Best Foods + Worst Foods to Avoid Herpes Outbreaks | Ultimate Guide (2022)

Foods for herpes might relieve symptoms from HSV. Cold sores from oral herpes and genital herpes can both benefit. Certain foods might help prevent herpes outbreaks, while others trigger them. Learn the best foods for herpes and the foods to avoid on a therapeutic herpes diet, plus the reasons why.

✔️ Medically reviewed by Meagan Fleming, RNon Jan. 1, 2019

Best Foods for Managing Herpes

Best Foods + Worst Foods to Avoid Herpes Outbreaks | Ultimate Guide (1)

A Diet High in Lysine

Clinical studies and research suggest a possibility that a diet high in lysinemay have the potential to control herpes outbreaks.

Best Foods + Worst Foods to Avoid Herpes Outbreaks | Ultimate Guide (2)

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(Video) 3 Foods To Eat To Prevent A Herpes Outbreak With Alexandra Harbushka - Life With Herpes - Ep 135

L-Lysine is an amino acid that may cut the occurrence, severity, and duration of herpes outbreaks. Why? Well, it has to do with another amino acid: Arginine.

Back in the 60s, researchers showed that elevated arginine levels in the human diet made herpes outbreaks worse. It turns out the herpes virus needs arginine to replicate (1).

So what does lysine have to do with it? Simple. Lysine and arginine compete for absorption in the body (2).

The idea is that you want to consume more lysine in your diet than arginine. Then you’ve taken a step to reduce the amount of herpes virus that replicates in your system. Once the reproduction of herpes simplex virus is stopped or minimized, it could reduce the duration and frequency of a herpes outbreak.

There is no clinical data proving the effectiveness of dietary lysine for herpes in humans, only small preliminary studies on lysine supplements. Still, it remains a popular and well-known diet change for various types of HSV.

Lysine-rich foods may also strengthen the immune system to combat and prevent health concerns. Studies have shown that lysine with zinc supplementation in particular improved the immunity in elderly test subjects (3).

Finally, lysine has been shown in animal and human studies to actually reduce anxiety by boosting serotonin. Since stress is a major outbreak trigger, this is good to know.

Here are some lysine-rich foods:

(Video) 5 Super Foods That Stop Herpes Outbreaks

  • Meats: Since amino acids are building blocks of protein, they will be abundant in high protein sources like meat.Fish is best, then poultry, and beef.All are more rich in lysine than arginine.
  • Dairy: Dairy products can have as much as two to three times as much lysine as arginine!Yogurt has one of the highest amounts of lysine of all foods. So do cheeses including mozzarella. Try to eat yogurt that doesn’t contain gelatin or corn syrup. Gelatin has arginine.
  • Fruits: Generally, fruits don’t have as much lysine as high-protein foods. But you can choose ones with less arginine.Plenty of autumn and summer fruits contain high amounts of lysine. Try including papaya, mango, apricots,apples, figs and pears in your diet (4).
  • Vegetables: Cauliflower and broccoli are some of the best foods to eat to prevent a herpes outbreak. Soybeans (edamame), beets and potatoes are other vegetables richer in lysine that you can include in your diet. (Greens like kale and spinach contain about equal amounts of lysine and arginine.)

For more detailed information about lysine in the diet, plus handy food charts, check out our master article on Lysine to Arginine Ratios in Foods.

An Alkaline Diet

  • Some say alkalizing the diet has health benefits. An example is adding lemon to water as a fast way to improve the alkaline balance in your diet. While there is no data for this, acidic balancing foods are thought by some to help cause herpes outbreaks. You could also try a delicious alkaline limeade smoothie recipe to alkalize your diet.

Stress-relieving foodsBest Foods + Worst Foods to Avoid Herpes Outbreaks | Ultimate Guide (3)

Stress is a well-known trigger for cold sores and herpes outbreaks. Potentially, some foods can help decrease stress levels. Consider foods rich in B vitaminsfor this (5). This could be things like brown rice, bananas, barley, mushrooms, turkey, salmon and tuna. It’s also helpful to eat foods rich in antioxidants regularly (6), including berries, lemon, carrots, ginger, green tea, whole grains, barley grass, goji berries, and spirulina.

In fact, even the beneficial lysine mentioned above has been shown in human studies to reduce anxiety by raisingseratonin levels.

For more information, take a look at our articleVitamins 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. Avoid them for better results controlling herpes. As you probably now know, it’s best to minimize or avoid the intake of foods that are high in arginine.

