A healthy lifestyle is essential if you want to heal from Lyme disease. Over the years I’ve listened to many discussions and medical talks about Lyme disease. One of the things I always wondered was why some people can get bit by a tick and not get sick while others get bit and become overcome with illness, sometimes very severe.
With all the research I’ve done it has become more evident to me that our bodies will either make or break us and that the condition of our immune system has a lot to do with whether or not Lyme will make you sick.
Strong Immune System
If our body is healthy and strong, we have a better chance of resisting disease and infection by fighting off whatever tries to attack it. When the body is weak in any way the immune system becomes compromised putting us at risk for disease and infection.
Levels of Healthy
Before I became sick with chronic Lyme disease I would have told you that I was very healthy. I ate mostly whole foods, I cooked from scratch but sometimes I included processed food, especially when life got busy. Snacks were almost always either fruit, carrot sticks or something crunchy from a bag of pretzels, popcorn or tortilla chips.
I thought I was offering healthy snacks when I included yogurts and granola bars only to find later they’re mostly filled with sugar. I exercised daily and tried to take the best care I could by avoiding medications and chemicals. My lifestyle was very stressful, I didn’t allow margin in my life and I had just had a baby. By most standards I was a considered a healthy eater because the majority of my menu was homemade. So, how did I get sick? The same way many of you have gotten sick or will get sick in the future.
Our food is our fuel, it helps or hurts our immune system. When we eat processed foods, sugar, high fructose corn syrup, and drink sodas or other highly sweetened beverages we are actively killing our immune system and creating an atmosphere that is welcoming disease.
Think of your food and drink choices as the fuel that keeps your immune system running. If you’re putting in fuel that is not easily digested or that causes inflammation you’re actually making your immune system work harder and eventually, your immune system becomes weak and breaks down.
What You Can Do
Eat real food and skip processed food, sugar, and anything that comes in a package. If it’s made in a factory you really shouldn’t eat it.
Contrary to what you’re told, red meat is ok and even good for you, especially if it’s from grass-fed sources. When you avoid grass-fed red meat, you’re missing out on very specific key amino acids and nutrients that are very beneficial to your health, helps your mood, and from my understanding, you can’t find them in any other food sources.
Another important part of our diet should be healthy fats like avocados, olive oil, organic cold pressed coconut oil, real butter again; organic, grass-fed is best. Wild caught fish is another great option.
Your food choices should include plenty of vegetables, low sugar fruits and plenty of clean, filtered water. The closer to nature your food is, the better nutrition to provide the nutrients you need to stay healthy.
2. Gut Health
Health begins in the gut and is probably the first that should be addressed. The gut is the second brain and greatly affects mood balance. When the gut is not healthy or the healthy bacteria are killed off by antibiotics and medication we can become rashy, sensitive to food, have allergies, or worse yet we won’t be able to absorb the nutrients in our food.
Taking antibiotics is probably the number one way of killing off those beneficial organisms but so is eating processed food and too much sugar. Read Lyme Disease, Antibiotics, and My Miserable Gut.
Taking medications such as proton pump inhibitors, acid reducers, and other harsh medications can lower acid levels in your gut, making it impossible to maintain a healthy microbial rich atmosphere which promotes overall good health.
What You Can Do
Begin by changing your diet as suggested above. Incorporate a quality probiotic into your diet and maybe fermented foods. A word of caution though, START SLOW! Too much good bacteria all at once can cause a fight in your digestive system against all the bad bacteria which can cause unpleasant symptoms.
Many people suffer from acid reflux, heartburn, and an acid feeling in their gut because they are actually low in acid. When I suffered from gastritis and acid reflux my favorite treatment was to drink 1 TBSP of raw apple cider vinegar (with the mother or good bacteria) mixed with 1 TBSP raw honey in a mug of warm water.
I did this before meals and at bedtime and before long I no longer needed prescribed medications. I still enjoy this drink as a pick me up or if I’m feeling like I’m coming down with something.
Bone broths are another easy way to help heal your gut and are very nutrient dense so they can help to restore your gut to a much healthier state. Store bought bone broths won’t give you the same nutrition as homemade bone broths which are really quite simple to make. Be selective in the types of bones you purchase, organic and grass-fed are always best for optimum nutrition.
3. Sleep Habits
Many with Lyme find it quite difficult, if not impossible to sleep at night. Insomnia is a real problem. If you’re going to bed late or sleeping in late, you won’t get the rest you need for your body to heal and repair.
Were you ever told as a child that you need to go to bed so you can grow? Well, we need to go to bed so our bodies can heal and repair from the day. Sleep has many benefits and you can read about it in my post The Healing Power of Sleep.
What You Can Do
There are many causes for poor sleep so definitely discuss this with your doctor. I prefer to discover the reasons why my health is compromised rather than getting a prescription for a quick fix.
