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By Christina Major  |  13 March 2020   

Throughout the ages, the martial artist took care of his or her body because it was their most valuable possession. They chose to eat healthy foods in smaller quantities to avoid problems that came with overeating. Mainly, overeating causes sluggishness, which equals defeat. Overeating is also linked to increased susceptibility to colds.

As outlined in the book The Roman Military Diet, by R. W. Davies, the author reviews the ration and supply lists for various military campaigns. The military did not allow binging and remained active.

There are some tips you can take when you're feeling a cold come on that can give you a boost. These are simple things that everyone has access to and are now proven to be beneficial for everyone.

Miso Soup – Hydration

Japanese Miso Soup | Fighting Arts Health Lab


Dehydration plagues many parts of the population and is exasperated when you are feeling sick. To combat viruses and bacteria, the body raises the core temperature to kill the invader. A fever is a natural and healthy part of our immune system, one that should not be interfered with unless at a dangerous level (greater than 105).

Because our core body temperature goes up, so does our perspiration. For fighters who dehydrate themselves to show off their muscles or meet a weight class, catching a cold is devastating. The body doesn't have enough fluid to get rid of waste products and toxins. And the lymphatic system is dried out, which means the white blood cells have a more difficult time reaching the invading bacteria or virus.

That means a 2-3 day cold for other people lasts 7-10 days for you. Can you be out of the ring for a week?

In Asian countries where soybean is commonly grown, tofu, the real fermented kind, is extremely healthy. Made up into miso soup, this highly nutritious and easily digested soup provides a lot of nutrition and fluid and increases in our digestion.

You can have miso soup anytime, and when you were not feeling well, it’s a great addition to chicken soup to getting your fluids and protein.

Rosemary & Chest Colds

Rosemary is a common herb used typically with chicken and lamb. It's also excellent for helping modulate fevers during the beginning stages of a cold. Rosemary increases blood circulation, which can increase your immune system's ability to flush out the invading bacteria or virus. It also has several antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and antimicrobial properties that can directly fight the invader.

Nutritional Deficiencies Rosemary | Fighting Arts Health Lab


As a member of the mint family, rosemary contains a lot of volatile oils. It was often used in Greek and Roman steam baths, particularly for gladiators, to help reduce congestion and increased perspiration. You should avoid using essential oil of rosemary, especially in steam applications. Because of the potency of the rosmarinic oils, as little as one drop of the oil can be considered toxic.

You can create a natural steam bath by adding a teaspoon of dried rosemary or a sprig of fresh rosemary to freshly boiled water. You can increase its effectiveness by adding a sliver of lemon, a little honey, mint, and thyme. Breathe the steam until the water is cold enough, then drink the tea.

Saw Palmetto & Vitality

Asian martial artists never knew about this plant, but Native Americans commonly used it. Most Asian martial artists used Butea superba and Krachaidam supplements because it provided the same effects as saw palmetto, although saw palmetto is more potent and easier to obtain. 

The saw palmetto is considered the typical male herb, helping to stabilize testosterone. It increases vitality and strength by helping the body properly balance various hormones. It can also help you avoid premature hair loss.

In today's society, the prevalence of preservatives and pesticides and overuse of protein supplements depresses testosterone production and encourage estrogen dominance. Men using saw palmetto helps negate some of this, as does increasing the number of vegetables and organic foods.

Nutritional Deficiencies Saw Palmetto | Fighting Arts Health Lab

You won't see a significant increase in muscle strength or endurance as you would with steroids, but you also don't get the side effects. This supplement helps reduce dihydrotestosterone, which could lead to prostate enlargement. For men, testosterone can help reduce hair loss, low sex drive, and can even help boost the immune system warding off chest colds and sore throats.

We can't avoid all exposure to coughs and colds, but we can help give our bodies the nutrition and strength it needs to ward off the worst of the viruses and bacteria we get exposed to. Using natural foods going to include a diet rich in fruits and vegetables and plenty of fluids, you and your best chance of warding off illness.

Adding lots of herbs and spices, especially from the herb and spice world, can give your body the best chance of avoiding being sick before the big fight. To learn more about the benefits of herbs and spices read, “Herbs for Martial Arts Performance.”

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About the author

Christina Major is a Holistic Nutritionist, Naturopath, and herbalist. She owns Crystal Holistic Health, a nutritional consulting and writing business specializing in complementary and alternative medicine. She has over a decade of helping people find health, lose weight, and get off medications. Christina has practiced martial arts for 18 years. Staring with an eclectic group in college, she practiced Tang Soo Do and Tai Kwan Do for three years after graduation. After moving to Central PA, she began studying Taijutsu where she obtained a 2nd-degree black belt and studied the art directly under the Soke and top Shihan in Japan. She met her husband, a 5th-degree in class, where they enjoy giving each other bruises and kisses.

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