I have been chasing the perfect diet for years. I’ve had to take into account that I have a couple pathogens to fight off like Lyme Disease, food sensitivities, endocrine issues like hypothyroidism and estrogen dominance, hematological problems like anemia, and so on. But sick or not, there seems to be evidence to back every opposing claim regarding dietary perfection.
What I have found in my research is not a perfect diet, but a whole lot of angry people defending their extreme claims and trying to pull beginner-health-seekers into the opposing fads. The problem is that these diet fads are backed by case studies and empirical evidence. Without researching the other side of the argument it is easy to get swept up in low-carb, low-fat, juicing, or the many other “curative” diet trends. The thing is, I can google these claims and find strong evidence to both support and oppose all of them.
I guess that is how I ended up trying all of these fad diets. Once you get sucked in there is a lot of great information that scrolls on endlessly. “Wow,” I’d say to myself, “so much research has been done, this diet is truly prestiged and established.”
So I tried juice fasting. Juicing gives your stomach time to rest while loading you with phytonutrients and antioxidants, allows your body to use its energy to repair other bodily systems, and gives you time to produce more salivary enzymes that can break down food once you start eating again. Wow, how prestige!
But fruit and vegetables, though nutrient dense, don’t provide us with ALL our necessary nutrients. Strictly juicing also deprives you of protein and fat which are valuable for repair, growth, hormone production, and a whole lot of other bodily functions.
So then I tried a low-carb paleo diet, of course. If you are sedentary (as many lymies are, not by choice) then you don’t need as many carbs. In a resting state we run on fat (lipolysis) so the carbs will just be stored instead of used. When very low carb (VLC), our bodies adapt so that we don’t need as many carbs, our sugar cravings disappear, we don’t get blood sugar spikes, and we start eating rich foods full of saturated fats and cholesterol that are precursors to our hormones. I increased my intake of egg yolks which are a great source of choline and selenium, and ghee (or butter) which is your only good source of butyric acid besides starch. In theory, hormone regulation, bug-killing and miraculous health should take shape on this diet. A lot of Lymies, not to mention people, are “paleo.” Established!
But my hormones didn’t regulate. My hands and feet were always cold and my progesterone plummeted. Without a working metabolism, my body would never be able to fight off infections without the assistance of drugs. I soon realized that carbs were necessary – nay, carbs were the answer. A lot of research suggests that carbs not only fuel our bodies, but they help with insulin resistance. Actually, insulin resistance can occur when we deprive ourselves of carbs, because our glycogen stores become depleted in our livers so often that our bodies constantly create glucose to counter this. Our bodies can run on ketones, sure, but our brains NEED glucose. And if we exercise, and we should exercise for the pro-oxidant and ATP effects (needed for mitochondrial function), then carbs help our muscles repair. If we don’t have enough for at least that, we will make glucose out of anything – even our own muscles. Along with this muscle wasting, our adrenals become taxed and that hormonal balance we sought after with the VLC diet dies with our fatty dreams.
So then I kept my protein intake at what it was (.7 grams per pound of body weight), went high carb, low fat and got the achy hips again. Then I added some fat back in – no more achy hips. This is kind of where I am at now, but I have more unanswered questions than ever.
That’s a lie, actually. All of my questions have been answered. Every theory I’ve had has been proven. And that’s the problem.
I dare you to google any of these and send me an email with the objective truth:
- Glucose vs. fructose vs. starch as a source of fuel (Mercola thinks fructose is bad, Ray Peat thinks glucose and starch are bad.)
- Drinking water vs. drinking more nutritious liquids like milk or juice (According to most sources water is good for hydration, but some very smart experts suggest that milk and juice do not rob us of our sodium the way water can, so they are therefore preferable.)
- Fiber vs. no fiber (Fiber helps with peristalsis and feeds our microbiome, but fiber also feeds bad bacteria and irritates weak GI tracts.)
