Posted by: Chris Maloney | December 27, 2013

Does Lyme Disease Thrive On A High Sugar Diet?

English: Deer Tick life cycle diagram

English: Deer Tick life cycle diagram (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Of course.  But read on.

Lyme Disease utilizes all of its nutrients from its host.  It also thrives in a high calcium diet and a high cholesterol diet.  Focusing on the spirochete, not the person, will lead those suffering from Lyme to severely restrict their diets without significant hope of affecting their disease.

The proper way to address any dietary concerns is to remove the food (like sugar) for a time and look for improvements in symptoms.  If they occur, and the reintroduction of the food causes an increase in symptoms, then that food is worsening the disease.  Anything else is simply conjecture, and we simply don’t have the human studies to show Lyme worsens directly from sugar intake.

There are numerous other health reasons for following the “Lyme Diets” which are heavy on whole foods and vegetables.  But preventing the Lyme from growing should not be one of them.

Here are the studies showing the Lyme spirochete utilizing sugar, calcium and cholesterol from its mammalian host.

FEMS Microbiol Lett. 2005 Feb 1;243(1):173-9.

Carbohydrate utilization by the Lyme borreliosis spirochete, Borrelia burgdorferi.

von Lackum K, Stevenson B.

Author information


Growth kinetic analyses of Borrelia burgdorferi indicated that this bacterium can utilize a limited number of carbon sources for energy: the monosaccharides glucose, mannose, and N-acetylglucosamine, the disaccharides maltose and chitobiose, and glycerol. All of these carbohydrates are likely to be available to B. burgdorferi during infection of either vertebrate and arthropod hosts, enabling development of a model describing energy sources potentially used by the Lyme borreliosis spirochete during its natural infectious cycle.

PMID: 15668016

J Infect Dis. 2000 Jan;181(1):195-202.

Borrelia burgdorferi–induced oxidative burst, calcium mobilization, and phagocytosis of human neutrophils are complement dependent.

Suhonen J, Hartiala K, Tuominen-Gustafsson H, Viljanen MK.

Author information


When Borrelia burgdorferi, the spirochete causing Lyme disease, is transmitted to a human, the complement system is among the first challenges facing the bacterium. Neutrophils are crucial leukocytes in the first line of host defense against bacterial infections. To investigate the role of complement in the Borrelia-induced activation of human neutrophils, oxidative burst, calcium mobilization, and phagocytosis induced by three subspecies of B. burgdorferi were studied. Each subspecies induced all observed neutrophil functions in a complement-dependent manner. Serum-derived factors bound to the surface of B. burgdorferi were found to be essential for the induction of the oxidative burst. The CD11b chain of CR3 was found to participate in the oxidative burst and calcium mobilization induced by B. burgdorferi.

PMID: 10608767

PLoS Pathog. 2013 Jan;9(1):e1003109. doi: 10.1371/journal.ppat.1003109. Epub 2013 Jan 10.

Lipid exchange between Borrelia burgdorferi and host cells.

Crowley JT, Toledo AM, LaRocca TJ, Coleman JL, London E, Benach JL.

Author information


Borrelia burgdorferi, the agent of Lyme disease, has cholesterol and cholesterol-glycolipids that are essential for bacterial fitness, are antigenic, and could be important in mediating interactions with cells of the eukaryotic host. We show that the spirochetes can acquire cholesterol from plasma membranes of epithelial cells. In addition, through fluorescent and confocal microscopy combined with biochemical approaches, we demonstrated that B. burgdorferi labeled with the fluorescent cholesterol analog BODIPY-cholesterol or (3)H-labeled cholesterol transfer both cholesterol and cholesterol-glycolipids to HeLa cells. The transfer occurs through two different mechanisms, by direct contact between the bacteria and eukaryotic cell and/or through release of outer membrane vesicles. Thus, two-way lipid exchange between spirochetes and host cells can occur. This lipid exchange could be an important process that contributes to the pathogenesis of Lyme disease.

PMID: 23326230




  1. Does high fructose corn syrup get broken down the same as plain jane old school sugar? Also does gluten and sugar have synergenic effect when combined in the host?

  2. Well, those are good questions. Here’s a post to answer them, finally.

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