I'm healthy, young enough, no indicators that would point to heightened risk. So why did I get the shingles virus? I have a theory.
L-arginine. A couple of months prior to contracting shingles, I had switched from drinking cow's milk to drinking unsweetened almond milk instead. As I have since learned, nuts are a high source of L-arginine, an amino acid that, while great for muscle building, apparently promotes the growth of the shingles virus. The opposite or L-arginine (from a shingles standpoint), is L-lystine which helps inhibit the virus.
Turns out that almond milk is very high in L-arginine and has very little L-lystine. Google 'arginine and shingles' and you'll find lots of body builders who supplemented with arginine complaining about coming down with shingles.
I'm definitely not a body builder but I was drinking almond milk everyday in the two months leading up to shingles. I was also eating more shellfish than I had in the past which, as it turns out, is also high in L-arginine. Another contributor - I had been drinking coconut water a few times a week for several months. Guess what's also high in L-arginine? Yep, coconut water. :-(
Obviously, I can't say for certain that my inadvertent high intake of L-arginine led to my shingles outbreak. But the only lifestyle change I'd made in the 2 months prior was the switch to almond milk and eating lots of shellfish. Unbeknownst to me, by doing so I had inadvertently increased (by a LOT) the amount of L-arginine I was consuming. My coconut water habit, though very moderate, wasn't helping. And by giving up dairy, which contains the protective L-lysine, I think my bid for that "healthier diet" inadvertently delivered the one-two punch the shingles virus needed to overtake my immune system.
Ironically, the cow's milk I had given up is high in L-lysine (as are
all dairy products) which would have helped keep the shingles virus in check. I've since switched back to real dairy and, as much
as I love it, will probably never drink almond's milk or coconut water again. In
addition, I've started taking a supplement for L-lystine, just in case.