Chronic Lyme is a disease of inflammation. Although the primary cause of the disorder is an infection, transmitted by ticks, as the disease matures, the symptoms change drastically. Antibiotics, which have been proven to be very effective in the initial acute stages of Lyme disease, are not enough to treat the condition once it reaches its chronic stages. This is because very little of the initial bacteria, Borrelia burgdorferi, remains in a patient’s system over time. Instead, the majority of symptoms are caused by an inflammation response, which becomes constant and overreactive when it can’t eradicate its target. The foundations for effective treatment for chronic Lyme are laid in a person’s diet. Naturally, as with any disorder, there are foods you should eat, and foods you should avoid.
Some foods deter inflammation, and some encourage it. Lyme patients regularly complain of joint and muscle pain; in fact, this is one of the primary symptoms of chronic Lyme. This is a direct result of inflammation and should be one of the first things doctors look to mitigate when it comes to chronic Lyme. Constant fatigue is also a big factor in patients’ lives; this is due to the immune response perceiving an attack and demanding sleep from the body. The problem is that sleep never remedies the underlying infection, because at this point, the inflammation response is trapped in a vicious circle, and is essentially reacting to itself. Again, there are foods that will add to this sense of fatigue, and those that can mitigate it. Let’s look at three things Lyme disease patients should avoid in their diets.
The first thing on the list of foods to avoid is a familiar one. In fact, sick or healthy, we are often told that sugar can be dangerous to almost every part of our bodies if we eat too much of it. However, it’s especially problematic for chronic Lyme patients. Sugars feed the Lyme-causative spirochetes, and also suppress your immune system. As your immune response is under extreme stress in the first place, anything that damages it or dampens it further should definitely be struck off your diet. It is very difficult to avoid sugars, as they are present in numerous types of foods. However, commitment to cutting out this undesired ingredient is important. Refined sugars are especially bad, and you should also keep an eye on how much fruit you eat; there are actually a lot of natural sugars present in fruit, and too much fructose can cause similar issues to those listed above.
Avoiding gluten is something of a trend these days, so there’s a chance you might be steering clear of it already. However, if you suffer from chronic Lyme, it’s especially important to reduce your gluten intake. Why is this, exactly? Gluten is one of the main causative agents of inflammation in the body. If you’ve ever felt bloated or sickly full after a meal heavy in gluten, you’ll know how bad it can make you feel. That’s inflammation at work. It’s also responsible for coeliac disease, an auto-immune dysfunction that causes sustained damage to the small intestine. The relationship between grains and our bodies isn’t precisely known, and it’s unclear why gluten affects some people more than others. Chronic Lyme patients should cut back on gluten immediately, to give their immune system the best chance of fighting back. Numerous healthy alternatives exist such as amaranth, sorghum, buckwheat and quinoa.
Dairy can be another primary source of inflammation irritation, and as with gluten, it affects some more than others. It can produce the same kind of symptoms as gluten, making people feel bloated, full and sluggish. It can also cause other digestive issues in large amounts, such as diarrhoea or IBS. Your stomach is an important tool in the fight against chronic Lyme, as much of the immune response originates there. Keeping your gut flora healthy can reinforce your immune system and help to rebalance immune responses all over your body. Dairy is another one of those pesky ingredients that is quite hard to avoid, although with recent trends in healthy eating, your local supermarket should have some alternative options available.
Changing your diet is a big step, so it’s recommended that you talk to a nutritionist and/or your doctor before implementing changes. As well as suggesting which foods to include and which to avoid, they might suggest that you add some supplements to your diet, to help quell inflammation and make sure you’re getting all the vitamins and minerals you require. Make Well produces a line-up of all-natural supplements, with which they have been working with doctors around the world in order to support the treatment of chronic diseases such as Lyme. It’s important to remember, however, that sorting out your diet is merely one step on the road to recovery. It won’t cure your chronic Lyme disease outright, but it can help to alleviate some of the more crippling symptoms over time.