Do you have Lyme disease? If you do, The Lyme Disease 30-Day Meal Plan is one book you’ll definitely want to add to your collection. Author Lindsay Christensen, a clinical nutritionist and Lyme disease survivor, helps you take back your life through a combination of evidence-based nutrition advice, great tasting recipes, and straightforward lifestyle changes for boosting immunity and promoting detoxification. In the book, you’ll also get a full overview of Lyme disease, including symptoms, when you should talk to your doctor, treatment options, and more.
We’re excited to have the opportunity to interview Lindsay about her new book and to offer you a sneak preview of one of her favorite Lyme-friendly recipes:
ProHealth: What led you to write a book specifically about nutrition and lifestyle strategies for Lyme disease recovery?
Lindsay: Lyme disease has been a part of my life now for almost a decade. I began struggling with a mysterious illness in my late teens that left me deeply fatigued with severe depression, anxiety, tremors, insomnia, gastrointestinal dysfunction, chemical and food sensitivities, and brain fog. It took several years and many healthcare practitioners before I was finally diagnosed with Lyme disease.
While the antimicrobial treatment protocol prescribed by my Lyme-literate doctor was comprehensive, I was still struggling with such a high degree of Lyme-induced inflammation that I reacted poorly to nearly every drug and supplement in the protocol. I realized that I needed to get my inflammation under control before I could tolerate any antimicrobials. As an undergraduate student studying biomedical science and nutrition, I dove into the scientific literature and learned that diet and lifestyle changes could help me reduce my inflammation and boost my body’s immune function and natural detoxification processes. I began following an anti-inflammatory, nutrient-dense diet protocol, removed myself from a moldy environment that was not conducive to healing, and focused on optimizing my sleep, stress levels, and detoxification pathways. After several months, my health had improved significantly. This book discusses the nutrition and lifestyle changes that supported my own recovery from Lyme disease. My goal in writing the book was to share this information with Lyme patients who are struggling, to give them actionable advice and let them know that healing is possible.
ProHealth: As a clinical nutritionist, what are your general dietary recommendations for your clients with Lyme disease?
Lindsay: First and foremost, I recommend following an anti-inflammatory diet. This means removing foods that directly trigger inflammation – refined carbohydrates, sugar, industrial seeds oils, dairy, and gluten. Most processed and packaged foods contain these ingredients, and they aren’t doing your body any favors if you have Lyme disease! Once we remove these foods, we need to build a diet based on anti-inflammatory foods – non-starchy vegetables such as cruciferous vegetables and leafy greens, whole fruits, modest amounts of starches such as sweet potato and gluten-free grains, clean proteins such as grass-fed meats and wild-caught fish, and healthy fats such as olive oil and coconut oil.
With this foundation, the Lyme diet can be customized to meet a person’s unique nutritional needs. If there is digestive dysfunction suggestive of gut dysbiosis, I may recommend the temporary restriction of dietary carbohydrates. If someone’s glutathione production is in the tank, I’ll suggest that they increase their intake of cruciferous vegetables, which contain a phytochemical called sulforaphane that stimulates glutathione production, as well as vitamin C-rich foods for supporting glutathione recycling. If a person appears to have histamine intolerance, which can be provoked by Lyme, he or she may need to follow a low-histamine diet for some time. As you can see, there are many ways in which the Lyme diet can be customized, but I always recommend starting with those general anti-inflammatory guidelines.
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ProHealth: The idea of grocery shopping and cooking healthy meals can feel daunting to Lyme patients, especially those with severe fatigue. How can these patients improve their diet without worsening their fatigue?
Lindsay: I totally understand that feeling! That’s why I’ve included a bunch of “Under 30 Minutes” recipes in the book, which are easy to make and nutritious. I’ve also included convenient reference lists of foods to eat and foods to avoid, a list of convenient foods to keep stocked in your fridge, freezer, and pantry, and two complete 30-day meal plans – one for vegetarians and one for omnivores. These resources will help guide Lyme patients towards healthier eating, without requiring a ton of energy input on their part.
ProHealth: What are some of the lifestyle changes that you recommend to your clients with Lyme disease.
Lindsay: I like to focus first on sleep. I consider sleep a “make-or-break” factor in Lyme recovery because it is so essential for proper immune function and inflammatory balance. In the book, I discuss several “sleep hygiene” strategies for facilitating deep, restful sleep.
I also firmly believe that movement is essential. Now, this doesn’t mean I want my Lyme clients out running a marathon. Instead, I want them engaging in some form of moderate, daily activity such as walking or yoga. Gentle physical activity promotes lymph flow, which is absolutely essential for detox and boosts the brain’s production of feel-good neurotransmitters and neuroprotective compounds. At the beginning of my Lyme recovery process, daily walks were a crucial part of my life; in the latter stages, yoga made a huge difference. The amount and type of movement you can do really depends on where you are in your healing journey.
On top of sleep and exercise, I also believe that stress reduction is essential. Getting out into nature is a huge stress-reducer for me, and one that I recommend to all of my clients. Many people with Lyme disease have some level of fear of the outdoors, since that’s where the ticks are, but I want people to understand that nature is also essential for recovery – plants release compounds that boost our immunity and simply viewing green spaces has been found to put the body into parasympathetic mode, the state of nervous system activity required for healing.
ProHealth: What is one takeaway you want readers of your book to walk away with?
Lindsay: I want readers to understand that Lyme disease is not a life sentence; healing is 100% possible, and diet and lifestyle changes can help you get there! Furthermore, committing to these changes over the long-term will not only ease symptoms now and help you get your life back but will allow you to create a foundation for lasting health throughout your life. I’m not trying to say that Lyme disease is a “gift in disguise;” it is an incredibly difficult illness that I wouldn’t wish on anyone. However, I do firmly believe that we need to make the most of the cards we are dealt in life. Using your journey with Lyme disease to create a healthier life, and to potentially help your loved ones create healthier lives, is a profound way to create meaning out of this very trying illness.
Editor’s note: The Lyme Disease 30-Day Meal Plan will be released on September 3rd, 2019.