Herpes simplex virus requires the amino acid L-arginine to replicate/multiply. The amino acid L-lysine opposes some of the effects of L-arginine. Dietary treatments therefore manipulate the L-arginine/L-lysine ratio of foods eaten in an effort to inhibit the herpes virus’ ability to replicate or multiply, thereby preventing future outbreaks or shortening the duration of outbreaks when they do occur.
Studies have demonstrated that L-lysine treatment (via diet and supplementation) accelerated the recovery from acute outbreaks and reduced the frequency of outbreak recurrence. By reducing the consumption of foods higher in L-arginine, it is possible that the benefits of L-lysine might be increased. In addition, it may be helpful to avoid foods whose L-lysine content has been reduced because of its destruction by heat (meats cooked at high temperature) or by heat in the presence of lactose, fructose, sucrose plus yeast (baked goods).
Foods to emphasize (higher L-lysine, lower L-arginine)
During active outbreaks of Herpes simplex, these foods higher in L-lysine, which may help inhibit the replication of HSV, should be emphasized (unless you have an allergy, intolerance or sensitivity to them):
- Dairy products, especially fermented products (yogurt, kefir, cheese, sour cream, etc.)
- Fish and seafood
- Chicken, turkey, lamb, pork, organ meats
- Eggs (in moderation)
- Brewer’s yeast
These foods must be balanced with L-lysine supplementation or eaten with foods in the first group (unless you have an allergy, intolerance or sensitivity to them). During active Herpes simplex outbreaks, these foods must be avoided entirely:
- Whole grains
- Legumes (beans, peas, lentils)
- Sprouts of legumes or grains
- Vegetables containing edible seeds, except peppers (eggplant, tomatoes, squash, zucchini, etc.)
- Note: fruits and berries containing edible seeds may be consumed
- Citrus fruits (may irritate oral herpetic lesions)
These foods are to be routinely avoided:
- Wheat germ
- Marz, Russell B. Medical Nutrition From Marz, 2nd edition. 1999. Omni-Press.
- Wright, Jonathan and Gaby, Alan. The Patient’s Book of Natural Healing. 1999. Prima Health.
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