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Through knowledge comes the wisdom of our challenge. By understanding how something operates, we can remove it as a threat..

“If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle.”

Dealing with herpes can seem like a battle. In fact when herpes is treated, not as an enemy as such, but rather as a force that can be controlled; just like anything else in this existence, then we can not only harness our power to control outbreaks, but we also develop an expanse of personal skills that applies to any challenges in our life.

Herpes Diet Tip #1

Avoid supplements or foods that contain excessive Arginine..

One theory is that foods which contain high amounts of the amino acid Arginine can provoke or bring on a herpes episode for some people.

This is related to the fact that the herpes virus requires this amino acid to grow, replicate and to become active. This is why limiting foods which are very high in Arginine can be helpful for those who are trying to reduce herpes breakouts.

Foods which are high in Arginine and can commonly trigger an outbreak are:

Nuts, including peanut butter
Protein shakes and drinks that contain Arginine
Oats, including porridge
Muscle building formulas and multivitamins that contain Arginine

Reducing some of these foods can be helpful but it is important not to make this the main focus of your diet. The human body naturally produces Arginine so it can never be eliminated completely.

Simply being mindful of foods that are excessively high in this amino acid, and not taking it in supplement form, is sufficient when trying to reduce herpes symptoms.


Herpes Diet Tip #2

Balance Arginine rich foods with Lysine..
Lysine helps to stop the virus which causes herpes. If you get ample amounts of this amino acid in your diet it can help to reduce the frequency of the symptoms and make healing faster.

This is why it is recommended to eat foods that are high in Lysine, or take a Lysine supplement.

See the Lysine, Natural Amino Acid Fights Herpes article from the HC support network for advice on what to look for in a Lysine supplement. Nutrients that can assist the prevention of HSV outbreaks can be understood in the article Supplements and Nutrients.

Foods that contain high amounts of Lysine are:

Most vegetables and fruits particularly beets, avocados, mangos, tomatoes, apples, apricots, pears, figs and papaya
Dairy products such as milk, yogurt and cheeses (acid forming)
Eggs (acid forming)
Brewer’s yeast
Fish, particularly sardines and cod (acid forming)
Chicken, beef and lamb (acid forming)


Herpes Diet Tip #3

Eat foods which are good for your skin..

Lysine is beneficial but it is not the only nutrient that the body requires to ward off herpes. The skin should also be nourished with essential nutrients that are needed to resist an infection, as well as to regenerate and repair itself.

Make sure that you are getting plenty of zinc, vitamin C and bioflavonoids in your diet to help protect, nourish and strengthen your skin.

This will help your skin to heal more quickly during breakouts, and will also help make your body more resistant to the symptoms surfacing in the first place.

Foods that contain high amounts of Vitamin C:

Fresh fruits (especially citrus, such as oranges)
Leafy vegetables, such as lettuce, bok choy and spinach
Brussel sprouts
Bell peppers
Papaya (papaw)

Foods that contain high amounts of Bioflavonoids:

Most citrus fruits, including oranges, grapefruits, lemons, limes, mandarins and others
Many bright colored fruits and vegetables, including cherries, cranberries, grapes, peppers, apricots and prunes
Leafy vegetables, such as lettuce and spinach
Black tea (such as Earl Gray, etc)
Broccoli, brussel sprouts and eggplant (aubergine or egg fruit)
Wine and juice made from berries or grapes
Some varieties of red clover

Foods that contain high amounts of Zinc:

Pumpkin seeds
Most dairy products
Beans and lentils
Wholegrain cereals

John has a product called the Combined Lysine Formula which contains Lysine, Vitamin C, Bioflavonoids & Zinc.

Herpes Diet Tip #4

Avoid or reduce these foods to help prevent outbreaks..

Artificial sweeteners – anecdotal evidence suggests that artificial sweeteners can trigger a herpes outbreak for some people. They are commonly found in food and drinks that are “diet” or “sugar free” including diet sodas, many toothpastes and sugar substitutes.

Check the label to see if it contains the word ‘sweetener’ followed by a reference number, or any one of these ingredient names:

– Saccharin (Sweet’N Low)
– Aspartame (Equal, NutraSweet)
– Sucralose (Splenda, Altern), or
– Sorbitol

Protein shakes or muscle building formulas that contain the amino acid Arginine.

