The Role of Nutrition in the
Occurrences of Infectious Diseases

By Brane Žilavec, 10 July 2021

♠ See Spiritual Science Enables Us to Critically Evaluate
the Work of the Medical Experts

One of the noticeable attributes of the official medical narratives about the so-called ‘corona pandemic’ was an absence of serious consideration of diet as an contributing factor for the occurrence of a ‘new’ form of serious acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) – that is, a form of respiratory infectious disease. They were solely focused on the virus as the culprit for its occurrence, on social interventions to mitigate its spread and on vaccines as the most suitable pharmaceutical intervention. However, there was one reference to diet that I did come across, hidden among the numerous guidelines issued by Public Health England: “try to eat healthy, well-balanced meals, drink enough water and try to avoid smoking, alcohol and drugs.” [1] One can wonder how many people in the UK have noticed this instruction and implemented it with the same zeal as the guideline to “stay more than 2 metres from others”?!

A similar attitude was noticeable also in the anthroposophical medical narratives. In spite of the fact that the official representatives of anthroposophic medicine have publicly stated that “vaccines, together with health education, hygiene and adequate nutrition, are essential tools for preventing infectious diseases,” [2] I could find very little confirmation that they were taking nutrition with the same level of seriousness as they were doing with the medicines and vaccines.

For example, with one exception [3] I have found mainly very general statements – such as: “sufficient sleep, healthy nutrition and regular physical exercise and walks in the fresh air are also important.” [4] Or extremely sparse instructions, such as: “attention should be paid at a physical level to healthy nutrition and the avoidance of poisons (tobacco, alcohol). Bitter vegetables strengthen immunity, greater sugar consumption reduces resistance.” [5]

To use such general statements has more or less the same effect as not saying anything. One just needs to look at the THREEFOLD HUMAN BEING to see the equal importance of nutrition via the metabolic system for the state of the total health as is ascribed to the rhythmic system and the nerve-sense system. And from the description of the Three Main Culprits for the Present Worldwide Health Crisis it is clear that we cannot ignore nutrition if we want to investigate the causes of the modern diseases.

In fact, Rudolf Steiner has given a clear guideline that “a modern system of medicine must always take the metabolic system, that is to say the normal processes of metabolism, as its point of departure; and starting from there it must deduce how internal illnesses, in the widest sense, can arise from the metabolism. Then, through an intimate knowledge of the action of the rhythmic processes, the true nature of therapy must be discovered. A modern system of medicine must, therefore, be founded on a study of the metabolic processes, and then, from this initial study, the transition must be made to everything which can make its appearance in the sphere of the rhythmic processes in man. Further, a kind of crowning of the whole will be attained in that one shows how a sound development of man’s spiritual possibilities presupposes a knowledge of what arises from the healing forces.” [6]

For that reason I will try to present in this article a few links between nutrition and the occurrences of the infectious diseases on the basis of my long study of the questions of nutrition from the all-encompassing perspective of anthroposophical spiritual science. [7]

The Role of Dietary Interventions in the Case
of Acute-Inflammatory-Infectious Diseases

In the principle NUTRITION AND ‘INNER PATIENT’ there is given a basic description of the nature of internal disease on the level of metabolic processes. The key difference between healthy and pathological metabolic processes is that:

As our metabolic processes are to a great extent influenced by what we eat and drink, it is not strange that there is an intimate link between eating and the occurrence of diseases. “Today it is thought that if a person eats this or that substance found out in nature, it will remain basically the same within the human organism. This is not true, however. Only the salts remain approximately the same. Everything from the animal and plant kingdoms, however, becomes something entirely different in the human organism. The human organism completely transforms it.

It was known at one time that the human physical organism is ‘not of this world’ in its inner composition, and it was known that becoming ill is basically nothing but a continuation of what happens through human eating. In fact, there was a time, especially among Arabian physicians, when every digestion was regarded as a partial process of illness, a time in which digestion was viewed in a way that was not quite incorrect: it was thought that when the human being had eaten, he had brought something foreign into himself and really became ill as a result. He must first, through his inner organism, through inner organic functions, overcome the illness.

