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Anti-inflammatory diet for Lyme

I've been under the impression that medical practitioners, such as GP doctors and nutritionists, were familiar with the notion that inflammation is at the core of many diseases. However, it looks like the study of inflammation, and what to do about it, is newer than I thought. According to an Aug 17, 2009 article in the LA Times, Battling inflammation, disease through food, by Shara Yurkiewicz, medical practitioners are just beginning to put two and two together when it comes to inflammation and chronic disease.

"[Chronic inflammation] is an emerging field," says Dr. David Heber, a UCLA professor of medicine and director of the university's Center for Human Nutrition. "It's a new concept for medicine."

The article continues: "The theory goes that long after the invading bacteria or viruses from some infection [such as Lyme bacteria] are gone, the body's defenses remain active. The activated immune cells and hormones then turn on the body itself, damaging tissues. The process continues indefinitely, occurring at low enough levels that a person doesn't feel pain or realize anything is wrong. Years later, proponents say, the damage contributes to illnesses such as heart disease, neurological disorders like Alzheimer's disease or cancer." LA Times article, 8/16/09

When you get a splinter, or a mosquito bite, or suffer an injury such as a broken bone, your body's immune system instantly responds to the pain and offense by sending more blood to the wounded area. The tissue swells and reddens while the healing work gets underway. While it's fairly easy to see a mosquito bite or detect a broken bone, chronic silent inflammation inside the body, which is what Lyme disease may cause, may go unnoticed for years because, as the article states, it occurs at a low level and doesn't hurt. The immune system doesn't switch off.

What can be done? Although more studies are necessary to determine the results scientifically, many people (including me) believe that their eating habits affect their health and can even help bring down chronic inflammation. Choosing foods rich in antioxidants is probably smart, and may even help you feel better while healing from Lyme infection. Antioxidants may slow down or inhibit the tissue damage caused by free radicals at the sites of inflammation.

The Mediterranean diet, for example, is high in antioxidants, including dark green leafy veggies, whole grains such as steel cut oats, nuts, oily fish such as salmon, and bright-colored fruits such as blueberries, pomegranates, dark cherries and raspberries.

Following an anti-inflammatory diet also means eliminating, or at least reducing food that can cause inflammation. Such foods include those with saturated fats, trans fats, corn and soybean oil, refined carbohydrates such as white sugars, red meat and dairy.
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