Arginine encourages the reproduction of the herpes virus inside the body, resulting in more frequent outbreaks.

(Video) How To Get Rid Herpes Virus with Autophagy Fasting? – Natural Treatment For Herpes by Dr.Berg

However, you may not need to totally eliminate arginine. The trick may be to simply keep your lysine count higher throughout the day. As long as you have that balance, the lysine will naturally compete with the arginine to lower it in the body.

Acidic foods are also thought to weaken your immune system, making you susceptible to conditions and infections like herpes.

High-Arginine Foods to Avoid

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:

  • coconut meat (coconut oil is fine, since it has no amino acids)
  • orange juice
  • chocolate
  • wheat products
  • oats
  • lentils
  • protein supplements
  • gelatin
  • Some say to avoid taking caffeinated drinks while you have a herpes outbreak, as caffeine increases arginine levels.

Arginine-elevating foods

Caffeine can also increase the body’s utilization of arginine (6), leading to more frequent flare-ups.

A study done by the Journal of Nutrition shows that citrulline increases theavailabilityof arginine (7). 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. It’s up to you if you want to go to such lengths. You may reduce the intake of these foods as an extra precaution against outbreaks. Or, you may decide to simply work on keeping your lysine up and balanced, which may be easier.

Acidic foods and drinks

Some people recommend that you avoid all foods that cause acidity to prevent herpes. This includes:

  • alcohol
  • caffeine
  • all junk food
  • too much red meat
  • processed/white flour products
  • food additives
  • artificial sweeteners (8).

Some say that high acid levels weaken the immune system, making you susceptible to viral infections.

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 a 2004 study showed its effectiveness (9). Just check out our list of herbal and natural herpes remedies here.

(Video) how to get rid of genital herpes permanently

Supplements for Herpes Outbreaks

If you feel that your diet doesn’t contain enough lysine, you can take lysine supplements. Small preliminary studies suggest that daily lysine supplements might minimize and improve healing times of herpes outbreaks. In one study, patients were given 1000mg of lysine three times per day (10). However, the study used a small sample size and was limited it its scope.

Lysine supplementation is safe and it’s considered the best cure for herpes outbreak 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. Formulas 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 (11). 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 (12). Read the reviews from people who use it for HSV on the product page here!

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.15 Supplementsfor Herpes

Sources:

  1. The Role Of Arginine in the Replication Of Herpes Simplex Virus (Link)
  2. Biomarkers Of Arginine and Lysine Excess (Link)
  3. The Effect of Zinc and Lysine Supplementation On Infection Rate and Cd4 Count In Elderly (Link)
  4. Foods High in Lysine (Link)
  5. The Effect Of 90 Day Administration Of a High Dose Vitamin B-Complex on Work Stress (Link)
  6. Role Of Antioxidants In Generalized Anxiety Disorder and Depression (Link)
  7. Supplemental Citrulline Is More Efficient Than Arginine In Increasing Systemic Arginine Availability In Mice (Link)
  8. Top Alkaline Foods To Eat & Acidic Foods To Avoid (Link)
  9. Experimental Study Of the Effect Of Astragalus Membranaceus Against Herpes Simplex Virus Type 1(Link)
  10. Success Of L-lysine Therapy In Frequently Recurrent Herpes Simplex Infection, Treatment, and Prophylaxis (Link)
  11. Peppers Helpful In Studies Of Herpes (Link)
  12. Marine Algae May Offer Herpes Relief (Link)

FAQs

What foods help prevent herpes outbreaks? ›

Eating vegetables rich in antioxidants can boost your immune system and may minimize inflammation. Cauliflower, spinach, kale, and tomatoes are rich in free-radical binding antioxidants. They also contain more lysine than arginine, an amino acid ratio that's important to suppressing herpes.

What foods trigger herpes outbreaks? ›

Some people with herpes have found that avoiding foods high in the amino acid Arginine, may reduce recurrences. Higher levels of Arginine are found in foods such as chocolate and many types of nuts. Excessive coffee (caffeine), red wine and smoking are also triggers for some people.

What foods should you eat when you have herpes? ›

Meat and dairy products rich in lysine

Diets high in lysine and low in arginine can be used to help prevent and treat herpes. One example of a dairy product that may meet that need is grated, low-fat parmesan cheese.

