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Why You Should Avoid Seeds and Nuts if You Have a Virus

Seeds and nuts can be great sources of plant-based protein and valuable nutrients, especially for people eating mostly raw foods and vegetarian diets, but some components of seeds and nuts boost immunity while other components can actually lower your body's resistance to viral infections.

Nuts and seeds can be great vegetarian sources of protein and nutrients, but watch out if you have a virus - nuts and seeds can encourage viral infections!

The Good

Besides providing a valuable and a vegetarian source of protein, both seeds and nuts also provide helpful essential fatty acids. These omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids play a crucial role in brain functioning and encourage normal skin, hair and bone growth. They also regulate metabolism, maintain reproductive function, and can prevent depression.

When you first begin eating foods like those recommended in the Body Ecology Diet, you might have a hard timedigesting most nuts and seeds. This most likely is because your "digestive fire" will be quite low. This problem should correct itself over time as your inner ecosystem becomes increasingly fortified with great tasting fermented foods and beverages. For some people, however, nuts and seeds will always be hard to digest -- so simply avoid them.

In our best selling book, The Body Ecology Diet, you will note that the only nuts we recommend eating as you start the diet are almonds (see How to Eat - and NOT Eat - Almonds after reading this article). Almonds are the most alkaline of the nuts.

Soaked seeds like pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds are acceptable on the initial stages of the Body Ecology diet, but sesame seeds are not. We're still exploring why, but we get lots of reports that they do not work well for many people. Peter D'Adamo, author of Eat Right for Your Type , found that blood types B and AB test poorly for sesame seeds.

So are nuts and seeds right for you on a typical basis? Here's where the Body Ecology Principle of Uniqueness comes into play. You are basically an experiment of one. So experiment and see what works best for you.

BUT there is another time when it is best for virtually everyone to avoid all nuts and seeds:

Viral Infections are Fed by Nuts and Seeds

When you have a virus take special care, as seeds and nuts contain high levels of the amino acid arginine. Studies show that arginine actually encourages attacks of herpes-like viruses. A diet with too much arginine enhances the growth of low-grade chronic (often unnoticed) viral infections as well as bouts of chicken pox, shingles, mononucleosis, or even just a common cold sore (herpes)!

So when you feel a virus coming on, or you suspect you are harboring low-grade chronic viral infections, be sure to avoid arginine-containing nuts and seeds.

If you are a raw foodist or vegetarian and rely on seeds and nuts for protein, Body Ecology's Vitality SuperGreen(link to can be a great plant-based alternative that provides an excellent source of complete, easily assimilated protein, enzymes, vitamins, minerals, lignans, essential fatty acids, nucleic acids, and beneficial microflora. Proteins are also in the grain-like seeds recommended on the Body Ecology diet: quinoa, millet, amaranth and buckwheat. Our recommended fermented foods and beverages also contain proteins, and they also greatly enhance your ability to digest all proteins.

Vitality SuperGreen provides a great source of vegetarian protein alternative to nuts and seeds. It's a great morning drink or afternoon energy booster for everyone!

Anti-viral Lysine

Since viruses do not respond to antibiotics or most other traditional treatments, a healthy diet is the best way to encourage healing. Protect your body from susceptibility to viruses by lowering your intake of arginine and increasing your intake of another basic amino acid, lysine. Lysine boosts your body's immunity and could protect you from future outbreaks.

Lysine has potent antiviral properties and actually prevents bacteria and viruses from spreading in your body! Lysine is easy to find in body ecology-friendly grains like amaranth and quinoa and is plentiful in fish.

Avoid These Sources of Arginine if You Have a Virus:

  • Nuts and seeds: peanuts, almonds, pecans, cashews, etc.
  • Chocolate
  • Caffeine
  • Oats
  • Soy beans (unless they are fermented, such as miso)

And Add These Foods Rich in Lysine:

  • Fish
  • Body Ecology grain-like seeds - Amaranth, buckwheat and quinoa
  • Cow's milk kefir. (Before your drink dairy kefir, make sure your inner eco-system is healed and populated with plenty of dairy loving bacteria so that you can digest casein.)
  • Heal your Inner Eco-System and Boost Your Immunity

    Get your copy of the 'The Body Ecology Diet' and learn more about boosting your immunity!

