Diet and Lyme disease: the aftermath

People with longstanding Lyme disease end up in poor physical condition. Even with successful treatment of the Lyme infection, they will not return to normal unless they take an active role in personal rehabilitation.

In late-stage disease, many negative effects to the body occur. The muscles atrophy, and to some degree the heart muscle also suffers, as do the joints, nerves, liver, and other structures.

Besides these physical effects, chemical changes occur. The fat content of the body as a whole rises, the cholesterol rises, and the balance between high-density lipoprotein (HDL) and low-density lipoprotein (LDL) becomes less favorable. At least 80% of the patients experience significant weight gain.

To make matters worse, because of the extreme fatigue and body pain, many Lyme disease patients end up spending inordinate amounts of time in bed and get far less exercise than they had before they became ill.

As a result of all this, patients are stiff, weak, and tired; they have poor stamina and are at increased risk for cardiovascular disease and diabetes.

Therefore, a vital part of any plan for recovery must include various forms of physical therapy, the extent of which depends on an individual patient’s condition.

The earliest phase involves multiple modalities (massage, heat, ultrasound) and simple range-of-motion exercises to relieve discomfort and to promote better sleep and flexibility. This then evolves into stretching and mild muscular strengthening, which can lessen joint pain and increase mobility and stamina. Finally, the program must include some form of aerobic conditioning.

Diet also plays an important role. This is the time for the very best of health habits. Recommended are light, low-fat foods with high nutritional value. Further fortification should include daily intake of vitamin-mineral supplements, including beta-carotene, vitamin B-complex, vitamin C, vitamin E, calcium with magnesium, and potassium. Foods that contain these nutrients are preferable to pills.

Patients with Lyme disease should also abstain from alcohol, caffeine, and tobacco. A serious commitment to weight loss, if applicable, is desirable.

COPYRIGHT 1994 Vegetus Publications

COPYRIGHT 2004 Gale Group

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