Does your partner have Lyme disease? This book is for you.

When Fred Diamond fell in love with a woman with Lyme disease, he had no idea what she was going through.

Even after they were together for 11 years, he found he STILL didn’t really understand the challenges she faced.

So he decided to change that.

He bought a lot of Lyme disease books and started reading. And reading. And reading.

He joined Lyme disease Facebook groups. And he searched for people in the Lyme community with his many questions.

Along the way, he wrote about what he learned in a number of blogs on the LymeDisease.org website.

Learning to be supportive when your partner has Lyme disease

My Top 12 Recommended Lyme Disease Books

Career and Life Lessons from Chronic Lyme Disease Survivors

How TJ Nelson excels at sales while battling chronic Lyme disease

Making a living with chronic Lyme: “I’m not going to get out of bed today.”

Fred Diamond, author

Love, Hope, Lyme

Now he has compiled what he learned from that research into a book called Love, Hope, Lyme: What Family Members, Partners and Friends Who Love a Chronic Lyme Survivor Need to Know.

He says he wrote the book for people who look like he once was – a partner who knew nothing about how to offer real support to a loved one struggling with Lyme disease.

“I wanted to write something that someone could digest in 60-90 minutes to start understanding what this person was going through.”

It includes topics such as an overview of Lyme disease, drug addiction, neurological issues, and Lyme politics. It also incorporates interviews with Lyme survivors talking about what has helped them the most.

The following is an excerpt from the book, where Diamond provides an introduction to the gluten-free diet, a challenge faced by many Lyme patients.

“Being gluten-free before it was cool”

Questions to ponder:

• Why is a gluten-free diet important for Lyme survivors?
• Should you change your diet to support your partner?
• How important is good nutrition to Lyme treatment?
• Why is your partner worried about a leaky gut?

Nutrition plays a crucial role in the life of the Lyme survivor. Adjusting to a new eating lifestyle and knowing what to eat is perhaps the most crucial part of recovering from this disease.

Supporting your loved one through dietary changes will be an adjustment. I hope you can be flexible, patient, and take time together to create a list of foods to eat and not to eat.

I have found that many Lyme survivors are gluten free. Many were gluten-free before gluten-free became cool. Many Lyme-Knowing Doctors (LLMDs) prescribe a gluten-free diet to Lyme survivors because gluten promotes inflammation in the body.

A person may be allergic to gluten and/or have a sensitivity to it. If they’re allergic, they can’t cross-contaminate gluten. It is crucial to read the labels on the products and to make sure that they were made in a facility dedicated to gluten-free products.

Also, many people with Lyme cannot eat out. There are too many cross-contaminants in restaurant foods and kitchens. Even though a restaurant may say the food is gluten-free, you can’t be sure without dedicated spaces.

Nobody knew what gluten-free meant when we started dating. We had to educate our friends and family about what gluten-free entailed. When we visited someone they supported getting gluten free to make things easier.

Going out to eat can be difficult. However, as gluten-free becomes more widely accepted, menu choices have expanded. Still, you might find that the only options are a piece of chicken or a bunless burger and some veggies. If you want dessert after the meal, the only option is probably a scoop of ice cream.

One thing I got good at was finding the best gluten-free pizza anywhere we went. Thank goodness for Yelp. We’ve probably tried all the brown rice flours, amaranth flour, buckwheat flour, chickpea flour, almond flour, cornmeal flour, millet flour, white bean flour, quinoa flour, and crust of cauliflower pizza known to mankind.

We explored all the places that sold gluten-free pizza in the tri-state area. I didn’t mind switching to gluten-free pizza, although there were times when I missed the good old traditional pizza; however, my figure did not.

Of course, due to gluten allergy, your partner or family member may also have to abstain from drinking beer or dark liquors.

Alcohol is an inflammatory food and should be avoided. Alcohol can contribute to chronic inflammation. In fact, chronic inflammation is often linked to alcohol-related health issues.

When your body metabolizes alcohol in your gastrointestinal (GI) tract, it can disrupt tissue homeostasis. This can cause a chronic state of inflammation in the intestines. Alcohol can also cause joint inflammation.

AnnaMarie Houlis states in her article “Alcohol and Inflammation” that “Because alcohol can cause inflammation, it can also cause joint and muscle pain. Drinking alcohol can cause or trigger existing joint and muscle pain. (Houlis 2022).

According to the Natural Paleo Family website, “Lyme can directly affect the liver, overloading it by filtering out toxins excreted by pathogens from your body. The result is that the excess toxins put it in a weakened state. Once in this weakened state, drinking alcohol can make it worse. The bottom line is that the body sees alcohol as a poison, and when you drink it, the liver prioritizes alcohol processing, and everything else is put on hold in the meantime. (Natural Paleo Family 2020)

Blood sugar can drop when you have Lyme disease and co-infections. On one of our first dates, my partner and I drove near Atlantic City, heading to a local restaurant for dinner. My partner’s blood sugar was low. Luckily I had nut bars in the trunk.

According to Thomas Ball, in the face of Lyme disease, what you eat is essential to your health. In addition to gluten, other foods to consider eliminating due to their inflammatory properties are sugar, dairy, legumes, soy, red meats, etc. (Ball 2020)

I read several articles that said to eat foods that provide more of an alkaline environment than an acidic one. Supposedly, Lyme bacteria cannot survive in a more alkaline environment.

What is a leaky gut?

Finally, there’s the whole leaky gut issue. Certain foods can weaken the lining of the small intestine. As a result, small holes can develop that allow food particles and bad bacteria to escape from the gut into the bloodstream.

If this happens, your immune system goes into attack mode, causing more inflammation. Having a healthy small intestine is essential for absorbing your vitamins and minerals.

Dairy products and sugar may also need to be removed or at least limited from the diet. These products tend to contain yeast, which promotes the growth of bacteria. Animal milk contains casein, a protein that can cause inflammation in infected victims, according to drprem.com. (Global Health Care, no date)

Eliminating sugar is a priority. All of these dietary components play an important role in the treatment of Lyme disease. In a previous chapter, I introduced you to JP Davitt. He recommends an elimination diet to eliminate toxic ingredients from your daily intake.

Specific foods to eliminate include:

  • Corn syrup, which is addictive and forces the pancreas to use massive amounts of insulin. Pancreatic health and insulin production are directly correlated with aging.
  • Hydrogenated oils such as canola oil, which is another name for rapeseed oil. These oils are literally burned off and the process that creates them creates toxicity in the body that destroys your hormones. In addition, these oils have a screwed-on molecular structure. They are found in margarine, fried foods, coffee creamers, potato chips and packaged snacks.
  • Gluten, which is found in many foods because we cut corners and shorten the manufacturing process of our foods. It causes holes in the intestines and leaks, causing autoimmune symptoms. (Davitt 2021)

Maintaining the best diet can be confusing. We will make mistakes, so making more good choices than bad ones seems to be our best bet.

Although everyone has a different composition, some anti-inflammatory foods that may aid recovery include:

  • Lawyer
  • coconut oil
  • Fruits
  • Leafy greens
  • Nuts

Reproduced with permission from Love, Hope, Lyme: What Family Members, Partners and Friends Who Love a Chronic Lyme Survivor Need to Know, by Fred Diamond (2022).

Click here for more information on purchasing this book.

TOUCHED BY LYME is authored by Dorothy Kupcha Leland, Chair of the Board of LymeDisease.org. She is co-author of When Your Child Has Lyme Disease: A Parent’s Survival Guide. Contact her at [email protected].

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