Thus one continuously lives in a state of being ‘a little bit ill’, and then ‘a little bit overcoming the illness’, ‘a little bit healing’. One eats oneself ill and digests oneself well again. This view, which was in fact held for some time, especially among Arabian physicians, is altogether something quite sound, because there exists no real bor­derline between what today is called ‘eating oneself well’ and ‘eating oneself ill’. Just think how easily things can be disrupted within by eating. Something that normally can be overcome quickly passes over into something that can no longer be over­come. Then one becomes ill. But the borderline between these two states really cannot be drawn at all.” [8]

In NINE ASPECTS OF A HEALTHY MEAL there are presented three things in relation to food consumption that we need to consider if we want to support own health:

The importance of proper quantity can be seen from the following example. Let’s suppose that someone has taken a certain mineral poison; then “they should be given egg beaten up in water as an antidote. But wholesome things become poisons in the body if the body cannot cope with them – if too much is taken. Protein (as white of egg) can neutralise a poison in man but it is itself a poison if it decomposes in the body when too much is taken in. So close to each other are nutrition and poisoning. You will know yourselves how food can become poison. A great many illnesses are caused by faulty nutrition – i.e. no account is taken of the fact that only a certain amount of any substance can be taken if it is to be properly digested.” [9]

Therefore we should not be surprised that Steiner pointed out that “people are more resistant to infection the less unnecessary protein they eat (naturally a certain amount is necessary). Those who eat a lot of protein are more prone to infectious diseases such as diphtheria and smallpox than people who eat less protein.” [10]

We can arrive at the link between infectious diseases and nutrition in another manner. In the introductory text THREE MAIN TYPES OF THERAPIES we can see that the dietary treatment is the most suitable therapeutic intervention in the case of the irregularities of the astral body which manifest in the form of acute diseases. The medical dictionary defines an acute disease as “any illness that develops quickly, is intense or severe and lasts a relatively short period of time.” [11] Many acute diseases can be also classified as inflammatory diseases due to the occurrence of increased body temperature or fever.

If we now look at examples of infectious diseases we can see that a lot of them manifest with symptoms of increased temperature and that they can be intense and of short duration. [12] This means that in spite of the fact that Steiner classify infectious diseases as those which “originate in the physical body itself,” [13] we can still recognise the contributing impact of unsuitable diet on the occurrence of infectious diseases. This explains why “hygiene and adequate nutrition, are essential tools for preventing infectious diseases.” [14] And why medical authorities – if they are really serious about saving lives – should dedicate more effort to educate people how to eat a more healthy diet.

Nutritional Impacts on the Inner Biochemical Balance
Via Subconscious Activity of the Astral Body

If representatives of medical science were really honest scientists, they should acknowledge that there are still – in spite of all modern discoveries of metabolic pathways – many unexplained (or even not yet noticed) events evolving inside the human organism.

For example, spiritual science reveals that one of the very important activities of the astral body “that is executed internally consists of disintegrating food substances. What is useful is transmitted into the blood vessels, and the rest is eliminated through urine or faeces. This is the healthy, normal and regular activity of the human being in which the astral body works properly to dissolve the food substances. It absorbs into the body what is useful and discharges what is not. We must assume that this activity of man is no ordinary activity; rather, it contains something immensely wise.

Now, dissolved and transformed food substances are constantly being transmitted through blood vessels to the inner organs, and the nourishment that goes into the lungs is completely different from what goes to the spleen. The astral body is much smarter than the human being. Man can only stuff the provisions into his mouth, but the astral body can distinguish them. It is like sorting two substances, throwing one in one direction to be used there and the other in another direction. This is what the astral body accomplishes. It selects certain substances to dispatch to the lungs, spleen, larynx and other organs. A wise distribution of foodstuffs is at work within the human organism. The astral body is immensely wise, much wiser than we. The most educated person today would not know how to send the proper substances into the lungs, larynx or spleen; he would not even know what to say about it. But internally man can do this through his astral body.” [15]