White bread – replace with wholemeal, rye or brown bread where possible.

Cut back on coffee, caffeine and soda, especially if you feel you have too much of these in your diet.

If you are going to drink alcohol or take recreational drugs try to do so in moderation. If you have a late night or do not get adequate sleep, try taking Panax or Korean Ginseng (before, during and after) to help reduce the negative impact it can have on your body. This in turn can help reduce the chance of a breakout.

White and refined sugars – be mindful of excess sweets in your diet and opt for a natural sweetener instead of sugar where possible, such as agave syrup or stevia.

Eat chocolate, nuts and oats in moderation, not every day or to excess.


Herpes Diet Tip #5

Eat lots of broccoli and other “cruciferous” vegetables..

Vegetables belonging to the cruciferous family (including brussel sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli and kale) may help to stop herpes in its tracks, this is due to a naturally high amount of a compound called indole-3-carbinol (I3C).

Clinical studies show that this compound has the potential to interfere with the way the Herpes simplex virus (HSV) reproduces. The preliminary trial results are very promising, so eat up on these nutritious vegetables whenever you can.


Herpes Diet Tip #6

Ditch processed and junk food..

The occasional treat is no problem, but where possible try to avoid deep fried foods, sugary treats, white bread, junk foods and any processed or packet foods. Foods with artificial colorings, flavorings and preservatives fit into this category too.

Try to reduce the amount of saturated animal fat consumed (which is found in all animal products, and especially fatty cuts of meat) and particularly avoid trans-fatty acids.

Trans-fatty acids are commonly found in:

Fast food restaurant food
Packet or snack foods, such as crisps
Frozen dinners

Some simple adjustments to your kitchen cupboard can help you live a healthier life and therefore help to prevent herpes outbreaks:

Use real butter in place of margarine.
Use a quality, high smoking point oil when you cook your meals such as olive, coconut, rice bran or grapeseed oil.
Use raw sugar or a natural sweetener, instead of white sugar or artificial sweeteners.

Check out the following articles for more information on nutrition and harmful food additives: Do you really know what you’re eating?, Food Additives and Preservatives that are KILLING you!


Herpes Diet Tip #7

Increase the amount of fresh “raw” foods in your diet..

This could be the single most important diet tip of this entire guide because what you eat and therefore how your body functions all begins from here.

There are a number of reasons why we might neglect to eat raw fruits and vegetables, including convenience, family tradition and how we are raised. The truth is, eating fresh raw foods every day should not be a “diet”, it should be a way of life. It will help you to maintain a healthy weight, have more energy and vitality, more youthful skin and… less outbreaks.

Some simple suggestions to get started:

Include fresh, raw fruits and vegetables as a side to your breakfast, lunch or dinner.
When you have a snack try munching on vegetable sticks made of celery, beets or carrot, with a nice dip such as hummus to go with it.
Make a salad for lunch that has as many raw vegetables as you can find, including fresh greens and sprouts, and top with your choice of oil such as coconut, olive, grapeseed, flax seed, etc. Finish with a decent pinch of sea or rock salt and a very small splash of apple cider vinegar.
Drink a freshly made fruit or vegetable juice each day (within minutes of making it) from whatever is in season in your area. Some nice mixes are:

– Tomatoes, beets, carrots, salt and pepper
– Apples, carrots and celery
– Apples, pineapples, mint and lime
– Berries, apples and watermelon
– Whatever yummy fruits you have access to, be creative
– Add a dash of fresh ginger or bee pollen to your fruit juices, if you desire

Check out this article for more guidance on boosting your immunity and improving your health: Improving your immunity defence systems, Ten Foods to Forge a Healthy You


Herpes Diet Tip #8

Eat foods which help you to de-stress and relax..

Stress has a profoundly negative effect on the body and may contribute to the length and frequency of herpes breakouts. Try to avoid or reduce the stress in your life however you can.

You can improve your diet to assist your body in weathering the stress by eating a diet rich in B vitamins and magnesium. Vitamin B5 has long been considered the “anti-stress” vitamin, and when taken along with vitamin B6 and magnesium your body has a better chance to recover from stressful situations.

If taken in a supplement form, B vitamins should always be taken together in a “complex” to prevent causing an imbalance because some B vitamins are codependent on one another.

