Shingles, medically known as herpes zoster, is a result of the reactivation of the dormant varicella-zoster virus in individuals who have previously had chickenpox. The dormant virus stays in the dorsal root ganglia of the sensory cranial and spinal nerves. When an individual becomes immunocompromised (weakened immune system), the virus is reactivated and comes out in the form of shingles. Shingle flare-ups can become very painful. One way to alleviate shingle flare-ups and to help the immune system fight off the infection is to follow a shingles diet.
One study about shingles diet suggests that consumption of foods that have a high proportion of lysine to arginine might help reduce the severity or extent of the disease. Arginine and lysine are amino acids; amino acids are what form the protein in the body. The two, however, have different functions. Lysine is gives the raw material needed in the production of collagen. Collagen is responsible for wound healing and plays a part in bone growth. Arginine, on the other hand, is one of the components of nitric oxide. Nitric oxide is important in keeping a healthy and normal blood pressure.
Arginine is found to encourage the growth of herpes simplex. Lysine, meanwhile, offsets the effects of arginine. Because of these, the two amino acids compete with each other for the absorption of the affected cells. And since the virus which causes herpes simplex and herpes zoster are related, it is believed that a diet consisting of high lysine: low arginine foods can help individuals suffering from shingles as well.
A shingles diet which contains high lysine includes plenty of meat, fish, and poultry. s. Farm-raised poultry should be preferred than those found in the wild as they contain less arginine and more lysine. Dairy products such as milk, cheese, and yogurt should be included in a shingles diet as they are also rich in lysine. Legumes and soybeans are also great sources lysine.
Since arginine encourages shingle flare-ups, a shingles diet should comprise of low arginine foods. Some multi-vitamins contain arginine; these kinds of multi-vitamins must be avoided. A shingles diet should also minimize, if not avoid, foods including chocolate, white bread, brewers yeast, nuts, and oats.
And since shingles is mainly due to poor immune system functions, a good shingles diet must help the immune system fight off the infection. Zinc and Vitamin C are a must in keeping the immune system healthy. Vitamin C is found mainly in fruits and vegetables; oranges, green leafy vegetables, strawberries, potatoes, and peppers are great sources. Zinc, on the other hand, can be found in legumes, whole grains, poultry, red meats, and oysters.
Proper diet is always a part in the management of any disease. The best shingles diet, consisting of foods rich in lysine, zinc, and vitamin C, should be followed in order to cure shingles faster and to minimize the symptoms of the disease.