11 Food Items To Avoid If You Have Herpes

Young man is showing a cold sore on his lip

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One ailment many people are suffering from is the herpes virus. This can be categorized into two kinds—cold sores or genital herpes. This can be tough for anyone who has them mainly because they’re itchy, uncomfortable, and painful. Unfortunately, a person with herpes may experience outbreaks and triggers from time to time. Some remedies and medications can alleviate them, but there’s no permanent cure for such a disease. One of the triggers that may cause your herpes virus to break out is eating certain foods.

The goal here is to be more mindful of your diet and avoid foods that can trigger the dormant virus. Such a virus stays in your body forever, and it only gets active when your body receives food that may increase the risk for an outbreak. Although food and herpes aren’t directly related to each other, some foods decrease your immunity.

Here are some foods you should avoid if you’re suffering from herpes:

  1. Refined Carbs 

The first on this great post to read is refined carbs. As mentioned, you should stay away from foods that can affect your immune system. Herpes outbreaks can be caused by foods containing highly refined carbohydrates. White bread, commercially baked goodies, pasta, and sodas with corn syrup content are examples of foods containing the most refined carbs.

  1. Processed Foods

Processed foods decrease your immune system, which then leads to possibilities of your cold sore recurring. Some of the most common processed foods you must lay low on are cereals, frozen foods, packed processed snacks, canned goods, and other high-calorie snacks. As much as possible, go for freshly cooked foods

  1. Acidic Foods And Drinks

Eating acidic foods can make cold sores worse when they scab over and reopen. This could be a painful experience for you, so it’s best to stay away from any food or drinks that are deemed acidic. For instance, control your consumption of tomatoes, fruit juices, soft drinks, and vinegar salad dressings. It’s also recommended that you pause eating hot and spicy foods as they could also aggravate cold sores. Acidic food and drinks could potentially irritate your cold sore wounds, so it’s best to go for food with lesser salt, spice, and acid content. 

  1. Sweets And Sugary Foods

Sugar is known to work against the body’s immune system. However, you rely heavily on your immune system to fight off the herpes virus. Therefore, sugary foods and drinks shouldn’t be your companion. 

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Viruses such as herpes can be suppressed by sugar. You may also suffer from immune dysfunction if you consume too much sugar since it inhibits the body’s ability to absorb and utilize vitamins B and C. It’d be best not to eat sugary desserts like ice cream, chocolates, cake, and other sweet drinks.

  1. Caffeine 

Adrenal glands are stimulated when caffeine is consumed. You can become combative and flighty by having too much adrenalin. As a result of coffee consumption, you may experience adverse effects on your immune system and reactivate the herpes virus. Hence, it’s best to avoid caffeine consumption when you want to keep your herpes virus at bay. 

  1. Alcohol

Furthermore, consuming excessive alcohol weakens one’s immune system, making it more difficult for the body to fight back against an HSV-1 or HSV-2 virus outbreak. The healing process could be slowed down as a result. At the same time, if you’re taking herpes medications like valacyclovir, alcohol might impact its efficacy levels too.  

  1. Foods Rich In Arginine

Arginine (an amino acid) is essential for replicating and surviving the herpes simplex virus, which causes cold sores. Without any arginine in your body, the virus can stay dormant and won’t be triggered for a while, so avoid any food that contains arginine. 

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Some examples of foods to avoid include sesame seeds, spinach, chocolates, flaxseeds, soy, whole-grain foods, peanuts, and sunflower seeds, among others. It’s best to stay away from these foods even when your cold sore is just starting. 

Herpes virus feeds on arginine to reactivate and grow. It’s the building block of viruses, so eating them feeds them. Arginine and lysine balance each other out, so it’d be better to find foods that contain more lysine instead. Dairy and some meat products are some options.

Herpes virus feeds on arginine, but lysine blocks it. However, too much lysine in the body also makes you acidic, which then equally triggers a herpes episode. To prevent disease outbreaks, you should consume foods that have a delicate balance.

  1. Oranges

With cold sores, citrus fruits such as oranges and grapefruits are best avoided. The acid in these fruits can cause cold sore blisters to sting when in contact with them. Imagine an open wound exposed to acidic fruits; you’ll notice the same effect and results with cold sores. 

Instead of eating citrus fruits, you can still eat other fruit alternatives like bananas and grapes. Also, make sure you consume more veggies that could fill up the nutrients you need from oranges.

  1. Spicy Foods 

While you’re battling a cold sore outbreak, you may want to minimize your intake of spicy foods as these can irritate the sensitive mouth area that can cause a cold sore. You must avoid eating spicy food so your cold sores won’t be triggered. Your main course could be a milder casserole or stew with lesser spices. 

  1. Pickles

As mentioned, vinegar content in food can react negatively to cold sores as they might sting and cause pain. It goes the same with pickles. This is one of the foods to avoid, and it might be best if you remove the pickles from sandwiches and burgers. You can go for other alternatives like lettuce, potatoes, and carrot sticks. 

  1. Salty Foods 

Salt will also make your mouth burn as acidic foods do. If you have a sore, hold off on eating nuts and chips until it heals. You may go for other snack delights that have low sodium content. Some foods to try can be unsalted nuts, crispy banana chips, or raisins.

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The herpes virus isn’t curable, but with lifestyle and dietary changes, outbreaks can be managed. Hopefully, the list of foods to be avoided above can guide you and help you control the outbreak. Store food in your fridge that helps fight off illnesses and boosts your immunity. Consult your doctor for advice about managing your condition and verify which foods are healthy and safe for your cold sores.

Philip Okoye
the authorPhilip Okoye
Your favorite recipe author, faithful to every course. Mail me at

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