Posted 4/19/2010 8:39 AM (GMT -6)
Keeping one's immune system strong is the best way to prevent Lyme/coinfections, or at least give your body an edge in kicking them out quickly instead of giving them a chance to gain a foothold and become chronic.
How to keep a strong immune system:
Eat a well-balanced, wholesome diet that minimizes processed foods loaded with artificial ingredients and maximizes highly nutricious foods (whole grains, fresh fruits and vegetables, native diet/wild meats, etc.; organic is best). Sugar suppresses the immune system for 8+ hours after consumption and should be limited or avoided as much as feasable.
Dehydration (lack of water intake; soda pop, juice, coffee, etc. do not count towards one's daily fluid intake because the body treats these things as food instead of as fluid, and in the case of coffee & caffeine containing soda, as well as alcoholic beverages, can actually increase one's fluid loss) gives one's body a distinct disadvantage for optimum function and thus dehydration should be avoided.
Garlic, Astragalus, antioxidants (Vitamin C, Vitamin A, Zinc, Selenium, Vitamin E) and other supplements and herbs can be taken on a regular basis to ensure an appropriate immune response to tick-borne infections.
I strongly suspect that one of the contributing factors to the increase in Lyme/coinfection cases in the world is the decline in nutritional and immune status of the global population. Years of farming the same soil with only replacement of a few nutrients and the application of many chemical fertilizers, pesticides, etc., have depleted the soils. A crop grown in depleted soils cannot have the same nutritional composition as a crop grown in nutrient-rich soils. This is one reason also that I am a proponent of taking nutritional supplements to achieve optimum health.
Years of exposure to radioactive waste in the air (metals from ships manufactured prior to WWII pulled up from the ocean where they were sunk shows much lower radiation than metals in products manufactured after WWII, meaning that the radiation is in the atmosphere and cannot be avoided) has also likely helped to weaken the immune system of most of the population on Earth. Since the thyroid gland plays a role in the health of the immune system as well as with metabolism (i.e., utilization of nutrients, fats, carbohydrates, proteins, etc.), it is important to be aware of this radiation exposure so that one can be sure to get enough (but not too much) iodine and selenium to help keep the thyroid gland healthy.
Exercise is also an important part of overall health. We already know about the importance of exercise in fighting Lyme/coinfections, so that's all I'll say about it here.
Stress management is also very important. Notice I didn't say stress avoidance, because I know it is impossible to avoid. The Hypothalamus-Pituitary-Adrenal axis also plays a role in a healthy immune system. Stress can throw this HPA axis out of balance, and long-term or chronic stress can lead to severe suppression of the adrenal glands, which negatively affects the body's ability to adequately respond to infection. It is known that stress can suppress a person's immune system. Stress is also known to contribute to heart disease and is a known factor in causing a worstening or flaring of autoimmune and probably a long list of other conditions as well. But healthy management of stress helps keep the stress from affecting physical and mental wellness.
A major part of the immune system is actually in the gastrointestinal tract. If the gut is leaky, inflammed, constipated, etc., the immune system in the gut cannot function like it should and thus can allow things into the bloodstream that otherwise shouldn't be there. Constipation causes re-absorption of toxins expelled into the gut from the liver/gallbladder and should be avoided when possible. Exercise can help encourage proper motility in the gut to prevent constipation. Probiotics, prebiotics (inulin and some other types of fiber, fructo-oligosaccarides, etc.), and various other nutrients can contribute to a healthy gut immune system by addressing leaky gut, imbalances in the "friendlies" that are supposed to be in there to help us with digestion, and reducing inflammation.
Keeping detox pathways open is also important for optimum immune system function. The gut is only one of these pathways...the others are the skin, lungs, and kidneys. Deep breathing exercises or aerobic exercise helps get fresh air into the lungs more rapidly than if one is sedentary...speeding up the air exchange helps expell gasseous forms of toxins (including carbon dioxide) more quickly and improves cellular and tissue oxygen levels. Optimum oxygen levels in tissues help to prevent infections - most infectious organisms (including Lyme) don't like a high-oxygen environment. Avoiding dehydration helps to keep the gut and the kidneys functioning well.
Raising the body temperature through exercise promotes perspiration (another good reason to avoid dehydration...), which is a good way to expell toxins. Bathing also helps draw toxins out through the skin and rinses the toxins away so they aren't re-absorbed.
Healthy social interaction is also helpful for stress management and also for improving one's immune system. Studies show people who are active in some kind of regular social activity get fewer colds/flu than those who are more isolated socially. These forums are one great way to get some good support and social interaction that helps with stress management. I know it helps me to be able to come here and participate in the sharing of support, knowledge, and understanding with all of you ~ thanks!
I know I've probably missed some stuff, so feel free to add to this list :) Take care,