Maintaining a healthy weight is important to our overall general health. Worldwide incidences of obesity and overweightness are continuing to climb every year in the Western world, and especially in America. This is having an overall detrimental effect on our wellbeing, resulting in higher numbers of heart disease, diabetes, and even mental disorders such as depression. What you choose to put into your body can have a startling effect on your state of mind, as well as your physical health. Healthy eating is also recommended when your body is fighting a chronic disease; these long-term conditions put the body under immense strain, and are often cumulative in effect. There are many different forms of chronic disease out there – can healthy eating really help battle them all?
It’s important to first state that healthy eating alone won’t cure a chronic disease. But since chronic illnesses are often deeply entrenched within the body and require a lot of effort to combat, providing your body with the best source of energy available is critical. You don’t want to weigh down your immune system or metabolic response with unhealthy or detrimental foods, as this will often add fuel to the fire for many chronic conditions. It’s important to keep in mind that your body needs to heal. Although patients live with chronic diseases in their day-to-day life and it can start to feel like the norm, your body is actively fighting and needs to heal itself. Eating healthily can give it the best chance to do so.
There’s a whole pantheon of chronic diseases out there, of course, but one of the most interesting ones to look at is Lyme disease. Lyme disease in its chronic form presents as a number of varied symptoms, which may or may not affect all the patients suffering from it. Because Lyme disease is not fully legitimized by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), many doctors aren’t well versed in how to treat it. This can lead to high instances of misdiagnosis, the true extent of which remain unknown. Even when Lyme disease is detected correctly, many doctors move straight to prescribing antibiotics, without taking into account exactly how the disease operates.
Lyme is caused by the Borrelia burgdorferi bacteria, which is transferred via tick bites. In the initial stages of the disease, Lyme can be treated solely by antibiotics. However, when it develops to the chronic form, which can happen many weeks or months after the initial infection, then antibiotics alone are not enough. Why is this, exactly? Well, Borrelia burgdorferi is an extremely insidious bacterium. If it stays in the system long enough, it can cause the immune response to flare up and basically attack itself. Many of the symptoms of chronic Lyme, including muscle and joint pain and a constant sense of fatigue, are caused by an inflammation response. The immune system cannot rid itself of the infection, and so overcompensates, resulting in a number of debilitating, prominent symptoms for the patient.
Once this process has started, only trace amounts of Borrelia need remain in the system for this haywire immune response to keep firing. This is why antibiotics alone aren’t enough to treat chronic Lyme. The inflammation symptoms must be tackled separately, and one of the best ways of doing that is through a healthy diet. Certain foods feed the inflammation response and harshen the symptoms. These primarily include gluten, dairy, and sugars. Interestingly, eating enough of any of these in one go will make anyone feel bloated and sick, which is a good indication of how they affect our bodies, and how they can consistently contribute to chronic disorders.
Gut dysfunction is almost always a component of chronic disorders, and it’s no different with chronic Lyme. Your gut is the first line of defense for anything you put into your body, and it’s the gut microbes that transform food to nutrients and energy. Your gut is also a primary component of the immune system; if one is in a bad way, it’s bound to follow that the other is too. So keeping your gut healthy should be of primary importance to anyone suffering from a chronic disease (as it should to anyone at all).
Lots of water, vitamins and minerals, fiber, vegetables, and healthy fats are all things to consider adding to your diet. Alcohol, sugar, gluten, and milk should be cut down to as little as possible, or cut out altogether in some cases. It’s important to reconfigure your diet with your doctor, and ideally a nutritionist, as they can help you introduce changes gradually. Healthy eating alone doesn’t cure chronic diseases; but it can certainly give your body the best chance at fighting back against one. In instances of chronic Lyme in particular, eating healthily is an important part of the treatment process. Although it’s a long road, and nothing happens overnight, it can be a vital step to feeling good again.