Lyme disease is a severely debilitating disorder that affects many facets of a patient’s body. It is caused by the pathogen borrelia, an insidious strain of bacteria that cements itself in the patient’s system over time, making it very hard to treat if missed in the early stages. Acute Lyme is identified as the first stage of the disease; at this stage, symptoms can mimic the flu. The acute stage lasts for a few weeks and, if caught at this point, is highly curable. If not, the disease will progress to the chronic stage, leading to a whole host of other complications. The aches, pains and fatigue of chronic Lyme disease patients are often given primacy in discussions about the disease, and rightly so – they can be devastating for many. However, a less-discussed aspect of the disorder is the effect it has on the body’s metabolism.
So what exactly is your metabolism? You might have heard people refer to having a ‘fast’ or ‘slow’ metabolism – the former makes it easier to stay slim, while the latter means you have to be careful with what you eat. Basically, your metabolism dictates how your body turns food, water and nutrients into energy. It is the life-sustaining procedure of an organism, manifested as a series of chemical reactions. It is a complex biochemical process, which ultimately decides when and where you transform food into energy. Contrary to popular belief, it is not the only factor in weight loss or gain, though it plays a central role. As we get older, our metabolism slows down as the body loses muscle and gains fat.
Your specific metabolism is somewhat dependent on genetic factors, but also on how much you eat, what you eat, and how much exercise you get. If you eat healthily and get plenty of fresh air and exercise, you’ll be helping your metabolism perform at its optimum level. On the contrary, if your diet is poor and you’re generally unfit, your metabolism will be struggling to cope, meaning that you will likely put on weight. The amount of energy your body needs is directly impacted by your body mass and amount of muscle; this is largely determined by your lifestyle, diet and fitness level. So it possible to adjust your habits to suit your metabolism – just because you have what might be referred to as a ‘slow metabolism’, it doesn’t mean you’ll inevitably be overweight.
Many diseases and conditions can affect a person’s metabolism. One of these is Lyme disease. There is no one set of symptoms when it comes to chronic Lyme disease. Patients are affected in various different ways. The same can be said when it comes to Lyme disease and a person’s metabolism. In most cases, the borrelia bacteria will impact metabolism as a result of the immune system flaring up. Many of the symptoms of chronic Lyme are caused by the body’s own response to the infection, and the metabolism and immune system are inextricably linked. It is important for patients to change their diet accordingly when they are diagnosed with chronic Lyme disease. The borrelia infection means that your body is operating very differently than what it’s used to. In most cases, sticking to a regular diet will inevitably result in weight gain, as your body is focused entirely on fighting the infection. The immune system is in overdrive, so to speak, meaning that all other processes are affected, including your metabolism.
To combat this, herbal supplements can be prescribed, and a nutritionist should be consulted. Make Well produces a range of all-natural supplements used by doctors around the world to support the treatment of chronic diseases such as Lyme. Adapting your diet and supplying it with the right boost of nutrients can help keep your metabolism in check, and adjust it to a lower gear as your body fights the inflammation. In addition, these supplements can often support the immune system, reducing inflammation symptoms and levelling out the body’s response.
However, Lyme disease does not always cause patients to put on weight. In a minority of cases, it can actually cause patients to lose weight. It is suspected that this is for the same reason: the borrelia pathogen wreaks havoc on the immune system, but the effects in this case go the opposite way. More often than not, weight loss experienced by Lyme disease patients will be minor when compared to how much weight other patients put on. This is why the input of a nutritionist is vital to help you keep and establish an optimum weight, giving you the best chance of fighting back against the infection.
Like much of our collective knowledge about chronic Lyme disease, it is not fully understood why this interplay with the metabolic process occurs. As ever, more research is needed across the board when it comes to how exactly the borrelia bacteria interacts with the body’s complicated systems. One thing is for sure, however: the longer the bacteria stays in the body, the more it puts it into a stranglehold. Catching Lyme disease early is key. In the acute phase the symptoms are mild, and the pathogen has less chance to affect important procedures like metabolism.