Can diet affect herpes outbreaks?

Whether you get herpes outbreaks frequently or only occasionally, you’ve likely wondered whether your diet affects these outbreaks.

There are several different factors that can trigger an outbreak, and yes, the food you eat is one of them. Today we’ll discuss diet as a herpes trigger and the foods that can help significantly reduce the chances of future outbreaks.

Diet as a Herpes Trigger

People with herpes should be aware that certain foods can trigger outbreaks, while other foods help to reduce outbreaks.

Some foods contain high amounts of the amino acid arginine. Too much arginine can trigger an outbreak because the herpes virus needs arginine to grow and multiply. Foods like peanuts, chocolate, raisins and some grains (particularly wheat) have twice as much arginine as lysine, an amino acid that helps decrease outbreaks.

Lysine can suppress the growth of the herpes virus. Foods with lysine include vegetables, chicken, fish, beans and eggs. These foods have either equal parts lysine and arginine or more lysine than arginine.

It should be noted that one drawback of lysine is that it tends to be acidic, and when taken with acid-rich foods like meat and dairy products, it can result in hyperacidity, which can also trigger an outbreak. A good rule of thumb is to balance every serving of an acidic food with two to three servings of an alkaline food, like fruits, vegetables and beans.

Lysine-Rich Foods

Below is more information on lysine-rich foods that can help manage herpes outbreaks and strengthen your immune system.

  • Fruits: Eating fruit is a great way to get enough lysine in your diet. Fruits that contain high amounts of lysine include apples, figs, pears, mangoes and apricots.
  • Vegetables: Most vegetables are high in lysine and low in arginine, making them especially beneficial for those with herpes. Research has shown that cauliflower and broccoli are some of the best foods to eat to prevent a herpes outbreak. Beans, beets, and potatoes are also high in lysine.
  • Dairy: During an outbreak, consuming dairy products can help heal your sores more quickly. Yogurt has one of the highest amounts of lysine of all foods. Just be sure to eat yogurt without gelatin or corn syrup, since these ingredients contain arginine.
  • Meats: Beef, lamb, fish, and chicken are all rich sources of lysine.

Stress-Relieving Foods

Since stress is another common trigger of herpes outbreaks, it’s a good idea to consume foods that help decrease stress levels. Foods rich in B vitamins include brown rice, barley, mushrooms, turkey, bananas, salmon and tuna.

Eating foods that are rich in antioxidants can also help reduce stress levels. These foods include lemons, carrots, green tea, ginger, berries and whole grains.

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