Could it be from the Lyme, maybe it’s hormonal, environmental or from too much stress? You can quickly address some of these issues and make changes, others will take more effort to address.
Be sure to turn in around the same time each night. At least 2 hours before bed, limit anything that is stimulating such as electronic devices and television. Also, don’t sleep with WiFi on or nearby as it disrupts sleeps and prevents your body from being able to heal.
4. Lack of Exercise
I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t really enjoy exercising. A lack of exercise can most definitely have a negative impact on our health. By exercising you’re not only strengthening your body, but you’re also creating endorphins which can help stabilize your mood as well as create natural painkillers. A lack of exercise keeps toxins in your body and allows your muscles, joints, bones, and heart to become weak.
What You Can Do
Find something to do that you enjoy, it’s a lot easier to exercise when you can look forward to it. You may be very weak, have chronic pain and find it difficult to do any exercise.
I started off exercising using yoga bands while sitting in a chair. As I became stronger over the course of just a few weeks I began to do those exercises modified in a standing position. As the spring approached I began to work out in my yard and garden for 2 or 3 hours a day and now I’m incorporating short walks and doing a 30-day plank challenge with a few friends. Just 6 months ago I could barely walk from room to room without extreme weakness and pain. Now, I’m feeling stronger and more energetic.
Start off small, search YouTube for easy strengthening and stretching exercises that you can start with and work your way up to more challenging exercises. Find someone who can encourage you and keep you accountable. If you’re not sure where to start, read my post Exercise Options for Those With Chronic Illness
5. EMFs (Electromagnetic Fields)
Electric and Magnetic Fields are simply invisible areas of energy, often referred to as radiation. Exposure to cell phones, the Internet, wireless home phones, printers, and cell towers is part of life. It’s probably impossible to avoid them but we can limit them to some degree. EMFs have proven to compromise immune function and in some have been found to cause cancer.
What You Can Do
Don’t carry your cell phone on you or in your pocket. Keep your cell phone on your desk or in your purse. Keep your WiFi box away from where you spend a lot of time and especially away from where you sleep. Place your printer and computers in areas of your home where they’re not constantly bombarding you. Turn off your WiFi when you go to bed at night.
Stinkin’ Thinkin’ can definitely lower your immunity. Negative thoughts, anger, depression, bitterness, and unforgiveness can all cause stress in your body which can compromise your health.
While I never appreciate a doctor telling me that stress is the root cause of my illness, I recognize that it could be a big factor, since our emotional health can most definitely affect our physical health.
What You Can Do
Don’t neglect emotional wellness! Take time to explore why you react or feel negative about the circumstances in your life. Your agitation and anger might be a sign that the liver needs to be detoxed!
Other causes of rage, anger, depression and even self-loathing could be Lyme disease, hormonal imbalance or deficiency in vital minerals or amino acids.
Certain food, especially food dyes, sugar, wheat, and preservatives can cause serious problems. Negative behavioral responses could be learned as a child but never addressed. Anger that is allowed to continue can lead to serious health problems.
Again, a Naturopath, Nutritionist or a good counselor can help you discover what’s causing these symptoms and can help you make a plan to achieve an emotionally healthy life.
7. Underlying Health Issues
Mold, parasites, hormonal imbalance and pre-existing health conditions can also have a negative impact on your quality of health. If you have not had success in treating Lyme disease you must address the underlying or root causes of your immune system dysfunction. Without looking at the entirety of your health and lifestyle you will not get better!
What You Can Do
You should have a complete physical, preferably with a Naturopath, functional doctor, or alternative care physician. Seek out the help of a Nutritionist to make sure you understand what foods you should be eating and which to avoid. Be sure to explore areas of your health that your primary care physician may neglect, such as nutrition and the environmental toxins you have been exposed to your whole life.
8. Multiple Tick or Biting Insect Exposure.
Sometimes the first tick bite doesn’t make you sick but the one right after that overwhelms your system and makes you very sick especially when the immune system becomes overburdened by too many pathogens.
No one knows how their immune system will respond to the infections they’re exposed to and so avoidance is the best protocol. There is no cure for vector-borne diseases like Lyme disease. Scientists and researchers are discovering new bacteria and viral infections at an alarming rate. Some of the infections that were once only a problem in the animal kingdom are now being transmitted to humans.
What You Can Do
Protect yourself and your family by avoiding high-risk areas. Always wear repellent and always check for ticks and bug bites when you return back home. Work hard at boosting your immune system and take action immediately if you discover something.
Heavy metals, mold, toxic water, EMF’s, and other environmental toxins can all cause serious consequences to the immune system and must be addressed before improvement will be seen. Tick-borne diseases are not fully understood but each day doctors and researchers are understanding more and more about them.
We are fearfully and wonderfully made and it is in our best interest to care for the one and only body we have this side of heaven.
Whether you have chronic Lyme or not, everyone can implement a healthy lifestyle and make changes that will improve immune function and quality of life.