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Medical pro explains link between protein and healing

You know it's important to eat protein, but do you know why?

According to Jean Reist, R.N., one good reason to get sufficient amounts of protein in your diet while you're healing from Lyme is to keep your lymph system working effectively. The lymph, or lymphatic system, is a major part of the body's immune system. Protein is necessary for transporting trace minerals through what is known as the extracellular matrix within the lymph system. Imagine the matrix as the white of an egg that's just been cracked open. You don't want it to congeal, as an egg white does in a hot pan, because it would get clogged up with toxins. You want your matrix to stay loose, efficiently transporting nutrients to the cells, and transporting that toxic waste away.

Vegans and vegetarians often eat soy products to boost their protein intake. Yet Reist, who treats Lyme patients in her Pennsylvania clinic, worries that the patients who eat soy may risk getting too much copper in their diets. Soy is high in copper, and evidence suggests that patients trying to heal from Lyme must also get rid of an overload of metals, including copper, mercury, lead and aluminum. She asks her patients to consider eating animal protein such as eggs, fish or whey while fighting Lyme.

Reist observes that vegetarian patients sometimes eat a lot of pasta and grain, which may be easy to prepare, but are high in carbohydrates. She says that for Lyme patients, loading up on pasta and grain instead of protein is not a good idea, for many reasons. For example, the grains wash away magnesium, and she says that Lyme patients tend to have a magnesium deficiency. In addition, carbohydrates drive inflammation, and as you probably are already aware, a big part of overcoming Lyme is fighting the accompanying chronic inflammation.

Jean Reist, R.N., participated in our ongoing expert audio interview series, which is available online for LDRD members.