Are bananas good for herpes? ›

Like indole-3-carbinol, lysine inhibits the herpes virus and works by helping to scupper its attempts to replicate in the body. While eating foods rich in lysine (such as bananas) has the theoretical capacity to help prevent cold sores, a more aggressive approach tends to work better in practice.

Does vitamin C cure herpes? ›

Vitamin C plus flavonoids may help speed cold sore healing. Vitamin C has been shown to inactivate herpes viruses in the test tube. In one study, people with herpes infections received either a placebo or 200 mg of vitamin C plus 200 mg of flavonoids, each taken three to five times per day.

What food is highest in lysine? ›

Good sources of lysine include foods that are rich in protein, such as:
  • Meat, specifically red meat, pork, and poultry.
  • Cheese, particularly parmesan.
  • Certain fish, such as cod and sardines.
  • Eggs.
  • Soybeans, particularly tofu, isolated soy protein, and defatted soybean flour.
  • Spirulina.
  • Fenugreek seed.

How do you keep herpes dormant? ›

Reducing Outbreaks
  1. Get plenty of sleep. This helps keep your immune system strong.
  2. Eat healthy foods. Good nutrition also helps your immune system stay strong.
  3. Keep stress low. Constant stress can weaken your immune system.
  4. Protect yourself from the sun, wind, and extreme cold and heat.

Does caffeine affect herpes? ›

At concentrations greater than 1 mg/ml, caffeine inhibited plaque formation by herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1), suppressed growth of HSV-1 at various steps of the replicative cycle, but did not inactivate virus infectivity.

Is yogurt good for herpes? ›

Plain yogurt has almost three times as much lysine as arginine and is an excellent choice for your breakfast diet for herpes. Many fruits — especially the tropical kind — are also low in arginine, so enjoy a cup of yogurt mixed with chopped papaya or pineapple.

Are eggs good for herpes? ›

Eat foods high in the amino acid lysine, such as eggs, potatoes, and dairy products, and avoid foods high in another amino acid, arginine, such as peanuts, rice, and chocolate. The herpes virus needs arginine to replicate, and lysine prevents arginine from getting into your bloodstream.

Are apples high in lysine? ›

An apple contains 9 milligrams of histidine, 24 milligrams of leucine, 22 milligrams of lysine and valine, 2 milligrams of methionine and tryptophan and 11 milligrams of threonine, phenylalanine and isoleucine.

How do you stop a herpes outbreak in tracks? ›

Antiviral medications offer a safe and effective way of controlling a herpes outbreak and can make it go away faster. There are three popular oral treatments for genital herpes – aciclovir, valaciclovir and famciclovir: Aciclovir is an antiviral medicine which stops the herpes virus from reproducing.

How far away is a cure for herpes? ›

It will still take a long time before these experiments lead to the first human trials of gene therapy to cure herpes. Jerome estimates that will be at least three years away. Herpes simplex viruses afflict billions of human beings around the globe.

Is it healthy to take lysine everyday? ›

Taking lysine supplements is very safe and does not seem to cause many side effects. Most people can take a daily dose of up to 3 grams (g) of lysine without any side effects.

Can lysine stop a herpes outbreak? ›

In one preliminary survey, 81% of people with HSV infections (including genital herpes) reported lysine was effective for reducing recurrences and shortening healing time in amounts averaging about 1,000 mg per day.

What does zinc do for herpes? ›

Zinc salts irreversibly inhibit herpes virus replication in vitro and are effective in treating herpes infections in vivo and have been shown in a clinical trial to be a effective topical treatment for HSL.

Can vitamin D cause herpes outbreaks? ›

Vitamin D. Vitamin D is a crucial nutrient for immune system function. If you're experiencing vitamin D deficiency, you may be more susceptible to genital herpes outbreaks.

Who should not take lysine? ›

Do not take lysine without medical advice if you are using any of the following medications: calcium supplements; or. gastrointestinal medicines (such as prucalopride or tegaserod).

Is coffee high in arginine or lysine? ›

Coffee in its raw form contains arginine. It also contains chlorogenic acid, cellulose, and sucrose which all get reduced after 4 mins of roasting at 240 degrees Celsius.

Is avocado high in lysine or arginine? ›

Avocados are nutrient dense and contain just about everything you need when it comes to fats, carbohydrates, and protein not to mention they are high in lysine. So add avocado to your daily diet.

