English: Mark Hyman Head Shot (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
The Blood Sugar Solution, Borrelia. It’s the most recent New York Times best seller by Mark Hyman, MD. And the basis behind bloodsugarsolution.com. I have known Dr. Hyman on a business level for a number of years, and had the privelege of attending his book launch party in New York City earlier this year. Dr. Hyman’s latest book attacks the issue of “diabesity” in this country–blood sugar and insulin dysfunction that leads not only to diabetes, but to heart disease, cancer, dementia and more. The book provides an authoritative guide on the root causes of diabesity as well as the seven steps to regaining health by reversing or preventing it. How, Borrelia, how does this pertain to you??…
…Well, for starters, I would like for us for a moment to think of it as The Borrelia Sugar Solution, rather than The Blood Sugar Solution. Why? Borrelia, you thrive on sugar. Thrive. I strongly feel that anyone affected by lyme disease needs to take their sugar intake VERY seriously. The last thing anyone should want to do, Borrelia is give you the edge. Sugar in all its forms–evaporated cane juice, agave syrup, high fructose corn syrup–does that. As The Borrelia Sugar Solution, The Blood Sugar Solution helps us realize that food in its whole and simplest forms prevents us from overloading our bodies with added or hidden sugars. Your little elixir of life, Borrelia.
Second, we all need to understand that because lyme is a chronic infection, our adrenals are over worked. They crank out cortisol–a stress response hormone–because we are fighting this infection. Increased cortisol prevents insulin from working properly. As a result, our blood sugar increases and insulin resistance can develop. With lyme disease, we become predisposed to blood sugar problems. Before becoming diagnosed with lyme, Borrelia, the naturopath indicated that my blood sugar levels were elevated. Which didn’t really make sense given that I had just lost 20lbs (from being so sick). Why, then, were my fasting blood sugar levels elevated? Once diagnosed with lyme, the naturopath thought back to this piece of the puzzle and realized that the physical stress of the infection and my elevated cortisol levels were affecting my blood sugar. We lymies can manage our sugar intake and optimize our health and strength by adopting the nutrient dense, simple, sensible food plans offered in the book. Which is why for our purposes I like to think of it as The Borrelia Sugar Solution.
What follows are the 7 Steps for regaining health as outlined by Dr. Hyman but embellished by myself with the lymie in mind. I’ll keep it short and simple as I can. Us lymies have a hard time processing lengthy pieces of information, as you know, Borrelia. What follows, if you ask me, is the recipe for creating a lean mean lyme fighting machine. An Optimus Prime on the inside.
Step 1: Boost Your Nutrition. Simply, wholesome, simple, real food. Not packaged, prepared, artificial, processed. Lean meats and fish. Grains like brown rice and quinoa. Omega fatty acid rich oils like fish, flaxseed, olive, and coconut oils. Antioxidant and polyphenol rich fruits. Fiber rich vegtables. Elimination of dairy and gluten if possible. What I love about having read the book is that by following those criteria I fell in love with great food again rather than eating to get by on a busy schedule. Avocados, herbs, garden tomatoes, rosemary infused olive oil (drizzled on everything), coconut yogurts, fish, cashews, lemons and limes for flavor, nut butters, etc. Simple, satisfying eating. Maybe I wasn’t able to follow Dr. Hymans recommendation to the fullest and strictest sense. But boy, was it a wake up call. And I consider my diet to have been healthy even before. But you know what? I can always improve even more.
Step 2: Regulate Your Hormones. This is true for lymies. Cortisol is a hormone most likely elevated for most of us because of the stress of our infection. However, a diet high in sugar also increases cortisol. And at least for women, Borrelia, you can really mess with the progesterone and estrogen, like we need any help with that. I know my naturopath had me take some hormone balancing herbs when you were manifesting as messed up menstrual cycles. Did you like the taste of those, Borrelia? I didn’t. Let’s not forget melatonin, the sleep hormone. Many of us suffer from insomnia. Melatonin supplements can be a great way to get through this.
