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Doctors+ | Show Notes | Interview With Dr. Esther Konigsberg, MD

In this Alternative Food Network podcast, Esther Garfin interviews integrative physician Dr. Esther Konigsberg, MD, about what people should be eating and drinking during COVID-19 recovery. Unfortunately, many COVID patients or long-haulers continue to have lingering symptoms. The doctor provides credible tips on fighting infection and treating fatigue, respiratory issues, gastro issues and muscle and joint pain resulting from this coronavirus.

What does the body need when fighting infection?
To give the body the best chance for recovery and to boost the immune system, Dr. Konigsberg reminds the audience of the basics:

  • Minimize stress
  • Rest
  • Physical activity to the extent it’s possible
  • Proper nutrition

When it comes to foods, there is much data on fruits and vegetables increasing immunity and decreasing inflammation. According to Dr. Konigsberg, “we really want to bring down the inflammatory response because that often is one of the main underlying phenomena for long-haul issues”. Fruits and vegetables are rich in a substance called flavonoids.

Also important are omega-3 fatty acids which are found in foods like cold water fish, legumes, flax seeds and walnuts. They help to bring down the inflammatory response which is desired for reducing pain and improving breathing ability, says Dr. Konigsberg.

Other tips from Dr. Konigsberg of what to include in your diet are:

  • Garlic
  • Medicinal mushrooms such as shiitake and maitake mushrooms
  • Turmeric

Foods to avoid include:

  • Processed foods
  • Saturated fats like red meat; If you’re going to eat meat, eat leaner meats such as white chicken
  • Sugar -viruses and bacteria love to grow in a sweet environment.
  • Dairy – For people having respiratory problems, sometimes too much dairy can increase mucus production.

Fatigue from Coronavirus
As in a lot of viral illnesses, one of the predominant features can be fatigue. Dr. Konigsberg suggests adaptogens or an adrenal support as potentially being beneficial for people recovering from COVID to help repair the body and help improve energy. One example is red ginseng.

It has anti-inflammatory properties, anti-blood clotting properties and helps to support energy and the adrenal system. 

Dr. Konigsberg stresses the importance of consulting a healthcare professional because sometimes supplements can interact with medications and certain conditions. It’s also important to consult with a healthcare professional who understands the role of adaptogens. In Dr. Konigsberg’s experience, she has found that adaptogens can help to improve energy in somebody who is recovering from COVID.

Prolonged Respiratory Issues from COVID
COVID tends to have some major effects on the respiratory tract. People during the recovery period may notice shortness of breath. They may notice a worsening of asthma especially if they already have asthma, or a chronic cough. According to Dr. Konigsberg, a wonderful supplement to improve respiratory function is boswellia. She states that boswellia does a great job of decreasing the inflammatory substances called cytokines and it works very well for the lungs. For people who have asthma it can help decrease their use of inhalers.

In addition to boswellia, another good supplement according to Dr. Konigsberg is NAC, N-Acetyl Cysteine. NAC can help not only reduce inflammation but also mucus production in the respiratory tract. So NAC is something else that could be used in addition to boswellia if predominant symptoms are the respiratory problems following COVID.

Digestive Problems After COVID
Dr. Konigsberg mentions that she has had some patients who have new issues with their digestive systems after COVID that they never had before. Examples include:

  • Indigestion
  • Suddenly becoming intolerant to foods that one had no problems eating before
  • Diarrhea
  • Stomach pain
  • Constipation

“Make sure you have fiber in your diet”, suggests Dr. Konigsberg.  She says fiber gets broken down in our gut to form the friendly bacteria and we really need that friendly bacteria in order to properly digest our foods. Therefore, having a lot of fiber in the diet, such as whole grains and fruits and vegetables, is beneficial.

In addition, boswellia can help to reduce inflammation especially for those who’ve had diarrhea.

For people who are having problems with indigestion, sometimes using a good digestive enzyme can help. In addition, having a little swig of apple cider vinegar and water before a meal can also help break down food better. By breaking our food down, it doesn’t come back up into our esophagus so we don’t get that reflux or indigestion.

Dr. Konigsberg mentions another supplement called deglycyrrhizinated licorice (DGL) that helps to bolster the mucous layer of the digestive tract and helps to reduce indigestion.

Joint and Muscle Pain After COVID
Pain tends to be something that a lot of people notice after COVID. It could be joint pain. It could be muscle pain. Dr. Konigsberg mentions the role of exercise, specifically yoga for stretching the muscles and bringing blood flow to the muscles.

For people having muscle cramps, Dr. Konigsberg says taking a magnesium supplement can be very helpful. However, she cautions to be very careful with the magnesium you choose because some magnesium compounds like magnesium citrate can increase diarrhea. If you’re having issues with diarrhea, a magnesium bisglycinate is an option that does not create problems with the gut. Magnesium not only helps relax the muscles. It helps relax the mind and is fabulous for sleep as well.

Turmeric is a wonderful anti-inflammatory that can also help to reduce inflammation and pain.

Regarding omega-3 fatty acids that can be found in fish, Dr. Konigsberg suggests that to really have it work on a medicinal level, one could also get omega 3’s in a supplement form to get a much higher dosage of the components of omega-3s that are important which are EPA and DHA.

Vitamin D
Quite a few studies have been done about Vitamin D and coronavirus, most of them observational says Dr. Konigsberg. Based on the studies, Dr. Konigsberg suggests that taking vitamin D would be prudent and continuing to take it if you get COVID would be prudent as well.

Dr. Konigsberg routinely tests the vitamin D levels of her patients as it gives her the opportunity to be more targeted in how much vitamin D an individual should be taking.

Dr. Konigsberg advises to consult with your own healthcare practitioner before taking any supplements.


All content provided or opinions expressed are for informational purposes only and are not a substitute for professional medical advice. Please see advice from a qualified healthcare practitioner.