TOUCHED BY LYME: “Even good girls can get deathly ill”
At age 25, Amie Valpone, an up-until-then-healthy and successful marketing professional, was in a bad way—and nobody knew why.
“My legs were swollen, my muscles hurt, my belly was a balloon, and despite what had once been a healthy appetite, I weighed only 98 pounds. My gut was a mess, my immune system was trashed, and my once-exuberant energy was non-existent. My life had come to a complete halt.”
At one point, she landed in the hospital with a life-threatening intestinal infection. Although doctors managed to keep it from killing her, they couldn’t pinpoint why her health had taken such a nosedive.
Eventually, Valpone says, she stepped away from conventional medicine and consulted “functional medicine” practitioners. Some answers emerged.
It turns out she had Lyme disease, though that was only one of her problems. She also suffered from parasites, hypothyroidism, leaky gut, candida, and polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), which accompanied severely out-of-whack hormones. And, she found that she carries the MTHFR gene, making it harder for her body to get rid of toxins. This all developed despite living a seemingly healthy lifestyle. As she would write later, “Even good girls can get deathly ill.”
At that point, Valpone decided her life needed a major overhaul, starting with the foods she put into her body every day. She eliminated from her diet such items as gluten, dairy, refined sugar, corn, eggs, and peanuts. She stopped eating processed foods—nothing from a box or a can for her.
Valpone says it was a slow process, but with detoxification strategies and a new way of eating, her health returned. The pain is gone, her legs no longer swell, her color and vigor are restored.
Now, she writes a popular detox and recipe blog called The Healthy Apple. And recently, she brought out a book called Eating Clean, the 21-day Plan to Detox, Fight Inflammation, and Re-set Your Body.
(Spoiler alert: It will take you more than 21 days to carry out this plan. That number comes from a 21-day elimination diet, to help you identify which foods cause you the most trouble.)
The book is organized into three main sections:
• How to detox your diet and your life
• How to prep it, cook it, and make it taste really good
• Delicious, delectable detox recipes
I haven’t had a chance to test any of her book’s recipes yet, but I’m already making plans. They look fabulous. (Members of my family have a range of dietary restrictions, and it looks like there’s something for everyone in this book!) I have my eye on “Sweet Pea Crostini with Creamy Cashew Cheese.”
Because eating well when you’re not on your home turf can be daunting, Valpone also offers a section on traveling, eating out and entertaining. If you yearn to fill your airplane carry-on with more than just gluten-free granola bars, for instance, she offers inventive suggestions for on-the-go snacks.
Most of us resist dietary and lifestyle changes, even if we acknowledge that they might be beneficial. We’re used to what we eat, and we fear being deprived of our favorites.
A point that Valpone hammers home, however, is that “A healthy diet gives us more options, not fewer.” And her collection of recipes certainly seems to bear that out. I encourage you to take a look.
Note to readers: Because her book doesn’t clarify this point, I contacted Valpone and asked if she had undergone any specific medical protocol for Lyme disease. She told me that she received antimicrobial treatment from a Lyme-literate practitioner. In addition, she said she did “lots of detox baths, infrared saunas and cleaning up ALL of my life –not just my food but all chemicals everywhere in my home.”
TOUCHED BY LYME is written by Dorothy Kupcha Leland, LymeDisease.org’s VP for Education and Outreach. She is co-author of When Your Child Has Lyme Disease: A Parent’s Survival Guide. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.