How many vitamins are too many?
We all know that suffering with Lyme symptoms can really push you to the edge. So when an expert says, "do this thing, e.g., take a handful of vitamins, and you'll feel better," we will go to just about any length to do that thing.
If you take upwards of 30 different supplements per day (or if it just feels like you do), and you are a bit depressed by the amount of time, money and energy you spend on them, then Ginger Savely, FNP, is on your side. She is on the hunt for products that give us "the most bang for our buck." Instead of taking 30 pills, you can get the same amount of supplements in just a couple of products such as Green Vibrance, which includes many of the vitamins we want in our healing diets, and fish oil.
Ginger is a nurse practitioner with a doctorate degree in research, who owns the SF clinic where she primarily sees patients with Lyme and Morgellons disease, of whom a high percentage also have Lyme. But Ginger's work does not stop there. She is a lifelong learner (and a former Lyme patient herself), who is currently enrolled in advanced courses in clinical nutrition and diet.
She began treating Lyme patients over a decade ago, and over the years gathered her recommendations into a pamphlet that she provides new patients. One patient, after looking over the material, told Ginger that she "sat down and cried," after reading it. She simply felt overwhelmed by the amount of things to take. She felt she would never be able to take all the supplements she needed to take.
Her patient's response made an impression, and Ginger then began to listen to her own gut instinct, and change the way she views diet and food. She says that instead of putting the emphasis on vitamin supplements in isolation, she now sees diet and food choices as a central component in healing Lyme disease.
Ginger has long suspected that the isolated vitamins we consume may not be the most efficient way to supplement our diets. And she readily admits she has been guilty of it herself, advising her patients to include vitamins recommended by popular research studies. Yet in her gut, she's always been curious as to just how effective these vitamin pills are.
Asking her patients didn't clear up the matter much. They would often say they took a long list of supplements, not because the vitamins made a difference in the way they felt, but because they were afraid to stop, just in case they might feel worse.
But Ginger's instinct has pointed her in a different direction. In terms of eating well to support a healing diet, she might say it's back to the future.
What does she advise her Lyme patients to do now? Get your healing supplements directly from the food you eat. Eat the old-fashioned way, by which she means the way we ate 100 years ago. Don't shy away from a little bit of animal fat, she says. The chronic illnesses that are currently such a problem in the western world, such as heart disease and diabetes, have come about since we started cutting "healthy" fats from our diet and replacing them with refined carbohydrates and refined sugar.
Eat the way your grandparents (or your great-grandparents) did. Whole foods, meat with a little fat on it (preferably grass-fed and organic), organic veggies. Above all, no refined carbs or sugar, which have absolutely no place in a healing diet.
On the occasions when Ginger does indulge in sugar, she feels "foggy" the very next day. She is a self-described sugar-holic, so she understands how difficult it is for some people to give it up. Yet after a few initial suggestions, she says, patients who agree to drop sugar from their diets seem to need no reminding. The body knows it will heal faster without it. After a couple of weeks of going without, it simply doesn't appeal to them anymore.
If you do eat sugar, keep it to the whole foods variety which at least includes a little nutritional value. Blackstrap molasses, unrefined honey may be tolerated by some people. Agave sweetener is processed in the exact same way that refined sugar is, and we have been "sold a bill of goods on that," she says.
If you don't eat sugar, antibiotics will have a better chance of working, and you may heal more quickly. Ginger observes that her patients who indulge in refined sweets do seem to take a slower route back to living a vibrantly healthy, post-Lyme life.
Ginger is featured in our Expert Audio Series. You can hear her interview for free by signing up for our LDRD newsletter.