What is CANDIDA?
Updated: Jan 20, 2019
A look at my experience with Symptoms, Causes, and Treatment.
For years I walked around feeling sluggish, suffered from digestive issues, had chronic sinus infections, insomnia, weight gain, anxiety and an extremely weak immune system. My memory and concentration were horrible and I lived with chronic pain. If this sounds like anything you have experienced, you could be suffering with an overgrowth of Candida just like me!
According to digestive health expert, Lisa Richards, there are 11 Most Common Symptoms of Candida and 37 LESS COMMON SYMPTOMS.
Wow! That is a lot of things you may be experiencing at once! I had been struggling for so long that when I found this list, it was like seeing a big neon sign pointing to a long saught after answer. Suddenly ,I could see that everything I was dealing with was indeed connected.
I use Lisa Richard's website www.candidadiet.com as a constant source for Candida information and encourage you to do the same!
What is Candida?
To summarize what I have learned so far, Candida is a form of yeast, that exists in most people in small amounts, without noticeable effects. However, when Candida takes over it can destroy the good bacteria in our gut which is necessary for proper digestion and aids in our ability to fight illnesses. The problem increases when yeast grows out of control. In some cases, yeast overgrowth can destroy the lining of your gut, which we call, "leaky gut" (a whole other issue!). When a person has leaky gut, it allows toxins, food, and the yeast itself, to enter the blood stream.
Let me be the first to tell you that once it is in your blood, yeast is a beast to get rid of. Candida albicans is the most commonly referred to strain of yeast, but there are actually over 20 types of yeast that can cause infection in humans! That's a whole army!
If having overgrowth of Candida doesn't sound bad enough here are also by-products of the yeast, such as uric acid (aka joint pain...bingo! That’s me) that contribute to even more symptoms.
It is safe to say that yeast overgrowth can be serious and is much like poison in the body.
How does yeast become a problem?
From my experience and research so far, I have learned there are three things that contribute to yeast overgrowth.
*ANTIBIOTICS *SUGAR *STRESS
Let's use my life as an example:
Antibiotics: I spent a lot of time as a child on antibiotics, as well as my adult years. I had chronic chest and sinus infections, and was always run down. I was also born three months premature, and as a result, was put on antibiotics the moment I came into the world! Definitely a contributor. Antibiotics serve a purpose when they are needed, but because they also rid your gut of good bacteria, it can be difficult to restore balance thus giving yeast the perfect environment to thrive.
High sugar diet: I always tried to eat healthy, but when yeast grows out of control, even natural sugar is dangerous. Fruit? NO. Honey? NO. Maple Syrup? NO. Refined grains/ gluten free grains/ oats? NO! Scrap all the, “Healthy alternatives”, I thought I was using. This makes sense then as to why I wasn't feeling better, or losing weight, whenever I tried. In fact, I was unknowingly contributing to my conditions!
Stress: We all know that stress can take a toll on our bodies. I experience an average amount of stress to varying degrees like most people. However, good stress or bad stress, it uses up our body’s reserves. It can cause digestive issues (been there!) and weaken our immune system. Put stress together with yeast overgrowth and your body is even more depleted of resources to fight against it.
Until I knew the cause and how to treat it, despite eating healthy, I gained weight. Whenever I tried exercising I ended up sick and back on antibiotics. My kidneys and adrenal glands were so stressed out from trying to rid my body of yeast that any extra exertion on my part shut my body down completely.
Little did I know that all of my health efforts contributed to making yeast over-growth worse!
So how did I arrive at a diagnosis? A Lot of research. I spent much of my time visiting doctors and being treated for individual symptoms with no success. At my wit's end, I decided to give up on loosing weight and focus on reducing my pain first. I spent a lot of time on the internet searching symptoms, trusting my intuition that I wasn’t going crazy and that somehow things must be related. I self diagnosed myself with Candida and dove into trying to treat it with the little knowledge I had. Unfortunately, after 4 weeks on my own I was still suffering with an incurable yeast infection (among many other things) and sought the help of a local Dr. of Natural Medicine, Dr. Anthony Martin Sr., clinical director of the Martin Clinic.
It was there I learned the severity of my condition. After various tests (read more about diagnostic tools here) we found that yeast was very present in my blood and linked to all the pain I was experiencing. I was pretty much, “Dead On Arrival”, at my first appointment and if I had not found intervention, I was headed down a dark and dangerous road. From there on out I was put on a much more aggressive version of what I had attempted on my own.
There are three things you can do right away, that will help you fight the yeast beast, if you suspect it is rearing its ugly head.
1. Eliminate SUGAR from your diet -this includes refined sugars (white, brown and powdered), natural sugars (honey, maple syrup, fruit), as well as foods that turn to glucose in your body once consumed (refined grains, starchy vegetables, etc.) I will talk more about the candida diet in my section Do or Die-t.
2. Take PROBIOTICS -Did you know there are 18 different kinds of probiotics, and that each one has a specific job? Ten of those strains specifically go to work consuming the bad bacteria, regulating acid, preventing the growth of bad bacteria, and others help you digest fat and decrease inflammation! I will talk more about the benefits of Probiotics in my section The Pro in Pro-biotics.
3. Introduce ANTIFUNGALS into your routine -the simplest way to start introducing antifungals is to find them in the grocery store. Foods such as rutabaga (my FAVORITE!), coconut oil (mmmm…), and garlic (yes please!) are three great ingredients to add to your daily recipes. There are even spices like curry and thyme that help kill yeast. Take a look at my Recipes for Success section where I use these ingredients, and more, to treat Candida.
Feeling overwhelmed? I definitely was. I went from somewhat limiting my diet and taking a few supplements to fully changing my entire routine, using food and probiotics to heal my leaky gut and working on cleansing my blood. But I did this by taking one day, one supplement, one recipe at a time, and I still do it that way! Every day I learn something new and I bring the information into practice one bit at a time. To date, it has been 18 weeks, and we are just now having to look harder to find yeast in my blood! Things are working! I have lost 50lbs (and counting) as a result of healing my body and although my pain comes and goes, it is much improved.
So friends, if any of this sounds familiar to you, I invite you to join me on the journey to wellness. Let us share together, and learn from each other, as we battle the yeast beast and fight for quality of life we want!