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People who suffer from Lyme disease often have a hard time battling chronic symptoms, such as:
- joint aches
- issues with regular and restful sleep
- inflammation in the body
- cognitive disfunction, including memory loss and trouble concentrating.
These symptoms often take a while to develop after the onset of the infection, but they are tough to get rid of, since the bacteria that causes Lyme disease can often go dormant within the body for years.
The only way to treat Lyme disease is through a course of antibiotics, and even then it can be difficult to rid the body of lasting symptoms. When it comes to further treatment, symptoms are primarily focused on to help improve quality of life for those with late-stage or chronic Lyme disease. Some treatments include medications for specific ailments, dietary and lifestyle changes, and over-the-counter pain relief medications. But does fasting benefit Lyme patients as a type of treatment? Let’s investigate.
What is fasting, and can fasting be used to treat Lyme symptoms?
Fasting is denying the body of food for a certain period of time. Some fasting is done for days on end, while other types, including intermittent fasting, involve eating food only during a short window each day.
People adopt fasting lifestyles for many different reasons. According to some studies, fasting can:
- lower insulin resistance and control blood sugar
- fight inflammation
- boost cognitive function
- increase hormone secretion, which can lead to healthier muscles
- increase the efficacy of other medications.
As people with Lyme disease often suffer from an onslaught of different symptoms, including
decreased cognitive function, inflammation and muscle and joint aches, fasting is said to have positive effects when used in the treatment of long-term Lyme disease symptoms. There has also been a direct correlation of fasting to damage repair and the reduction of oxidative stress throughout the body – both of which play a huge role in advancing chronic disease and the symptoms that often go hand in hand with it.
Intermittent fasting and Lyme disease
As mentioned above, there are different types of fasting. Intermittent fasting is more lenient in that a person can eat, but only for a set number of hours each day. Although it is often hailed as a kind of ‘miracle diet’ for those looking to shed a few pounds, fasting has also been observed to have a positive effect on chronic disease symptoms that often ail Lyme disease patients.
There are some downsides to intermittent fasting, though. Those who partake are told to eat whatever they want as long as they stay within the allotted time window to keep true to the fast; this can often lead to overeating unhealthy foods, which can exacerbate symptoms of Lyme disease such as inflammation. When the diet isn’t in check, inflammation can wreak havoc on a body with a chronic illness.
Fasting has the potential to be dangerous as well, so it’s important to be mindful of personal health considerations when deciding whether or not it is right for you. Speaking with your doctor about how many calories you can limit your diet to per day, as well as taking daily medications that are required to be taken with food into account, will help you get on the right path when it comes to fasting.
Is fasting safe if you have Lyme disease?
During a fast, many changes take place in the body. The food you eat is what gives you energy, and the energy is released throughout the body from the liver and muscles in the form of glucose. When you fast, this process changes.
When deprived of glucose, our body uses alternative pathways, such as gluconeogenesis, or produces ketone bodies from fatty acids, to sustain energy supply for vital organs like the brain. This state can contribute to reduction of tiredness and inflammation.
The digestive system also gets a break when you deny the body food for a certain amount of time, and since that energy is no longer being used for digestion, it allows for the immune system to lessen its workload. This can make the immune system stronger to fight off further infection.
Fasting has also been a method used in the detoxification and cleansing of the body. It gives the body the chance to rid itself of anything it doesn’t need. When it comes to Lyme disease sufferers, a build-up of toxins can hinder recovery – another reason fasting may be beneficial for Lyme patients.
Is fasting beneficial to Lyme patients?
Although the benefits of fasting and intermittent fasting depend highly on a case-by-case basis, fasting does offer some help in the way of battling chronic Lyme disease. Giving the body a break from digestion can allow it to repair some damage done by the bacteria that causes Lyme disease, and also help curb inflammation caused by eating certain foods (as long as the diet is full of wholefoods, fruits and vegetables while in the eating phase of the fast).
Fasting is generally a safe method of encouraging healthy recovery from chronic Lyme disease symptoms, but should be approached in a knowledgeable and controlled way. The best way to start a fast to help treat chronic symptoms of Lyme disease is to speak with your doctor and decide on a course of action that will be beneficial to you.