Dietary Changes To Help Heal From Viral Infections

Viral infections can easily attack and wreak havoc on our bodies, 

Viruses penetrate living cells to reproduce. The virus will attach onto and enter a cell where it releases its genetic material to reproduce. The virus’s genetic material starts to control the cell forcing it to replicate the virus. The infected cell may sometimes die releasing new viruses into the body, which go on to invade other cells.

Fortunately, not all viruses kill the host cell. Most often when a virus invades the body, our immune system will attack it and remove it from our body in a number of days to several weeks, and prevent future invasions by the same virus through immune system memory. 

However, some viruses can sneak into cells of our body by bypassing the immune system. These viruses can hide for a very long time in our cells, and some may even cause a permanent infection that may even go unnoticed.

Most often these life-long infections remain dormant, not reproducing or causing any illness. However, they may awaken when the body is weakened by overwork, too little sleep, too much stress, too much exercise, disease or nutritional imbalances.

There are many viral infections including herpes, measles, HIV, hepatitis C, influenza and the Epstein-Barr virus which is the most prevalent as it has infected over 90% of adults in the U.S. This virus can remain in the different cells around the body permanently.  Most often it remains dormant, but it may cause serious illness in some people. 

Some viruses can cause chronic infections. Hepatitis B virus and hepatitis C virus infections may last for many years causing liver damage, or even cirrhosis a severe scarring of the liver, or even liver cancer.

Some of these viruses are sexually transmitted, and some can devastate the lives of those infected with terrible symptoms. 

Sometimes doctors may not even be aware that a previous viral infection could be causing our symptoms.

Fortunately, some foods can assist the healing process and can also help our bodies remove at times even the most stubborn viruses for good from our body.

The nutrients listed below either help support the immune system to fight off the viral infection or help our body destroy the virus and remove it from the body. I suggest including all of the foods mentioned below in your diet regularly when suffering from a viral infection, or when you believe that you may have a previously dormant virus now causing strange unexplained symptoms that have come following severe mental or physical stress on the body.

L-lysine

The essential amino acid L-lysine is used in the body’s production of proteins. The supplementation of L-lysine has been found to improve patients with herpes simplex 1 virus (the strain responsible for cold sores). Studies suggest L-lysine also has a positive impact on patients infected with herpes simplex 2 (the strain responsible for genital herpes) although, the results are not conclusive. [1] L-lysine is also suggested to help people with many other viral infections. [2]

Certain types of beans are a natural source of L-lysine and one which offers us many possibilities in its consumption. Legumes such as black beans and lentils provide 523 mg and 624 mg of L-lysine per half cup respectively. Tempeh, a cultured soy product contains 754 mg of L-lysine and also contains probiotics which allow for a healthy gut microbiome important for strong immune function.

Quinoa is high in protein, fiber and has 442mg of L-lysine. This favorite product is quite versatile and tasty. People often sprinkle it on salads, have it as a side dish or eat it as a high protein carbohydrate source.

Soy milk is an excellent source of L-lysine and protein; as are soybeans. Soy milk can be used to prepare healthy desserts or to make smoothies out of your favorite fruits. 

Other quick snacks such as pistachio and pumpkin seeds are excellent sources of L-lysine which will help you fight off viral infections.

Phytochemicals

Phytochemicals support the immune system, they lower inflammation, decrease oxidative damage to cells, and decrease the growth of viruses.

Phytochemicals include polyphenols found in wild blueberries and raspberries which should definitely be included regularly in the diet.

Phytochemicals also include beta-carotene, which we can find in carrots, spinach, kale,  cantaloupe, broccoli, turnip greens, winter squash, collard greens, and apricots.

  

Another phytochemical you may have heard of is resveratrol. We can find high levels of this in grapes, pistachios, and cranberries mentioned before. 

Polyphenols in tea are one of the most commonly consumed phytochemicals which aren’t difficult to add to your daily routine. [3]

Vitamin A

Vitamin A is also needed for boosting the immune system to fight off viral infections and in helping remove toxins made by viruses or that feed viruses in the body.

Sweet potatoes, carrot, squash, lettuce, parsley, cilantro and citrus fruits contain high amounts of vitamin A

Antioxidant nutrients

Zinc, vitamin C, Selenium all support a healthy immune system to help fight off viruses. These can be found in sprouted foods, sesame seeds which can be eaten as tahini, chickpeas, which can be eaten as hummus, pumpkin seeds and garlic which also has other antiviral properties.

Medium chain triglycerides

Coconut oil is excellent for fighting viral infections since it is one of the only sources in nature of medium chain triglycerides which has natural antibacterial, antifungal, and antiviral properties. Two of the most potent medium chain triglycerides found in coconut oil are lauric acid and capric acid. These attack and kill viruses with fat coatings as well as many harmful bacteria and fungi but are harmless to human cells. I recommend taking one teaspoon a day when feeling a little run down, or spreading the coconut oil on the lips when herpes infection is active.

Herbs

These following herbs exhibit anti-viral properties by hindering the growth and spread of viruses. They are harmless to human cells but will kill viruses. These herbs also help boost immune system function and have other health perks such as supporting heart and digestive function and also exhibit anti-inflammatory properties. These herbs should be consumed regularly as part of your diet when feeling run down or when you know you have an active viral infection or can be taken in the form of supplements.

Antiviral herbs include ginger, elderberries, oregano oil, calendula, echinacea, cat’s claw, licorice root, astragalus root, and olive leaf.

These foods are a must when giving our bodies the required doses of phytochemicals, vitamins and essential amino acids needed to help fight off any virus invasion and remove it from the body for good. 

These foods are also the best preventive medicine with which we can equip our bodies. 

If you are eager to learn how to introduce these foods into your lifestyle easily and improve your daily eating habits; please visit us at The Guerilla Diet.

References:

1. Griffith RS, Walsh DE, Myrmel KH, Thompson RW, Behforooz A. Success of L-lysine therapy in frequently recurrent herpes simplex infection. Treatment and prophylaxis. Dermatologica. 1987;175(4):183-90.

2. Degols G, Leonetti JP, Gagnor C, Lemaitre M, Lebleu B. Antiviral activity and possible mechanisms of action of oligonucleotides-poly(L-lysine) conjugates targeted to vesicular stomatitis virus mRNA and genomic RNA. Nucleic Acids Research. 1989;17(22):9341-9350.

3. Plant phytochemicals as new potential drugs for immune disorders and cancer therapy: really a promising path?

Chirumbolo S.J Sci Food Agric. 2012 Jun;92(8):1573-7. doi: 10.1002/jsfa.5670. Epub 2012 Mar 30.

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