What happens when this subconscious distribution of nourishing substances does not work properly? “Suppose we have in our body certain deposits that should have been directed to the larynx. Because someone’s astral body does not function properly, ‘larynx refuse’ is secreted everywhere in his body. The first thing that happens is that his larynx becomes weak. The organ does not receive sufficient sustenance, and thus the person suffers from a weakened larynx. But apart from that, his body contains larynx refuse, which is dispersed everywhere. The human body is mainly water, and the refuse dissolves in this whole fluid organization. The pure, animated fluid that a man requires within him is now polluted. This is what happens so often within ourselves. Deposits meant for certain parts of the body dissolve in our fluid organization, contaminating it.” [16]

Here we see that it is not only important what we eat but also how our supersensible bodies deal with the nutritive substances inside our organism. For when “the refuse of the larynx is dissolved in us and comes into contact with the stomach, it cannot cause damage there, because the stomach has what it needs and was not deprived of anything. But the bodily fluids flow everywhere in the human organism and penetrate into the area of the larynx, which is already weakened. It receives this polluted fluid, this water in which the larynx refuse is dissolved, and specifically from this the organ becomes diseased. The larynx refuse does not affect the other organs, but it does cause the larynx to become afflicted.” [17] Here we have another description of the origin of subtle biochemical imbalances that Steiner refers to in the case of an astral infection[18]

Further light is shed on this by means of the description of the ongoing subtle impacts on our inner biochemistry via sense organs. “In the environment of man, where the sphere of the senses is, there are real processes at work which play their part unceasingly in the life of the world. Let us suppose that light is working upon the human being through the eye. In the eye, that is, in the sphere of the senses, a real process is at work, a physical-chemical process is taking place. This continues into the inner part of the human body, and finally indeed into the inner part [of the human organism] where, once again, physical-chemical processes take place. Now imagine that you are standing opposite an illumined surface and that rays of light are falling from this surface into your eye. There again physical-chemical processes arise, which are continued into the muscle and blood nature within the human being.” [19] Here we have another description of the impact of the placebo effect [20] from a spiritual scientific perspective.

Therefore “when we look at the whole matter, we must reply in quite a specific way to the question: What is it that causes us to be stricken with a certain disease? We become sick when something injures us, and even in the case of internal illnesses something is actually injuring us. The impure fluid, in which substances are dissolved that should have been digested, injures us; it injures us internally.” [21]

“In sum, it is of prime importance to realize that an illness has its basis in the whole human organization.” And although we can see that nutrition is not the only cause that can contribute to the occurrence of an infectious disease, it is nevertheless an important part that should not be omitted or ignored or mentioned in very general manner as is often done by doctors (including anthroposophic ones). For Steiner has clearly indicated that “the individual organ becomes afflicted because the activity of the astral body directs substances to it that have been precipitated from within. The development of certain inner diseases like influenza, hayfever and even typhoid fever becomes comprehensible when we understand how substances improperly deposited in our bodies are dispersed in our fluid organism.” [22]

Organic Disease Is the Result of
the Loss of an Inner Capacity for Tasting

These days on the internet one can find charts and descriptions of typical symptoms of the so-called ‘new Covid disease’ in comparison to flu/influenza and cold. We are informed that “the most common symptoms [of Covid-19] are: new continuous cough, fever/high temperature (37.8°C or greater) loss of, or change in, sense of smell or taste (anosmia).” [23] If we compare them with the most common symptoms of flu, then we can discover that the only difference is that the loss of smell and taste is common in Covid, while in flu it appears only sometimes[24]

In the description of the Fourfold Nature of Real Foods it is shown that astral forces which are active everywhere in nature are outwardly manifesting in the colour, taste and aroma of foods. Another fact of life is that our relationship to food is to a great measure influenced by our personal sympathies and antipathies in relation to the typical taste and smell of various foods. As this is an expression of the activity of our own astral body we can as a result recognize the great role of the astral body in relation to nutrition.