What soap is good for herpes? ›

Bathe the affected genital area twice a day with mild soap and water. Gently pat dry with a towel or use a hair dryer set on warm. Using Aveeno (colloidal oatmeal soap or bath treatments) may also be soothing. Take a hot bath, if you can tolerate it.

Why is there no cure for herpes yet? ›

Herpes can hide in the nerve cells for a long time before activating, which makes finding a cure challenging. Research on vaccines is ongoing. Most people with herpes do not show symptoms, but the infection can also cause painful ulcers and blisters.

Does herpes worsen with age? ›

It might be annoying, but herpes doesn't get worse over time or cause serious health problems like other STDs can. If you don't get treated for herpes, you might keep having regular outbreaks, or they could only happen rarely. Some people naturally stop getting outbreaks after a while.

How do you stay healthy with herpes? ›

Ease Stress and Stay Healthy With Genital Herpes
  1. Get enough sleep. The more rested you are, the better you will be able to handle stress. ...
  2. Balance your diet. Make sure your diet includes all the nutrients the body needs to keep you going strong. ...
  3. Exercise. Physical activity is a great stress reliever. ...
  4. Reach out. ...
  5. Relax.
23 Aug 2022

Why do I keep having herpes outbreaks? ›

Triggers can include illness, stress, and hormonal changes. When the virus is active again, it travels along the nerves, back to where it first entered the body, and causes a new outbreak of sores and blisters (one of the symptoms of herpes). This is called a recurrence.

Do cashews trigger herpes? ›

Certain foods that are high in an amino acid called L-arginine are also thought to trigger recurrences of herpes. Certain nuts (almonds, peanuts, cashews and walnuts); grains (oats, whole wheat, brown rice); caffeinated drinks, and chocolate contain this substance and could trigger outbreaks in some people.

Is cinnamon good for herpes? ›

Hydroalcoholic extract of cinnamon can cause a significant reduction in the viral titer of herpes simplex type 1 in 3 stages: before, during, and after inoculation of herpes virus into the cell culture medium.

What foods have no arginine? ›

Low Arginine Foods
  • Coffee, brewed from grounds, prepared with tap water (0.001g)
  • Coffee, brewed from grounds, prepared with tap water, decaffeinated (0.001g)
  • Mollusks, clam, mixed species, canned, liquid (0.001g)
  • Syrups, table blends, pancake, with butter (0.001g)
  • Puddings, banana, dry mix, regular (0.002g)

Can diet Help herpes? ›

Also, a diet rich in the amino acid lysine has been shown to help stop the herpes virus from multiplying and prevent outbreaks. Examples of lysine rich foods that can be effective include: Dairy – particularly yogurt and cheese. Meats and fish – particularly high protein meats such as chicken and beef.

Can herpes spread in bath water? ›

Sharing a bath or shower together isn't a way the herpes virus is passed on – the same is true for spa baths and swimming pools. Washing clothes in the same washing machine, even when a person has a herpes recurrence, will not pass on the virus.

Do blueberries have lysine? ›

Because fruits and vegetables are typically low in protein, most are also low in lysine and arginine. But tomatoes, blackberries, grapes and blueberries have an unfavorable ratio of lysine to arginine. Nuts and seeds are protein foods that are significantly richer in arginine than lysine.

Which nuts are high in lysine? ›

Types of Nuts

Brafau says that both tree nuts -- like almonds, walnuts, pistachios and macadamias, and ground nuts -- like peanuts, exhibit high ratios of l-arginine to l-lysine. However, there are variations between different types of nuts. For example, macadamia nuts top out among all nuts at a ratio of 78 to 1.

Does oatmeal have lysine? ›

Rolled Oats:

Oats are cheap and easy making them a vegan food staple. 45 grams or 1/2 cup uncooked oats contains about 5.6 grams of protein and 242 mg of lysine (5).

Can you stop herpes early? ›

Cold sores respond to medications called antivirals, which work by stopping the herpes virus from replicating. Using the medication as soon as symptoms develop can stop the cold sore from developing or reduce its size and healing time.

What should I wear during a herpes outbreak? ›

During a herpes outbreak it can help to: Wear loose-fitting cotton clothing. Not wear underwear, pants, or pantyhose, when possible. Take warm baths to relieve pain and discomfort.

What medicine can you take daily for herpes? ›

Acyclovir: The oldest antiviral medication for herpes is acyclovir. It has been available since 1982 in a topical form (as an ointment) and sold since 1985 in pill form. Acyclovir has been shown to be safe in persons who have used it continuously (every day) for as long as 10 years.

