Fruit and vegetables are the best nutrition solution for people with cold sores and facial herpes, or other types of herpes outbreaks, say researchers. Diets low in micronutrients may increase the risk of herpes zoster by temporarily compromising the immunity of the person with herpes viruses. The lowered immunity occurs, for example, by rapidly aging a person’s cell-mediated immune function. This is called “hastening immunosenescence,” which refers to hurrying the aging process of someone’s immune system. Literally, the immune system experiences senescence (rapid aging or a push toward senility of the immune system).
In plain words, that means too rapid-aging of the immune system due to the body having to constantly fight off the facial herpes virus, the cold sores, and any other herpes infections to keep them from flaring up frequently. Check out the article, “Herpes zoster risk increased with lower fruit intake – Life Extension Magazine.”
What foods help are living, raw, whole foods full of micronutrients. That’s because of the micronutrients in the plant foods and plant food extracts. To find information on the best nutrition solutions for people with cold sores and facial herpes outbreaks, you may want to check out the study, Nutritional Factors in Herpes Zoster, Postherpetic Neuralgia, and Zoster Vaccination. Herpes zoster can seriously impair quality of life and may also be a marker for age-related immune decline (immunosenescence).
Eat your fresh fruit, vegetables, and berries
In numerous studies, researchers keep finding that there’s a strong graded association between lower fruit intake and increasing herpes zoster risk. For example in a study mentioned in the Life Extension Magazine article, in adjusted analysis, individuals who ate less than one piece of fruit per week had more than three times the risk of zoster compared with individuals who ate more than three portions per day. So the conclusion might be to eat more fruit, fresh fruit not just the dried variety such as raisins and prunes. Dark berries help such as blueberries and raspberries.
The researchers looked at seven micronutrients but found that “None of the dietary intakes of the seven micronutrients examined had a statistically significant association with zoster risk when considered singly. However, amongst individuals aged more than 60 years,” reported investigators, “a measure of combined micronutrient intake and vegetable intake showed similar dose-related associations with zoster risk,” according to that article.
Scientists repeatedly find that nutrients such as those found in fruit and vegetables may act together, particularly in older individuals, to keep their immune systems healthy and may prevent zoster.
Age-related immunity decline is called immunosenescence
In the recent study, there was a strong graded association between lower fruit intake and increasing zoster risk; in adjusted analysis, individuals who ate less than one piece of fruit per week had more than three times the risk of zoster compared with individuals who ate more than three portions per day.
None of the dietary intakes of the seven micronutrients examined had a statistically significant association with zoster risk when considered singly. However, amongst individuals aged >60 years, a measure of combined micronutrient intake and vegetable intake showed similar dose-related associations with zoster risk. Also see the PDF file, “[PDF] Nutrition and Aging Objectives Aging and Energy Needs – HSC.”
Lack of micronutrients eaten by too many older adults
That study found that as far as nutrition issues focusing on a lack of micronutrients in the foods eaten by older adults, 30% of elderly consume less kilocalories than recommended (Lengyel et al 2008). A kilocalorie is equal to 1,000 calories. It’s a unit of energy nutritionists use to describe how many thousand calories a person eats in a day.
The older adult may have a decreased intake of food because there are no teeth or the existing teeth are weakened. The person may get tired of putting food in a blender and may not want to get surgical implants due to medical risk or most likely the high cost of thousands of dollars per implant. Or false teeth may be painful and not fit well.
Decreased appetite and taste could be an issue
There’s also decreased appetite due to dementia in some or depression in others, including caregivers of other seniors with dementia. There’s also medication-induced anorexia (American Dietetic Association 2005). Some people with suppressed immune systems from aging or other causes have impaired taste perception. There’s also the decreased density of taste buds (Winkler et al 1999).
Older adults also have higher thresholds for detection of tastes (Fukunaga et al 2005) and/or loss of teeth. Often a person’s socioeconomic factors or functional disability are affecting shopping and meal preparation (American Dietetic Association 2005).
The big issue is that malnutrition is closely related to increased mortality and morbidity. People with lowered immune systems due to the body trying to constantly suppress herpes outbreaks on the face, lips, back, or chest or in other areas of the body, can have lower immune systems to fight any type of infection or disease.
