Wednesday, February 02, 2005

Getting enough protein in the Lyme diet - very important

Some personal thoughts and experiences about the Lyme diet and in particular, getting enough PROTEIN with CFIDS/Lyme... this is synthesized from a lot of different sources I have been reading, and I can find resources to back up everything here, but this is still just my opinion. I make that disclaimer because of the strong feelings this particular subject can generate in the alternative health arena. So if you don't agree, please just take it with a gram of salt :).

I have become a 'protein type' person with this chronic condition, probably because of the hypoglycemia this has given me, and have been the rounds with this issue. Although I would LOVE to be vegan, I can't survive it. Given the many mantras about veganism curing diseases, here is some 'food for thought.'

Although humans can exist on a vegan diet, we don't thrive on it. We are clearly designed as omnivores, we have only one stomach and can not process all of the nutrients from vegetables and can not eat grasses like herbivores. We also do poorly on an all-meat diet. We are in a small group of omnivores on this planet. The primary issue with lack of protein is not whether it is in your omnivore diet. There is even plenty of protein in most vegan diets. The problem is whether you can absorb it. Some of us don't absorb and/or process plant proteins well, perhaps due to digestive weakness. Animals that are vegan (such as cows for instance) have far more complex digestive processes than we do. If I had two stomachs, perhaps I could get my calcium and nutrients from grass and be a vegan too, just like a cow. But meanwhile, I need animal products.

So, if you have digestive problems with CFS/CFIDS/Lyme (such as dysbiosis and parasites in the intestines, or infected stomach or pancreas), you may not digest ANYTHING very well. So just eating protein-rich foods, vegan or omnivore, may be of little use. The issue is bioavailability. Becasue I have compromised digestion from CFIDS/Lyme, I take protease enzyme supplements, and also eat types of protein I can most readily absorb. The most absorbable forms of protein for humans are raw animal products (dairy, meat). Next is probably soaked raw legumes and nuts, then come vegetables and fruits.

So what should we eat to get enough protein? Be sure to eat animal protein sparingly, but consistently with every meal. We don't need huge servings of meat to get protein, just regular servings. Moderation rules in this issue. An organic Free-range Egg for breakfast every day is good (lightly cooked or raw if you tolerate that - I like half-cooked boiled or low-temp fried). The Egg is critical and probably most easily absorbed and most perfectly balanced food on the planet. But the yoke should be soft, not over-cooked (true for any protein, as that makes them harder to absorb). Also, eating easily-digested meats is important, which means to eat them rare or medium cooked, never well done. The best are beef liver (natural beef is best, 'Coleman' brand or from an organic/range-fed source), and other organ meats, then the softer cuts (or lean hamburger). Other great meats are the white meats, chicken (free range organic) and turkey (hard to find organic, but possible if you look). Fish is great too; sushi will be best absorbed (if you like it), and also sardines are a wonderful snack or even mini-meal (and they, like liver, are high in purines, which are critical for protein type people). However, I've found that some fish are hard to absorb, there is as much variety in fish meat as in animal meats...

Dairy deserves its own category, in my opinion. Lots of protein there, and if it is aged cheese, should be easy to absorb. Just don't over-do it, since it has high fat. But in small quantities cheese seems to be an important snack. For those worried about fats, goat cheeses are good, their fats are better bonded. Also, home-made yoghurt and kefir. Kefir is milk cultured for 24 hours with a special type of bacteria. It has no sugar. Kefir is the miracle drink, kefir alone can drastically improve your digestion of all other foods, and absorption. This is because it appears to trigger mucus production in the digestive tract and prepare the body for intake of nutrients. I take a small serving with each meal, and the different is substantial on absorption. See for their book, which contains valuable Kefir information. Also, there are good web sites on making your own.

Non-meat proteins that are helpful (but not as good as meats) include legumes (brown, white, black, red beans), peanuts (actually legumes and not nuts, they are powerful antioxidants when roasted and high in minerals), peas (high in protein, especially dried split peas) and of course, soy (get fermented or pre-digested if possible, Tempe is best and does not cause thyroid issues, NOT Tofu which causes the thyroid problems).

Other proteins are the 'powders' that can be eaten with anything, or alone. Soy protein powder (fermented is best), pea protein powder, rice protein powder, and my favorite, goat milk protein (try 'Gotein' by Garden of Life). These boost protein level quickly and are well-absorbed. Try to find the pure products (just rice protein powder, for example), not combination 'energy boost' products (they have too many undesirable ingredients).

