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Diet and Lyme Disease

Reduce Lyme Symptoms by Nurturing Yourself

Along the streets in my neighborhood, colorful leaves lie jumbled in piles, trees are half empty or illuminated by unexpected shafts of sunlight to reveal tones of red, yellow and amber. The wind has a wicked bite, and suddenly the holidays are right around the corner.

Making plans to gather with family can be a source of joy or nervousness, or a raw combination of all sorts of emotions. Stress is a part of everyday life, but add in a spate of bad weather or a run of obligatory social events and it can be a recipe for real exhaustion, especially if you’re struggling with
Lyme symptoms.

Naturally, during the fall & winter we tend to spend more time indoors, where we’re less likely to exercise or be exposed to natural light, and more likely to eat a little more. Most Lyme patients are familiar with symptoms of mild to moderate depression, and heading into the cooler seasons can trigger feelings of sadness or loss.

What are some simple ways to be good to yourself during this time?

One way to be proactive is to pay closer attention to what you eat.
Dr. Andrew Weil’s food pyramid is a helpful visual chart. At the bottom are foods to eat more of. Start with a solid foundation of a variety of vegetables, which are rich in flavonoids and caratenoids that can help keep inflammation in check. Fruits and veggies both contain antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activity. 

When the wind whips around our house and the nights are long, I gravitate to the kitchen for comfort and creativity. Chopping vegetables for a pot of savory soup creates a rhythm and gives me a sense of order, which is something I seem to have developed a stronger need for throughout the process of healing from Lyme. Hot soup always tastes good and fills the house with delicious smells. I always try to buy organic when possible, and I’m blessed with a sister who lives nearby, grows amazing greens and keeps us freshly supplied.

Here is a list of ingredients that went into the pot last night:

1 yellow onion
3 cloves of garlic
2 carrots
6 large leaves of fresh chard
3 potatoes
baked, leftover salmon pieces
3 cups of vegetable broth
Italian herbs to taste
3 drops of cayenne-based hot sauce
salt & pepper

Chop onions & garlic and quick-fry in a generous puddle of olive oil. Meantime, bring the broth to a boil and turn down to a simmer. Drop in chopped veggies, seasonings, hot sauce, and put the fish in last, since it’s already cooked and just needs to heat up.

Serve with a thickly sliced piece of bread, gluten free. Enjoy!

Anti-inflammatory diet can help

Inflammation is an immune system response to stress and toxins. Our bodies deal with Lyme infection by sending more blood to the irritated areas. The main features of inflammation are redness, swelling and pain.

It's difficult to eliminate the borrelia bacteria, so inflammation results, causing pain and wrecking all sorts of other havoc. On top of that, we must deal with the psychological or physical stress caused by the pain. And aside from the toxins that accompany and make up the borrelia bacterial complex, dealing with environmental toxins is generally a daily effort.

Antibiotics and herbal protocols are excellent help, but what else can be done about inflammation? This is where some people with chronic illnesses turn a critical eye on their diet and nutrition. And many claim that an anti-inflammatory diet can be a huge help in maximizing their healing protocols and helping to alleviate the intensity of Lyme symptoms and flaring herxes.

So, you're starting to feel a little normal after such a long fight with Lyme. Don't surrender to that deep dish cheese pizza! (Of course, a little treat now and then does the body good.) Steam delicious veggies instead, such as Swiss chard, kale, or mustard greens. Fix organic brown rice or rice noodles to go with them. If you can tolerate it, a bite of organic dark chocolate can make a yummy dessert.

Watch this blog for interviews with nutritionists and herbalists who work with Lyme patients, and delectable recipes for an anti-inflammatory diet. Remember, you don't have to change the way you eat forever -- you just have to give your body a break for a while, so your immune system response can strengthen. Eliminating foods made with wheat and dairy -- or at least, limiting them -- may boost your energy and reduce inflammation and pain.

Broccoli sprouts for healthy healing

Fresh organic vegetables, fruits, nuts and seeds are good for you (have you heard?). Raw food etox diet and chronic Lyme ">diets have been used successfully in curing and easing the pain of many types of chronic illnesses. However, before you fill your plate with only raw ingredients, you should ask your doctor (or better yet, a nutritionist well-versed in Lyme disease) if you're at a stage where eating more raw foods could help boost your healing energy. One naturopath I spoke with advised that during an acute stage of Lyme, raw foods may be too hard for your body to digest. He did suggest that in later stages of Lyme, the enzyme rich foods would be quite beneficial. Sprouts, however, got a big 'thumbs up' at any stage of Lyme.

We're investigating the varying opinions on the benefits of raw food in a healthy healing diet. Since this is such a big subject, let's start small. Consider the lowly sprout. You know how tiny seeds, jammed with nutritious compounds, grow into scrumptious vegetables. Sprouted veggie seeds such as alfalfa, clover, and radish can contain many times the value of the mature veggie.

So which is better for you? Broccoli sprouts or mature broccoli? A study of the tiny, peppery-flavored broccoli sprouts done in 1997 at Johns Hopkins discovered that they contained 20 times more sulforaphane than mature broccoli. Both the sprouts and the fully-grown vegetable (which, by the way, we love steamed with a spot of Bragg's) contain high levels of sulforaphane, a long-lasting antioxidant with anti-bacterial and anti-cancer qualities. Be an organic gardener and grow your own baby veggies. Broccoli sprouts are easy to grow right in your own kitchen. Eat them around their peak of potency -- when they're about three days old.

Whether you go raw or not, it's always a good idea to add more fruits and vegetables to your diet. Eat more broccoli and other cruciferous veggies, in order to benefit from sulforaphane. Write these tasty foods on your grocery list: Bok choy, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, collard greens, kale, kohlrabi, mustard greens, turnip, radish and watercress.