Or there can be inflammation in other areas of the body such as inside the arteries. For some, particular older adults or people with disabilities who are bed-ridden or sitting for long periods of time that could mean greater susceptibility to infection and longer hospital stays. You can check out studies such as (Escott-Stump 2008), increased risk of medical and surgical complications (Baker and Wellman 2005), increased risk of pressure ulcers, hip fractures, edema, cognitive changes (Escott-Stump 2008).
Basically in many older adults studied, the incidence of malnutrition estimates range from 20-78%. For more information, check out the PDF file article based on studies, “Nutrition and Aging Objectives Aging and Energy Needs – HSC.”
What foods are best for herpes outbreaks such as cold sores or facial, chest, or back rashes?
If your outbreak is due to herpes, a cocktail of nutrients such as those found in fruit and vegetables may act together, particularly in older individuals, to maintain immune health and prevent zoster and other types of herpes outbreaks.
Recently, micronutrient deficiencies have been shown to increase the risk of HZ and PHN and to affect the immune response to vaccinations, whereas nutritional supplements effectively reduce herpetic pain and pain in patients with PHN.
Micronutrient deficiencies can increase the risk of herpes outbreaks and lower the immune system
As the elderly population grows, the incidence and severity of HZ and PHN are expected to increase and cause a substantial financial burden on the health care system. Thus, enhancing knowledge of the risk factors of HZ and PHN and developing better interventions to treat and prevent HZ and PHN are important to public health.
Researchers are studying nutritional deficiencies, diminished cell-mediated immunity, and the risk of herpes outbreaks such as HZ (herpes zoster) and PHN (postherpetic neuralgia, usually a complication of herpes zoster). What may help, according to a recent 2012 study, is nutritional intervention (with micronutrients in foods and supplements, if needed) in the prevention, vaccination, and management of HZ and PHN. ( Check out the studies in the journal Population Health Management 2012;15:xx-xx)
What’s herpes zoster (HZ)?
The issue is not only facial herpes and cold sores due to herpes. There’s also the herpes-caused shingles rashes people get in their older years due to having chicken pox as a child or in the past. Herpes zoster (HZ) results from a reactivation of latent varicella-zoster virus (VZV). If you never had chicken pox, you probably won’t get a shingles outbreak. But most people have another type of herpes outbreak on the face as cold sores or herpes on their cheeks, face, chest, and back.
There also are herpes outbreaks on the shoulders. The immune system tries so hard to suppress the herpes virus under the skin that often the entire immune system is not functioning the best it could.
What’s postherpetic neuralgia (PHN) as a complication of herpes zoster?
HZ and its most common complication, termed postherpetic neuralgia (PHN), often cause long-term psychological distress and physical disabilities leading to profoundly negative impacts on the quality of patients’ lives. The incidence and severity of HZ and PHN increase with advanced age as a consequence of declining cell-mediated immunity. Aging has been linked to progressive senescence of the immune system and also is associated with a greater susceptibility to nutritional deficiencies.
Suppressing VZV reactivation depends on intact cell-mediated immunity, which requires adequate nutrients to maintain its efficient function. Contrarily, nutritional deficiencies may lead to dysfunction of the host immune responses.
Most people have lower immunity as they age
As people age, their immune systems go down, making them more susceptible to infections, pneumonia, flu, and other types of inflammation or disease. The problem is different influences on the immune systems of people as they age.
It is well known that immune responses diminish with aging (immunosenescence). A common perception now is that aging does not result in a general decline in all immune categories but has different influences on immune responses.
Age is linked to the deterioration of the immune system including increasing nutritional deficiences. You are what you absorb, not only what you eat. As you age, you may tend to absorb fewer micronutrients from food or even supplements.
Decreases in mature T cells and borderline decreases in CD8+ subsets are observed in the elderly. In contrast, immunoglobulin levels do not decline with age, although the specificity and affinity of the antibody produced is reduced. Briefly, aging affects mainly cell-mediated immunity and to a lesser degree affects B cell subsets and innate immunity. Because protection from VZV reactivation depends on intact cell-mediated immunity, it is not surprising that old age is a well-known risk factor for developing HZ and subsequent PHN.
Aging is not only linked to progressive senescence of the immune system but also associated with a greater susceptibility to nutritional deficiencies. Evidence has indicated that nutritional deficiencies profoundly impair immune responses, mainly in cell-mediated immunity.
