Many patients come into my office wanting to know what they should eat to help them recover from Lyme Disease. "What's the diet you use at this clinic," a patient may often ask. I wish it were so easy, just give out one diet and call it good. Over the years I have found that healing requires personalization and diet is no different. Let's look at 3 diet hacks for dealing with Lyme Disease that I use at the clinic.
1. Metabolic Typing Diet
Metabolic typing is a process of discovering how quickly you oxidize the different food groups, protein, carbohydrates, and fats. I have patients fill out a 50 point questionnaire that helps us to determine if they are a protein, carbohydrate, or mixed type. The general idea is that your metabolism and genetic background are unique and we should eat just as uniquely. Looking at all the different diets that have worked for people, it is easy to see that people who did well with vegetarian diets were most likely carbohydrate types while people who excelled on low-carbohydrate diets were probably Protein types. It is important to mention that during clinical practice I have seen patients switch types depending on their current metabolic need.
William L. Wolcott is the main researcher behind the Metabolic Typing Diet, but in his about page, he states, "It is actually the culmination of 70 years of pioneering research on the part of many of the 20th century's most significant nutritional researchers - including Francis Pottenger, M.D., Weston Price, D.D.S., Royal Lee, D.D.S., Emmanuel Revici, M.D., William Donald Kelley, D.D.S., George Watson, Ph.D., and Roger Williams, Ph.D."
Dr. Mercola uses an online questionnaire that would be beneficial to begin understanding your metabolic type and I highly recommend the book, The Metabolic Typing Diet by William L. Wolcott.
2. Remove Reactive Foods for Borrelia Burgdorferi.
In a remarkable study looking at the immune system's response to infections and food antigens it has been shown that there is a cross reaction between B. Burgdorferi and 39 different foods. Vojdani states in the article, "The findings of this current study indicate that, indeed, some of the IgG immune reactivity test results reported by many labs for the detection of food immune reactions may be due to cross-reactivity with infectious agents, and, hence, could be false-positive."
This highlighted an interesting phenomenon that would occur when I would scan for food sensitivities; odd foods would show as sensitive that the patient was not currently eating. My thought was that it was possibly representing an unknown source of the food, as in an additive or ingredient. Now Vojdani has demonstrated that this is likely due to infectious agents like Borrelia or Epstein-Barr Virus.
The infections look like the foods and the foods look like the infections. This could be a massive issue for patients with chronic Lyme disease. What looks and feels like an infection flare-up could actually be a food reaction.
While there are 39 different foods that cross-react with B. Burgdorferi, the list is quite broad. Vojdani has identified the top reactors as chicken, lamb, almond, mustard seeds, shrimp and parvalbumin (egg whites). For someone with persistent symptoms, it may be ideal to cut these foods out for 4-6 weeks and see how you feel.
3. Ketogenic Diet
Going "Keto" is a current buzz word in the diet and fitness world lately. It is a fantastic way to shed fat, but for people with Lyme disease, there are even better reasons to give it a try. Dr. Mercola and Dr. Terry Wahls have popularized ketogenic diets for their health restoring benefits.
A list of benefits include:
Improved oxygen utilization
DNA protective effects
Protein sparing (this is important if you are losing muscle mass)
For Lyme disease directly "Reaching deep ketosis...completely eradicated symptoms of Lyme disease when all else failed," as stated by Tim Ferriss.
Many patients report dramatically improved mental clarity and energy while in ketosis.
Anti-seizure (ketogenic diets are used for people with epilepsy).
The great part about this diet is that it is highly therapeutic. What I mean by that is, as a patient, you do not need to be on a ketogenic diet forever. You can use it for 4-8 weeks initially and then switch to focusing on eating for your metabolic type. After that initial period, just use ketosis a few times per year to help keep your system running smoothly.
It is important that if you decide to try one of these "Hacks" that you speak with your doctor and use it in conjunction with a full treatment approach.
In health and healing,
Martin C. Hart, DC, NASM-CES
This article is for information purposes only, it is not intended to diagnose or treat any medical condition.