The Vitamin B complex is comprised of the following; B1 (thiamine), B2 (riboflavin), B3 (niacin), B6 (pyridoxine), B9 (folic acid) and B12 ( cobalamin). The B group of vitamins are also important for a healthy nervous system and for the body’s production of serotonin, a hormone released in our brain which helps us to feel happy, relaxed and at ease.

Foods that contain high amounts of B group vitamins:

Wholegrain foods and brown rice
Green leafy vegetables
Brewer’s Yeast
Soy Products
Tuna & Salmon
Other Meats and eggs
Dairy Products


Herpes Diet Tip #9

Indulge in antioxidant-rich foods, such as berries and prunes..

There are lots of foods that nature has given us that possess the potential to ward off diseases and infections including herpes, and some of the most powerful of these are called ‘antioxidants’.

An antioxidant is something that helps to neutralize and stop the damage caused by free radicals . Free radicals are caused by many things, including chemicals and toxins in our food and environment, and they are responsible for aging, tissue damage and deterioration of the body.

These foods are on top of the antioxidant rich list:

Apricots, prunes and dates
Broccoli, brussel sprouts and artichokes
Kale and spinach
Chilli, peppers, red cabbage and beets
Red grapes
Tea (especially green tea)

Other highly beneficial superfoods for herpes are:

Reishi mushrooms
Coconuts, particularly coconut oil
Barley grass
Shitaki mushrooms
Goji berries

These are just a few. Look for other foods that are antiviral, contain antioxidants or have immune enhancing benefits.


Herpes Diet Tip #10

Drink purified, alkaline water..

Not only is the amount of water you drink important, but the quality of your water can make a difference too.

Some chemicals such as chlorine are necessary to filter germs from our water, but this chemical is also extremely toxic to our health and ideally should be removed from the water before drinking. Carbon filters are available which filter chlorine from your water and can be fitted either to the house or just to a particular tap or fosset.

A reverse-osmosis filter is another type of filter which will remove all heavy metals and chemicals from your water. However, this process removes a lot of the beneficial minerals too, so it is important to find a filter that also replaces these minerals, such as through the use of a coral or mineral cartridge.

Very importantly, it is preferable to drink water that is alkaline. By alkalizing the body you help your entire system fight off “free radicals” which can cause deterioration of the cells. Many scientists claim miraculous benefits for a wide range of health conditions through the regular consumption of alkalizing water.

If you don’t have access to alkaline or filtered water, try having a glass of water with freshly squeeze lemon or lime juice each morning and night. This is highly alkalizing and will help provide you with a good start.

This Post Has 22 Comments
  1. Some of your dietary recommendations are contradictory. For example, on one page you suggest to avoid coconut, tomato, meat, dairy, grains and citrus. However, on this page all these foods are recommended. Very confusing!

    1. Hi Kirsten,

      This is so true!

      Coconut is high in arginine (an amino acid that sometimes aggravates outbreaks) and yet it contains one of the most power antiviral nutrients on the planet, monolauric acid, which is pretty much found only in breastmilk and coconut and is famed for being helpful against herpes.

      Some citrus fruits can inflame an outbreak when it is active, yet fresh lemon juice works wonders for alkalising the body and is claimed to help prevent outbreaks by some people.

      Agreed, this can be a bit confusing. The Herpes Diet FAQ addresses some of the most obvious conflicts of information. At the end of the day being as healthy as possible and strengthening your immune system is key.

      If you have any specific questions please ask!

  2. I believe the last statement in this article is incorrect. Lemon juice is a strong ACID and will not cause water to become alkaline, just the opposite will occur.

    1. Dave, I have read in several diverse places that lemon juice becomes alkaline when it enters the body. Ditto apple cider vinegar.

    2. Hi Dave,

      It is the strangest concept isn’t it? I thought the exact same thing when I first came across this information. Multiple sources advise that lemon juice raises the pH levels in the body helping to create an alkalising effect.

      When you search this topic in Google the result comes up at the top like this:

      Lemon Alkalising or Acidic?

      If you come across sources that say otherwise please share so we can collaborate.

  3. Thank you so much! I’ve been seeking a clear and concise list for some time as I believe that a great portion of breakouts are a result of what I eat. I’m now going to try to memorize this so I won’t forget.
    Thank you!

