– Best grains: Millet, roasted buckwheat groats (kasha), amaranth and quinoa.
– Aduki beans help dry damp conditions and mung beans help detoxify, so these can be used more often than other beans. Their sprouts are especially recommended.
– Alternative milks (hemp, almond, oat, rice) and raw goats milk will not usually contribute to damp conditions in the body.
– Carrots, parsnips, rutabagas and beets
– Small amounts of fruits are ok. Berries, pomegranates, lemons, limes are fine.
– Lettuce, celery, turnip, asparagus, pumpkin, vinegar (tablespoon of apple cider vinegar diluted in a cup of water), papaya help dry dampness
Lastly, exercise is important as it circulates the blood and oxygenates the body.
If you think you might have a damp condition let’s talk. While these diet suggestions are safe for all to try, tailoring it to your specific needs can help you resolve it faster.
*Information sourced from Paul Pitchford’s Healing with Whole Foods, 3rd edition.