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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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