Can diet Help herpes? ›

You may have heard that certain foods help fight genital herpes, or that people with genital herpes should stick to certain diets. In truth, food choices can make a difference in helping prevent genital herpes outbreaks, but mainly by contributing to a healthy, hard-working immune system.

How can I prevent herpes forever? ›

There is no cure for genital herpes. However, daily use of antiviral medicines can prevent or shorten outbreaks. Antiviral medicines also can reduce the chance of spreading it to others.

What foods have no arginine? ›

Low Arginine Foods
  • Coffee, brewed from grounds, prepared with tap water (0.001g)
  • Coffee, brewed from grounds, prepared with tap water, decaffeinated (0.001g)
  • Mollusks, clam, mixed species, canned, liquid (0.001g)
  • Syrups, table blends, pancake, with butter (0.001g)
  • Puddings, banana, dry mix, regular (0.002g)

Does yogurt help with herpes? ›

Also, a diet rich in the amino acid lysine has been shown to help stop the herpes virus from multiplying and prevent outbreaks. Examples of lysine rich foods that can be effective include: Dairy – particularly yogurt and cheese.

Are avocados good for herpes? ›

Avocado - Avocados are really good to include in your diet regardless of having herpes but in this case, they are helpful when fighting the virus. Avocados are nutrient dense and contain just about everything you need when it comes to fats, carbohydrates, and protein not to mention they are high in lysine.

What drinks are high in lysine? ›

21 Beverages Highest in Lysine
  • Protein Powder Soy Based. ...
  • Strawberry-Flavor Beverage Mix Powder Prepared With Whole Milk. ...
  • Coffee Substitute Cereal Grain Beverage Powder Prepared With Whole Milk. ...
  • Malted Drink Mix Natural Powder Prepared With Whole Milk. ...
  • Malted Drink Mix Chocolate Powder Prepared With Whole Milk.

How far away is a cure for herpes? ›

It will still take a long time before these experiments lead to the first human trials of gene therapy to cure herpes. Jerome estimates that will be at least three years away. Herpes simplex viruses afflict billions of human beings around the globe.

What does zinc do for herpes? ›

Zinc salts irreversibly inhibit herpes virus replication in vitro and are effective in treating herpes infections in vivo and have been shown in a clinical trial to be a effective topical treatment for HSL.

How do you stop a herpes outbreak in tracks? ›

Antiviral medications offer a safe and effective way of controlling a herpes outbreak and can make it go away faster. There are three popular oral treatments for genital herpes – aciclovir, valaciclovir and famciclovir: Aciclovir is an antiviral medicine which stops the herpes virus from reproducing.

What kind of doctor do you go to for herpes? ›

If you think you have genital herpes or other sexually transmitted infection, make an appointment to see your primary care doctor or gynecologist.

Are apples high in lysine? ›

An apple contains 9 milligrams of histidine, 24 milligrams of leucine, 22 milligrams of lysine and valine, 2 milligrams of methionine and tryptophan and 11 milligrams of threonine, phenylalanine and isoleucine.

Is coffee high in lysine or arginine? ›

Coffee in its raw form contains arginine. It also contains chlorogenic acid, cellulose, and sucrose which all get reduced after 4 mins of roasting at 240 degrees Celsius.

Is it healthy to take lysine everyday? ›

Taking lysine supplements is very safe and does not seem to cause many side effects. Most people can take a daily dose of up to 3 grams (g) of lysine without any side effects.

Is cinnamon good for herpes? ›

Hydroalcoholic extract of cinnamon can cause a significant reduction in the viral titer of herpes simplex type 1 in 3 stages: before, during, and after inoculation of herpes virus into the cell culture medium.

Are eggs good for herpes? ›

Eat foods high in the amino acid lysine, such as eggs, potatoes, and dairy products, and avoid foods high in another amino acid, arginine, such as peanuts, rice, and chocolate. The herpes virus needs arginine to replicate, and lysine prevents arginine from getting into your bloodstream.

How do you stay healthy with herpes? ›

Ease Stress and Stay Healthy With Genital Herpes
  1. Get enough sleep. The more rested you are, the better you will be able to handle stress. ...
  2. Balance your diet. Make sure your diet includes all the nutrients the body needs to keep you going strong. ...
  3. Exercise. Physical activity is a great stress reliever. ...
  4. Reach out. ...
  5. Relax.
23 Aug 2022

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