About 5 weeks ago I was diagnosed with Lyme Disease and the Igenex testing I got back a few weeks ago confirmed it. Since then, I have been putting in countless hours researching Lyme and how to recover, including the proper diet, supplements, and the different options for antibiotic treatment. I have watched videos, been reading books, and the knowledge that I’ve gained has led me to make some permanent changes in my lifestyle, and that’s exactly what I’m going to address in this post. I’m going to spend a lot of time talking about the proper Lyme Disease diet and the supplements that I am taking in daily.
First, how am I doing? I’m on my 5th week of antibiotic treatment now and feel like I have made some progress. It’s not like a typical illness, though, where you take antibiotics and feel better after a few days. Rather, it’s a slow, steady progress that might take months on end in order to make a full recovery, if that is even possible. We don’t know yet. I’m not worried about that right now, though. I’m taking it one day at a time. Anyways, like I said, I’m a little better. The “good days” are slowly taking over the “bad days,” as Lyme patients call it, and my symptoms are getting less and less severe. The brain fog has pretty much dissipated, and the next stiffness, soreness, and sharp pain has improved quite a bit, but still flares up randomly. I still have bouts of dizziness, but it’s not nearly like it was a few months back. (If you’re curious, here’s all of my other Lyme Disease symptoms I’ve been dealing with for the past 8 months.) My memory has improved and so has my speech, along with concentration, which is a really good sign. There is nothing scarier than experiencing cognitive changes. It affected my ability to do conference calls and webinars, which are a normal occurrence as a Beachbody Coach, but recently I’ve been able to start them back up again, which again, is good news. In addition, my energy has improved drastically over the past month or so. For some time there I was so exhausted that I wanted to do nothing but sleep all day, but now I feel much better and have become a little more active. I can’t do too much yet, though, because I can easily over-do it. I found that out the hard way the other day, when I took my daughters to an indoor jumping park and participated some with them. Because of my inactivity and need for rest as my body recovers, the toxins are just sitting in my lymph system, and any type of vigorous activity can cause them to move about my system, causing flare-ups in my symptoms.
My doctor, a Lyme Disease specialist, has been incredible helpful, giving me multiple treatment options and responding to my thousand questions in a very timely manner. I’ve decided on the antibiotic route because I feel it’s what I need for my current condition, and I’m confident enough to maintain a proper diet to combat all of the negative side effects of prolonged antibiotic use. Speaking of which, I feel that there are two parts of recovery and too many patients only focus on one. The one, the antibiotic side of things, is great, but if you don’t take care of what you’re putting into your body at the same time, recovery can be non-existent. What’s the point of eliminating toxins if you’re going to put them right back in? So I’ve taken personal responsibility on researching and learning different nutritional strategies to improve gut function and immune response, and I’m going to go into pretty good detail about that below.
Being a Beachbody Coach, I already lead a healthy lifestyle and have gained a lot of valuable knowledge on nutrition over the past 8 years. Before I started P90X, though, I ate about as bad as anyone in the country. Luckily, though, the changes I’ve made have made it a fairly smooth transition to a proper Lyme Disease diet. Like I said above, without a proper nutrition plan, recovery can be extremely slow or stop all together. What you consume has a massive effect on your body’s natural ability to heal itself. I’ve understood this and have taken it into my own hands on figuring out what is good and what isn’t good for me to eat, and I’ve had to make quite a few changes. I’ve learned most of the information below from the book called “The Lyme Diet” and the site Lyme Less Live More.
I’m a muscular guy. Before my Lyme diagnosis, I was focusing on bulking up by eating a ton of calories and following a vigorous workout routine called Body Beast. I was consuming an insane amount of carbohydrates and protein, both important for muscle development. The diets that are required to bulk up and heal from Lyme Disease, though, are practically polar opposite. For one, I have to control my macros. Let’s start with the carbohydrates. Because I’m taking so many antibiotics, it’s very common for Lyme Disease patients to develop yeast overgrowth, also known as Candida overgrowth. This happens because the antibiotics destroy both the good and the bad bacteria in the gut, which allows yeast to thrive. This is why it’s absolutely essential for Lyme patients on antibiotic treatment to take in probiotics daily. Personally, I’m taking 3 live 85 billion R.A.W Men’s probiotics (the kind you put in the fridge) or the one I have in the picture each day, about 2 hours before or after I take my antibiotics. Anyways, Candida and the lyme spirochete itself feeds on sugar, whether it’s natural sugar found in fruits or the processed crap you find in most foods, so you have to limit the amount of sugar you consume daily. Obviously you want to completely stay away from any carbohydrates with processed sugar, which is terrible for you anyways, but you also want to limit the amount of fruit you consume as well. I’ve been sticking with 2-3 servings of fruit per day. In addition, you want to make sure the fruit you eat is low on the glycemic index. Strawberries, blueberries, avocado, lemon, blackberries, raspberries, lime, and grapefruit are all on the low end of the spectrum. Fruits like bananas, though, are high glycemic. I’ve been eating all of the good ones I mentioned above, but also get a few (I’ve been using it twice per day because of how nutritious it is) of my fruit servings from my vegan Shakeology, a nutritional supplement I’ve been taking for the past 6 years or so.