    The Body Ecology Diet (BED) provides a great way to protect your body from viral and fungal infections by cultivating a lavish inner eco-system of beneficial bacteria.

    With a focus on adding fermented foods and drinks, following the Body Ecology program populates your intestines with probiotics that aid digestion, increase nutrient absorption and boost your immunity, making you less susceptible to infections of all kinds.

    Keep in mind that until your inner ecosystem heals, most nuts are too acid-forming to consume (see ourrecent article on blood acidity).

    Nuts and seeds can be a wonderful addition to a healthy diet, but if you have a virus, decreasing your intake of the amino acid arginine and increasing your intake of lysine can be a great way to help your body heal. With proper nutrition, you'll lower your likelihood of suffering from common viruses.

    The Body Ecology Diet has great low-arginine solutions for everyone, including people following vegetarian and raw food diets. It also contains delicious recipes with key foods mentioned in this article, like Heidi's Onion Pie with amaranth crust!

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  • Dave Desmond

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  • http://coldsores and sunflower seeds susan

    Ive had cold sores since i was a teen and ate sunflowers by the bags when i was younger and never had problems with breakouts until recently i dont always breakout when i eat them i just wondered why i would breakout sometimes and not others. I also find my breakouts getting worse as i get older they seem to be coming almost monthly lately and have been mostly getting breakouts during my monthly cycle. I have found that taking the lysine and using apple cider vinegar soaked in cotton and holding it on the sore helps cut the duration to two to three days.

  • Carol A.

    Yes, folks, once you are infected with the herpes simplex virus (cold sores, shingles, herpes STD), it is with you for life. It lies dormant along nerve roots and is reactivated by stress, fatigue and food triggers like chocolate and nuts. I recently found out from my holistic doctor that lysine is poorly absorbed without Vitamin C. I had avoided Vitamin C because it made my heartburn worse, but the doctor prescribed a non-acid form called "ascorbyl
    palmitate". I am now taking 500 mg of L-Lysine with 500 mg of Ascorbyl palmitate three times a day. It seems to be working to decrease herpes outbreaks, in both frequency and severity.

  • Zuzyq

    I looked through the food groups and the lysine vs arginine ratio. I think if one eats yogurt which is very high in lysine and adds some blueberries and sunflower seeds, it should balance out... I think if one keeps track, a balanced meal can be composed keeping the lysine higher. Am I right?



  • http://Google Ruth

    I too am very confused about quinoa. I love it, but saw where the argenine is higher than the lysine. I would like someone to comment on that because it would be good to be able to know if it's going to cause an outbreak.

  • Mark

    What about black seeds/black seed oil (black cumin seed, Nigella Sativa)? Though I could avoid it by not even posting, still I'm wondering if some smart_ _s is gonna reply with, "Yeah, what about 'em/it?' -- Thanks to anyone that gives an 'honest' reply and/or anyone that can make me laugh (need a good one of those, too!).

  • Rae

    If quinoa is listed as something "safe" as far as the arginine levels, why do I find that it contains a significantly higher amount of arginine than it does lysine? What's the deal?

  • LDE

    Experienced a nasty outbreak of shingles over a year ago and lived with pain for almost a year. My doctor never discussed the lysine/arginine connection and took me a very long time to figure out on my own. I'm convinced that I over-ate trail mix, almonds and nutella and brought on the shingles. (I was eating a lot). It was not stress related for me, although I could feel myself getting run-down prior to shingles. Will start to get mouth ulcers when I do eat nuts/oats... I can't believe this information is not more widely known today. Doc prescribed pain killers when what I really needed to do was change my diet. Also found that vitamin D was helpful, as well as lysine.

  • http:// sar

    I take Lysine and it immediately [within 4 hrs] brings on bladder inflamation and joint pain. Even 1/2 tablet does this. HAve herpes prodromals 80% of the year+ and try not to eat nuts, but feel Im missing out on a lot of nutrition. Anyone else have problem with lysine supplements?

  • Stacy

    Yes, this means if you have herpes you shouldn't eat nuts and should avoid things with high argenine contents. Unless you want to get sick and have an outbreak. This means forever.
    Some nuts trigger outbreaks for me within a week of eating them. I can eat very small amounts of peanuts but thats it.
    I've also had bad reactions to protein powders and herbalife drinks which all have high argenine levels. With those I had flu like symptoms, body aches, horrible headaches, etc that lasted 6 weeks until I figured out what was making me sick. I now have absolutely no outbreaks and haven't even had a cold for a few years. I've learned to live nut free.

