Fight off cold sores with food

Cold sores, also called fever blisters, are painful, sensitive infections that appear on the lips, the outside of the mouth and occasionally inside or on the nose.

Most people have experienced these uncomfortable blisters, and in fact 90 percent of all people develop at least one cold sore in their lifetime. Often preceded by a burning, pulsating, itching sensation, a small fluid-filled sore will emerge.

Within a day or so, the sore ruptures and a scab forms. Once you have had a cold sore, the virus that causes it remains with you for the rest of your life. It lies dormant in nerve cells and may re-emerge for a variety of reasons, perhaps when the immune system is depressed or when you are under a lot of stress or don't get enough sleep.

For most people who have recurrent cold sores, subsequent sores will appear in the same location as the initial sore and will be less painful.

Some people are more prone to getting cold sores, and while almost everyone has had the virus, only some people actually experience symptoms. Cold sores generally last for a week to 10 days.

Fight off cold sores with food

Understand the causes to help with management

Researchers believe that cold sores are most likely caused by the herpes simplex virus type 1 (not to be confused with herpes simplex virus type 2, which causes sexually transmitted genital herpes).

It is thought that the virus that causes cold sores may be spread by touch from lip sores to other parts of the body, primarily the mucous membranes of the eyes, nose and, though rare, the genital areas.

Careful hand washing, and avoidance of kissing when the sore is in its early stage, are important in preventing its spread.

Once it has scabbed over, the cold sore is less contagious.

Certain factors can trigger cold sores, such as being rundown, ultraviolet radiation (too much exposure to the sun), hormonal changes such as menstruation, some medications that reduce your immune system's effectiveness, infections and emotional stress. Dietary measures can help bolster your immune system's defences; this is important for the possible prevention and control of cold sores.

How food may help

Some health care providers theorize that a diet high in lysine may reduce the recurrence of cold sores.

Lysine is an amino acid that is thought to combat the onset of cold sores (or reduce the duration of them) by interfering with the absorption of arginine, an amino acid that is suspected of being necessary for the herpes virus to replicate.

Preliminary studies suggest that antiviral substances found in garlic may be effective in preventing cold sores.

Another nutritional strategy to combat and manage cold sores is to regularly eat foods that maintain a strong immune system.

Foods rich in vitamin C and zinc possess antioxidant powers that increase the immune system's ability to help fight off the virus that causes cold sores.

Cold sores tend to occur when the body is under stress, which can compromise your immune system.

The foods

Run out and pick up some of these disease fighting ingredients: chicken, dairy, eggs, turkey, berries, citrus fruits, kiwi, melons, beans, shellfish, and whole grains.

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