- Soluble fiber vs. insoluble fiber vs. both vs. none
- Starch vs. no starch
- Low fat vs. low carb
- Phytic acid (anti-oxidant) vs. no phytic acid (anti-nutrient)
- Sugar for fuel vs. limiting sugar
- Meat raises ammonia vs. Lymies need more meat
- As a late night snack: protein+fat (liposlysis) vs. sugar+salt (stress-reducing) vs. sugar+fat. What keeps you asleep?
- Upon waking: start the day with protein to avoid blood sugar spikes vs. carbs to “break the fast.”
- Fish oil benefits (omega-3) vs. fish oil dangers (Fish oil oxidizes, goes rancid quickly, and is high in polyunsaturated fats.)
- Polyunsaturated fats (PUFAs) are okay vs. PUFAs are to blame for all our health woes.
- Germ free guts vs. healthy microbiomes
- Phytoestrogen benefits vs. phytoestrogen dangers in regards to estrogen dominance
- Serotonin benefits vs. serotonin dangers
- Raw vs. cooked foods
- Eating your greens vs. limiting goitrogenic foods
- Raw milk vs. pasteurized milk vs. milk intolerance
- Probiotic benefits vs. probiotic endotoxins
- Diet vs. diet:
- Traditional Chinese Medicine style diets, which focus on balance (“cool” a “hot” body, “wet” a “dry” body, “dry” a “wet” body, and so on)
- The Specific Carb Diet, which advocates simple carbs that are metabolized higher in the digestive tract and avoids complex carbs that feed bacteria lower in the digestive tract
- Paleo, which advocates real foods like meat, animal fats, vegetables, fruits and nuts. Paleo can be broken down into primal (high fat and dairy), low carb (high fat, no dairy) and in other varieties, as presented by Chris Kresser, Mark Sisson, Robb Wolf, etc.
- FODMAPS, which eliminates fructose, oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides, alcohols, and polyols. These short chain carbs are known to cause stomach problems.
- Low-fat vegan, which avoid “feeding” biofilm
- Autoimmune and antihistamine diets, which avoid common allergies like peanuts, soy, egg whites, and wheat.
- Dr. Kharrazian and Dr. Lam’s adrenal fatigue diets, which are high in protein and low in carbs and gluten.
- Intermittent fasting, which promotes fasting to metabolize accumulating pathogens and to allow digestive rest
- The Warrior diet, which suggests eating one massive meal at night while our parasympathetic nervous systems (resting and digesting) are active, and fasting during the day when our sympathetic nervous systems should be active (not resting and digesting, but fighting or flighting).
- Dr. Wilson’s fast and slow oxidizer diets, which recommend different diets based on your personal mineral ratios and oxidization pathways
- The Wahls diet, which is supposed to support mitochondria function by stuffing yourself with 9 cups of vegetables a day
- Ketogenic diets, which remove ALL carbs from your diet to put yourself in a fasted stated without fasting
- The perfect health diet, which eliminates grains, industrial oils, sugar and legumes
- Ray Peat’s diet, which eliminates grains, industrial oil, and legumes but encourages sugar and fruit as sources of metabolic fuel.
With Lyme Disease, things like collagen, magnesium, fat and sugar should be eliminated because they feed bacteria and biofilm. Or should these be increased, so that we can make our bacteria and our bodies happy? With Lyme Disease, eating a lot of vegetables can help us get the needed nutrients to protect our mitochondria and reduce MS and ALS symptoms. Or do too many vegetables have goitrogenic effects and suppress our endocrine systems thus eventually hurting our mitochondria?
None of these diets should be considered THE ONE AND ONLY diet for Lyme Disease. This next article will be less of a doozy, focusing on the points that everyone sort of agrees on.
You can find similar information in a chapter in my book, It’s Not Just Lyme (It’s Your Metabolism): Understanding the Metabolism’s Role in Fighting Chronic Infections.
P.S. the next annual Lyme Summit is coming up on June 19, 2017. It’s free, relevant and hopefully packed full of up-to-date information about all things Lyme. Register soon!