October 5, 2015

Nutritional Support for Shaking the Shingles Virus. {Recipes}


Editor’s Note: This website is not designed to, and should not be construed to, provide medical advice, professional diagnosis, opinion or treatment to you or any other individual, and is not intended as a substitute for medical or professional care and treatment. Always consult a health professional about health care changes before trying out new home therapies or changing your diet.

I am a true believer in food as medicine, but was stumped when, after developing the shingles—the re-emergence of the chickenpox virus in adults—I could not find anything written about nutritional support for shingles in my nutrition library.

When people talk about shingles, they share the pain that they or someone they know has experienced, all in sympathy, but nutrition never enters the conversation.

Convinced that there must be something somewhere written about shingles and diet, I finally came across some interesting findings, which relates, in part, to arginine, an enzyme in the body that can promote the spread of the shingles virus.

One of its many functions is as a growth stimulant and it may be in this role that it helps to spread the virus, so it makes sense to avoid foods high in arginine during a shingles outbreak.

Gabrielle Traub, a homeopath from San Diego, suggests avoiding foods such as gelatin, chocolate, carob, coconut, oats, whole wheat and white flour, nuts and seeds, soybeans, and wheat germ. Foods high in the amino acid lysine, can help fight the spread of shingles as lysine competes with arginine for absorption and entry into our cells. Foods high in lysine include meat, poultry, fish, Brewer’s yeast, yogurt, cheese, milk, eggs, and fruits and vegetables, except for peas. Foods high in vitamin C, such as citrus fruits, support our immune system and may actually inhibit the spread of the shingles virus.

Avoiding an excess of sugar, especially from processed foods, can help with shingles as too much sugar is known to compromise our immune system.

Keeping a food list handy during a shingles outbreak and making creative recipes out of them is a food-healthy way of managing this sometimes painful and debilitating condition. For myself, I did have a shingles vaccine, which at least reduced the intensity of the outbreak and in this respect prevented shingles heartbreak.

Just for fun, I created my own Shingles Shake {2 servings}:

  • ¾ cup of Greek yogurt
  • Tablespoon of whey protein or Brewer’s yeast
  • Cup of blueberries, strawberries, and/or blackberries
  • ½ banana

Serve and delight in knowing that the Shingles Shake is working to fight the spread of its namesake!

Another fun recipe is a Shingles Salad {1 serving}:

  • Fill your plate with spinach or kale
  • Top with citrus fruit, such as sliced oranges and pink grapefruits
  • Add extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar to taste
  • Toss until coated and you have just given yourself a tasty immune boost along with a good dose of lysine!

Eating well can help to manage shingles along with doing what you need to do to reduce stress- from light-to-moderate exercise, mediation, and the avoidance of toxic relationships. Stress can weaken our immune system and increase the risk of shingles. Where there is unavoidable stress, try to balance it with pleasant activities and thoughts, taking stock of the good that you have in your life despite any negativity that you may be faced with.

For myself, lessons were learned from this unfortunate outbreak.

First and foremost was to trust my body’s signals. I was aware of a lot on my plate and not coping as well as I could with the stress. Whenever this happens, a little voice in my mind whispers— “Something’s got to give.” And there it was less than a week later the emergence of shingles.

The second lesson learned was to learn to de-stress, which for me meant more restorative yoga classes, walks in the park, expressing my feelings more, and not taking slights that come my way to heart.

The third lesson was not to let stress build up for once it reaches a peak there is a point of no return and its toll on the body has been done. It is like trying to push back a waterfall with no real strength to speak of. Reflecting on the lessons learned in the midst of the shingles episode was also calming and a real way to de-stress.

“Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.”~ Hippocrates






Skip the Dieting & Become a Qualitarian.



Author: June Rousso

Editor: Renée Picard /  Assistant Editor: Brook Bentley

Photo: ChuckGrimmer/flickr

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