Reprinted from New Paradigms in Lyme Disease Treatment with the kind permission of BioMed Publishing Group and Marie Matheson, ND. To read more about Dr. Matheson’s approach to Lyme disease, see: www.NewLymeTreatments.com.
Eating the right foods is foundational for recovery. I tell my patients, “You are what you eat.” This adage should not be disregarded. When patients fail to improve on a treatment regimen, I will sometimes tell them to go back to the basics, which includes evaluating their diet.
You need to eat organic, non-genetically-modified (GMO) foods that are as locally sourced as possible. GMO foods destroy gut bacteria and people with Lyme have a lot of gastrointestinal dysfunction, so the last thing that you should do is infiltrate your body with GMO foods that will negatively impact your gut bacteria even more.
In general, I advocate following a Paleo diet as much as possible. I especially advocate Terry Wahls MD’s version of the diet as outlined in her book, The Wahls Protocol: A Radical New Way to Treat All Chronic Autoimmune Conditions Using Paleo Principles. Dr. Wahls overcame multiple sclerosis in part by changing her diet, and the principles outlined in her book can also help those with Lyme, especially those with neurological symptoms.
At times, I will recommend that some of my patients follow a Specific Carbohydrate Diet (SCD) or a Gut and Psychology Syndrome (GAPS) diet. I tailor each person’s diet to their individual needs, especially if they have digestive problems. For more information on these diets see: SCDLifestyle.com and GutAndPsychologySyndrome.com.
In general, all of the following foods are healthful for people with Lyme:
• Real beef from cows that are raised on grass (not grains, corn and soybeans) and that are not given antibiotics or hormones
• Wild game meat
• Real eggs that come from hens that eat grass, grubs and bugs, and which are not grain-fed
• Wild-caught fish, particularly smaller ones such as salmon, sardines and mackerel, which contain less mercury than other fish
• Chicken that has been pasture-raised, not grain-fed, and which hasn’t been given hormones or antibiotics
• Pastured pork
• Bone broths and gelatin from grass-fed cows (beef), lamb, chicken and fish. Bone broth is full of nutrients and immune and adrenal-building substances.
• Lots of good healthy fats such as butter, olive oil and avocados
• An abundance of green vegetables and low-glycemic fruits such as berries, apples, plums and pears
• Xylitol and stevia, as sweeteners
It’s also essential to avoid sugar in order to prevent yeast and bacterial overgrowth. Studies have shown that sugar decreases the body’s white blood cell count by 80%, within just four to five hours after consuming it. Similarly, you’ll want to avoid allergenic foods, since these foods cause an inflammatory response in the body and can hinder healing. Common food allergens in people with Lyme disease include dairy products, gluten, eggs and soy.
Xylitol and stevia are great sweeteners that can be used in place of sugar. What’s more, many research studies are coming out which show that stevia can kill the cystic form of Borrelia spirochetes. I’ve been a big fan of stevia for years, and I highly recommend it to my patients, although some people have to start out by taking low doses of it because it can cause Herxheimer reactions.
Easy Meals that Promote Gastrointestinal Health: Stews, Soups, Chili and Bone Broths
In addition to these guidelines, I advocate gluten-free meals and “real” food, such as the stuff that your great-grandmother ate—stews, soups and chilis, and homemade “one-pot-meals” using healthy fats, animal protein, and fresh fruits and veggies.
I especially recommend stew, soup, chili and bone broth, because they are delicious, nutritious, easy meal options. They are also easily digestible and affordable. I encourage you to get involved in the foods that you make, because it will increase your compliance to a healthy food regimen and help you to remember how important this aspect of your treatment is.
One easy way to prepare your food for the week is to make chili and soup on the weekends. So, for instance, you could prepare all of your meals for the upcoming week on Sunday and then freeze them. During the week, on the days when you are feeling really sick, you simply pull out a lovely ready-made soup or stew and heat it up.
I work very long hours so I even do this for myself. When you make extra food and freeze it, you are then not as tempted to cheat or eat unhealthy foods. I have a lot of fantastic recipes in my office that I share with my patients. One is a sugarless chocolate brittle, which is really simple to make and great for those who don’t like to bake. It simply involves melting some coconut oil, cocoa, stevia and your choice of nut butter on the stovetop and then pouring it on to a cookie sheet and freezing it for 30 minutes. This and other recipes can be found on the blog on my website: HamptonWellnessCentre.com. Recipes like this are very valuable to have in your arsenal.
