What is Die Off and How to Deal
Have you ever started medication for an infection and immediately felt worse before you felt better? Die off is what occurs when you kill off bacteria or sick cells and, it results in more uncomfortable symptoms.
This summer, the most common cases seen with major die off are Lyme disease, candida, and parasitic infections. Regardless of the root cause, die off symptoms look remarkably the same. As the medication kills off the infection, toxins are released into the bloodstream. These toxins can cause headaches, brain fog, nausea, constipation, acid reflux, skin problems, or loose stools. This process often mimics the flu. Fortunately, theses symptoms will dissipate as the medication wipes out everything.
Symptoms of Die Off
- Brain Fog
- Acid Reflux
- Skin problems
- Loose Stools
Unfortunately, when the medication wipes the slate clean, we have to support our bodies in new ways. When die off occurs, it's imperative to assist the liver in detoxification. There are many potent detoxifying herbs, but sometimes the regimen you're on is so strong, you don't want to add more fuel to the fire.
Here are 8 things you can do now to help the liver detox naturally.
Tips for Liver Detoxification
- Eliminate stressful foods: no refined sugars, refined vegetable oils, or conventional meats that congest the liver/gallbladder system
- Drink a ton of water: at least half of your body weight in ounces daily of pure clean water with lemon slices and more if any juices, sodas, teas or coffees are consumed
- Dry brush or massage: use a natural fiber to brush the skin towards the heart or rub detoxifying essential oils like mustard or rosemary mixed into a base oil like coconut or sweet almond
- Saunas or alternating showers: both are known to encourage circulation and release toxins
- Exercise: short bursts of activity have been shown to have the most effective flushing effects so a quick 3 minute jumprope session or run around the block is often better than an hour class
- Leafy green vegetables: greens contain fiber to flush out toxins, minerals to flush cells, and loads of antioxidants to prevent oxidation and cancerous cells
- Sleep: a body at rest is a healing body; the adult recommendation is 8 hrs a night and kids need 10-12 hours including teens
- Improve your digestion: the single most important factor for health is proper digestion
One persons medicine is another's poison
A strong antibiotic is often prescribed for cases of Lyme disease or intestinal infections. Although sometimes necessary, this "kill everything" treatment causes a dead zone in the digestive tract. What we want to see is a healthy micro biome of intestinal flora. Most doctors agree that taking a probiotic following a strong antibiotic is crucial to reinhabit the intestines with good bacteria.
My current choice for pharmaceutical grade probiotics is either Mega Sporebiotic or Prescript Assist. However, I strongly recommend you seek a recommendation from a practitioner because not all bodies benefit from the same product. Our intestinal flora is like a fingerprint. We all have a unique composition.
When you finish a course of antibiotics, you are at your most vulnerable. Not only does the medication wipe out the bad guys, but it knocks out your natural defenses too. While you rebuild your immune system it's important to stay away from processed foods that cause inflammation. Instead focus on drinking bone broth for rebuilding strong bones, skin, cells, digestive lining, and muscles. Keep up the water to flush out unnecessary toxins, and eat a well balanced diet of proteins, fats, and carbs.
Diet ratios should be unique too, but here's a great place to start. Try to include roughly 30% proteins every day, with the bulk of them coming from clean animals raised in their natural environment on pasture. You do not have to worry about the quantity of beef, pork etc. you eat if the animal you are consuming was not pumped full of hormones, antibiotics, or artificial nitrates in its raising. Although plant proteins are healthy, they don't provide the complete spectrum of amino acids that the liver uses to detoxify and the body uses to regenerate new cells.
Do not exceed 40% carbohydrates with the bulk of that coming from vegetables and no more than 15% coming from properly prepared grains. Remember: the more carbohydrates you eat, the more fat you'll gain whether from fruit (fructose) or bread and pasta. Toxins are stored in those fat cells so when detoxifying from die off, it's imperative to maintain a low carb diet.
The exception to this rule is our consumption of vegetables, especially following an antibiotic protocol. We want to feed the healthy bacteria in the gut. When we take a probiotic it's like bringing cool people into the neighborhood, but if you want them to stay... feed them loads of fresh great tasting vegetables.
Finally, the key ingredient for liver detoxification is fat and this ingredient should be at least 30% of each meal. Healthy fats should arrive as they exist in nature such as clean animals, avocados, olives or cold pressed olive oil, raw nuts (if tolerated), and coconut. I know it seems counter productive to eat more fat when you want to drop toxic fat cells but think of your body like a 4 year old child. You can't take away what they already have until you offer them something better. The body will flush the unwanted toxins in the fat cells if you feed it the healthy fat it needs.
So when the symptoms fade and you feel like a meal, aim for a plate that looks roughly like this.
Examples of the 30/40/30
- A chicken leg with broccoli and butter
- Apple slices with almond butter and coconut chips
- Bone broth with a handful of spinach tossed in
- Scrambled eggs with tomato and goat cheese
- Grilled salmon over salad with olive oil and lemon
- Fish Curry, Stroganoff, or Chickpea stew
And next time you feel those die off symptoms, be careful not to jump to an OTC drug that will congest the liver and damage the digestive lining. Instead, jump back in bed, drink a few giant glasses of water, and plan out your day. Include a dry brush, a hot/cold shower, or a vigorous walk and a healthy 30/40/30 meal. Your body is an amazing tool that knows exactly how to heal if you treat it right.