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7 Foods That Help Prevent Genital Herpes Outbreaks

A collection of fruits and vegetables lie piled together, showing healthy foods that fight genital herpes outbreaks.

If you have genital herpes, then preventing future outbreaks is a major concern.

You may have heard that certain foods help fight genital herpes, or that people with genital herpes should stick to certain diets.

In truth, food choices can make a difference in helping prevent genital herpes outbreaks, but mainly by contributing to a healthy, hard-working immune system.

Here we discuss seven types of foods that fight genital herpes by boosting your immune system.

Foods That Fight Genital Herpes

Unfortunately, no single food can fight genital herpes and prevent outbreaks on its own. Instead, your immune system as a whole works to keep herpes outbreaks at bay.

Your primary objective, then, should be maintaining a healthy immune system.

Many factors contribute to a healthy immune system — sleep, exercise, dietary supplementation, stress level — and a healthy diet curated with the herpes virus in mind is an excellent place to begin.

Infographic: 7 Foods That Help Prevent Genital Herpes Outbreaks

1. Alkaline Foods

Alkaline diets have grown in popularity, claiming that negative health outcomes like headache, fatigue, and chronic inflammation correspond to acidic pH levels in the body. They propose that adding alkaline foods to your diet can help you avoid some of these negative consequences.

In its normal, healthy state, the body maintains a slightly alkaline pH of 7.35 to 7.45. While clinical research has not shown overall alkalizing effects of eating alkaline diets, it acknowledges that alkaline diets are quite healthy and help people to eat whole, unprocessed foods and avoid junk foods.

Some alkaline-promoting foods include:

  • Nuts.
  • Beans and other legumes.
  • Green, leafy vegetables.
  • Root vegetables.
  • Citrus fruits.

That last food category may surprise you, but once the body breaks down and absorbs citrus fruits, they actually have an alkalizing effect.

2. Antioxidant-Rich Foods

When free radicals accumulate in the body, they cause oxidative stress. Oxidative stress can wreak havoc in numerous ways, taxing the immune system, damaging DNA, and increasing risk for diabetes, cancer, and heart disease.

Antioxidants help to counteract the harmful effects of free radicals. Antioxidants are cell-protecting compounds that guard our bodies from free radicals, and they're found in a wide variety of foods, especially:

  • Beans.
  • Beets.
  • Artichokes.
  • Walnuts, pecans, and chestnuts.
  • Prunes.
  • Cranberries, blueberries, strawberries, and raspberries.
  • Dark chocolate.
  • Leafy greens such as kale, spinach, and cabbage.

3. Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Omega-3 fatty acids are well known for the role they play in the fight against inflammation in the body. To assist your body's immune response to future herpes outbreaks, be sure to include several of these omega-3-containing, inflammation-fighting foods in your diet:

  • Oily fish, such as tuna, mackerel, salmon, sardines, and anchovies.
  • Cod liver oil.
  • Flaxseeds and chia seeds.
  • Walnuts.
  • Soybeans.

4. Foods High in Vitamin C

If your mother ever served you orange juice when you had a cold as a child, you've likely benefited from the immune-boosting powers of vitamin C. Vitamin C plays a role in bone health, blood vessel strength, and wound healing, as well as protecting against oxidative stress.

Foods with relatively high levels of vitamin C include:

  • Bell peppers.
  • Broccoli.
  • Kale and other leafy greens.
  • Kiwi.
  • Oranges.
  • Snow peas.
  • Strawberries.
  • Tomatoes.

5. Foods High in Vitamin B Complex

B vitamins contribute to health at a cellular level and support all kinds of bodily processes, such as digestion, eyesight, red blood cell creation, and immune function.

If you're trying to find foods that fight genital herpes, make an effort to include B-vitamin-rich foods in your diet, such as:

  • Beef.
  • Chicken.
  • Eggs.
  • Salmon.
  • Brown rice.
  • Mushrooms.
  • Beans.
  • Peas.
  • Spinach.
  • Avocado.
  • Asparagus.
  • Tofu.

6. Foods High in Zinc

Zinc has gained recognition for its role in fighting illnesses like seasonal colds and flus. But zinc also has an important role to play in your overall immune health, metabolic function, and wound healing.

One study even found that zinc works to actively fight the herpes simplex virus and may extend the time between outbreaks.

Most people in modern society receive enough zinc in their diet, though vegans and vegetarians have to work extra hard to keep their zinc levels up.

To give your immune system an extra herpes-fighting boost, be sure to include some of the following zinc-rich foods in your diet:

  • Oysters.
  • Crab.
  • Beef, lamb, and pork.
  • Chicken.
  • Dairy.
  • Hemp, pumpkin, and sesame seeds.
  • Nuts, especially almonds, pine nuts, and cashews.
  • Chickpeas.
  • Kidney beans.
  • Dark chocolate.

7. Foods High in Lysine

Lysine is most well known for treating cold sores, which are also caused by a herpes virus. Some research suggests that this nutrient may be helpful in preventing genital herpes outbreaks as well.

For example, one study showed that ingestion of 1,248 mg per day of L-lysine decreased the rate of herpes outbreaks, while a dose half that size was ineffective.

Lysine is an essential amino acid, one of the body's protein building blocks. Lysine works in combination with other proteins to form macronutrients that help repair damage sustained by the body.

Lysine has other health benefits as well, including:

  • Immune system support (vital in the fight against genital herpes).
  • Helping the body absorb zinc.
  • Producing antibodies and enzymes.
  • Promoting collagen growth for skin healing.

L-lysine is the form of lysine the body can most readily use and is available in supplement form. You can also find it in these foods:

  • Cheese and yogurt.
  • Eggs.
  • Fish, like sardines, tuna, cod, and tilapia.
  • Shellfish, like crab, clams, and lobster.
  • Legumes, including kidney beans and edamame.
  • Peas.
  • Beef, chicken, pork, and turkey.
  • Quinoa and buckwheat.
  • Soybeans and tofu.

Additional Protection Against Future Genital Herpes Outbreaks

There are no magical foods that can prevent genital herpes. But a healthy, well-rounded diet including foods from the lists above can go a long way in fighting future genital herpes outbreaks.

If you'd like an extra method of protection against genital herpes outbreaks, consider red light therapy like that in the Luminance RED Genital Sore Treatment Device. Red light therapy with high-powered, medically optimized red light has been clinically proven to shorten the duration and frequency of genital herpes outbreaks.

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