I even recommend making stew, soup and chili for breakfast. The typical North American breakfast is laden with dairy and gluten, which people with Lyme can’t tolerate, so consider thinking “outside the box” and eating dinner for breakfast. That way, you don’t have to worry about what you can eat for breakfast.
The Benefits of Bone Broth
I’m a big fan of bone broth and highly recommend it to all of my patients. You need to make it yourself, as not only is the flavor better, but commercial bouillon cubes have undesirable additives and fillers. But homemade bone broth provides many benefits to those with chronic illness. Among these, it:
1) Heals and seals the gut and promotes healthy digestion. The gelatin found in bone broth is a hydrophilic colloid and attracts and holds liquids, which help to “seal” leaky gut or the micro-perforations in the gut that are caused by infections and toxins. Broth also helps the body to secrete digestive enzymes for proper digestion.
2) Reduces joint pain and inflammation, due to the fact that it contains chondroitin sulphates and glucosamine, which are extracted from boiled-down cartilage.
3) Promotes strong and healthy bones, due to the high amounts of calcium, magnesium and nutrients that are in it (Note: more minerals are extracted from the bones when you add a little lemon and/or vinegar to the broth).
4) Helps to fight infections by increasing white blood cell counts, especially macrophages, which “eat” yeast, bacteria, viruses, and protozoa and their biotoxins.
5) Supports the adrenal glands. The rich minerals provide nutrients to support the adrenals during emotional and physical stress.
Bone broth is really wonderful. I’ve had patients with severe digestive issues and major diarrhea, who were able to eliminate these problems just by consuming bone broth for three or four days.
One time saving way to make bone broth is to cook a bunch of it at once, and then freeze it in yogurt containers, or in one- to two-cup portions, to be consumed throughout the week. I do this, and drink a cup daily in the winter. I also recommend putting sea salt in the broth, which adds a lot of flavor, minerals and nutrients to it. By drinking a cup of broth daily, I’m able to keep my immune system strong because I treat many patients with chronic infections such as colds, pneumonia and strep. It will help to do the same for you.
Making bone broth is easy and inexpensive. Simply place some chicken, fish, lamb or beef bones (with or without meat on the bone) into a large pot, add a few quarts of water then bring the water to a boil for five minutes. Then, lower the heat, and add your favorite chopped veggies and seasonings (onion, carrots and celery are good choices for broth) and cook on low for anywhere from 2-24 hours. You can freeze your broth or use it as a base for your next soup.
Marie Matheson, ND, is particularly interested in infectious causes of chronic and complex autoimmune illnesses, and specializes in treating Lyme and other tick-borne diseases. Her family practice focuses on patients with chronic parasitic, fungal and viral infections, mold toxicity, pediatric acute-onset neuropsychiatric syndrome, pediatric autoimmune neuropsychiatric disorders associated with streptococcal infections (PANDAS/PANS), autism spectrum disorder (ASD), chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia, multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, small intestinal bacterial overgrowth, environmental and food allergy desensitization and other digestive disorders such as Crohn’s and ulcerative colitis.
Dr. Matheson believes in preventive medicine and in the importance of determining the root cause of illness by addressing toxicities in the body at a cellular level. She uses a diagnostic assessment tool in auricular medicine to uncover blockages and underlying imbalances in the body that cause symptoms, and then corrects those with the proper tools and remedies, so that the body can heal.
Dr. Matheson is licensed in the province of Ontario. After completing a Bachelor of Science degree in Human Kinetics from the University of Ottawa in 1998, Dr. Matheson completed her Doctorate of Naturopathic Medicine in 2005 at the Boucher Institute of Naturopathic Medicine in B.C. and was honored with the Award for Acupuncture Excellence.
She is registered with the College of Naturopaths of Ontario (CONO), the Canadian Association of Naturopathic Doctors (CAND), the Ontario Association of Naturopathic Doctors (OAND), and the Canadian Society of Chinese Medicine and Acupuncture (CSCMA). She is also a member of the International Lyme and Associated Diseases Society (ILADS), and completed her physician training program with Dr. Charles Ray Jones, MD in Connecticut, who is arguably one of the top Lyme disease practitioners in the United States. For more information about Dr. Matheson and to contact Hampton Wellness Centre, see: HamptonWellnessCentre.com.