The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that about 300,000 people are diagnosed with Lyme disease every year in the U.S. However, some health experts suggest the figure is likely lower than how many Americans actually get infected.
Lyme disease comes from infection of the bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi. It can be transmitted to humans through the bite of black-legged ticks or deer ticks, which are so tiny that they commonly are hardly noticed.
The infection in some cases can stay undiagnosed for years, since it causes symptoms almost similar to other health conditions, like chronic fatigue syndrome, multiple sclerosis, dementia and fibromyalgia. Doctors call Lyme disease as the “the great imitator.”
If left untreated, patients may experience fatigue, autoimmune conditions and other symptoms affecting the nervous system, immune system and digestion. Luckily for those who already identified their infection, there is a simple way to speed up recovery.
Simply follow the ketogenic diet. Will Cole, a functional-medicine expert from Pittsburgh, said that the approach could help boost the body’s ability to heal from Lyme disease.
“The most effective food protocol for Lyme that I’ve found in my years of seeing patients around the world is a mostly plant-based ketogenic diet that I call Ketotarian,” he said in an article posted on mindbodygreen.
“By avoiding the common pitfalls of the conventional keto diet (lots of meat and dairy and not enough veggies), we can leverage the benefits of nutritional ketosis in the clean, sustainable way that people with chronic infections need.”
Keto Diet Health Benefits vs. Lyme Disease
Helps fix mitochondrial dysfunction
Cole first highlighted that being on keto could give better mitochondrial functioning. The diet helps in the the production of new mitochondria, which then triggers the body’s ability to naturally clean and remove damaged mitochondria.
Mitochondrial dysfunction in Lyme patients could cause extreme fatigue and boost effects of other Lyme symptoms.
Lyme disease has been linked to autoimmune diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis, due to increased inflammation. The keto diet helps reduce inflammation in the body by encouraging molecules and epigenetic modulators to activate anti-inflammatory pathways.
Eating dark leafy greens and cruciferous vegetables would provide the body with folate and sulfur compounds, which promote better methylation, a biochemical process that manages hormonal, detoxification and inflammatory pathways.
Fights Lyme Infections
Keto diet’s non-starchy vegetables offer fiber that support good gut bugs and the microbiome that plays a key role in strengthening the immune system to fight off Lyme infections.
Cole noted more studies are needed to further understand how the keto diet works in managing Lyme disease and other chronic infections.
“We do know that many of the pathways implicated in Lyme disease are also modulated with a high-fat, low-carb keto diet,” he said. “That’s why I feel confident that a properly formulated keto diet can be a safe and effective way to support your body through your Lyme healing process.”