While diet alone will not cure shingles, avoiding certain foods can contribute to a more comfortable healing process and potentially help minimize complications.
Shingles is a viral infection that occurs due to the reactivation of the varicella-zoster virus (VZV), which initially causes chickenpox. After a person recovers from chickenpox, the virus can remain dormant in nerve cells. If it reactivates, it causes shingles.
This article looks into the role diet plays in recovering from shingles. It also discusses other ways to boost the immune system to promote recovery.
When a person has shingles, maintaining a healthy diet is important for several reasons:
- Immune support: A well-balanced diet provides essential nutrients that
supportimmune system function. Since people experience shingles when VZV reactivates, a strong immune response is crucialfor managing the virus and promoting healing.
- Faster recovery: Proper nutrition can help the body’s healing process. Nutrients such as zinc and vitamins C and E play
rolesin tissue repair and immune function, which can help speed up the healing of shingles lesions and minimize discomfort.
- Reduced inflammation: Foods rich in antioxidants, omega-3 fatty acids, and anti-inflammatory compounds can help reduce inflammation, which contributes to pain and discomfort during a shingles outbreak.
While there is limited specific guidance on the foods to avoid with shingles, certain foods may impair immune function. These include:
Shingles can cause the skin to become sensitive and inflamed. Consuming spicy foods may exacerbate the discomfort and pain associated with the condition.
Spicy foods contain compounds such as capsaicin that can stimulate nerve endings and increase blood flow to the skin, potentially intensifying the sensations of burning, itching, or pain. Therefore, consuming spicy foods might lead to additional discomfort in people with shingles.
However, people can apply capsaicin to the skin in various forms, such as creams, gels, and patches.
Foods high in sugar
The high sugar content in processed foods can lead to inflammation and
Many processed foods contain high levels of unhealthy fats and refined carbohydrates. Consuming these
Alcohol consumption can
Alcohol suppresses immune function by disrupting immune cell balance and inhibiting proper functioning. It can also lead to dehydration, which can further compromise immune responses.
Furthermore, alcohol consumption might
Read about foods to eat and avoid for a strong immune system.
Some foods help boost the immune system. These include:
- Herbal teas: Some herbal teas, such as echinacea, elderberry, and green tea, contain compounds that may
- Mushrooms: Certain mushrooms, such as shiitake, reishi, and maitake, have compounds that may enhance immune responses.
- Garlic: Garlic contains compounds with potential immune-boosting properties.
- Turmeric: Curcumin, the active compound in turmeric, may have
anti-inflammatoryand immune-enhancing effects.
- Berries: Berries such as blueberries, strawberries, and raspberries are rich in antioxidants that can support immune health.
- Nuts and seeds: Almonds, walnuts, and sunflower seeds provide essential nutrients that
- Fermented foods: Probiotic-rich foods such as yogurt, kefir, and fermented vegetables promote a healthy gut microbiome, which links to immune health.
- Spices: Spices such as ginger, cinnamon, and cayenne pepper may have immune-modulating properties.
- Omega-3 fatty acids: These acids occur in fatty fish, flaxseeds, and walnuts. They
support immune functionand reduce inflammation.
Read more about foods that boost the immune system.
Other ways a person can try to boost their immune system
Learn about how the immune system works.
Early and appropriate medical treatment, including
While most cases of shingles resolve without severe complications, some individuals might experience the following:
- bacterial skin infections
- nerve damage
- eye-related issues if the shingles rash affects the face
Read about home remedies for shingles.
Evidence suggests that diet can be important in a person’s recovery from shingles. However, people should use dietary interventions alongside medical advice and treatment.
Foods that boost the immune system, such as turmeric and herbal teas, may improve a person’s recovery. Foods to avoid include spicy and sugary foods.