Foods to Avoid When You Have Bell's Palsy

Bell's palsy is a condition characterized by facial paralysis. It is usually one-sided and comes on abruptly. Typically, the face feels stiff and pulled to one side, and it may be difficult to close your eye. Though the cause of Bell's palsy is unknown, an inflammatory reaction involving the facial nerve may be involved. Reactivation of the herpes virus may be involved as well. Therefore foods that encourage herpes outbreaks, or that increase inflammation, should be avoided. Before starting any new treatment or diet, always talk to your health care professional.

Elderly patient walking with a doctor inside a hospital (Image: ERproductions Ltd/Blend Images/Getty Images)

Arginine-Rich Foods

Herpes simplex virus affects more than 85 percent of adults, though not everyone who carries the virus suffers the characteristic cold sores around the mouth. There is no cure for the virus, which may reactivate through sun exposure or by eating certain foods. Because the amino acid arginine is needed for viral replication, foods high in arginine should be avoided. These include all nuts, including walnuts, hazelnuts and Brazil nuts, and most seeds, such as sesame seeds and pumpkin seeds.

Omega-6 Foods

Bell's palsy may have an inflammatory component, and severe cases are usually treated with corticosteroids, which exert anti-inflammatory effects. Omega-6 fatty acids serve as precursors to mediators of inflammation, and foods rich in omega-6 may promote inflammation. According to medical blogger Dr. Joseph Mercola, the primary sources of omega-6 in the diet include corn, canola and soy oils. These oils frequently occur in packaged and processed foods, so be sure to read labels.

Trans Fats

Trans fats are a type of mostly man-made fat, occurring in many processed foods. A study of over 700 subjects showed that those with the highest intake of trans fat consumption had blood levels of CRP, a marker for inflammation, nearly 75 percent higher than subjects with the lowest intake of trans fats, according to the website The Medical News. Trans fats are found in commercially prepared baked goods such as cookies and pies, as well as in deep-fried foods and fast foods.

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