How to Avoid a Healing Crisis when Beginning with Fermented Foods
Are you beginning with fermented foods and are concerned about experiencing a healing crisis? In this post we take a look at exactly what a healing crisis is, and what to do to avoid one.
Probiotic and fermented foods have been shown to have a powerful positive effect on the body. Studies have show it to be beneficial in healing complex complaints such as Candida overgrowth, gluten intolerance, dairy intolerances, lowered immune resistance and even depression. Besides being helpful in these hard to fix health areas, getting a daily dose of probiotics in can be a huge boost to overall health.
While fermented foods containing live probiotics can positively impact the body in general, and even fix issues such as food allergies – they can also make things worse before they get better.
This is what is commonly known as a healing crisis.
What is a Healing Crisis
The term healing crisis stands for what is known by the medical world as a Herxheimer Reaction. A healing crisis is characterised by symptoms of an illness or complaint becoming almost aggravated by the treatment -before they start to improve.
Healing crisis’s are caused by an overload of toxins and or unwanted substances being excreted into the bloodstream. The toxins are carried through the body and can cause problems in different areas – often excretory organs such as the skin – before they are expelled.
So if healing crises come about from getting rid of toxins, then why can fermented foods cause healing crises?
The reason why fermented foods can cause healing crises is because they bring the gut bacteria into balance. If you have not eaten fermented foods before, there is a high chance that your gut bacteria is out of balance. There might even be some pathogens living in the gut, or an overgrowth of a certain species of probiotics, such as Candida albicans.
When the new bacteria are introduced via the fermented foods, they get right to work crowding out any unwanted bacteria populations. As these unwanted bacteria die off, toxins are released. Candida albicans is notorious for the massive amounts of toxins it produces, especially when dieing off.
Common Healing Crisis Symptoms
A healing crisis is often characterised by a standard set of uncomfortable symptoms. Becauce a healing crisis is usually caused by a sudden dislodging or creation of toxins, the effects are usually one, more, or all of the following:
- Severe headaches
- Severe skin rashes
- High blood pressure
- Joint pain
- Mood swings
In the case of Candida and other gut microbe imbalances, often the symptoms of the healing crisis can be a worsening of the afflictions caused by the complaint which you are trying to heal. For example, oozing skin rashes are one of the symptoms of Candida. A healing crisis can aggravate the skin rash immensely.
How to Avoid a Healing Crisis
As you can see, none of the above symptoms are very pleasant. Especially if you have already been dealing with them as a byproduct of having a unbalanced or damaged gut. They are then most likely the thing which is driving you to eat fermented foods – in an effort to get better!
So, the question is, is it possible to avoid a healing crisis?
Yes it is.
The key to avoiding a healing crisis when starting on fermented foods is to go slowly. This means introducing fermented products little by little. Begin with very small amounts of fermented foods once a day. If you do not experience any adverse effects, up the amounts a little. If you start to feel any discomfort, decrease your consumption until a little.
You can continue to ‘play it’ like this for the first few weeks on fermented foods. By which time your gut should be repopulated sufficiently for you to consume as much fermented products as your like without any adverse reactions.
The reason why going slowly is so helpful in averting a healing crisis is this: Healing crises are caused by overly large amounts of toxins being released. However, the body is designed to dispel regular amounts of toxins without any adverse symptoms. If you introduce fermented foods little by little, the rebalancing / repopulating of the gut will happen slower. This will mean less die off of unwanted bacteria, and a slower release of toxins.
Besides taking things slowly you can also help and support your body in the detoxification process which is going on by drinking enough water! Drinking water will help to flush out toxins from the liver. Lemon juice, apple cider vinegar and herbal teas are also good for flushing.
Get As Much Sleep as You Need
Adequate sleep is very important for the body’s detoxification pathways. A large portion of our daily detoxification and healing processes happen when we are asleep. If you are worried about undergoing a healing crisis, then getting enough sleep each night is a good idea.
Massage can be extremely helpful in increasing circulation and by doing so assist in removing toxins. If you have been needing a massage, book it in conjunction with introducing fermented foods into your diet.
Do Fermented Foods Always Cause a Healing Crisis?
No. Fermented foods do not always cause a healing crisis. If you have an already relatively healthy gut, then you should be able to consume fermented foods in any quantity and not experience a healing crisis.
If however you have experienced / done the following, then there is a chance that you might experience a healing crisis:
- Candida overgrowth
- Food allergies
- Extensive courses of antibiotics
- Regular drinking of chlorinated water
- Taken oral contraceptives
- Regularly consumed artificial sweeteners
- Comsumed a diet high in artificial additives such a colorants and other chemicals
Any one of these is not necessarily a guarantee that you will go through a healing crisis. However it is still a good idea to start off your consumption of fermented foods slowly, and ramp up the daily serving sizes with time.
It is important to understand the healing crisis phenomenon when turning to fermented foods to help solve problems within the body. Sadly, many people who have tried fermented foods in the hope that it will help with things like allergies and Candida overgrowth have been scared off by healing crisis symptoms. Thinking that the probiotic bacteria are making their afflictions worse, they then avoid all fermented foods from then on! This prolongs the bacterial imbalance in the gut.
If on the other hand you are aware of the possibility of undergoing a healing crisis, and know what to do to avoid one, you are well prepped to begin balancing your gut through fermented foods.
If you are keen to check out some of the exciting health benefits of fermented foods and a healthy gut, check out Health Benefits of Fermented Foods (And Why You Absolutely Should Eat Them) and 8 Awesome Reasons to Eat Fermented Foods.