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lyme disease Diet

What one food vegetarians should avoid when battling Lyme

You may be a vegan or vegetarian who eats soy products to increase your protein.

Nurse Jean Reist has treated Lyme patients in her Pennsylvania clinic. She explains the importance of protein in the diet.

Think of it as your weekly tasks of stocking your fridge with healthy foods and taking out the garbage. That’s similar to what occurs inside the lymph nodes on a regularly basis.

Critical trace minerals are transported by protein through the lymph system. If the patient’s diet lacks protein, the lymph system cannot properly do its job of delivering nutrients to the cells and taking out the toxins.

So she suggests vegetarians help out by adding a small amount of animal protein to their diet while battling the Lyme bacteria.

Eggs, whey, fish okay — but not soy.

Reist cautions against soy products because soy is high in copper. Lyme patients must also try to rid our bodies of an overload of metals, among them lead, aluminum, mercury, and copper.

Learn about
Lyme Disease and protein.

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Herbs and plants for a healing diet

Dr. Christine Horner was once on the clean-up crew. As a board certified plastic surgeon, she specialized in breast reconstruction surgery for cancer patients.

And she noticed something odd.

Each year, her patients were younger and younger. Breast cancer was an epidemic.

When her own mother died of the disease, she knew it was time to step back and look into the reasons all these women were getting cancer in the first place. Instead of putting them back together following the illness, was there something that could be done to avert it?

What she discovered can benefit everyone sick with Lyme disease.

She became convinced after her research led to the 5,000 year old teachings of Ayurveda. Ayurvedic healing works on the principle that our body has innate intelligence. When our bodies are in balance, that inner intelligence keeps us healthy.

Imbalance caused by illness, such as cancer, Lyme bacterial infection, or unhealthy lifestyle and diet disrupts our innate healing intelligence.

I’ll have what she’s having
While learning about Ayurveda, Dr. Horner made a surprising discovery. Following a luxurious spa treatment and detoxification process called panchakarma, or “five actions,” she looked in the mirror. Her face appeared ten years younger. She had a renewed sense of zest and vitality. In fact, she had never felt better in her life. On fire to put this new discovery to practice, she studied like mad to get certified in Ayurveda.

Schooled in Western medicine and having worked for years as a surgeon, it is important to Dr. Horner that everything she promotes is research-based. Ayurvedic healing is, and it also has a history of development — millions of people experimenting and refining it, over thousands of years. Ayurveda literally translates as “life-knowledge.”

Currently in the West, there is an explosion of empirical research into the natural approaches to health through the uses of herbs and plants for healing, as well as lifestyle factors. The research bodes well, unless you are one of those vegetarians who only eats French fries.

Lyme disease patients on standard antibiotics can also benefit from incorporating some or all of Dr. Horner’s advice. A healthy diet and lifestyle includes many factors, and among the most crucial is eating a varied diet of organic fruits and veggies.

Eat your medicine
“Eating a plant-based diet is considered the healthiest type of diet around,” says Dr. Horner. “Not only do plants and herbs contain vitamins, minerals, nutrients and all the other things we know are good for maintaining our health, they also contain hundreds of phytons.”

Phytons are plant chemicals, powerful natural medicines. Some of them even work exactly like chemotherapy. Pharmaceutical companies study the plants, create a drug that works the same way, and then tell the public that plant medicine doesn’t work.

Ayurveda says that there are fundamental truths about human beings, and that the basic rule-book says that, “if you follow these rules you’ll bring your body into balance. And that balance enlivens your body’s inner healing intelligence,” says Dr. Horner.

Lyme infection obstructs the balance your body is trying to create. So the idea is to do as much as you can to bring it to balance. We’re all different and in Ayurveda there are three doshas and nine different body constitutions. Overall though, the general rules apply across the board.

Strengthening your body’s immune system is the key to regaining balance and good health. The immune system needs a variety of veggies, so vary the produce you consume. Alternating supplements on a weekly or monthly basis can also help insure your maximum benefit.

Two herbs are better than one
Supplements have synergistic effects. When paired with another supplement there is a multiplication of the healing effect. Pharmaceutical drugs do not work this way.

