Misc Published June7, 2019 By Staff Reporter

What Foods to Avoid During a Shingles Outbreak

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Shingles occur in almost 1/3 of Americans, and everyone who has had chicken pox in the past can get shingles because they both come from the same virus, varicella-zoster. Once reactivated, it causes painful rashes on your body, typically on either side of your torso. This typically occurs in older individuals. The best way to avoid a shingles outbreak is through vaccination.

You might be wondering... "does Medicare cover shingles vaccine?"

According to themedicarestore.com, under Original Medicare alone, one wouldn't be covered for shingles vaccination. You will need to enroll for a Medicare Part D plan which covers prescription drugs, or a Medicare Advantage plan which covers prescription drugs.

If not for vaccination, it's important to recognize the symptoms because what you do or do not eat will affect how well you can recover from the unexpected outbreak.

In this article, we'll cover what you should NOT be eating once you've been diagnosed with shingles.

Foods Rich in Arginine

Arginine or L-Arginine is an amino acid that is needed to build protein. Despite having an important role in tissue repair and muscle building, arginine has also been shown to promote the growth of the shingles virus. On a side note, supplementing your diet with lysine-rich food can stop the virus from spreading as it competes with arginine. Here's a list of some common arginine-rich food you need to avoid:

  • Nuts and seeds

  • Beans

  • Lentils

  • Chicken

  • Eggs

  • Chocolate

  • Soy

Processed and High-Sugar Food

When your body is fighting off viruses, it needs a strong immune system. A good way to achieving this is by having a nutritious diet. Food and beverages that are processed and rich in sugar have shown to suppress the immune system and obviously should be avoided. Be extra careful with this one, because not many are aware that even your "healthy" fruit juices are also filled with sugar. Here are some other common food and beverage items to shy away from:

  • Sodas

  • Many breakfast cereals

  • Processed grains

  • Snacks

  • Pasta


A good chunk of us enjoys waking up to a cup of coffee. Moderate intakes of caffeine can improve alertness and cognitive function. But too much of a good thing isn't always ideal. Studies have shown that large caffeine intakes in men and women increase cortisol levels, a stress hormone which is notorious for suppressing your immune system.

This happens when stress reduces the body's white blood cell count which is important in fighting infections. During a shingles outbreak, consider cutting down on your coffee. Other caffeine-rich culprits are pre-workout supplements, energy drinks, and chocolate.


Even though shingles are a rather common case, but it can lead to further complications if not treated, such as pneumonia, blindness, or even death. A good diet can mitigate it and help the overall recovery process. Always consult your certified medical professional first and foremost before applying any of the tips given.

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