Candida. If you think you haven’t heard the term before, believe me, you have, but candida is generally referred to as ‘yeast’. If you are now thinking ‘yeast infection’ and you are either a male, or a woman who does not currently have one of these at the moment and are going to disregard this post, please reconsider.
Yeast, or candida albicans, naturally occur in our digestive systems, and live in your gut currently. They inhabit the human body as a baby, a condition known as thrush, when the infant generally gets a tongue coated in white.
So how do you know you have an overgrowth of this stuff in your body, how bad is it for your body, how did it become an overgrowth, and how do we treat it?
Instead of breaking down all this information right now, it’s STORY TIME!!! Because people always relate through stories.
So in April of 2011, my best friend and I decided to go to Vegas for the first time in our lives on a three-day trip. We went cheap, so instead of a direct flight from Alberta, Canada, we had two connecting flights on the way there AND on the way back. It was hot and dry in Vegas, but wet and snowy in Alberta. My body was not ready for that drastic change.
On the way back, stopping in LA, then Minneapolis, then finally Alberta (it so awful I hate remembering it) I had started coughing on the packed flights. By the time we landed in Edmonton at 11am, I had a full-on fever, and by that night I was drenched in sweat, delirious, and my throat on fire. For three days I had night sweats, and could barely swallow. Finally I caved and went to the medi-centre. They prescribed me antibiotics, and this would only be the second time in my whole life I had them (at the age of 23). I took the antibiotics, and over the next ten days, the infection went away. But when you have a sore throat, all you eat it popsicles, soup, and ice cream.
About three days into the antibiotics, I noticed I had this extreme burning in my esophagus whenever I would swallow something kind of acidic, and a slight gurgling in my gut. But the burning went away after two days. The gurgling stuck around.
Two weeks AFTER finishing the antibiotics, I noticed I was hardly able to get off the couch. I had zero energy, and zero drive. My mom would come home to finding me laying on the couch day after day. I became extremely bloated and gassy, as well as I was having er, trouble going to the bathroom. We are talking extreme constipation here, so bad that one day I pushed so hard I was bleeding…
I had not one, not two, but THREE menstrual periods that month, which has never happened in my life. Finally, on top of all that, I woke up one day with hives. All over my hands and fingers, ankles and feet, and in my lips as well. Hives that wouldn’t go away at all. I went to the doctor, and explained that I had a suspicion this was from the antibiotics, but he dismissed my hypothesis and instead said “well you must be using or eating something you are allergic to. Take Benadryl until you figure out what’s doing this to you.”
(You’re going to discover how much I dislike our health care system in this post, despite the fact that I work in health care.)
I went home angry and determined to prove that the cause of this was the antibiotics. I googled “hives and antibiotics”, “antibiotic side effects” and related searches for hours. Till I finally came across a site called The Candida Diet which was so helpful in listing all the information and symptoms for this condition. It suggested that the best way for a person to find out if they have candida overgrowth was to quit all breads, sugars, fake sugars, vinegars, fruits, and caffeine for about 3 days, then eat a piece of bread and see how you feel.
So that is exactly what I did. Ate meat, veggies, and plain greek yogurt for three days. Within 6-8 hours of not eating breads, I was already feeling half as bloated as I was before, and I got a bit of energy back, the gurgling sort of went away a touch. The next day, the hives went away completely. Then when the time came, I ate that piece of bread.
It was like hell all over again. The gurgling in my gut was loud, the bloating was quick and intense, and I couldn’t go to the bathroom again. Energy was stolen away like that, hives back in full force. And this simple method is what caused me to discover what I had! And not only did I have candida overgrowth, but I had the next worse step called Leaky Gut Syndrome, a condition where the yeast has put holes in your intestine and partially digested food passes directly into your blood stream, causing allergic reactions in your body.
Now to get rid of it was another story. The site suggested I quit all starches and caffeine, except for a bit of berries everyday, meat and vegetables. And that’s exactly what I did, for the next 9 months! I lost 25 pounds the first two months. When I first quit it though, I had intense “die-off” reactions (it happens when the yeast start dying in your body and the toxins are floating to your brain). You actually feel like you’re dying by the way, it’s not a joke. I was nearly begging someone to take me to the hospital because I felt like if I went to sleep, that I would never wake up. I actually believed I was dying.
But it took two full weeks before I had enough energy to do anything very active. I took an expensive probiotic, CaprylicAcid Plus by New Roots, and psyllium fibre capsules. I eventually moved from caprylic acid pills to extra virgin coconut oil (where the acid comes from) to keep the die off going.
9 months later, through diligence and prayer in this method, the candida was gone! I was as weak as a kitten however because I never had enough carbs to workout and keep a lot of muscle mass.
Now my rant on the health care system, on the public’s lack of knowledge, and the overuse of antibiotics.
Antibiotics are great for major infections, but for sore throats and cuts, just avoid them. They fix a symptom, not an underlying issue. They are the “band-aid” doctors issue to get you out of their hair. They fix the symptom of infection, but they do not fix your health, and they certainly do not promise it won’t happen again. They wipe out all good and bad bacteria in your gut, leaving you with bare bones for an immune and digestive system, and if you feed predominantly on processed and starchy, sugary foods, the only bacteria you are helping to grow is the candida. Which is what I did.
Doctors are not always looking out for your best interests as far as health. They are there to make money, and do what the system has taught them to do, which is treat symptoms. They also do NOT know everything, and they do not know your body specifically. You need to take ownership and responsibility for your own health. You look out for yourself, research and find all information before you make a decision just based on what the doctor tells you. They do not want you looking on the internet for information about your condition, because the system loses money when you don’t walk into the doctor’s office and purchase the pharmaceuticals he prescribes for your symptoms. They lose money when you decline to have your gallbladder removed on that first “gallbladder attack” that they diagnose, and instead you go home and look at your lifestyle and diet and see what yourself can fix to improve your health.
Lifestyle is all the difference you sometimes need to make. For me, it was realizing I need to put better food in my body, exercise, take vitamins, and make my body as healthy as it can possibly be, so that when infection does rear its ugly head, my body won’t need pills. It’s making the choice to move away from processed foods, the cheap KD, the bags of chips and the sugar-added everything. It’s looking out for yourself knowing that no one is going to do it for you.
If you want more information on this topic, or want to ask questions or share your experience, please comment!