Before we get to the best diet for EBV, let’s refresh on the basics of this condition. Epstein–Barr virus (EBV) is a type of human herpesvirus 4. It is found across the globe and is the most common virus in people, as most of the worldwide population has been infected with it at some point. In many cases, people with EBV may not experience any symptoms or mild illness, leading to the continued spread of the virus. In people who do experience symptoms, they can include fatigue, fever, enlarged spleen and swollen liver, rash, and an inflamed throat.
In rare instances, EBV may turn chronic, resulting in a patient experiencing ill health effects and symptoms because the body’s immune system cannot control the viral infection. For those people, specific lifestyle changes, such as a change in diet, can help combat EBV while increasing the immune system’s ability to fight it off. So when considering diet alone as a remedy, what are the best foods to eat for the Epstein–Barr virus?
Best Diet for EBV: How Food Affects Epstein Barr
Using food to combat EBV can be a good approach. However, it’s not the food that kills the virus from the body – it’s what’s in it and how it affects the immune system. Many foods contain nutrients that can aid the body’s ability to fight infection or cause the immune system to falter, leading to worsened symptoms and an even worse viral infection. So, when considering food for EBV, it’s best to look at foods that can support a strong and healthy immune system.
One of the most challenging EBV symptoms to cope with, chronic fatigue, is the primary condition that people hope to battle through diet. Since fatigue can last for months during an EBV infection, it can put a damper on day-to-day activities. Cooking nutritious meals and shopping for healthy food can be difficult with this level of fatigue, but eating properly during an EBV infection is essential because it can improve symptoms while the body continues to fight the virus.
What is the best diet for chronic Epstein–Barr virus?
There is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to a diet for Epstein–Barr, as all people are different. Some diets contain healthy ingredients and whole foods scientifically proven to foster a good and healthy immune response to various viral pathogens.
The Mediterranean diet, for example, is often touted as one of the best in terms of nutritional content. The Mediterranean is highly focused on plant-based foods, with little meat included. A person following the Mediterranean diet will eat foods such as:
- Whole grains
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Moderate amounts of fish
- Little to no meat
- A moderate amount of wine
There are many different food options to choose from within the categories above. The critical thing to consider when trying to eat more Mediterranean is that you don’t have to eat what you don’t like! Find fruits, vegetables, beans, whole grains, and lean meats that you genuinely enjoy, and it will be easy to add them to your diet.
The foods mentioned above all contain particular nutrients that help the immune system fight off pathogens better. The vitamins and other nutrients you should aim to incorporate into your diet regularly include:
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin D
- Adaptogenic herbs
- B vitamins
- Beta carotene and other antioxidants
These nutrients can be found in a variety of foods and are essential for overall health, both during an EBV infection and when you have recovered.
What foods are bad for EBV?
Foods that are bad for EBV should be avoided as much as possible, even in healthy individuals. The reason why it’s more important for those with EBV to avoid these foods is because of how they can further hinder the immune system’s ability to fight off the pathogen. For example, a diet high in sugar can lead to the development of certain chronic diseases, and can also suppress your immune system in ways that are detrimental to recovering from a viral infection such as EBV.
Other foods that should be avoided due to their ability to encourage immunosuppression include:
- Red meat
- Baked goods
- Sodas and other sugary beverages
- Foods high in unhealthy fats, such as butter or margarine
- Foods high in sodium
- Refined carbohydrates
These foods can all cause inflammation and other cellular changes in the body that end up making it much harder for your body to fight off EBV if you’re experiencing a chronic case.
Choosing the best diet for Epstein–Barr virus sufferers involves looking at your current diet and assessing what’s missing and what needs to go. A complete diet overhaul isn’t always easy, but when you’re struggling with a viral infection, the best thing you can do is fuel your body with everything it needs to fight the good fight for you.