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Herpes Diet

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A diet for herpes will include the following foods, clinically proven to reduce herpes outbreaks.

The herpes simplex virus, whether oral herpes (herpes labialis, HSV-1) or genital herpes (herpes genitalis, HSV-2), is a widely communicable, infectious disease for which there is no known cure. Fortunately, herpes outbreaks can be controlled, and to an extent, prevented, with diet.

While there is no “official” herpes diet, there is plenty of clinical support for foods that 1) improve general health, 2) heal the skin, and 3) specifically destroy the herpes simplex virus.

People who suffer from herpes should experience positive changes with this three-pronged approach.

The typical American diet

The typical American diet is anything but healthy.

A quick look at what most people in the United States eat reveals large cups of sugar and cream- laden coffee drinks and either 800 calorie muffins, several doughnuts, or a couple of sausage and egg sandwiches from a local fast food restaurant for breakfast.

At lunch, the choice is usually a quick trip through the drive-through at another fast food restaurant, or a heavier “business lunch” with clients.

For dinner, parents frantically drive their children around to their after school activities, and pick up something they can eat in the car.

If the family does eat at home, they often throw in a couple of frozen pizzas, some hot dogs, or something that cooks in the microwave for ten minutes.

Over time, eating like this leads to all kinds of serious health problems. In addition, this lifestyle, although typical in the U.S., suppresses the immune system. This diet makes it very hard for the body to heal any infection it is fighting, including herpes.

Clean eating: a diet to improve the immune system

In order to allow the body to heal itself from any type of disease, the first step involves improving the daily diet. An entirely different approach is required in order to give the body the nutrients it needs to fight infections.

In order to improve the immune system, and the health of the body in general, a person must understand the principle of eating “clean.” “Clean” eating, in simplest terms, means that a person eats food that consists of only one or two ingredients.

As an example, a “clean” meal might be chicken breast, steamed broccoli, and brown rice.

Each menu item has only one ingredient. The chicken breast may be seasoned with cracked black peppercorns, or sauteed with the broccoli, along with onions or some other vegetables. The rice may be cooked in chicken broth. However, "broccoli" is just broccoli. 

In contrast to eating “clean” is eating “dirty.” “Dirty” foods include all packaged and processed foods and beverages that have a long list of artificial chemicals, flavorings, colorings, and preservatives on the label.

Sodas, drink mixes, most products made from flour, packaged cookies and chips, and anything containing either vegetable oil or high fructose corn syrup are considered “dirty” foods. Some nutritionists say, “If you can not pronounce it, you can not eat it.”

One example of a healthy diet that embraces the concept of eating “clean” is the Mayo Clinic Diet.

The Mayo Clinic states that the foundation of a healthy diet is built on a large volume of fruits and vegetables. Along with these complex carbohydrates, a variety of whole grains are also recommended.

In addition to carbohydrates, lean protein choices and a small amount of healthy fats are included in the Mayo Clinic Diet.

Sample "Clean" Meal Plan
Breakfast: One container plain Greek yogurt with half a cup fresh berries or fruit
Morning snack: One medium apple and a hardboiled egg
Lunch: One can water- packed tuna mixed with a large tossed salad, one tablespoon olive oil and vinegar dressing, one orange
Afternoon snack: A handful of baby carrots and three to four hard boiled eggd

Dinner: One serving grilled wild caught Alaskan salmon, two cups steamed asparagus, one half to a whole baked sweet potato with a teaspoon of real butter


Regular exercise, adequate rest, drinking plenty of water, and reducing stress are also required when boosting the immune system to become more healthy.

Foods for healthy skin

In addition to eating “clean,” there are many foods that have been clinically proven to improve skin health. The skin is the largest organ on the human body, and forms the first line of defense against environmental toxins and disease.

A paper published in the Journal of Dermatoendocrinology states that nutritional deficiencies are often linked to skin health disorders. Increasingly, dermatologists are using diet and nutritional supplements to improve the health of the skin.

The following foods are recommended by the National Institute of Health to support the health of the skin: 1) Vitamin A (carotenoid)- rich foods, 2) Vitamin C- rich foods, 3) foods high in zinc, 4) collagen- rich foods, and 5) healthy fats.