  • Lilah

    I am an avid sunflower seed eater. I have been eating them since I was 6 years old. As a grown up I would eat a bag a week, and I would also get a sore once a month. I found out about arginine upon research on the Internet cause I thought something was wrong with my immune system. Now I eat them occasionally, and I get one once maybe twice a year.I take 2000 mg of Lysine EVERY day sometimes I take another one later on before I go to bed if I'm sick or just feel one coming on. When I do have one ill take 4. You have to take them on an empty stomach though, something about it digesting properly. If you do take 3 don't take them all at once, take 2 in the morning and one at bed time. Taking too much at once can give you crampy diarrhea.

  • Carry

    Yes, if you have cold sores( herpes) you will always have to not eat nuts and also chocolate, unless you think its worth the coldsore. I cut them completely out of my diet and I don't get cold sores anymore. Getting to much sun all at once will also trigger it

  • Gina

    What about for someone who has plantar warts? It is my understanding that they are caused by a virus. I currently have a couple warts I am trying to get rid of...should I stay away from nuts?

  • Sarah

    This is very true. I have gotten cold sores since the age of 4 (I'm 32 now), and ever since I learned about 15 years ago about avoiding arginine and increasing lysine, my outbreaks have been less severe and shorter lived. Currently I have a cold sore due to overdoing cashew butter (1/2 serving a day for a week). I know better, but it's so good! Normally though, I eat maybe 1-2 servings of nuts a week, if that. I also avoid caramel coloring like the plague due to the almost immediate reaction I have. This is a very handy link:

  • jerry davis

    does not eating "nuts&seeds",mean such seeds as beans ,peas, butterbeans, ect.

  • Rose

    Was doing some searching around to see if I could ferment the raw nuts so I could eat them and I found your link. Every time I eat just a small amount I get cold sores. I knew it had to do with too much arginine but didn't know about a virus. Now wondering how to get rid of the virus I have? I am taking lysine like it's going off the market and it doesn't seem to help much.

  • Dominie

    I have had FMS/CFIDS for 30 years. I discovered that chocolate, nuts and oatmeal caused me problems, but I didn't know that seeds could do this as well. Your article was very well-written and enlightening. One of my favorite snacks through the years has been pumpkin seeds!!! I have suffered from recurrent cold sores and even shingles twice. (Farewell, favorite snack!!!)

    I have a site for people with FMS/CFIDS at - online since 1996. I also write a weekly newsletter for fellow sufferers.

    Thank you for this valuable information about nuts, seeds and viruses!! (I have tried taking massive doses of lysine, but it doesn't help - at least not in my case.)

  • wendy

    you someone has the virus does this mean they can never eat nuts or it it only through a outbreak ? or is it just best to avoid it overall so that it can not be triggered? also if you are taking l-lysine on a daily basis can you eat nuts? thanks

  • Heather

    I have the herpes virus in my bladder. I was diagnosed by my holistic doctor. I have had it for almost 2 years. Urine tests or regular bladder tests do not show it but I certainly feel it! I take high doses of lysine which helps amazingly! He recently told me to cut out all nuts for awhile which I've done for about 3 months.

    Does this mean that I can never eat nuts again? I thought that a virus never really goes away .. it only lies dormant until something triggers it. Something like nuts or oats? It seems like the virus in my bladder never goes away. Ever.

  • Kristin

    Are you saying that if a person has herpes then they should ALWAYS avoid all nuts?!

  • joy

    what happens to the lysine-arginine ratio when almonds and sunflower seeds are sprouted?
    thanks a million!

  • HarryMonmouth

    I read this and I agree with it wholly. I have recently had a virus developing (reactivated chicken pox becoming shingles) and it is strange but my digestion seems to be most comfortable with fish sandwiches, which is something I can say I have probably never eaten before.

    I am also craving milk but something I would say to add value to your article is that I have had an incredibly light lactose intolerance for years. Barely enough to notice unless I drink over 6 pints of milk per day. The first I knew that something was wrong though is that I suddenly became violently lactose intolerant about three weeks ago. I've been just drinking lactofree since then and that seem to have helped a lot.

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