Herpes is the popular name for infections brought about by one of the two types of herpes simplex virus. Genital herpes affects the genitals, anal area or buttocks, while oral herpes, also called fever blisters or cold sores affects the face. In a diet for herpes, some foods are known to be beneficial for combating herpes, while others are known to trigger outbreaks. In order to deal with the virus, it’s best to know the best foods for herpes, as well as foods to avoid with herpes diets. Up until now, herpes has no known cure and some people suffer frequent, troublesome outbreaks caused by triggers like stress, diet and sunlight. Eating certain foods and avoiding others can help treat and prevent herpes outbreaks.
Best Foods for Managing Herpes
A Diet high in Lysine
Clinical studies and research have proven that a diet high in lysine helps to control herpes outbreaks. Lysine is an amino acid that cuts the occurrence, severity, and duration of the frequent herpes outbreak. The idea is that you want to consume more lysine in your diet than arginine.
Once the reproduction of herpes simplex virus is stopped or minimized, it can significantly reduce the duration and frequency of a herpes outbreak. Lysine-rich foods also strengthen your immune system to combat and prevent viruses that wreak havoc on your health. Here are some lysine-rich foods:
- Fruits: Eating fruit is a great way to get adequate lysine into your body. Plenty of autumn fruits contain high amounts of lysine. Try including apples, figs and pears in your diet. Summer treats like mangos and apricots are also beneficial.
- Vegetables: Research has shown that cauliflower and broccoli are some of the best foods to eat to prevent a herpes outbreak. Most vegetables are high in lysine and low in arginine. Beans, beets and potatoes are other vegetables rich in lysine that you can include in your diet.
- Dairy: Consuming dairy products when you are suffering from herpes will help cure your sores fast. Yoghurt has one of the highest amounts of lysine of all foods. Make sure you eat yogurt that doesn’t contain gelatin or corn syrup. Gelatin has arginine, which may cause outbreaks.
- Meats: Eating various types of meats can help cure your herpes. Beef, lamb, fish and chicken are all rich in lysine.
An Alkaline Diet
- Adding lemon to water is a fast way to improve the alkaline balance in your diet. Acidic foods are known to cause herpes outbreaks. Avoid taking caffeinated drinks while you have a herpes outbreak, as caffeine increases your arginine levels. You could also try a delicious alkaline limeade smoothie recipe to alkalize your diet!
Stress is a common trigger for herpes outbreaks. Luckily, some foods can decrease stress levels, especially those rich in B vitamins like brown rice, bananas, barley, mushrooms, turkey, salmon and tuna. Also eat foods rich in antioxidants regularly, including berries, lemon, carrots, ginger, green tea, whole grains, barley grass, goji berries, and spirulina.
For more information, please read Vitamins for Herpes.
Foods to Avoid With Herpes
Since you know the best foods for herpes outbreaks, you should also know the foods that may trigger outbreaks and avoid them to have the best chance of controlling herpes. In particular, it’s best to minimize or avoid the intake of foods that are acidic or high in arginine. Acidic foods or those rich in arginine encourage the reproduction of the herpes virus inside the body, resulting in more frequent outbreaks. Acidic foods are also known to weaken your immune system, making you susceptible to conditions and infections like herpes. Some of the arginine-rich or acidic foods to avoid with herpes include the following:
Low-lysine, high-arginine foods
Arginine promotes the growth and replication of herpes virus, while lysine hinders it. If you have herpes, you can consume foods rich in arginine provided your arginine-lysine ratio is in favor of lysine. To avoid outbreaks, cut down your intake of low-lysine, high-arginine foods, such as:
- seeds and nuts
- coconut (coconut oil is fine since it has no amino acids)
- orange juice
- wheat products
- protein supplements
A study done by the Journal of Nutrition shows that citrulline encourages the production of arginine. Citrulline is a nutrient available in high amounts in watermelon flesh and rind. This means that eating watermelon may increase the levels of arginine in your blood serum. Citrulline is also found in other cucurbits, such as cantaloupe and cucumbers, at extremely low levels, as well as in milk protein casein. Reduce the intake of these foods if you want to avoid outbreaks.
Acidic foods and drinks
It’s recommended that you avoid all foods that cause acidity to prevent herpes. This includes:
- all junk food
- too much red meat
- processed/white flour products
- food additives
- artificial sweeteners.
High acid levels weaken your immune system, making you susceptible to viral infections. Caffeine can also increase the utilization of arginine, leading to frequent flare-ups.
In addition, immune-strengthening herbs can help. Olive leaf, garlic, Echinacea, licorice and Propolis are valuable in boosting your immune system. Astragalus is usually prescribed in Chinese Medicine for those who have oral herpes. And olive leaf is also a popular treatment for HSV 1 and 2. Just check out our list of herbal and natural herpes remedies here.
Supplements to treat herpes outbreaks
If you feel that your diet doesn’t contain enough lysine, you can take the recommended lysine supplements. Research has shown that a daily intake of at least 1250 mg of lysine supplements can control herpes outbreaks. Lysine supplement is safe and it’s considered the best cure for herpes sufferers. Lysine supplements that have minerals, such as bioflavonoids and zinc, as well as vitamins can work miracles to prevent and control herpes outbreaks. Here is a good lysine supplement that includes zinc. Each pill contains 333mg, so you can adjust to the proper dosage. Physicians often include zinc, vitamin B complex and vitamin C supplements in a herpes diet.
Another well-known supplement used in treating herpes is commonly called curcumin, or turmeric extract. It’s an anti-inflammatory that makes your body cells less susceptible to viral infections. See it here. A traditional supplement such as cayenne pepper is also sometimes recommended by physicians to fight the herpes virus. You can apply either of these externally to ease pain. Red marine algae is another great supplement as it helps your immune system fight the herpes virus and prevents its re-occurrence.
Knowing what to eat and what to avoid when you’re suffering from herpes is vital, especially since there’s no cure for the virus. You can avoid the severe symptoms of the virus by choosing the best foods for herpes to manage the outbreaks, and by avoiding foods that encourage or worsen herpes outbreaks.