Foods High in Vitamin A
Sweet potatoes
Beef liver

Foods High in Vitamin C
Citrus fruit (oranges, lemons, limes, grapefruit, tangerines)
Kiwi fruit

Zinc- rich Foods
Oysters and other shellfish
Lean red meat
Chicken and turkey
Beef and lamb
Whole grains like amaranth, buckwheat and quinoa

Collagen-rich Foods
Broths made from animal carcasses, including the bones, tendons, and cartilage
Gelatin formed after cooking and cooling meat
Commercial powdered gelatin made from animal byproducts

Healthy Fats
Olives and col-pressed extra virgin olive oil
Grass-fed butter and cream
Wild caught salmon and other fatty fish
Small amounts of animal fat
Dairy products, including cheese and butter 
Coconut oil


Foods that help prevent or heal herpes

There are some foods that have been clinically demonstrated to help prevent herpes outbreaks and reduce the healing time during outbreaks. Foods that help heal herpes include 1) lysine- rich foods, 2) garlic, 3) Vitamin A- rich foods as noted above, 4) Vitamin E- rich foods, and 5) lactoferrin.

Lysine- rich Foods
Lean cuts of meat, such as grass fed beef, chicken, and prok
Dairy products, especially Parmesan cheese
Cold water fish
Cow's milk kefir
Nutritional yeast

L- lysine

L- lysine has been shown to prevent outbreaks of the herpes simplex- 1 virus, when patients take 1000mg lysine daily. The medical journal Acta Dermato Venereologica states that virucidal properties are at work in lysine which are capable of destroying the herpes simplex- 1 virus.

A clinical study performed at the Indiana University School of Medicine suggests that taking 3000mg L- lysine daily for six months can significantly reduce the occurrence of herpes outbreaks. Lysine also reduces the healing time during outbreaks of oral herpes.


Garlic has been used to kill viruses and harmful bacteria for centuries. Medical science confirmed the effectiveness of garlic against viruses such as herpes simplex- 1 in a clinical study performed at Brigham Young University in 1992.

Vitamin E

In 2008, a study published in the Journal of Nutrition stated that Vitamin E was an antioxidant and was effective against free radical damage. Mice fed a diet rich in Vitamin E for four weeks had fewer cases of herpes virus- induced encephalitis.

Foods High in Vitamin E
Wheat germ oil
Olive oil


Lactoferrin is a protein found in dairy products, such as milk, yogurt, and cheese. It is also found in many whey protein powders used in bodybuilding. Lactoferrin helps provide antibodies and probiotics. It also helps deliver iron to cells throughout the body and boosts the immune system.

Foods that may make herpes worse

According to studies from the 1980s and 90s, including one hallmark study published in Chemotherapy in 1981, the amino acid arginine may be responsible for making herpes outbreaks worse. According to the study, arginine is normally a beneficial amino acid that reduces healing time and repairs damaged tissue. However, for some reason, it also tends to make herpes outbreaks worse. This means that individuals with herpes should avoid foods with a high arginine to lysine ratio. 

Foods high in arginine
  • Raw nuts and seeds
  • Chocolate
  • Wheat
  • Corn
  • Bananas 

By avoiding these foods, particualrly around a suspected outbreak, you may be able to reduce your number of outbreaks. 

Healing Herpes from the Inside Out

These studies show that a variety of foods are scientifically proven to help heal and prevent herpes. Try to eat a diet rich in vitamin E, healthy fats, vitamin C, and lysine, as well as foods that are naturally anti-viral, like onions and garlic. By adding these foods to your diet and avoiding the potential herpes trigger arginine, you will reduce the number of outbreaks seen each year. 


Mayo Clinic.com, “The Mayo Clinic Diet: A weight loss program for life”

Pubmed.gov, “Nutrition and nutritional supplementation: Impact on skin health and beauty,” by Nathalie Piccardi and Patricia Manissier. Dermatoendocrinology. September- October 2009; 1(5): 271-274.

Pubmed.gov, “Vitamin A”

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