    1. Hi JC,

      Thanks for the feedback. We’d be really interested to hear how it goes. Are there any foods that seem to have an effect on outbreaks for you? Please share what you’ve noticed along the way.

  4. These guidelines sound sensible and very livable. However, I just read some other online articles featuring dietary suggestions to minimize herpes outbreaks and symptoms that say to AVOID seemingly healthy foods such as soy, lentils, oats, and brown rice because of their arginine levels. Would you please comment? Thanks.

    1. Hi BP,

      Thanks for dropping in.

      Our motto has always been to approach Arginine rich foods sensibly, not cut them out altogether.

      So have a couple of nuts not the whole bag, or a portion of brown rice once a week not every night. That sort of thing.

      Arginine is not an essential amino acid meaning you do not get it through diet alone – your body also makes this amino acid itself.

      So you can never be “arginine free” and nor would you want to. Arginine is awesome for the immune system and wound healing, and a tonne of other essential functions. We just don’t want to overload on it.

      Taking a Lysine supplement and avoiding sneaky high doses of Arginine (such as in body building products, some supplements and protein shakes) is a good starting point.

      If you find that a certain food tends to coincide with your outbreaks try cutting back on it and see if the recurrences improve.

      With the foods you mentioned; soy, lentils, oats and brown rice, keep in mind that many of these if not all will contain equally high amounts of Lysine or close to which will help offset the arginine, as will any Lysine supplement if you are taking one.

      Hope this is helpful!

  5. Can you please guide on Malescum contagiosum?
    It has been troubling me over 2 months and I have undergone ACL recover surgery. I need immediate relief from this virus. Anyone’s help is highly appreciated. I am not able to sleep at nights..

    I do not wish to undergo nitrogen liquid therapy..

    1. Hi there,

      Unfortunately I have limited experience or knowledge on other STIs like Molluscum contagiosum, but this article might answer a few of your questions:

      I strongly recommend talking to your Doctor, and possibly your surgeon too, to guide you in treating the condition. They will be able to offer you the most help in feeling better right now.

      Sorry we could not be of more help.

  6. Your article was very informative, thank you. I wish there was more published and more studies on the effects of sugar substitutes on Herpes. I always get break outs if I drink or eat anything with a sugar substitute ” diet”. It makes me believe that these substitutes are suppressing the immune system. So many people swear by diet drinks, I wish they knew what it was doing to their bodies and opening the door to illnesses.

    1. Hi Katherine,

      I 100% agree with you. I’ve heard this from a few different sources over the years and am not surprised considering the research on Aspartame, a commonly used artificial sweetener that was found to cause brain lesions in rats in one study. I tend to opt for unprocessed foods where possible, or real sweetener either from sugar or another natural source rather than artificial sweeteners. I’d be interested to hear if other people have found a similar connection too? Thanks for sharing x

  7. Hi, great site. I also have been seeing some contradictory foods to stay away from. Like turkey, and shrimp, white rice. These are some things have always gravitated towards eating, maybe not everyday but on occasion. Also, cream of wheat, oatmeal and grits. I finally remembered to take a lysine supplement and am hopeful this will help. Out of the majority of the articles I have read, I like that you point out the body creates arginine and it is good for us to some extent. I started to feel like I needed to cut it out completely. I even feel for some online book that said it had a cure for HV. 🙁

    I am curious if anyone knows if Slim Fast protein shakes cause OB? I used to drink these from time to time on the run.

  8. If I took a large dose of lysine and then took a protein powder or muscle builder high in arginine, then would the lysine overpower the arginine and prevent the usual aggravation to the hsv?

    Specifically if I took 3000mg of lysine in supplement form 2 hours before and then muscle builder with 2500mg of arginine, does this stop it from causing outbreaks? For the record I have had outbreaks after two weeks of using an arginine dense muscle powder before I knew about its effects on hsv. I’ve been scared to use muscle building powders since. Thanks ahead of time!

  9. Great article and commentary from users as well. My personal view (after years dealing with HSV2) is to study your body and its reaction to food. Each one of us react to foods differently, hence some foods may be more sensitive to you than to others. Hopefully, one of these days we’ll wake up to learn that there is a vaccine for us….In the meantime, let’s continue to have a healthy lifestyle and tame the virus.

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