by Kenzie Vath
It has been a long nine years since I was diagnosed with Lyme disease. I have been suffering from chronic Lyme for twice as long or over 18 years. After my diagnosis, I started researching right away how I would be able to manage my illness. Many allopathic medical treatments flooded the internet and seemed to be the only option for Lyme treatment at the time. I noticed that none of the treatments were as effective though if I did not keep up with my daily self-care. This consisted of healthy nutrition, physical activity, and a personalized self-care regimen. Each played an important role in the outcome of my overall health.
I dove straight into researching what the proper nutritional requirements were for Lyme patients. In 2007 though, not much information was available to help guide me to the right nutritional choices. So I decided to go back to school and study holistic medicine. My education reviewed everything from Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) to Ayurvedic healing. Sharing this valuable information with those I met sparked my compassion to help others who were suffering from Lyme disease and its co-infections.
Thus Holistic Umbrella was founded. Holistic Umbrella is a wellness-based lifestyle company based in Southern California. Our mission is to provide a holistic approach to balance our client’s health and wellness; this as a means of creating joy in their personal, family and friends lives, and so that they can positively impact their community. My personal goal for the upcoming year is to offer a variety of wellness-based events to local communities. I would love for you to join me in 2018 to make a positive impact on your health.
Nutritional support for Lyme:
The most important thing to remember when battling an illness is to feed the body what it needs to heal. Our bodies house our minds, hearts, and souls, which we must first seek to be grateful for since a certain amount of self-appreciation is essential. Feeding the body quality nutrients is a positive way to demonstrate that we value ourselves and our health.
The ‘red flag’ foods that feed inflammation and Lyme are gluten, dairy, and sugar. Many of us have experimented with various gluten-free, dairy-free or other diets. Some individuals get positive results, while others continue to struggle with digestive issues. Finding the right dietary matches for your body is all about experimenting with all different kinds of foods and being aware of how those foods make you feel. No single diet is right for everyone. Everyone’s body is unique and requires a custom variety of nutrients to maintain optimal health. If you are not sure where to start, I would suggest beginning a food journal. This will allow you to track and become more aware of the foods you are eating and your body’s reaction to them.
What follows is a basic nutritional overview:
There are seven main classifications of human nutrition; fats, protein, carbohydrates, fiber, minerals, vitamins, and water. Each essential for our bodies to function at a healthy state; to prevent or fight off disease. Those with Lyme should be aware of the nutrients they supply to their bodies. Our bodies have a natural ability to heal itself if given the right care. Nutrition is an essential part of that care.
Water is by far the most important nutrient for the body. It is essential to every cell in the body. The human adult body is made up of roughly 60% water. Children tend to be 70 to 75% water. As we age our bodies become more dehydrated. When the human body is battling an illness it is especially important to consume adequate amounts of clean purified water. The rule of thumb is to consume: half your weight in ounces. (Example: if your weight is 100 pounds, your water consumption would be 50 ounces.) Water with added minerals or fresh spring water is an especially good choice since minerals will assist the body in staying hydrated. TCM recommends consuming room temperature water. Many ask why? The answer is that water at room temperature absorbs more quickly providing faster hydration to the body. Moreover, water assists in detoxification. Lyme patients naturally accumulate an excessive amount of bodily toxins. Water is the easiest and most essential way to help purge those toxins.
Vitamins and minerals are present in all foods. Many people feel they need to take a handful of vitamins to feel better or get well. This has not been my experience. Consuming too many supplements can over-burden the body. The key to getting adequate amounts of vitamins and minerals is to eat a variety of fresh whole foods. An easy tip is Eat the Rainbow! Each person requires specific amounts of additional supplementation. If you’re concerned that you are not getting adequate nutrients daily, ask your care health care professional (preferably a nutritionist of one with a knowledge of integrative medicine) for specific recommendations.
Fiber should be consumed daily to maintain a healthy digestive system. The recommended daily intake of fiber from food is 25 to 30 grams. Fiber is useful for regulating blood sugar and the bowels. Again, assisting the body with detoxification by eliminating wastes. If you are not eliminating with regularity you need more fiber in your diet.
Fats, proteins, and carbohydrates are definitely not all created equal. Fats can be anything from avocado oil (healthy) to soybean oil (not the best choice) since each oil has its own profile of fatty acids. Essential fatty acids are directly related to managing inflammation throughout the body. In the past, low-fat diets and non-fat products were encouraged as healthy eating options. More recent studies have revealed ‘healthy fats’ play an essential role in hormone production and brain health. Those who suffer with Lyme should be especially conscious about getting adequate amounts of healthy fat in their diets. Virgin Coconut oil is a great choice for a healthy fat. People have even claimed it’s the best fat on the planet since it has shown to increase healthy cholesterol HDL, work as a natural antibiotic, and suppress inflammation. A great addition to anyone’s diet. Here are a few of my favorite “go to” healthy fat options.
- Virgin Coconut oil
- Ground Flaxseed
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- 70% or higher Dark Chocolate
Proteins come in many shapes and sizes.
This may seem obvious, but meat is not the only source of protein. Great vegetarian options are also available such as tempeh and lentils, to mention a few. This is an area you will have to personally explore. If your body can tolerate animal protein then I would say eat it, but remember to buy organic and grass-fed meat whenever possible. Fish is also a great source of protein and healthy fats. Avoid big fish like tuna and swordfish for these contain higher levels of mercury than others and so are not the best option. I would recommend wild-caught Alaskan salmon and filet of sole. You can find these fish alternatives online or at a good local grocery store which emphasizes healthy eating.
Vegetables should be your number one food choice. It is most important to eat a variety of vegetables. Here’s an easy tip. It is best if you lightly blanch or steam your veggies. When slightly cooked vegetables are much easier to digest and absorb. Here are some of my favorites.
- spaghetti squash
Fruit should be consumed in moderation, since many options are high in sugar.The best fruits to help fight inflammation are those low in sugar such as, dark berries (raspberries, blueberries, blackberries and strawberries), limes and lemons. Apples are also a great choice, although higher in sugar they make up for it in high fiber content. Remember there’s something to the old adage “an apple a day keeps the doctor away.”
I hope this information has been helpful for those dealing with Lyme and will get you started on your journey to healthy eating and healing.
Opinions expressed by contributors are their own.
Kenzie Vath is the founder of Holistic Umbrella in Orange County, CA. Holistic Umbrella is a wellness-based lifestyle and coaching company whose mission is to provide a holistic approach to balance client’s health and wellness. Kenzie’s goal for the upcoming year is to offer a variety of wellness-based events to local communities. Do you have a question for Kenzie? Email her at [email protected].