For example, green tea and turmeric taken together are many times more effective than when taken alone. Each of these have antioxidant and anti-inflammation properties which work better when put together.

Dr. Christine Horner has more energy than many teenagers I know. I asked her what she puts in her morning smoothies. She rotates between fruits and green smoothies, and also tosses in a comprehensive list of healthy supplements.

Along with plant medicine, she also talked about the vital importance of having practices such as mediation, exercise, and radical forgiveness. Nurture your spirit, especially if you are dealing with Lyme or any serious illness. Lifestyle factors are as important as eating a healthy diet.

For further information please go to drchristinehorner.com

Podcast

Click on podcast to listen to my 60-minute interview with the effervescent Dr. Christine Horner. She’s got more energy than many of the teenagers I work with. She is a wealth of knowledge and has much more to say than I could include in this post. She also suggests ways to diminish the side effects of menopause.

If you like what you see here, please consider signing up for our newsletter, or become an LDRD member for full access to our complete series of audio interviews. Learn from listening to Lyme-literate doctors and other medical experts.

Breathe deep, eat your greens, and be well!



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Add spice, reduce inflammation

Do you have an appropriate Lyme disease diet?

Low-grade or chronic inflammation accompanies a bacterial infection such as Lyme disease. Chronic fatigue and lethargy are produced when the body is busy fighting infection. Reducing inflammation is key in regaining vitality and healing. It's smart to include foods in your diet to help achieve those goals.

Help your body reduce damaging inflammation with the following:

* Eliminate refined sugar and processed foods
* Reduce stress in your daily life
* Get enough early morning sunshine


Add some spice to your life -- specifically, turmeric and ginger -- to help reduce inflammation. They are both part of the same family of plants.

Turmeric is used to lend mustard its yellow color. It is used frequently, though sparingly, in Indian food. The active substance, curcumin, is a powerful, yellow dye that will stain countertops and plastic food containers. It's also a well-known anti-inflammatory. Turmeric can be taken in capsule form or you can sprinkle it onto your food. I like it on my eggs for breakfast, or added to the stir-fry veggies we often cook for dinner. A general rule of thumb is to use about a teaspoonful or less in cooking. More than that will make your food taste bitter.

Ginger root is the underground stem of the ginger plant. The powder and the grated root are often used in cooking and baking. Ginger has medicinal qualities, and due to its anti-inflammatory element has long been used to aid in arthritis and ulcerative colitis. Among other uses, ginger is antibacterial, and effective as a digestive aid.

Nearly all of the people we've interviewed for our Lyme success stories have said that modifying their diet has improved their health significantly.

* What changes to your lifestyle and diet are helping you heal from Lyme?

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Salt and chronic Lyme

Are you getting enough salt in your diet? Salt is essential for all animal life (except land plants). Too much or too little can cause havoc in the body. Studies report that as much as 80% of dietary salt comes from packaged and can foods, and from eating out. It's easy to take in an excess of salt by consuming fast foods, as restaurant dishes are often overloaded with salt.

A lack of salt can be just as harmful as too much, as this elementary mineral is necessary for maintaining the balance of bodily fluids, helping transmit nerve signals, keeping muscles functioning properly and creating healthy blood and lymph.

Many chronic Lyme patients don't eat out due to their illness, and most of us go through at least a short period feeling absolutely yucky enough to keep us out of the public and away from restaurants. A lot of us stay away from packaged foods as well, eating fresh veggies and organic foods as much as possible.

If you eat a diet that is deliberately salt-free, how do you know you're getting enough of the stuff?
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Vegetarians with Lyme disease

When I interviewed Jean Reist, RN, for our Lyme experts' series, I could hear the angst in her voice. She worries that her vegetarian patients do not get enough protein. As she explains, the lymph system doubles as a grocery delivery-person and trash collector in our immune system. The lymph carries the nutrients to each cell, then turns around and carries the trash away. Without sufficient amounts of protein, the lymph cannot do its job and the system gets slogged down.

