I often get asked about whether diet can help to prevent recurring cold sores or not. My opinion is that diet can certainly help – It may not prevent them altogether but it can help lessen their recurrence and speed up recovery. Supporting immune function is central to the treatment and prevention of cold sores. The cold sore virus is an opportunistic virus, rearing its ugly head when our bodies are placed under increased stress. However, there are a few simple steps that you can take to help prevent outbreaks and speed up healing time.
A herpes outbreak often occurs when our immune system is down so it’s important to support your immunity with Vitamin C. Aim to eat at least 5 portions of fresh fruit and vegetables per day. Foods that are particularly high in vitamin C include strawberries, kiwis, peppers and broccoli. Also, try to avoid over consuming acidic foods such as dairy, wheat, sugar, preserved and processed foods.
There are two main amino acids (found naturally in food) that influence herpes outbreaks but have an opposing effect, they are Arginine and Lysine. L Lysine is an amino acid that prevents the replication of the cold sore virus. On the other hand, Arginine is the food source for the virus, it thrives on it. So, if you’re prone to cold sores, I recommend eating a diet low in Arginine and high in Lysine. Arginine rich foods include: chocolate, peanuts, seeds, oats and coconut. Lysine rich foods include: fish, chicken, kidney beans, eggs, fruit and vegetables. Lysine can also be taken in supplement form.