BlogLyme Disease Diet What to Eat for Better Management

Lyme Disease Diet What to Eat for Better Management

Lyme disease is a bacterial infection caused by the bite of an infected black-legged tick. Common symptoms can range from an erythema migrans (EM) rash, to swollen lymph nodes, to joint pain ¹. Weight loss is also a common symptom of Lyme disease, and it can occur due to several factors, including ¹:
  • Gastrointestinal problems: Lyme disease bacteria can enter every system of the body, including the GI tract. Gastrointestinal symptoms of Lyme include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and abdominal pain. These can all result in calorie or appetite loss, causing weight loss.
  • Hormonal problems: Studies show that up to 41% of people with Lyme disease have hormonal imbalance. In addition to other health issues, this can cause problems with the thyroid, leading to weight changes.
  • Change in taste and lifestyle: Feeling sick can impact appetite and desire or ability to exercise. One of the most common Lyme disease symptoms is fatigue, in both early and chronic Lyme. Patients sometimes experience post-exertional malaise (PEM), where any type of physical or mental exertion can wipe them out. You might need several days to recover from one day of activity.
  • Effects on mental health: Lyme disease can affect mental health in ways that may lead to weight loss. These include anorexia (food aversions, changes in smell and taste), depression, anxiety, and changes in mood.
Maintaining a Healthy Lifestyle While Fighting Lyme Disease
The best way to control weight fluctuations and to help the body heal while fighting Lyme disease is to maintain a healthy lifestyle. This can be incredibly difficult when you don’t feel well, but there are some things you can do that can help ¹:
  • Diet: Lyme disease causes inflammation, which can impact pain and other symptoms. An anti-inflammatory diet can help the body fight the illness and avoid chronic inflammation. Many people follow the “Lyme diet,” eliminating sugar, gluten, and sometimes dairy. Think about nourishing the body with healthy foods like fruits and vegetables and lean proteins, and avoiding caffeine and alcohol.
  • Exercise: As you’re able, it’s important to rebuild tolerance for physical activity, to combat chronic fatigue and gain back muscle (and therefore sometimes weight) loss. It can help to work with a Lyme literate physical therapist who will not push you to a point of post-exertional malaise.
  • Prioritizing mental health and self-care: Lyme and other tick-borne illness affect the entire body, so it’s important to take a holistic approach to healing, one that includes antibiotic treatment for the infection but also focuses on mental health and emotional well-being. This could include seeing a talk therapist or seeking other professional help for depression, establishing good sleep hygiene, doing adjunct therapies, doing calming activities, and making time for joy and pleasure even when you’re at your sickest.
Conclusion
Lyme disease is a complex condition that can affect many aspects of a person’s health, including their weight. While weight loss is a common symptom of Lyme disease, it’s important to remember that it’s not always a straightforward issue. By understanding the connection between Lyme disease and weight loss, and by taking steps to maintain a healthy lifestyle, individuals can better manage their symptoms and work towards recovery. If you suspect you have Lyme disease, it’s essential to seek medical attention from a healthcare professional.
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