General Health

Shingles Diet: What To Eat And Avoid

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By Apollo 24|7, Published on- 31 August 2023, Updated on - 05 September 2023

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Shingles is a painful viral infection caused by the varicella-zoster virus, the same virus that causes chickenpox. It typically affects older adults or individuals with weakened immune systems. While there is no cure for shingles, managing symptoms is crucial, and diet plays a vital role in this process. A balanced diet can help boost your immune system, reduce inflammation, and improve overall health, all of which are essential for managing shingles symptoms effectively. In this blog, we've outlined the essential foods to include and avoid during shingles.

Foods to Eat During Shingles

When dealing with shingles, it's important to focus on consuming foods that can boost your immune system and reduce inflammation. Here are some nutrient-rich foods that have been scientifically approved to help with shingles:

1. Fruits and vegetables high in antioxidants

  • Citrus fruits - Oranges, lemons, and grapefruits are packed with vitamin C, which can enhance your immune function and help fight off the shingles virus.
  • Berries - Blueberries, strawberries, and raspberries are rich in antioxidants that can protect your cells from damage caused by the virus.
  • Leafy greens - Spinach, kale, and Swiss chard are excellent sources of vitamins A, C, and E, which can support your immune system and reduce inflammation.

2. Lean proteins

  • Chicken - Chicken is a great source of protein, which is essential for tissue repair and healing. It also contains amino acids such as histidine and tryptophan that support the immune system.
  • Fish - Fatty fish like salmon, mackerel, and sardines are high in omega-3 fatty acids, which has anti-inflammatory properties. Incorporating these into your diet can help reduce inflammation associated with shingles.
  • Legumes - Lentils, beans, and chickpeas are excellent sources of plant-based protein. They also contain fibre and other nutrients that promote a healthy immune system.

3. Whole grains for energy and fibre

  • Brown rice - Brown rice is an excellent source of energy and fibre. It also provides essential nutrients like manganese, magnesium, and selenium, which support the immune system and promote healing.
  • Quinoa - Quinoa is packed with protein, fibre, and essential amino acids. It also contains high levels of antioxidants that help reduce inflammation, protect you from oxidative stress, and support healthy skin.
  • Whole wheat bread - Opt for whole wheat bread instead of refined white bread as it has high fibre content. It would also regulate your digestion and prevent constipation.

4. Foods with antiviral properties

  • Garlic - Known for its antiviral and immune-boosting properties, garlic contains compounds like allicin that have been shown to combat viruses, including the Herpes Zoster virus.
  • Turmeric - Due to its active compound called curcumin, turmeric has powerful anti-inflammatory effects. Adding turmeric to your meals can help reduce pain and inflammation caused by shingles.
  • Green tea - Packed with antioxidants and antiviral compounds, green tea can be a great addition to your shingles diet. It helps strengthen your immune system and may even prevent the spread of the Herpes Zoster virus.

5. Foods high in lysine

  • Dairy products - Dairy products like milk and yoghurt are high in lysine. Lysine is an essential amino acid that helps inhibit the replication of the shingles virus, reducing the severity and duration of symptoms.
  • Eggs - Eggs are not only a great source of protein but also contain high levels of lysine. Incorporating eggs into your diet can support your body's natural defence mechanisms against shingles.
  • Fish - Fish such as salmon, tuna, and mackerel are rich in omega-3 fatty acids. These healthy fats have anti-inflammatory properties that can help reduce pain and inflammation caused by shingles.

Foods to Avoid During Shingles

While certain foods can help boost your immune system and alleviate symptoms, others can hinder the healing process. Here are some foods to avoid during shingles:

1. Foods that can trigger inflammation

Processed foods high in sugar and unhealthy fats

These foods contain high levels of additives, preservatives, and artificial sweeteners that can increase inflammation in the body. Examples include sodas, candies, packaged snacks, and fast food.

Refined grains and white flour products

Foods like white bread, pasta, and pastries have been stripped of their nutrients and fibre, causing a rapid spike in blood sugar levels. This can impair immune function and prolong the healing process.

Red meat and processed meats

These meats are often high in saturated fats, which can lead to inflammation. Additionally, processed meats like sausages and cold cuts may contain harmful preservatives that can further hamper the proper functioning of the immune system.

2. Foods that contain high levels of arginine

  • Nuts- Nuts, especially peanuts, contain high levels of arginine, an amino acid that can promote viral replication. It's best to steer clear of peanuts and other nuts during a shingles outbreak.
  • Seeds- Pumpkin seeds and other high-arginine seeds should also be avoided. Opt for alternatives like sunflower or flaxseeds, which have lower arginine levels.
  • Chocolate- As much as it may be tempting, chocolate is another food to avoid during shingles. Chocolate contains both arginine and caffeine, both of which can worsen the symptoms of shingles.

3. Foods that can exacerbate nerve pain

  • Spicy peppers and hot sauces- These foods contain capsaicin, a compound that can trigger inflammation and irritation in nerve endings, leading to increased pain and discomfort.
  • Tomatoes and tomato-based products- Tomatoes are highly acidic, which can aggravate nerve pain and cause flare-ups. This includes tomato sauces, ketchup, and even salsa.

Additional Dietary Considerations for Shingles Management

Here are some additional dietary considerations to keep in mind to boost the immune system and speed up the healing process:

  • Drink plenty of water throughout the day to stay hydrated. Include hydrating foods like watermelon, cucumber, and leafy greens in your meals.
  • Avoid sugary drinks and alcohol, as they can dehydrate your body.
  • Incorporate probiotic-rich foods like yoghurt, kefir, sauerkraut, and kimchi into your diet as they help maintain a healthy gut flora, which is essential for a strong immune system.
  • Consider taking a probiotic supplement after consulting with your healthcare provider.
  • Include foods high in antioxidants, such as berries, dark chocolate, and green tea.
  • Avoid excessive consumption of caffeine and processed foods, as they can increase stress.
  • Practice relaxation techniques like deep breathing, meditation, or yoga to reduce stress levels.


Nutrition plays a crucial role in supporting recovery in shingles as certain foods can help boost your immune system and reduce inflammation, while others can worsen symptoms and prolong healing. Remember, it is vital to consult a healthcare professional before making significant dietary changes.

Consult Apollo’s Specialists


Q. Can stress trigger shingles?

Yes, stress can weaken your immune system and increase the risk of developing shingles. Managing stress through relaxation techniques and stress-reducing activities may help decrease the likelihood of shingles outbreaks.

Q. Should I avoid physical activity during a shingles outbreak?

It is generally recommended to avoid strenuous physical activity during a shingles outbreak. Resting and allowing your body to heal is important.

Q. How can vitamin C-rich foods help with shingles?

Vitamin C is known to boost the immune system and can aid in healing and recovery from shingles.

Q. Is it necessary to follow a specific diet when suffering from shingles?

While there is no specific diet for shingles, certain foods can support your recovery and alleviate symptoms.

Q. Can certain foods trigger a shingles outbreak?

While there is no direct evidence linking specific foods to triggering shingles outbreaks, certain dietary choices can weaken the immune system and potentially increase the risk of developing the disease. It's essential to follow a balanced diet and avoid excessive intake of sugary and processed foods.


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