Optimizing health when suffering from Lyme disease can mean eating nutritious meals, staying hydrated and avoiding alcohol, excess sugar and difficult-to-digest foods.
A Lyme disease diet may be as much about what not to eat as it is about what to include in daily food and drink intake.
Antibiotics, Lyme Disease and Diet
During a month-long course of antibiotics for Lyme disease, or however long treatment continues for, it is vital to maximise the opportunity for the drugs to work and to counter some of the potential side-effects of the medications. Antibiotics are often indiscriminate in the organisms they eradicate, which is one of the reasons many Lyme disease patients develop Candida overgrowth during or immediately after treatment. Replacing friendly bacteria (probiotics) and feeding them appropriately with prebiotics can make the journey back to good health run that little bit smoother.
Lyme Disease Diets and Gastrointestinal Health
Maintaining a healthy digestive system is particularly important during Lyme disease treatment as damage to the gastrointestinal tract could lead to increased gut permeability and the possibility of immune system reactions to food molecules that would normally be dealt with without issue. Allergies or intolerances to foods, or the protein fraction of certain foods, is increasingly likely where digestive health is compromised. Such reactions would then increase the workload on the immune system and potentially raise levels of systemic inflammation, making Lyme disease symptoms feel worse.
Avoidance of digestive system stressors, early identification of problematic foodstuffs and supplementation of digestive enzymes and both pre- and probiotics may be indicated in sensitive individuals. It is, however, unwise to cut out major food groups without supervision from a qualified nutritionist as nutritional deficiencies may arise and further compromise recovery.
Some helpful anti-inflammatory foods that Lyme disease sufferers may wish to include in their diet are:
- papaya and pineapple
- bell peppers
While these foods alone will not cure Lyme disease they can help reduce systemic inflammation, provide fiber, vitamins, minerals and a variety of nutrients to help with digestion, cellular health and immune function.
Sugar and Lyme Disease
It is also important to carefully monitor sugar intake as part of a Lyme disease diet as sugar provokes inflammation and can overtax the body’s systems whilst providing empty calories devoid of micronutrients vital to health. Coffee, alcohol and other stimulants or gastrointestinal irritants can have an adverse effect on the absorption of certain nutrients, meaning that the timing of meals is also important so as to get the most out of the foods that are being eaten.
Lyme Disease, Alkali Foods, Fasting and Toxicity
Alkalising diets, fasting and raw food diets have all been advocated as Lyme disease diets but there is little, if any, evidence supporting such therapy and a high probability that such treatment can actually be harmful. Switching diets suddenly means that the body has to play catch-up in regards to extracting nutrients from different, often unfamiliar sources. There may be issues of constipation or diarrhoea triggering toxic build-up or dehydration and resultant headaches whilst healing from Lyme disease. Fasting is particularly dangerous as the body, already weakened by infection, is further stressed and deprived of the energy needed to fight off bacterial invasion.
Lyme Disease Infection – is It Your Fault?
Some alternative therapists walk a thin line between promoting healthy nutritious diets to aid Lyme disease treatment and outright accusation that infection is a direct product of an unhealthy diet. Invulnerability to Lyme disease is not a given when eating healthily and patients should not be made to feel that infection is their own fault and could have been avoided by eating more broccoli and less burgers or meat. Clearly, though, some foods are more nutritious than others and these may reduce the risk of infection gaining a foothold and ease the recovery process.
Those interested in finding out more about Lyme disease and diet may wish to look at:
- “The Lyme Diet: Nutritional Strategies for Healing from Lyme Disease”, written by Lyme-literate naturopath Dr. Nicola McFadzean.
- Lyme Disease and Diet – Inflammation
- Low-Carb Diets for Lyme Disese