While I’m on the topic of carbohydrates, Lyme patients need to avoid gluten. Really, everyone should avoid gluten. Gluten causes inflammation, and us Lyme people don’t need any more inflammation. Foods that include gluten are breads, pastas, oats, and beer. That last one is a tough one for me as I love my beer, but I have been alcohol free since starting this treatment, and I plan on continuing that path until I’m healed. I’ve dealt with this crap long enough, I’m not going to sabotage my progress just for one night of fun. And if you are going to have pasta, I recommend brown rice or quinoa pasta, which is gluten free and much healthier for you anyways. Personally, I think they taste much better than regular pasta. With the pasta, you want to make sure you get an organic pasta sauce that doesn’t have any added sugar. Be careful, though, because even the ones that claim to be healthy sneak in the sugar. When it all comes down to it, though, you should be limiting the amount of carbs you’re consuming anyways. Most of your food should come from vegetables and protein sources.
Foods that are high in fiber are also essential in your diet. This is important for proper bowel movement and detoxification. And if you keep track, you should be having 2-3 movements per day. If you’re not, you’re probably backed up, meaning you have waste just sitting in your system, which could even be leaking into your body through something called a “leaky gut.” Obviously you don’t want that happening as you’re attempting to rid your body of these pesky little bugs and the toxins they release. If that does happen, high fiber foods will help, but maybe consider a colonics treatment or purchase an enema kit to help out. Anyways, foods that are high in fiber, like pretty much all vegetables, should be prevalent in a Lyme Disease diet anyways. In fact, the majority of your food each day should be vegetables. And oh man, I should have mentioned this earlier, but ALL of your food needs to be certified organic! Non organic food contains pesticides, antibiotics, and GMO’s, all which are not good for you, especially as you’re trying to rid yourself of toxins.
What about protein? This is interesting because I was right on the verge of switching to an all vegan diet, but after research decided against it because of the benefits of animal protein on immune and gut function. For my protein sources, I’ve been eating organic eggs, organic farm raised chicken, walnuts, almond butter, quinoa, flax seeds, brown rice, and black beans. I’m sure there are other foods I can add to that, but that’s what I’ve been sticking with for the time being. To increase my protein intake, I’ve also been using vegan Shakeology, like I mentioned above, but Sunwarrior Vegan Protein as well. The Sunwarrior brand is one of the highest quality brands out there for vegan protein. In the book I’m reading, some fish is OK to eat as well. However, I’m not a huge fan of fish. If you are going to eat any fish, it’s extremely important to make sure it’s wild caught and not farm raised. Salmon is probably the best fish you can eat.
I have to adress fats as well. Healthy fat is essential in your diet and battles inflammation. But just like everything else, there are good fats and bad fats. Bad fats include hydrogenated oils, or the crap you find in fried and processed foods, and you want to make sure you stay away from them completely. Good fats include avocado, olive oil, coconut oil, flax seeds, fish, and flax oil. Normally, my fat intake consists of about 2-3 servings of healthy fat per day, but I have increased that slightly because of how much the omega 3, 6, and 9 fatty acids can help with my symptoms. In my Shakeology every day, I’ve been adding a tablespoon of flax seeds, along with a tablespoon of flax oil. I have another Shakeology snack later in the evening, where I add almond butter and coconut oil. I am also taking an Omega 3 supplement every day.
I want to move to the drinks that I can and can’t have. First of all, I have eliminated all caffeine, including coffee, which was tough to do at first, but now it’s not so bad. I went through some withdrawal symptoms initially because of drinking so much coffee and taking pre-workout supplements, but that went away after a few weeks. I’ve stayed away from all pop, which is just a bunch of toxic crap anyways, and have been drinking a ton of water. Right now I’m drinking distilled water with a pinch of pink Himalayan salt, but am going to be making the shift soon to highly filtered water. If you didn’t know, distilled water is stripped of all minerals, and adding the Himalayan salt, which is high in minerals, adds back in the minerals I need. In addition, I have just purchased some organic teas (kombucha and Pau d’Arco) and I like to drink almond milk on a daily basis as well. I don’t drink regular milk because it’s a dairy product, and Lyme patients are supposed to eliminate all dairy anyways because it causes inflammation similar to that of gluten. Again, we don’t need any more inflammation! With my tea, I squeeze a half or full lemon into it every day because of the detoxification effects of lemon juice.
Along with the supplements that I listed above, there are others I’m taking daily as well, and I’m going to list them below. Im addition to these, I’m about to start taking digestive enzymes as well.
Now you know the Lyme Disease diet that I’ve been sticking with to go along with my treatment. If you have any questions, you can follow and message me on Facebook, or email me at Josh@JoshSpencerFitness.com. In the next blog post, I’m going to talk about the different detoxification methods I’ve been using, so keep a look out for that. Detoxing is just as important as the antibiotics and nutrition for recovery.
*I am not a certified doctor. Before doing anything, you need to speak to your doctor. In this post, I am sharing the things that I have learned through much research and what has worked for me.
My name is Josh Spencer and I'm a husband, father, online fitness Coach (since 2008), soon to be author, and holistic healing advocate. Since 2008 I've helped thousands and thousands of people make a change in their health! I believe that in order to make incredible changes you have to have the right mindset, nutrition, and workout plan.