Step 3: Reduce Your Inflammation. Yeah. This is a biggie, Borrelia. Lyme Disease EQUALS inflammation. Inflammation from the infection exacerbates and perpetuates our symptoms, in addition to the fact that inflammation contributes to insulin resistance and diabetes. Sugar also contributes to inflammation. So again, Borrelia, us lymies really need to get sugar out of our diets as much as possible. We are inflamed enough! Best to avoid inflammatory proteins–like those found in dairy and gluten–and consume antiinflammatory oils and plant based foods as mentioned in Step 1. Also, because of all the antibiotics we take, us lymies really need to minimize gut inflammation. My best advice for that is probiotics, healthy bacteria available as a supplement. They remove bad bacteria (bad bugs) in the gut and boost immune function. The one I took while taking antibiotics was VSL-3. Mind having a roommate in there Borrelia? You shouldn’t get along just fine. 🙂 Which brings us to Step 4.
Step 4: Improve Your Digestion. Remove bad bugs, acid blocking drugs like Prevacid and Nexium if you can, and food allergens. These interfere with or damage digestive tract function. Replace with probiotics, enzyme supplements and fiber. Repair the gut with omega-3 fatty acids (oils or supplements), zinc, glutamine, and more. Your naturopath or LLMD can help.
Step 5: Maximize Detoxification. In this section of the book, Borrelia, Dr. Hyman discusses how environmental toxins can make us fat. By interfering with insulin and blood sugar. Which leads to weight gain. For me, the take home point for lymies is just like your diet, keep things clean–your environment in this case, when you can control it. So as not to overburden your already overburdened immune system. And you want that liver–our detox organ–to be healthy and not burdened by processing chemicals and toxins. Choosing natural insect and yard repellants; natural home cleaning agents; natural skin and body products; hormone-free, antibiotic free meats; clean produce; minimal exposure to acetaminophen or ibuprofen if it can be helped; moderate alcohol and caffeine consumption; avoid MSG, etc.
Step 6: Enhance Energy Metabolism. Enerwhat? Does anyone know what energy is anymore? Borrelia, you must be flying off your little treadmills in there because any energy we had belongs to you now. I picture you, with a Richard Simmons headband and shorts, Borrelia. With all the annoying energy in the world. Well, we can try to reclaim ours. Each of our cells have many little energy producing factories in them called mitochondria. Mitochondria are the most concentrated in muscle, the heart, and brain. When we face a chronic illness like lyme or diabetes, our mitochondria don’t function as well and we feel fatigue, exhaustion, memory and cognitive issues, fatigue (did I say that already?). How to keep the mitochondria churning and energized? Eating right (see Step 1), enhanced protein intake, exercise, and supplement options like coenzyme Q10 and B vitamins.
Step 7: Soothe Your Mind. Dr. Hyman speaks of reducing stress because stress increases your blood sugar levels and therefore your likelihood of gaining weight and/or developing diabetes. And mentions techniques for stress reduction including meditation, yoga, healthy relationships and friendships, dancing, laughing, etc. I agree that these are key ways to soothe your mind and soul. I developed this blog, Borrelia, to soothe myself and others like me by providing a community–a forum for information, stories, even laughs if possible! I also have in mind to organize a local group of us to socialize and bond, another way to soothe our minds and make us feel connected and understood. I also think in the case of lyme disease, accepting the diagnosis–and most importantly the journey–brings a certain peace and healing that can soothe anger, resentment and frustration. And of course, Borrelia, it is soothing to me to speak to you in my sarcastic, chiding way. As it makes me feel more in control. It’s my body, my life. I’m talking and dictating to you. Not the other way around.
So to all my Lean Mean Lyme Fighting Machines out there, maybe talk of The Blood Sugar Solution, The Borrelia Sugar Solution, and 7 Key Steps to regaining health has been helpful. For lymies, the idea behind the book in the context of our illness is not about diabetes, losing weight, etc. But rather to get ourselves in fighting form. I believe these 7 Steps puts us on the right path. I didn’t read the entire book from front to back. It’s a long one and I have issues with fatigue and concentration right now. But I pulled what was important for me. And hopefully, for you. Here’s to our inner Optimus Prime. Let’s transform ourselves (and in the process defeat that Megatron Borrelia!)
Optimus Prime (Photo credit: Wikipedia)