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3 Easy Dietary Changes That Can Help With Lyme Disease

August 14, 2020

According to the NH Bureau of Infectious Disease Control, Lyme disease and other tick-borne illnesses are on the rise in New Hampshire.  Nationwide, there are an estimated 300,000 new cases yearly.  That’s a lot of Lyme disease!  If you or someone you know are living with Lyme disease, you may be wondering if dietary changes can support your recovery. Just as the body can benefit from specific nutrition for other illnesses, so too can Lyme disease.  In this post, we will look at 3 easy dietary changes that can help with Lyme Disease and support your recovery.  

#1 Foundation Foods First

Before you look to add specific foods into your diet, the first step is always to assess your current plan and firm up the foundation.  This may mean reducing or cutting out certain foods.  In this category, we look for things that are known troublemakers.  These are foods or substances that can trigger inflammation, weaken your immune system, upset hormone balance, upset blood sugar balance; in general, they add to your total body burden so we want to avoid them:

  • Sugar
  • Processed/Packaged foods with additives and lots of ingredients
  • Saturated fats, trans-fatty acids/hydrogenated fats
  • Common allergens: wheat/gluten, eggs, fish, milk/dairy, peanuts, tree nuts, shellfish, corn, etc
  • Anything that is hard to digest or that makes you feel bad when you eat it

Many people start by omitting gluten, dairy, sugar, and unhealthy fats.  You can work with one of our doctors to see if allergy testing makes sense as part of your treatment plan, or we can explore an Elimination Diet or other nutritional support as part of a Functional Nutrition plan.  

#2 Nutrient-Dense, Anti-Inflammatory Foods

Once you clear out the troublemakers, you can begin to support your body with solid nourishment.  Lyme disease is a major stressor.  It takes a toll on the body.  Lyme treatment is also challenging.  As Lyme treatment progresses, the effects of medications and herbs as well as die-off and detoxification can be hard.     

Shifting your food focus to foods that are packed with nutrients and those with strong anti-inflammatory effects is a good strategy to support healing. It’s also a good strategy for general health! 

Nutrient-density is a term that describes the concentration of nutrients in a specific volume of food. Nutrient-dense foods have lots of nutrients per calorie as opposed to nutrient-poor foods that have very few nutrients per calorie.  An extreme example is the difference between the nutrients in a bunch of kale vs those in a handful of green jelly beans.  

While your list of safe foods may look a little different, some nutrient-dense, anti-inflammatory foods include:

  • Leafy greens
  • Vegetables
  • Berries
  • Healthy Fats and omega 3’s like avocado, salmon, flax and flax oil 

#3 Add Fiber-Rich Foods

High fiber foods help keep your intestinal tract healthy.  Healthy digestion and good bowel function is critical when you are working to resolve Lyme disease (or any illness).  When we are talking about what constitutes good bowel function, we really mean three things:

  1. Elimination -- Elimination is your body’s major detoxification mechanism.  When you poop, your body gets rid of the by-products of die-off and other metabolic waste.  Normal bowel function consists of between one and three, well-formed, easily passed stools, daily. There should be no visible pieces of food in your stool (except for corn, since it is very difficult to chew thoroughly!)
  2. Absorption – While water, some minerals and alcohol can be absorbed in your stomach, most nutrients are absorbed in your small intestine.  You may have heard the phrase, “You are what you eat” – I like to say that “You are what you absorb!”  
    Absorption can also be problematic. When the junctions between cells in the intestinal cell wall are loose.  This creates something called “leaky gut” – I bet you have heard of it!  Leaky gut is a fancy name for intestinal permeability.  It does not mean that there are pieces of undigested food sneaking through your intestinal wall and floating around in the bloodstream. Since your food has already been chewed and moved through the stomach and upper part of the small intestine, it's been digested and broken down quite a bit. Gluten for example will be broken down to the peptide’s gliadin and glutenin. It is those constituents, not a bit of bread, etc that we are discussing in the context of leaky gut.  

Also consider that it's not just food constituents that may cause issues. A leaky gut can allow toxins, microbes, and antibodies to escape from your intestines and travel throughout your body via your bloodstream. 

  1. Immunity – Approximately 70% of the immune system is in the gut.  This is key information for those with Lyme disease because we know that Lyme and co-infections can reside in the gut.  That kind of imbalance serves to further stress immunity.

Fiber not only acts like a broom or brush to sweep the intestines, but certain types of fiber can also feed and nourish good bacteria.  Both actions help support a healthy microbiome.   A healthy microbiome supports and strengthens the mucosal barrier which helps prevent leaky gut and helps maintain a strong immune system.  

Fiber-rich foods are fresh vegetables like celery and broccoli, legumes like lentils and beans, seeds like flax and herbs like psyllium husk.  One easy way to boost fiber is to add one tablespoon of ground flax seed into your morning smoothie.  

Take-Aways

A big factor with Lyme, and many illnesses, is stress.  The infection creates stress and the treatment program is often lengthy and stressful too. Finding ways to reduce the stress and burden on your body can make Lyme treatment easier and more effective.  What we eat and drink can either be a source of additional stress or nourishment.  While this article only scratched the surface of nutritional support, you can see how food can be ally in healing.  There are many dietary changes that can help with Lyme disease.  There are other healing modalities that can help too.  At NH Health & Wellness, we can support you throughout your Lyme journey.  Visit https://www.nhhealthwellness.com/ to explore our offerings and to schedule consults with our Doctors, Functional Nutritionist, Lyme Magnetic Protocol practitioners and other practitioners.  We’re here to help. 

Sarah Lawrence works with clients at the NH Health & Wellness Center to help reduce body burden and tap into the healing power of nutrition. She is a certified Functional Nutrition & Lifestyle Practitioner, Holistic Health Coach, Reiki & Shamballa Master Teacher, Laughter Yoga Teacher, and freelance health writer. 

Reach her at 603-391-1230, email sarah@yourholistichealthcoach.com or visit:
https://www.nhhealthwellness.com/ for more information

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