By Erica Henning
Coast Olympic swimmer Tessa Wallace has found herself trading flippers for a spatula as she believes healthy eating and natural medicine will help her battle Lyme disease.
Wallace was tested and diagnosed with Lyme disease in 2012 after numerous theories about her ongoing exhaustion, muscle pain and weakness.
She then decided to change her diet after doing research on Lyme disease and alternative medicines and treatments, in comparison to generic approaches and antibiotics.
“I had done research on the treatments of Lyme and it was very split between antibiotics and a more natural approach,” Wallace said.
“I ended up going with antibiotics for six months but decided to eat as naturally as possible as well.
“It wasn’t until after the six months that I decided to go off the antibiotics completely and really focus on putting the right food in me to help combat the Lyme naturally.”
The 20-year-old has been cutting out gluten, dairy and processed sugar over the last year to help her body reduce inflammation and improve the strength of her immune system.
Wallace hopes that these changes will continue to improve her overall performance as an athlete.
“At first I cut out major gluten products such as bread and also the major dairy products like milk and cheese, however I wasn’t strict with yoghurt and minor gluten products,” she said.
“And then eventually once I got used to the diet I started getting stricter on the smaller things.”
On top of improving her swimming results, Wallace now promotes healthy eating as a way to increase the immunity and functions of the body.
“At first I thought that I would only ever do this diet because of my swimming and to help my health but I’ve only just realised that I think its something that I want to keep doing for the rest of my life, mainly because I feel so much better on it and that it’s helping me cope with the Lyme disease,” she said.
Sunshine Coast Naturopath Josephine Dunmow says that the body was created to heal itself.
“We were not created with antibiotics within our bodies or in our systems,” she said.
“We need to get some things from the food to activate a better immunity and we can improve our own defence system enormously if we choose correct nutrition.
“It allows a better or more effective detoxification by the body.”
Wallace now aims to be antibiotic free, relying on eating more fruits and vegetables to help combat illness.
In 2011, she was diagnosed with Ross River Fever, initially setting her health back.
Prior to this she suffered from a reoccurring knee injury for over a year.
A very excited Wallace recently took to Twitter to announce her qualification for the 2014 Commonwealth Games, to be held in Glasgow, Scotland.
She will compete in the 200m Breaststroke event.
“Oh and yes BTW I made my 2nd Commonwealth Games Team!!! Woohoo,” Wallace tweeted.
After 15 months out of competitions, Wallace had a very limited amount of training before the Commonwealth Games qualification event held at Chandler, in Brisbane, in April.
In five months she managed to improve her time by seven seconds.
Wallace leaves in July for a French training camp with six other swimmers, including James Magnussen, before another training camp in Manchester followed by the main event in Glasgow.
Wallace is aiming for a gold but hopes to come away with at least a medal.
“I’m looking forward to experiencing the big team atmosphere again and also the village,” she said.
It will be her first time in Scotland.