Avoid These Foods If You Have Cold Sores
Published August 17th, 2020
Cold sores are a telltale symptom of the herpes simplex virus (HSV). In addition to being painful, they can also be embarrassing for many. The exact cause of an outbreak is still a toss-up. They’re often triggered by sunlight, excessive stress, or contact with someone who has cold sores.
Foods To Avoid With Cold Sores
When you feel these lesions oncoming, it would be best to modify your diet to a certain degree. Food and nutrition play a crucial role in dealing with viruses like HSV. Eating the wrong things could either prolong or aggravate the pain of an outbreak.
Some of the food you’ll find on this list are actually quite nutritious and good for you. But during a time of an outbreak, you’ll want to avoid these for a bit.
Acidic foods generally do not affect the virus in any way. However, if these foods come in contact with your blisters, it will be excruciatingly painful.
Here are some acidic foods, according to Healthline:
- certain dairy products
- processed foods
- fresh meats and processed meats, such as corned beef and turkey
- sodas and other sweetened beverages
- high-protein foods and supplements
- citrus fruits
The effects these foods have on your cold sore blisters are usually skin-deep. While your sores heal, contact with these foods irritate them, prolonging the healing process. This can cause scabs to crack and reopen, and in some cases, bleed. When this happens, it could lead to infection if not treated properly.
Salty, spicy, and pickled foods
In the same way, you’ll want to avoid salty, spicy, and pickled foods. The term “rubbing salt in the wound” didn’t originate out of nothing. When salt and spices come in contact with open wounds or blisters, it is very realistically agonizing.
Salty foods include chips, peanuts, pretzels, and fast-food fries. Spicy foods like curry, jalapeños, and sriracha sauces yield the same effects. Pickled foods like sauerkraut and kimchi should also be avoided.
Viruses thrive in weak immune systems. Processed foods contain saturated fats, refined sugars, and salt, which we know are all bad news. This kind of food causes inflammation in our bodies and can make our guts unhealthy. If our guts aren’t healthy, it can lead to worse things for the rest of our bodies.
Gut health is absolutely crucial to our immune systems. In our guts lie trillions of bacteria and other living microorganisms that absorb nutrients and fight off toxins. These cells thrive off of what we feed them through the things we eat. Foods high in saturated fats, refined sugars, and salt can cause the wrong kind of bacteria to grow. Once this happens, our immune system cannot function optimally.
Processed foods include:
- commercial cereals
- junk foods (chips and pretzels)
- instant ramen
Foods high in arginine
Arginine is an essential amino acid, which isn’t inherently bad for us. In fact, many of the foods I’m about to name are quite nutritious and typically shouldn’t be left off a balanced diet.
However, arginine is an integral component of the replication of viruses and the progression of viral infection. In the case of HSV, it is entirely central to the replication of the virus.
These are some foods rich in arginine:
- Dark leafy greens
- Dark chocolate
- Whole grains
For the duration of the outbreaks, it would be best to avoid these foods. Cold sores usually heal without treatment in a matter of two weeks. After that episode, you’ll want to reintroduce your body to these arginine-rich foods again.
One claim to counteract arginine is to consume more lysine. Apparently, lysine may not only slow but also stop viruses from forming. It may also prevent cold sores from coming back when taken with other vitamins too.
Some foods that are rich in lysine are:
- meat (red meat, pork, and poultry)
- some fish
However, the results of some research contradict that claim. In one study, the researchers studied lysine’s effect on the prevention and cure of herpes lesions. Results showed no significant impact, which is contradictory to what many other articles say. Furthermore, excessive consumption of lysine can lead to side effects, such as diarrhea, nausea, and kidney problems.
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