How To Manage Cold Sores With Food

Cold sores can be painful and uncomfortable, but did you know that what you eat can have an impact on their frequency and severity? While there is no known cure, by eating more foods with nutrients that help your system combat the onset of cold sores (herpes labialis) before they begin, you can lessen the likelihood of experiencing them altogether. By making some simple changes to your diet, you can help prevent cold sores and promote faster healing when they do occur. In this blog post, we'll explore some of the best foods to eat for cold sores and how they can benefit your overall health.

Can Cold Sores Be Prevented

Cold sores are a viral infection resulting in small blisters around the mouth that can be painful, uncomfortable, and aesthetically embarrassing. They’re caused by the highly contagious herpes simplex virus (HSV-1) located in the nerve cells in the lips. Most often our immune systems are able to keep the virus in check, however, a common question is “can cold sores be prevented”? Once infected with the virus, you cannot be cured of it, but you can work to prevent cold sores through diet, environmental factors, and lifestyle management. There is very inconclusive research that supports the theory that cold sores can be prevented altogether, however, by voiding things like artificial UV light, harsh weather and exposure leading to cracks in the skin, high emotional stress, using steroids, and other triggers, cold sores can usually be avoided. [R]

Foods That Trigger Cold Sores

A lot of people think that certain foods can trigger or create cold sores, or fever blisters as they’re also referred to, but there isn’t enough scientific proof to back this claim up. Does that mean it isn’t true? Not necessarily, and some people experience foods + symptoms that others do not, leading to the development of cold sores. If you feel like there are certain foods that trigger cold sores for you, then we recommend that you avoid those foods. If there are foods that upset or make your active cold sores or fever blisters worse, like eating tomatoes when you have an active outbreak, then we recommend you do not eat those to avoid any additional discomfort until the blisters resolve themselves.

Foods To Avoid Cold Sores

Generally speaking, foods that are ideal for cold sore prevention and management are those that also support the immune system/have antiviral properties.

Lysine-Rich Foods For Cold Sores

Lysine is an amino acid that can help inhibit the replication of the herpes simplex virus, which is responsible for cold sores. Foods rich in lysine include dairy products, lean meats, fish, legumes, and nuts. By incorporating these foods into your diet, you can help reduce the frequency and duration of cold sores.

RELATED: Is Plant Or Animal Protein Powder a Better Source of Lysine

Vitamin C For Your Immune System

Vitamin C is known for its immune-boosting properties, which can help prevent cold sores from developing. Citrus fruits, berries, kiwi, and leafy greens are all excellent sources of vitamin C. Be aware though that some foods that contain vitamin c can actually be relatively acidic, leading to an even further irritation of blisters and lesions. If those sorts of foods bother you, some really great non-acidic sources of vitamin C include things like broccoli, potatoes, red/green bell peppers, asparagus, and dark leafy greens. Including these foods in your diet can help strengthen your immune system and reduce the risk of cold sore outbreaks.

RECOMMENDED: Vitamin C Gummies 

Incorporate Zinc Into Your Diet

Zinc is an essential mineral that plays a crucial role in immune function and wound healing. Foods rich in zinc, such as oysters, beef, poultry, and pumpkin seeds, can help speed up the healing process of cold sores and reduce their severity. Adding these foods to your diet can provide the necessary nutrients for optimal healing. If you're looking to supplement with zinc, then we recommend ZMT from Swolverine, which has not only zinc, but other really quality minerals and vitamins that support immune system function, sleep quality, and hormone health, to avoid the outbreak of cold sores triggered by stress, hormone fluctuations, and other lifestyle factors.

RECOMMENDED: ZMT Capsules for both men and women

Eat Fruits and Vegetables High In Antioxidants

Antioxidants help protect the body against oxidative stress and inflammation, which can trigger cold sore outbreaks. Colorful fruits and vegetables, such as tomatoes, bell peppers, spinach, and blueberries, are packed with antioxidants. By including these foods in your meals, you can support your body's natural defense mechanisms and reduce the likelihood of cold sores. If you don't like to eat fruits and vegetables then maybe the better way for you to go is to supplement with a greens + reds powder that contains these vital micronutrients without the feeling of chomping on broccoli for half your dinner.

RECOMMENDED: Greens + Reds Powder (30 servings)

Avoid Trigger Foods For Cold Sores

While it's important to focus on the foods that promote healing, it's equally important to avoid trigger foods that can exacerbate cold sore outbreaks. Foods high in arginine, such as chocolate, nuts, and seeds, can stimulate the replication of the herpes simplex virus. By limiting your intake of these foods, you can help prevent cold sores from occurring.

What To Not Do If You Have Cold Sores

Certain things can help reduce the intensity and severity of a cold sore outbreak if you experience them, as well as keep others safe from infection. If you feel the onset of a cold sore, or have an active cold sore, we recommend that you do not kiss another person, don’t share things like towels, dishes, cups, bottles, or other items you may put your face/lips on, wash your hands if you touch your lips, avoid physical contact sports with others, and avoid sex (especially oral sex, as cold sores can transmit to the membranes lining the genitals, leading to genital herpes). [R] This definitely does NOT mean that you need to halt your life, not go out, or not go to school or work by any means, it just means to be aware of spreading the virus to others.

Food For Cold Sores: Takeaway

Remember, maintaining a healthy diet is just one aspect of managing cold sores. It's also essential to practice good hygiene, manage stress levels, and get enough sleep. If you experience frequent or severe cold sores, it's always a good idea to consult with a healthcare professional for personalized advice and treatment options. By making conscious choices about what you eat, you can take control of your cold sore outbreaks and promote faster healing. Incorporate these foods into your diet and see the difference it can make in your overall health and well-being.

The Swole Kitchen provides 1:1 nutrition coaching, macro coaching, and custom meal plans to help guide you to becoming the best version of yourself. We teach you how to enjoy the foods you love in the right amounts, so you can fit into your favorite pair of jeans, hit your health and fitness goals, and be healthy and happy. We guide you through making sound nutritional decisions and teach you along the way, so you can learn how to take control of your health, and discover what if feels like to live again.
Tags: Wellness