Taste and the smell of foods enter into our field of perception via taste buds on the tongue and sensory cells in the nose. But the working of the human senses is much more complex and interesting when observed from a spiritual scientific perspective. This is evident from Steiner’s longer description of how the ego enters consciously into the most manifold experiences, amongst which is also our sense perception of taste.

“As the ego experiences sight, sound, smell, and mental pictures, it experiences the sensation of taste; that is to say, taste experienced especially in that interchange of functions with the external world which is connected with nutrition in its quite ordinary meaning, not taste in the ‘artistic’ sense. Our sense perception of taste is an experience of the ego in so far as we are conscious of it. Hence, when we put food into our mouth the sense perception we have is an experience of our ego. All our manifold experiences of taste are, therefore, so many experiences of the ego. And it is just this experience of taste which in a very interesting way, enables us to study, as it were, the merging of the ego into the astral body, the transition of con­scious experience into the subconscious.” [25]

Therefore we can say “that the experience of having tasted food dies down, so to speak, as the nutritive substance finds its way into the system. The sensation we had of tasting appears then to be dead as far as conscious life is concerned, but this is only an illusion. In reality, putting it bluntly, the experience of taste in the mouth becomes the experience of the whole organism and, strictly speaking, the whole organism is permeated by taste experiences as food is entering our body, during the process of digestion and so on, while our conscious sensation of tasting is only a small part of the general sense of taste experienced by our whole body.” [26]

However, “it is not only the nerve-tissues of the mouth which taste, but the whole alimentary canal tastes and, as the nutritive substances are absorbed by the organism, by the blood stream, and so on, the whole organism tastes again what the digestive organs have prepared for it. One could say that the whole organism is permeated by its sense of taste. And this organism is so imbued and vitalised by its taste-sensations that one can speak of differentiated tastes. There is such a thing as the organs tasting – each organ has its own specific experience of taste; the stomach has its own special experience of taste, and so have the liver, the lungs, and the heart. The general sense of taste differentiates itself into that of the organs.

So we see how the sphere of the ego experiences is submerged into the sphere of the astral experiences. For these differentiated tastes of the organs are subconscious, they do not penetrate man’s consciousness, and yet they are of tremendous importance, because the normal development of human life altogether depends on the normal development of these tastes of the organs, and growing old is partly due to the astral body’s becoming gradually more insensitive to the habit of tasting.” [27]

We need to comprehend that “the decline of the astral body’s susceptibility to the habit of tasting is a gradual one. But when the etheric body, and with it the physical body, is no longer given the results from tasting, then it is no longer possible for the astral body to permeate the etheric body with experiences of taste, or the physical body with vitalising influences. A good deal of what we call ageing is due to the astral body’s reduced sensitivity to taste, and when a single human organ loses zest and capacity for tasting – which means that it is no longer permeated by its astral body in the normal way – organic disease results.” [28]

Here we have rebuttal of the claim that the loss of the taste is typical for Covid-19 and that this is a new symptom, for in reality it is a symptom that is subconsciously present long before we might become aware of it. Nevertheless, by the help of spiritual science we are able to comprehend that in these modern times we need to consider the cumulative effect of decades of daily consumption of:

The cumulative impact of such a regular diet is the increasing incapacity to taste and smell the food which will (according to the above description of the subconscious happenings in the human organism) sooner or later result in an occurrence of an organic disease – that is, an internal physical disease. Of course, we should not forget all other possible contributing factors on human health and illness. However, the above explanation helps to understand why we should not be surprised at all if people with any form of serious acute respiratory disease also experience the temporary loss of taste and smell.