One other VERY important issue for protein absorption is the fermentation process in your digestive system. I found that my protein ABSORPTION went way up when I started eating a Tablespoon of home-made sauerkraut (fermented cabbage) with each meal. The recipe for this is in 'The Body Ecology Diet' and you can order the culture for it from their website.
So there are many ways to increase protein, but focus on absorption. Although I like plant proteins, I have found that other than the legumes and peas, most of them don't get adequately digested to be absorbed in a person with a compromised digestive system. Maybe vegan is good for some other health issues, but if your problem is protein absorption, I believe it is very contraindicated.

Of course you need much more than protein, all those great veggies, and legumes and grains.
Some ancient grains are high in absorbable proteins. In particular Quinoa. I eat a lot of that and it really does help. Not nearly as much protein as animal products, but much more than veggies. When I have Quinoa with a meal, I need less animal protein (but still need some). Also, Amaranth is very good, and also has the distinction of being the ONLY grain that matches the amino balance of humans, it was made for us (like Quinoa, a South American grain). Quinoa is probably the best protein source among grains, and Amaranth the best amino acid source. Also, Millet, another ancient grain, is wonderful with Lyme. None of these three ancient grains contains gluten, so they are much easier to digest. I also use a lot of oats. I avoid wheat and other grains with gluten because digestion is often compromised in Lyme and CFIDS and gluten is hard to digest, it makes the villi stick together (the little hairs inside the intestines that actually absorb most of the food).

But what about vegetables in our diet? I don't know of any CFS/CFIDS/Lyme issues related to veggies - just eat lots of them. The problem is usually with the protein...

Everything I have told you about protein is based on hard experience of a digestive-compromised person. I know from my hypoglycemia-type responses whether there was enough protein in a meal. And I have found out over time that there is no replacement for the animal products. Even with legumes, I generally have to have some animal protein, there is just not enough available protein in the plant-sources. The only exception to that is soy. Soy seems to approach the level of availability of animal products, but ONLY the fermented soys (tempe/miso). But these are the 'safe' soys anyway, I would not consider other forms of soy, and also would not eat a soy protein powder that has not been fermented.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Kurt, Your blog is amazing! Thank you so much for your in-depth information, and clear cut way of expressing it.

June 27, 2010 at 9:41:00 AM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you very much, Kurt! Your posting is REALLY helpful. After more than 10 years struggling with something that seems to be CFIDS I intuitively and based on the incomplete information on the issue that can be found, began to lean towards some of the ideas you give us so well here. That posting is very supportive because I've always been prone to not believing myself enough due to the fact that there is only scarce and not well linked information on the relation of CFIDS to protein insufficiency and of hypoglicemia to protein insufficiency. Another great barrier has always been my love of animals and my efforts in the field of yoga and meditation the practitioners of which strongly advocate vegetarianism/veganism as crucial both for spiritual and health progress. They also present really persuasive theories of vegetarian/vegan food as being absolutely sufficient in proteins that are even more easily absobed than animal proteins. Thank you again and all the best!

March 23, 2011 at 6:11:00 PM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hallo, ich bin regelrecht beeindruckt aufgrund von diesem Artikel!
Dafür möchte ich mich auf jedenfall noch bedanken.
Ist es denn wirklich so, dass diese Infos immer noch das Aktuelle beschreibt?
Oder ist dies mittlerweile veraltet? Wenn das der Fall sein sollte, dann würde ich dies
noch gerne mitbekommen, wenn dies keine Umstände macht.
Vielen Dank im Vorraus.

Feel free to surf to my blog post; aaa

September 3, 2013 at 4:44:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Kurt said...

Vielen dank Anonymous!

I believe this information is still correct. After many years with this careful diet, my personal digestion is much improved. I still avoid gluten and eat little starch and no sugar, which is 'The Body Ecology Diet.' But as long as I take digestive enzymes, I can eat more fruits and some mild starchy foods. The digestion is very complicated. One thing I should add now is that I found my digestion improved greatly when I started taking GABA every day. I believe that helped calm down the intestinal transit process. I was taking GABA for a separate reason, as the results of a genetic methylation test showed I do not make GABA very well. So finding my digestion improved was a surprise. As I said, digestion is very complicated.

Alles Gute!

September 3, 2013 at 5:19:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Unknown said...

Some people claim that an all meat diet has put their Lyme symptoms completely into remission. Even fruits or veggies cause their symptoms to flare. I don't have Lyme, as far as I know, but the all meat diet has been of great benefit to me health wise. Have you ever tried this?

October 6, 2015 at 12:51:00 AM EDT  
Blogger Kurt said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

October 6, 2015 at 2:16:00 AM EDT  
Blogger Kurt said...

Yes, I tried something like this about 15 years ago, for nearly a year. It was the Atkins diet with some adjustments to keep the simple carbs low, so just meat and non-starch vegetables. All that happened was weight loss, did not improve the Lyme/CFS symptoms.

October 6, 2015 at 2:17:00 AM EDT  

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