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There is no cure for herpes. Once you have the virus in your body, it remains there for the rest of your life, most of the time dormant (inactive). Unfortunately, various things can cause the virus to reactivate, resulting in a herpes outbreak (flareup of symptoms).

The herpes virus lives in the nerve cells of the spine (genital herpes) or jaw (oral herpes) between outbreaks, resurfacing after a triggering behavior activates it.

Eating Certain Foods Triggers Herpes Simplex

Did you know that food can trigger flareups? If you suffer from reoccurring outbreaks, your diet could be to blame. There are two reasons for this:

  • First, your eating habits do not support your immune system.
  • Second, your food choices have herpes-triggering compounds in them.

You may not be able to prevent outbreaks entirely, but you can minimize their occurrence by eating a well-balanced diet high in lysine-rich, whole foods. In addition, avoid arginine-rich foods.

What is Arginine?

Studies show that arginine, an amino acid found in many foods, may contribute to the spread of herpes. This is due to its ability to promote viral growth, which speeds up the body’s natural ability to reproduce certain viruses, including HSV-1 and HSV-2.

Therefore, it is best to avoid eating foods like turkey breast, pork loin, chicken breast, nuts (especially peanuts), pumpkin seeds, chickpeas, soybeans and lentils that are high in arginine. Instead, stick to a diet that gives you vitamins, minerals and essential nutrients without arginine.

What is Lysine?

Lysine is a naturally occurring amino acid produced within the body. Its consumption has been linked to inhibiting arginine activity. Fortunately, lysine supplements exist in pill form, making it easier to get enough of the herpes-preventing amino acid daily.

Otherwise, foods high in lysine include certain dairy products (like cheese and yogurt), non-acidic fruits (like apricots, apples and pears) and fish.

Additional Foods to Avoid and Incorporate for an Outbreak Prevention Diet

Do eat:

  • Whole grains, especially millet
  • Seaweeds like kombu, dulse, arame and hijiki
  • Shiitake mushrooms
  • Garlic, chopped and raw

Do not eat:

  • Sugar, particularly high fructose corn syrup
  • White rice and white flour
  • Deep fried foods
  • Processed meats
  • Chocolate
  • Peanuts, including peanut butter

Do not drink:

  • Coffee, including decaf
  • Alcohol
  • Soft Drinks

However, while your diet can help in the management of herpes outbreaks, food is rarely the sole factor responsible. Nevertheless, many people who have herpes report improvements in the frequency of flareups after avoiding arginine-rich foods and adding lysine-rich foods to their diet.

If this does not work, you can try antiviral medications or other treatments. For more information, contact Medical Dermatology Specialists today.

Medical Dermatology Specialists, Inc.
5730 Glenridge Dr, Suite T-100
Atlanta, GA 30328
(404) 939-9220

Monday – Thursday 7:30 AM – 5:00 PM

Posted on behalf of Medical Dermatology Specialists, P.C.

5730 Glenridge Drive, Suite T-100
Atlanta, GA 30328

Phone: Call (404) 939-9220
FAX: (470) 312-2157

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Contact our Atlanta Dermatologist today for personalized care and strong expertise in skin care for your entire family.


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Medical Dermatology Specialists, P.C.


5730 Glenridge Drive, Suite T-100
Atlanta, GA 30328



Phone: (404) 939-9220
Fax: (470) 312-2157
Research Fax: (470) 312-2156

Opening Hours

Mon - Fri: 7:45AM - 4:45PM
Sat - Sun: Closed

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