Herpes, usually associated with presentation of skin infection, is actually an inflammation of the sensory nerves. When the DNA of the herpes which initially stays in the brain’s base (ganglia), replicates to become a group of viruses then travels down the nerve and causes skin blisters. Herpes can be caused by Herpes Simplex Virus of HSV-1 and HSV-2. In short, HSV-1 typically causes cold sores around the mouth area and HSV-2 mainly causes genital herpes. The word ‘herpes’ itself sure sounds terrifying for those diagnosed with one but the fact that it causes a person to have pain in the blisters or ulcers and skin around it, surely makes the person find immediate relief and prevention from further attacks.
Herpes virus is quite sneaky to be living in a person’s body, long enough that it goes undetected by the human body immune system, concluding that herpes is incurable. Since it is incurable, available medicine and treatment only aims to prevent and shorten the duration of the attack or outbreaks. One of the ways that may help patients with existing herpes from getting sudden herpes outbreak, is to practise a diet of high lysine low arginine foods.
Lysine and arginine both are basic amino acids, the differences are lysine is essential to humans while arginine is the opposite. Although lysine may not be famously known as a protein or vitamin, it plays important roles in the body such as helping the body to absorb calcium, building strong bones and cartilage, better blood sugar control, lowering risk for heart disease and helping lowering stress hormones. In 1981, a doctor named Christopher Kagan discovered that herpes viruses multiply when given arginine and the viruses unable to multiply when lysine is added. In 1984, Thein and Hurt made further research from the Kagan experiment and found out that supplementation of l-lysine in volunteers helps reduce the frequency of cold sores outbreaks.
These remarkable discoveries can be intriguing for herpes patients. The easiest and fulfilling way to obtain lysine is from food that is high in lysine and low arginine. Below are examples of the food:
1- Yoghurt especially low-fat yoghurt
4- Legume: navy bean, green bean, adzuki beans, kidney beans, black beans, mung bean, lima beans, cowpeas, lentil, chestnut, barley, soybean, peas, chickpeas, quinoa
5- Fruits: Apples, mango, apricot, pear, papaya, starfruit, avocado, guava
6- Vegetables:Cauliflower, bell pepper, zucchini, squash, asparagus, carrot, spinach, kale, bok choy, corn, leek, okra, brussels sprouts, seaweed, broccoli, bamboo shoots, white potato, sweet potato, lotus root, turnip green, watercress, water spinach, swiss chard, cremini mushrooms
7- Fish: Salmon, flounder, sardine, tuna, cod
8- Meat and poultry: beef, chicken, turkey, lamb, egg
When we talk about food that is rich in lysine and low in arginine, there is definitely food that is rich in arginine and low in lysine. Food that should be consumed less due to arginine abundance are:
1- Macadamia nut
5- Sesame seeds
7- Pine nuts
8- Brazil nut
11- Coconut meat
15- Chia seeds
16- Grains such as oat, wheat and rice
17- Caffeinated food or drinks: coffee, chocolate, tea
It is understandable that to avoid eating high arginine food is hard and to solely eat food rich in lysine can make a boring diet. Hence, it is alright to mix both groups of arginine and lysine regardless if it is high or low in value, as long it is balanced. For example, you can eat baked rice with chicken and vegetables by reducing the rice portion and increasing the vegetable portion.