Nutritional Deficiencies and Immunity in the Elderly
Recent studies have shown that nutritional deficiencies are common, especially in the elderly. Elderly individuals tend to suffer from micronutrient deficiencies as a result of either physiological changes related to aging or for pathological reasons. It is reported that about 35% of people aged 50 years or older have at least 1 micronutrient deficiency, which induces lower immune responses, particularly in cell-mediated immunity, according to numerous recent studies.
In one study, the prevalence of micronutrient deficiencies in the apparently healthy elderly has ranked from high to low as: zinc (19%), vitamin C (16%), iron (14%), vitamin D (12%), vitamin B12 (11%), beta-carotene (11%), vitamin E (10%), vitamin A (8%), folic acid (8%), vitamin B6 (7%), selenium (7%), and copper (3%).29 Of these, zinc, selenium, iron, copper, vitamins A, C, E, and B6, and folic acid have important influences on immune responses.
Aging is a comprehensive result of physical health, immunological, and nutritional status that leads to a personal aging process for each individual.
So basically to fight herpes outbreaks, you need to be able to absorb micronutrients from what you eat, whether it’s food, liquids, or supplements. Too many aging people have nutritional deficiencies which can be measured by looking at T-cell function to see if the T-cells are reduced. If you look at people more than 90 years old, you’ll see some T cell function that’s reduced if the person has been healthy up until the age of 90.
With most people who don’t live to 90 or who have micronutrient deficiencies before that age, there’s usually also immunity to infections, diseases such as pneumonia, and inflammation, colds, and flu or other diseases due to lowered immunity. People who have micronutrient deficiencies can take micronutrient supplements or eat more fruits and vegetables that have more micronutrients to correct micronutrient deficiencies and enhance immune responses, assuming their bodies are absorbing the micronutrients from foods, and the foods still have micronutrients that haven’t been destroyed by high heat or other processing.
Pathological aging might be helped by micronutrients from foods that have enough of them
If you look at people who have protein-energy malnutrition and micronutrient deficiencies, leading to a more frail state. In summary, elderly individuals with malnutrition tend to suffer from immunodeficiency, increased infection rates, and even higher mortality.
Aging and nutrient deficiencies exert cumulative effects on diminishing immune responses and, consequently, increase the incidence of infections in elderly populations. But impaired immunity in the elderly can be restored by modest amounts of a combination of micronutrients.
What helps most are antioxidants
When you check the randomized controlled trials, they usually show that certain immune functions in elderly long-stay patients can be improved after they receive 28-day supplementation with dietary antioxidants (vitamins A, C, and E). The important point is that the immune functions need to be related to cell function. The studies focus on cell-mediated immunity because cell-mediated immunity suppresses herpes (VZV) from reactivating.
Most older adults may not realize how much cell-mediated immunity declines as a result of age, nutritional deficiencies, rheumatic diseases, malignancies, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, inflammatory bowel diseases, diabetes mellitus), and immunosuppressive therapy (after organ transplantation, chemotherapy, or steroid treatment, according to recent studies.
What helps most? Antioxidants and micronutrients from whole foods or even supplements and foods
Most researchers now know that micronutrient deficiency is a well-known cause of cell-mediated immunity dysfunction. So if you want to help suppress the herpes outbreaks without lowering your immune system to much, what helps most are those micronutrients and antioxidants, which you can get from foods such as raw berries, fresh fruits, vegetables such as the dark-colored vegetables green, red, purple, and orange. Most people who were not brought up on fresh, raw fruits and vegetables in early childhood tend to think of vegetables as fried potatoes, oatmeal, or tired iceberg lettuce and cooked or canned spinach, carrots and peas, or frozen vegetables.
That’s not what you need. Fresh produce means eating what comes out of the ground, fresh and raw. Carrots and tomatoes can be cooked to get their full nutrition value. But as for kale, spinach, celery, and fresh berries, apples, and other fruit, look for living micronutrients and antioxidants in the foods. What you want to stop are the viruses causing underlying immunosuppression (when hidden herpes lowers your immune system).
For further information, check out study,”Micronutrient intake and the risk of herpes zoster: a case–control study.” Also see the study, “Impact of nutritional status and nutrient supplements on immune responses and incidence of infection in older individuals.”