Humans can contract Lyme disease from ticks. Doctors typically prescribe antibiotics to treat it. However, diet may also help reduce symptoms. There is no specific diet for Lyme disease, though some evidence suggests that anti-inflammatory foods can help.

The bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi (B. burgdorferi) causes Lyme disease. Humans contract the bacterium through the bites of ticks carrying it. It takes around 36–48 hours for a tick to transmit the Lyme disease bacterium to a person.

Lyme disease symptoms include fever, headache, fatigue, and skin rash. Without treatment, the condition can impact a person’s joints, heart, and central nervous system. Even with treatment, around 10–20% of people experience persistent symptoms. People who have symptoms lasting longer than 6 months may have post-treatment Lyme disease syndrome (PTLDS).

There is currently no treatment for PTLDS, so some people choose to try an anti-inflammatory diet to help with their recovery. Read on to find out how an anti-inflammatory diet may benefit people with Lyme disease.

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There is no evidence to suggest that diet can help people recover from Lyme disease. However, initial research indicates that certain plant oils may help reduce the longevity of symptoms.

A 2018 study found that certain oils showed strong activity against dormant B. burgdorferi. These included oils from:

  • allspice berries
  • cinnamon bark
  • cumin seeds
  • garlic cloves
  • myrrh trees
  • thyme leaves

Inflammation happens when the body triggers an immune response to something harmful, such as an infection or toxin. Long-term, or chronic, inflammation in the body may lead to various health issues.

An anti-inflammatory diet may help reduce the inflammation that causes certain symptoms.

An anti-inflammatory diet promotes eating nutrient-rich, whole foods that may reduce inflammation in the body. Some foods contain ingredients that may trigger inflammation, so a person following an anti-inflammatory avoids these.

A 2020 review concluded that a diet that supports the immune system contains:

The review suggested limiting the following:

An anti-inflammatory diet is also known as a Mediterranean diet.

Learn more about the anti-inflammatory diet here.

The anti-inflammatory diet includes foods that:

Some foods that may help tackle inflammation include:

Olive oil contains a compound called oleocanthal. This has properties similar to nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. It reduces the body’s inflammatory processes in a similar way to ibuprofen.

Fiber lowers the amount of protein in the body called C-reactive protein. This indicates inflammation when found in the blood. Fiber supplements are not as beneficial as fiber from foods, so people should aim to eat fiber-rich meals.

Learn more about high fiber foods here.

There are foods that people should avoid if they want to eat an anti-inflammatory diet.

These include:

  • foods with added sugar
  • foods containing extra salt
  • excess alcohol
  • processed carbs, such as baked goods, white pasta, and white bread

Additionally, some people may benefit from limiting the following:

  • Processed foods: Foods such as cookies, chips, pizza dough, and processed meats may contain high levels of unhealthy fats, which may contribute to inflammation.
  • Nightshades: Nightshade vegetables, such as eggplant, tomatoes, peppers, and potatoes, have links to inflammatory flares. Although there is limited evidence to support this, there is little harm in eliminating them from a person’s diet to see if symptoms ease.
  • Gluten: Gluten may cause inflammation in people who have celiac disease or gluten sensitivity. If a person suspects that gluten may be causing or contributing to their inflammation, they can try removing it from their diet to see if their symptoms ease. However, gluten is safe to eat for most people.

Learn more about foods that cause inflammation here.

Changing diets to reduce inflammation can be daunting, but there are certain things people can do to make it easier.

  • No miracle food: People should include a wide variety of foods in their diet rather than relying on a few anti-inflammatory foods. What works for some people may not work for everyone, so people should ensure they get a wide range of nutrients by diversifying their diet.
  • Small changes: Rather than changing their entire diet all at once, people can make small changes to gradually replace pro-inflammatory foods with anti-inflammatory ones.
  • Rainbow meals: The darker or more intense the color of a fruit or vegetable, the more packed full of antioxidants it is. Choose a variety of different colored fruits and vegetables.
  • Exercise: Regular exercise can help reduce inflammation. People should start simply and aim for 150 minutes a week of moderate physical activity.
  • Sleep: According to 2010 research, sleep loss can increase markers of inflammation. People should take steps to ensure they are getting enough restful sleep each night.
  • Supplements: In some cases, people may wish to speak with a healthcare professional about supplements they may be able to take to help reduce inflammation.

Diet alone cannot cure Lyme disease. People will need to speak with a doctor to receive a course of antibiotics. Oral antibiotics typically cure most cases of Lyme disease within 2–4 weeks.

People adopting an anti-inflammatory diet may notice their overall health improve and may choose to continue with the diet even after they have recovered from Lyme disease.

While there is no specific diet for treating Lyme disease, many people find that an anti-inflammatory diet can help relieve symptoms. There is limited evidence to support these claims, but there are no drawbacks to trying it out.

Anti-inflammatory foods, such as nuts and seeds, fruits and vegetables, and other whole foods may help reduce inflammation in the body and alleviate Lyme disease symptoms. Other foods, such as processed foods high in salt, fat, and sugar, may increase inflammation.

People should talk with a healthcare professional before making any significant changes to their diet. The healthcare professional will be able to help a person determine whether the dietary changes are right for them.