Herpes Diet

Feb 08, 2012 No Comments by

Finding out about the optimum diet to help you control herpes only makes sense. Nutrition can play a big role in our health at any time. Eating the right or healthy things for our body can help us manage stress and feel good enough to be active. The wrong things can bog us down and make it difficult to get through each day. This is even more accurate for those who suffer from either form of herpes simplex as there are types of foods and supplements that can trigger an outbreak.

Understanding what foods to avoid and what foods will actually help you manage flare ups is a first step in the right direction. This is something that will allow you to be proactive with this illness and take some positive steps toward health. Eating the right foods and eliminating those foods known to activate your herpes simplex can directly affect the number and severity of outbreaks that you will experience.

Remember, illness and stress can directly influence outbreaks. If you are taking care of your body and learning about how to deal proactively with this viral infection, then the stress will melt away and eating the right things will make you healthy. Add in a little exercise each day and you will be well on your way to doing all that you can to naturally care for yourself and minimize herpes outbreaks along the way.

Start out by eating healthy. You know the drill, fresh fruits and vegetables, lean meats, and minimal sugar or sweets. While there are foods that feed the disease, in this case the herpes, and you want to avoid those foods, there are also foods that will make your immune system stronger, so you want to add those into your diet.

There isn’t one miracle food or supplement, its learning to combine the foods that are right for you, and exercising to maintain a healthy body.

The Battle of Amino Acids

There are twenty amino acids that our bodies need to be healthy. We can produce 10 of the 20 amino acids and the rest have to be taken from our food. If we don’t get enough amino acids, shorting ourselves on even one of the 10 that we can’t make on our own, then our body will take the amino acids from the protein in our muscles and other sources to get what it needs. The body can’t store amino acids for later use, you have to eat enough in food or take supplements every day.

Even though our body’s need all the amino acids there is actually one amino acid that helps reduce herpes outbreaks, and one that can make them worse.

Lysine and Arginine

The herpes simplex virus uses large amounts of arginine so that it can replicate itself. This would be the amino acid that can increase the number and severity of your outbreaks.

Lysine is another amino acid that intervenes with the absorption of arginine by your body. If you eat foods high in lysine and low in arginine then you can help control the herpes virus. While this might not always be possible, you can be aware of the foods that contain high amounts of arginine, and counteract their effect by eating foods that have high levels of lysine.

An example of this would be beans and rice. Brown rice has about 190mg of arginine per serving; cooked dried beans have 270mg of lysine. Combining the two in a beans and rice dish provides a healthy balance.

Lysine Rich Foods Recommended In a Herpes Diet

There are foods that are high in Lysine that you can include in your herpes diet to reduce the frequency of outbreaks and help you heal faster. They include:

  • Meats – fresh fish (especially sardines and cod), chicken, beef, lamb, pork, turkey, eggs
  • Dairy – cow and goat milk, cheese, yogurt
  • Most Fresh Fruits and Vegetables – especially avocados, mangos, beets, tomatoes, apples, pears, apricots, figs, and papaya
  • Dried beans
  • Cooked soybeans
  • Sprouts
  • Whole grains
  • Brewer’s Yeast

Arginine Rich Foods To Avoid in a Herpes Diet

Now comes the hard part. Arginine is an amino acid that your body naturally produces, so you can’t avoid it completely. Eliminating this amino acid should not be the focus of this list. What you do need to know is what foods are high in arginine so that you can limit your intake and hopefully get some control over your outbreaks.

It is also important to avoid supplements that contain arginine. This often includes protein shakes and drinks as well as multivitamins and muscle building formulas.

The foods that are rich in Arginine include:

  • Chocolate
  • Nuts – including coconut, and nut butters like peanut butter
  • Oats and oatmeal
  • Brown rice

Other Beneficial Nutrients for Herpes Diet

There are other things that you can add to your diet, such as nutrients that provide nourishment for your skin. These foods can help you resist an infection as well as help your body to heal if you do have a flare up. You want to make sure your diet or supplement list includes vitamin C, Zinc, and plenty of bioflavonoids.

The list of additional nutritional foods for your herpes diet includes:

  • Fruits and Vegetables high in Vitamin C – Lettuce, bok choy, spinach, citrus fruits, strawberries broccoli, Brussel sprouts, bell peppers, cauliflower, parsley, papaya
  • Foods high in Zinc – Pumpkin seeds, seafood, beans and lentils, dairy products, whole grain cereals, legumes
  • Foods high in Bioflavonoids – wine and juice made from grapes or berries, black tea (Earl Gray, etc), bright fruits and veggies like cherries, peppers, apricots, limes, mandarins, and more. Also eggplant, broccoli, lettuce, spinach, rosehips


A herpes diet is basically about balance. Understand the foods that feed the disease, and balance your diet with nutritional foods that will diminish the amount of food the herpes virus needs to thrive. The best thing you can do is to get healthy, exercise, eat right, and eliminate as much stress from your life as possible.

For more diet and nutrition tips for herpes, see here.


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