Most patients with Chronic Lyme disease have significant gastrointestinal issues. Symptoms resemble Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) and it is not uncommon for these individuals to have previously been labeled as having IBS. These issues include diarrhea and/or constipation, bloating after meals, flatulence, burping, and abdominal discomfort. In addition, people also experience hypoglycemic symptoms between meals with irritability, lightheadedness, and headaches that are promptly relieved by eating.
Borrelia, the bacteria causing Lyme disease, as documented in the medical literature, has been well demonstrated to invade and multiply in the intestinal lining. Here it causes inflammation resulting in "leaky gut." As a result, Chronic Lyme disease sufferers cannot fully digest certain carbohydrates. You see, the last step in carbohydrate digestion involves disaccharidases (enzymes that breakdown two-sugars into single sugars) which are normally found on the intestinal lining. With intestinal inflammation, these enzymes have been wiped out. Therefore, these double sugars instead of being broken down and absorbed, travel further down the GI tract serving as fuel for the overgrowth of yeast and abnormal bacteria in the colon. The resulting intestinal dysbiosis (unhealthy balance of healthy bacteria and yeast in the colon) can cause a variety of symptoms including impaired immunity, fatigue and cognitive issues.
For all of our patients with Chronic Lyme disease, we strongly recommend as a bare minimum a gluten-free casein-free (GFCF) diet. For those patients more severely affected, the Specific Carbohydrate Diet (SCD) has been extremely helpful. Please keep in mind that these dietary restrictions are temporary and most patients are able to return to a normal healthy diet as the Lyme infection is treated.
Another dietary issue for all Lyme patients undergoing treatment with antibiotics is the overgrowth of candida in the GI tract. Intestinal candidiasis has been shown to cause gas, bloating, fatigue, cognitive impairment, and immune compromise. Both antibiotics as well as the intestinal malabsorption mentioned above can play a huge role in promoting yeast overgrowth. In such a situation, consuming alcohol or refined carbohydrates can cause the yeast to grow in an explosive fashion (pun intended)! So, we recommend you refrain from anything sweet including natural and artificial sweeteners as much as possible.
List of Healthy GFCF Food
Grains: Millet, quinoa (white and red), brown rice, buckwheat, amaranth, corn.
Pastas: Brown rice pasta, quinoa with corn pasta
Vegetables: Green beans, carrots, parsnips, winter squash - butternut, acorn, sweet potato, yam, zucchini, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbages, asparagus, artichoke, cucumber, celery, garlic, onion.
Leafy Vegetables: Green leafy veg - lettuces, spinach, chard, kale, collards.
Nightshades: Peppers, tomatoes, potatoes - red skin, eggplant.
Sprouts: Alfalfa sprouts, sunflower seed sprouts, daikon sprouts.
Legumes: Lentils, black beans, kidney, pinto, adzuki, dried beans.
Meat/Fish/Poultry: Egg, tilapia, petrale sole, chicken, turkey, chicken/turkey sausages, beef, buffalo.
Fruits/Nuts: Banana, orange, apple, lemon. avocado, berries, grapes, cherries, coconut, almonds, walnuts.
Asian Food: Chinese food with brown rice, Indian curry (be careful here as some sauces do contain gluten).