Eating smart can help you to heal from chronic illness. By now you probably know which foods are good for you, and which aren’t. But did you know that the way you eat can be just as important as what you eat?
First, eating slow is vital for proper digestion. In Lyme disease and chronic illness, digestive function tends to be compromised. You may have low levels of hydrochloric acid in your stomach, enzyme deficiencies in your intestines, and a deficit of healthy bacteria in your gut. When you eat fast, you tend to not chew your food well, and your belly and bowels get shortchanged as a result, as they must then work harder to break down the stuff that you were supposed to deal with in your mouth. Chewing is the first stage in the digestive process. In other words, it’s not optional! Saliva contains enzymes that help the body to break down food and when you chew your food well, you help to ensure that its nutrients will be adequately metabolized. You don’t want that food coming out the other end looking the same as when you put it into your mouth!
Now, did you know that your body uses nearly one-third of its energy to digest food, and that studies have shown that people who eat less (in developed countries) tend to live longer than those who tend to stuff themselves at mealtimes?
Considering that chronic Lyme sufferers tend to be low on energy, saving our ATP any way we can is beneficial for healing. Eating smaller portions at mealtimes, therefore, increases energy and promotes healing, as the body can devote more of its energy to the immune system. This is one reason why fasting heals the body. When you fast, the body devotes more of its energy to the immune system, because there is less required for other processes such as digestion. But if you are one of those Lyme disease sufferers who struggles to stomach even two bites of chicken, you must find creative ways to get your nutrients, as eating too little can be just as harmful as eating too much. Juicing or pureeing foods can be helpful.
Finally, eat frequently! This is especially necessary if you are one of those who can’t easily digest food and your meals wind up being little more than those two bites of chicken at dinner. Eating frequently, and especially healthy protein snacks, also ensures a constant supply of cortisol to the body, a hormone often deficient in the chronically ill and which is important for healing. Cortisol also provides the body with energy and helps to alleviate other symptoms, such as pain.