Reist's Pennsylvania clinic is located in the heart of what many consider a Lyme epidemic, and a significant number of the patients she treats for Lyme disease are vegetarians. Her chief concern is that many patients calling themselves vegetarian don't actually eat many vegetables. According to NAVS , the North American Vegetarian Society, a vegetarian diet can factor into radiant good health. However, getting enough iron and protein takes some knowledge and a little mealtime planning. It's easy for people to make the mistake of assuming that the absence of meat in the diet equals a healthier diet. Not true--especially if it means they've stopped eating meat and simply replaced it with pasta, potatoes and bread.

Generally speaking, vegetarians seem to benefit from an impressive amount of health advantages, such as lowered risk of heart disease, fewer cases of chronic disease and Diabetes Type 2, and on average, they live longer. However, eating a vegetarian diet doesn't automatically guarantee better health. Reist strongly suggests that her patients add eggs, cheese or fish to their diet as they struggle to heal from Lyme.

If you're a vegetarian or vegan with Lyme, how do you know you're getting enough protein? Do you include a wide array of veggies in your diet, and do you include legumes, which are rich in iron?



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Stevia poses no health risks

When you have Lyme, you can't do sugar. Some people can't tolerate honey, either. So how do you sweeten your tea? What do you put in your oatmeal? Stay away from Splenda. It's a bad alternative to sugar and may even cause a relapse of your symptoms (see the post on Jean Reist, RN for an example of Splenda's negative effects on Lyme patients).

The answer is stevia, a plant-based sweetener that has been popular in Japan and other countries since the 1970s. Stevia has been available in the US, however, it hasn't been promoted as a sweetener. Its status has recently changed. Watch for products made by Coca-cola and Pepsi to containstevia, which recently been vindicated by the Food and Drug Administration and found to pose no health risks.

"The [FDA] agency has granted the all-natural sweetener status as "generally recognized as safe" (GRAS) after Cargill and Merisant Company achieved a process called "Self-Determination of GRAS Status".

Valentine's day is closing in, and you can't get far from the heart-shaped boxes of sugar candies that are popping up in every store. If you've got a sweet tooth, be strong and ignore that chocolate urge. Be good to yourself while you're healing. Go get somestevia and try a couple of drops in your morning tea or steel cut oats. If you've never used it before, be forewarned: the stuff is strong! Go light. Couple of drops will do.
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Diet, exercise and sleep

Are you like me, a list-maker? Nothing satisfies like crossing something off your to-do list. Here's a list that I wrote for myself, but I haven't crossed anything off yet because I'm still doing them.

3 areas where you can help yourself while healing from Lyme disease:

1. Diet. Eat only healthy, whole organic foods whenever possible. Choose more fresh veggies, more alkaline foods. Read all packaged food and drink labels before you buy. I know that the mere mention of spaghetti and garlic bread makes you salivate, however, reduce (or eliminate) your intake of pasta and carbohydrates. They break down into sugar in your system. Sugar will feed the Lyme bacteria you're trying so hard to kill. Drink plenty of pure water, it will help you detoxify and stay alert. Drink green tea instead of coffee - you have no tolerance for coffee now anyway.

2. Exercise. Yeah, I know. You're too pooped to pop. Your eyelids suddenly gained five pounds each and came slamming down like little garage doors. However, the top Lyme experts recommend daily exercise...to help increase your energy level. That's right! Run, dance, ride a bike. Walk. Jump on your mini-trampoline. Most Lyme patients feel about as strong as melted butter. Build muscles. You'll gain strength, and being strong will also build your confidence. Unless you're in an acute stage, start sweating. Every Lyme patient tells me that regular exercise makes them feel better, even when they felt so wobbly they could barely manage to drag themselves around the block.

3. Sleep. While you're deeply snoozing, each one of your cells is being repaired and replaced with a new healthy cell. You need more rest than you think. Who cares if you need 10, 11, 12 hours of sleep? It takes what it takes. Go to bed by 10 pm. If you can't sleep, meditate. Meditate anyway. It helps you gain perspective. Then first thing upon awakening, take a shower (dry brush first, to help slough off icky toxins excreted during the night). Brew a cup of hot green jasmine tea. Sip while sitting in the morning sun. Stretch. Yawn. Pet your cat. Hug your significant other. Breathe deeply. Give thanks.

Lyme Expert Interview Series.
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