Avoid These Foods To Prevent and Cure Shingles

Updated on March 30th, 2020
foods to avoid with shingles

Shingles, also known as Herpes Zoster, is a painful nerve condition causing rashes in individuals. It is caused by varicella-zoster(1), the same virus that is responsible for chickenpox. Interestingly, the virus lies dormant inside a person’s body for years and resurfaces, which results in shingles. People with a weak immune system and the elderly have a higher chance of suffering shingles. 

People suffering from shingles face a lot of pain and discomfort for weeks, even months. There is no specific cure for it. However, apart from vaccines, few medications could help you. But for long term relief from the symptoms accompanying shingles, it is crucial to check your diet and abstain from certain foods to avoid with shingles.

Foods to Avoid with Shingles

1. Dark Chocolate

Why Should You Avoid This?

Dark chocolate is among the top foods to avoid with shingles(2). Dark chocolate contains an amino acid called Arginine, which triggers shingles. Apart from this, it also has some addictive properties.

What Can You Have Instead?

Unless you have an outbreak, you can take a small amount. You should opt for a low arginine diet. Have fresh and bright colored fruits and vegetables daily.

[Read: Home Remedies to Treat Chickenpox]

2. Alcohol and Caffeine

Alcohol and Caffeine

Why Should You Avoid This?

Alcohol and caffeine are not only part of the list of foods to avoid with shingles but also not good for your overall health. These two affect the body’s capability to fight all diseases. It might interfere with the effect of antiviral drugs and may result in side effects, too, like dizziness, nausea, etc.

What Can You Have Instead?

Limit intake of alcohol and caffeine. Instead, drink other clear fluids and fruit juices. Keep yourself hydrated with plenty of fluids apart from enough water.

3. Refined and Processed Foods

Why Should You Avoid This?

Refined carbohydrates, sugary drinks or foods, etc. do not have enough nutrients and vitamins, which are much needed for the body’s immune system. Get rid of these refined and processed foods to avoid that aggravate shingles.

What Can You Have Instead?

Replace refined and processed foods with whole, unprocessed food that boosts immunity. Food rich in Vitamin A, E, B-6, iron, zinc, and folate is excellent for your immune system. Aim to consume plenty of fruits and vegetables daily.

[Read: Natural Remedies for Heat Rash]

4. Gelatin

Why Should You Avoid This?

Food containing Gelatin should be avoided to reduce symptoms of symptoms. Food containing gelatin include marshmallows, Jell-O, candy gummies, candy corn, some non-fat yogurts, and cereals. Know the details of the ingredients of the food items you buy.

What Can You Have Instead?

You should opt for candies that do not have gelatin as an ingredient. You could also try natural sweeteners to avoid it altogether. Plant foods, like leafy green vegetables and juicy fruits, have anti-microbial and anti-inflammatory qualities. So, concentrate on plant-based foods apart from tomatoes, blueberries, grapes, blackberries, etc. that contain an unbalanced proportion of arginine and lysine

5. Soy


Why Should You Avoid This?

Soy might be considered healthy, but it is among the foods to avoid when you have shingles. The reason is the presence of arginine – the amino acid that aggravates shingles. Food items that contain soy include soy sauce, tofu, crackers, bean sprouts, some cereals, and many more food items. It is even an ingredient in some protein powders. The protein powders are an excellent way for protein intake but contain soy powder.

What Can You Have Instead?

Check the label of foods to avoid foods with soy. Opt for food with lysine, a type of amino acid that is believed to negate the effect of arginine. Eggs, fenugreek seeds, spirulina, etc. are foods rich in lysine.

6. Grains

Why Should You Avoid This?

Some grains are rich in arginine hence should be avoided. Foods rich in arginine include some grain cereals, buckwheat, corn, some nuts, seeds, etc. Grains form an ingredient of kinds of pasta, bread, oatmeal, and even beer.

What Can You Have Instead?

Read the ingredients of different foods and get to know about the particular grains that can aggravate shingles. Replace them with food that does not contain arginine or other harmful components.

Precautionary Measures

There are vaccines available for the prevention of shingles. However, a weak immune system is found to be linked to the occurrence of shingles. So, taking measures to strengthen your immunity would be a long term precaution from shingles. The long term measures include:

  • Ample sleep of around 7 to 9 hours a day
  • Washing hands often to get rid of the microbes that you come in contact with
  • Moderate exercise
  • Avoiding excess stress which releases cortisol, harmful for the immune system
  • Tai-chi
  • Eating plenty of fruits and vegetables
  • Include Vitamin A, E, C and Zinc in your daily diet
  • Garlic

If you get shingles, cover the rashes, don’t touch or scratch the rashes, wash your hands often, and avoid contact with pregnant women and other people with a weak immune system.

It is also crucial that you should stay away from the various myths related to shingles. The belief that chickenpox and shingles are the same is not valid. Though caused by the same virus, both of them are not precisely the same. Again, shingles affect not only the elderly but also the youth and children. With the help of a robust immune system and vaccine, you can minimize the chances of occurrence of shingles.

[Read: Essential Oils for Heat Rash]

There are various foods to avoid with shingles. These foods might be otherwise healthy but act as triggers for shingles. Instead, you should eat food that helps boost immunity(3) and fight against shingles.

Apart from the appropriate diet, you should also look forward to a better lifestyle. These simple lifestyle changes in your daily life will not only improve your immunity but will make you overall healthy. Once there is an outbreak, eliminate the foods to avoid with shingles. Avoid stress, take some rest, and apply cool, damp cloth on the rashes. Take your doctor’s advice regarding further clarity on what food might interfere with the antiviral medication or worsen your condition.


1. Does Apple Cider Vinegar Help Shingles?

Apple cider vinegar is one of the most useful home remedies. It acts as a natural antiseptic that can clean those shingles sores and speeds up the scabbing process. In combination with honey, it makes for a perfect remedy.

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