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The Best Foods To Eat When You Have A Cold Sore

foods to eat when you have a cold sore


Cold sore outbreaks may seem random, but they're actually tied to specific triggers from your body. Your diet has the power to significantly influence those triggers, for better or worse.

You may be surprised to learn just how powerful your eating habits are. The right foods may be able to reduce the likelihood of future outbreaks and help heal existing cold sores.

You won't find a single "miracle cure", but evidence suggests that a combination of strategic foods and supplements can speed up the healing process of your dreaded cold sore blisters.

Increase Your Lysine Intake

Lysine is a type of protein building block called an essential amino acid. Lysine combines with other proteins to form macronutrients that help body tissue grow and recover from damage. 

Research suggests that other important functions of lysine include:

  • Promoting collagen growth
  • Supporting a strong immune system
  • Helping the body absorb zinc, iron, and calcium
  • Producing hormones, antibodies, and enzymes

L-lysine is the specific form of lysine your body can readily utilize. Without it, you may experience side effects like fatigue, brain fog, anemia, and hair loss. 


How Lysine Works Against Cold Sores

Lysine supports human health in many ways, but it’s best known for its potential role in protecting against cold sores. 

Cold sores are caused by the herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1). Some people infected with HSV-1 never experience an outbreak, but most have experienced the pain and embarrassment of cold sore blisters. These fluid-filled sores develop on or around the mouth and burst to release their fluids. 

Though no permanent cure for cold sores exists, it’s possible to prevent future outbreaks or expedite the recovery of existing cold sores using lysine. HSV-1 relies on arginine-rich proteins to spread and reproduce. Arginine is a different amino acid found in certain meats, nuts, and wheat. It triggers cold sore and aggravates existing outbreaks.

Research suggests that lysine works against cold sores by interfering with the absorption of arginine. With the help of enough lysine, arginine becomes unavailable to the virus and shortens the duration of the outbreak. 

In one small study, treatment with lysine ointment achieved “full resolution” in 40% of participants by the third day and in 87% of participants by the sixth day. This marks a vast improvement compared to a standard cold sore episode that may last up to 21 days without treatment. 

What Foods Contain Lysine?

Your body doesn’t naturally produce lysine, so it must come from your diet or a supplement. Fortunately, lysine is easy to find. The following foods are lysine powerhouses because they’re not only rich in lysine, they’re low in arginine:

  • Yogurt
  • Cheese
  • Fruits like apples, mangoes, apricots, and pears
  • Fish, especially flounder
  • Poultry and meat
  • Legumes such as kidney beans, black beans, chickpeas, and edamame
  • Quinoa, amaranth, and buckwheat
  • Spirulina powder

Most people receive enough lysine from their standard diet, but those with ongoing cold sore outbreaks may benefit from additional supplementation. 

foods to eat when you have a cold sore

Eat Foods That Boost Your Immune System

Food doesn’t just nourish your body, it defines how your body functions. Eating certain foods and avoiding others may help bolster your immune system. The stronger your immune system, the better it can combat the herpes virus and keep you outbreak-free. 

Lean Protein

Eggs, almonds, chicken, and other sources of lean protein play a key role in your body’s ability to fight infection. In particular, two amino acids found in protein modulate your body’s response to viruses like genital herpes. 

Omega 3 Fatty Acids

These fatty acids are indispensable in your battle against inflammation. Load up on salmon, chia seeds, flaxseed, and mackerel to superpower your body’s response to inflammation and, in turn, limit or manage the effects of your next genital herpes outbreak. 


Chickpeas, pork, lamb, and wheat germ all contain high levels of zinc. Research shows that zinc ions are active against the herpes simplex virus and may even extend the time between outbreaks. 

Other important foods to incorporate into a healthy, immune-boosting diet include:

  • Citrus fruit
  • Red bell peppers
  • Broccoli
  • Garlic
  • Ginger
  • Spinach
  • Turmeric
  • Green tea
  • Papaya
  • Kiwi

Supplement with Vitamins C and E

We can’t have a conversation about eating to prevent disease without discussing vitamins C and E. Both of these vitamins offer vital health benefits that are especially valuable to people with herpes. 

Vitamin C

Vitamin C has demonstrated the ability to accelerate the healing of herpes outbreaks. The ascorbic acid in vitamin C inactivates a wide range of viruses in vitro, including herpes simplex. 

One small, double-blind trial reported that patients treated with 200 mg ascorbic acid and 200 mg water-soluble citrus flavonoids, three times daily for three days, experienced 57% shorter time until remission of symptoms than the placebo group. 

Vitamin E

Research shows that higher doses of vitamin E may reduce stress on the immune cells. When faced with less oxidative stress, the immune system can more effectively combat free radicals, viruses, pathogens, and other foreign invaders. This in turn bolsters your body’s ability to fend off viral infections like herpes. 


Focus on Alkalinity

When the body strays too far from a pH of 7, negative health consequences like inflammation, headaches, fatigue and ulcers occur. By avoiding acidic foods and embracing an alkaline diet, you can support your body’s pH balance and protect your overall health as well! 

It just so happens that most acidic foods also contain added sugar, so cutting processed foods, soda, pasta, and artificial sugars from your diet offers multiple benefits. Swap these acidic choices with water, unprocessed whole foods, organic produce, natural sweeteners, and plant-based protein to prevent cold sore outbreaks and keep your body as healthy as possible.

Avoid These Foods!

The same foods that threaten your overall health also compromise your body’s ability to fight the herpes virus and reduce the impacts of each outbreak. Avoid these foods to ensure your body remains in prime fighting condition. 

Heavily Processed Foods

Processed foods, which are normally found on the interior aisles of the grocery store, are loaded with synthetic ingredients. In many cases, the food’s existing nutrients are stripped away in the preservation process. 

Freezer meals and refined grains, for example, contain synthetic and processed ingredients that trigger oxidative stress. It’s important to keep your body’s oxidative stress low to promote healing during herpes outbreaks, so eating heavily processed foods creates an uphill battle to recovery.

Added Sugar

The added sugar found in treats, desserts, and refined foods stunts your body’s natural healing abilities. Extra sugar is also converted into acid, which attacks your body and exacerbates herpes outbreak symptoms. 

In addition to eating properly and supporting your immune system with the best nutrients, you can also combat cold sore outbreaks with a reliable cold sore treatment alternative like Luminance RED. This breakthrough cold sore treatment harnesses high-powered light technology to shorten healing time and decrease the frequency of outbreaks.

Thanks to the precise design of the Luminance RED device, every treatment provides the exact medically optimized wavelength of light necessary to maximize treatment efficiency.

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