For an additional perspective see:

Materialistic versus Spiritual Scientific Explanation of the Origin of Infectious Diseases


  1. Public Health England, Guidance on social distancing for everyone in the UK, Looking after your mental wellbeing, March 2020
  2. Anthroposophic Medicine Statement on Vaccination, 15 April 2019
  3. Dr. Kelly Sutton was the only anthroposophic doctor that I came across who was more precise about what constitutes ‘healthy nutrition’. She wrote that innate immunity “is primarily dependent on nutrition and healthy lifestyle, such as: Avoid highly processed foods and excessive sugar. Eat organic as much as possible. Avoid GMOs which are pesticide-rich by definition and kill the good gut bacteria. Use fermented foods daily to support healthy gut flora, a part of our defense system. Take probiotics if you have known dysbiosis (abnormal gut bacteria) or recently used antibiotics.” Source: Rudolf Steiner and Germ Ghosts, 31.01.2020
  4. Michaela Glöckler, Questions and Considerations on the Corona Crisis from a Medical Point of View, September 2020. In this almost 18 pages long contribution there are besides the quoted reference to ‘healthy nutrition’ the additional five very brief sentences with the expressions: ‘diet’, ‘eating healthy’, ‘irregular or unhealthy eating’, and ‘meat consumption’. This low number of references and the very general nature of used terms – without any notion about the crucial importance of the food quality (i.e. eating whole natural/organic/biodynamic foods) – all just demonstrates the low level of ‘importance’ of nutrition from the perspective of anthroposophic doctors.
  5. This is the only reference to nutrition in a five pages long article Corona pandemic – aspects and perspectives, by Matthias Girke and Georg Soldner, 19 March 2020.
  6. Rudolf Steiner, Dornach, 09.11.1923; Man as Symphony of the Creative Word,
  7. If you look at the content of my website you can see the great complexity of nutritional relationships with all main aspects of human existence. With this in mind you can grasp why it is not possible to give the simple answers which many people would prefer when we deal with burning questions of human health and origins of diseases. But for a start, people should attain a basic understanding of the relationship of nutrition to the occurrences of diseases and to the restoration and maintenance of healthy balance. For this one needs to become familiar with the six nutritional principles in NUTRITION AND HEALTH.
  8. Rudolf Steiner, Dornach, 23.10.1922; Spiritual Relations in the Human Organism, Mercury Press, 1984 
  9. Rudolf Steiner, Dornach, 23.01.1924; Nutrition and Stimulants, Bio-Dynamic Farming & Gardening Association, 1991
  10. As above
  11. Source:, July 2021
  12. The use of the term SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) makes it clear that we are dealing in the case of Covid/flu and other infectious respiratory diseases with acute diseases.
  13. Rudolf Steiner, Berlin, 10.11.1908; The Being of Man and His Future Evolution,
  14. See note 2
  15. Rudolf Steiner, Dornach, 27.12.1922; Health and Illness, Vol. I,
  16. As above
  17. As above
  18. For a spiritual scientific description of the nature of infection see: In Reality We Can Get Infected Only on the Soul-Spiritual Level.
  19. Rudolf Steiner, Stuttgart, 28.08.1919; The Study of Man,
  20. For a spiritual scientific description of the nature of placebo see: The Negative Impacts of Fear in the Case of Epidemics.
  21. See note 15
  22. See note 15
  23. NHS Inform, Coronavirus (COVID-19): General advice, July 2021
  24. The loss of appetite is quite a common symptom in many inflammatory diseases. We can see that this is a part of the natural response of the organism with the aim to heal itself. Therefore any claim that loss of capacity of taste and smell is typical for Covid-19 only is just another example of twisting the facts to serve the ‘pandemic’ propaganda.
  25. Rudolf Steiner, Dornach, 13.12.1914; Mirror Images and Realities, typescript
  26. As above
  27. As above
  28. As above
  29. This is regretfully not the case only with conventionally produced food, but also for some organic produce. For example, due to regular consumption of fresh organic vegetables and fruit, I have been quite often experiencing the lack of taste of specific produce. One of the main reasons is the use of hybrid seeds and seedlings. I can really only enjoy the heritage kind of apples due to their superb taste; the rest are tasting either bad or so-so. It is the same with tomatoes, carrots and some other fruits.
  30. As sugar and salt work as taste enhancers, it is not surprising that the food industry is using them in all kinds of food products to cover up the lack of flavour of basic food ingredients.