What You’ll Learn
- Why Every Case of Lyme Disease is Different
- The Problem of Co-infections
- The Optimal Diet for Lyme Patients
What’s the best diet for Lyme disease? Keto? Paleo? Vegan? The short answer is, it depends. With every illness, diet is a key component, both because food is medicine but also because most illnesses cause gut dysfunction which then disrupts our metabolism.
As each case of Lyme disease is so different, diets also differ and depend entirely on the individual’s unique biology and disease state. But what makes Lyme disease itself so unique? Co-infections.
What are Co-infections?
Without getting too deep into the nature of the Lyme bacteria, one of the many variables that make Lyme so difficult to treat is that it is never just Lyme disease. With almost every Lyme infection comes co-infections, or additional diseases that can be transferred from a tick bite.
Recent research shows that approximately 60% of the ticks with Lyme disease also carry other disease-causing pathogens, including Babesia, Bartonella, Ehrlichia, and Anaplasma, to name a few. One infection is bad enough, but two, three, or more complicate a diagnosis and treatment, as well as the body’s basic ability to heal.
The Importance of Diet
But back to diet. Heather Lowery, Physician Assistant at the New York Center for Innovative Medicine is a former Lyme patient that asked this same question about diet. And what she learned from her healing journey was that some general dietary guidelines are all that a patient with Lyme disease really needs to follow.
Sharing from her own extensive experience from the clinic as well as her own struggle with Lyme disease, Heather’s simple but effective diet advice boils down to this: eat real food. What is real food? Everything from nature, including vegetables, healthy protein and fat sources while minimizing the amount of processed food.
Mind Over Matter
According to Heather, when eating for Lyme disease, it’s also a good rule of thumb to increase the number of plant foods and limit animal protein, at least for a while. But perhaps an even more important strategy is to focus on how we feel about the food.
A calm mind is essential for the healthy digestion and absorption of nutrients. We can eat the highest-quality food in the world, but if we’re worried and stressed when we eat, we’re doing our body a disservice and potentially depriving ourselves of life-giving nutrients.
As Heather notes, even with treats and dessert, just enjoy the food, taste the food, and experience it. With a healing mindset, we can digest almost anything and keep our body in the parasympathetic state that is important for metabolism and ultimately, healing.
“Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants. Simple. So eat real food. Don’t eat too much cause it’s hard on your gut. It’s hard on your liver, your pancreas, all of the above, and mostly plants.”
As Michael Pollan famously quipped, “Eat food, not too much, mostly plants.” This is not only a great strategy for patients with Lyme disease, but for any person that is chronically ill or looking to optimize their health through diet.
Heather Lowery is a highly trained and skilled Physician Assistant who has the rare advantage of being able to speak from the patient’s perspective, having battled chronic Lyme disease, and undergone treatment at NYCIM.
Sharing from her personal journey from the depths of despair to her eventual triumph and return to health, Heather explains what a true Herxheimer reaction is, why the term is often misused in medicine — especially among patients, what one can expect from a true Herxheimer Reaction and how to minimize the side effects before treatment begins.
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