Candida is a word we are hearing thrown around more often in conversations. Before I was like candi-who? It kind of sounds like a dirty word. Now I know all too well about this imbalance that is quickly becoming the least talked about health epidemic in our nation. These days pretty much all us have it or have had some symptoms, it’s about what degree from mild to severe. Candida is a group of single-celled organisms that live in our bodies and are actually good for us until our body gets out of balance because of diet, stress, or medications that throw it out of whack. Candida overgrowth is literally a “genus of yeasts” or in lamens terms a gang of fungus who have been granted permission to hang out and bring their friends en-masse anywhere in your body that’s cozy. Candida usually grows in warm moist areas of the body, and the most common candida condition is yeast infections which can affect both men and women, but also includes nail fungus, athletes foot, thrush (on the tongue), and may be the culprit with some prostate issues. In its most aggravated and full-blown state cancers especially and AIDS deal with aggressively overgrown candida. Which is why many have been able to reverse cancer and some holistic healers (namely Dr. Sebi who says all diseases are born from mucus) has been able to reverse HIV/AIDS.
When candida starts to flourish in the body it’s really like your once upon a time friend who decides to invite a bunch of unwanted guests who are now sleeping on your comfortable couch and require a fire marshal and an eviction notice to get them out of your apartment. Dealing with candida overgrowth just by wishing it away does you no good. You need to strap on some combat boots and be prepared to make some changes to get your body back in balance. Depending on the severity of the condition this is not a short-term thing, you may need to make some serious lifestyle amendments.
So you want to know how you managed to say yes and let in that frenemy name Candida who is now eating all your sweets with his buddies? Well, our bodies thrive on bacteria. I learned recently from a colon hydrotherapist who was very knowledgeable about bacteria that the metabolic waste of our good bacteria is serotonin! So part of the reason why people who are backed up or literally full of sh&% are also in a crabby mood is because the good bacteria is not present in their bodies to give them that natural happy boost. Same with candida, when yeast is overgrown there’s not enough good bacteria present in your body to give you that feel good natural serotonin.
There are numerous reasons in our modern day culture that this condition affects millions and the numbers keep growing. First off, it doesn’t help that doctors are prescribing antibiotics these days like candy at a Halloween party. Seriously, it seems to be the cure-all for anything nowadays. It may help alleviate short-term symptoms but long-term know that it wreaks havoc on most bodies’ and kills all of the good and bad bacteria in the gut leading to more problems that have to be addressed including candida. Another major factor involved is the Standard American Diet which is basically a trial that most are failing to see how long someone can last before getting ill while subsisting primarily on carbs, animal protein, frakenfoods, and sugar.
All of those things feed yeast, and your good old friend Candida basically throws a party when you consume them. The thing is you won’t feel like partying much because you may be experiencing fatigue, headaches, poor memory, or mental fogginess, and perhaps weight gain. Not exactly a reason to cut the cake. Last, but not any less important is STRESS. I forget all the time how important our emotions are for sustaining our well-being. In my own family I have seen how every single one of us is now dealing with some sort of health condition/struggle following my brother’s passing. Stress is no joke; it can kill you. Not meaning to scare you I’ll also add that in rare cases if fungus enters the bloodstream and is left unchecked, up to 50% of people affected die from this condition. Crazy!
I recently went to my doctor, who by the way is one of the best doctors on the planet. This woman should teach other doctors how to do their jobs. She can actually write me a prescription for things to treat anything that I can find in Whole Foods, and can suggest lifestyle changes or food elimination to help, but she also knows about all the typical medications prescribed. God must have sent me this woman. Anyway, to cut to the chase my consumption of brown rice in moderation the past two years has finally reared its evil grainy head. That in tandem with elevated stress in my life taking its toll. Looking back I really started to notice the slight imbalance literally a month after my brother passed. It took me awhile to figure it out, but all of this together diet issues and stress of loss has been causing ongoing yeast imbalances in my body. So, it’s time to buckle down and cut brown rice out of my diet altogether. Back to being 100% carb-free! Quinoa still doesn’t bother me, and wild rice soaked is a great raw option I plan to try. The good news is after being a drama queen and thinking it was really bad, it was a relief to discover that my case is super minor and manageable compared to a lot of people suffering out there who have it ten times worse. Thanks to my doc, and of course my own research, I’ve gotten some great lifestyle recommendations that I’m sharing:
Cut out Dairy, Meat, Processed Foods, & Sugar (including natural Sugars). I think this is self-explanatory. You just can’t have it. You want the yeast to die off right? Remind yourself in the thick of the cravings why you must stay away. They say that some low-level sugar fruits may be added like berries, grapefruits, or granny smith apples, but even these should be consumed with caution. You also need to eliminate sugary or starchy veggies like carrots, potatoes, or beets.
Incorporate More Fermented Foods & Find a Great Probiotic. I’m dying to try coconut water kefir which is a naturally fermented beverage made from young coconut water. There’s also things you can eat like fermented cabbage, namely sauerkraut and kimchi, and drinks like kombucha, brewed from the scoby organism, and rejuvelac, which is made from fermented wheat berries. All of these foods along with a good probiotic supplement are going to help you crowd in your good bacteria friends, while you starve the yeast and they die off.
Stress-Less. Back to hot yoga I go! Breathing and meditation are great. We can’t predict when those tragic things in life will happen to us, but we can try to handle them as they come with grace.
Drink Lots of Water. Staying hydrated is important and keeping the cycle of replenishing fluids and flushing out toxins going.
Exercise Every Day. This is a prescription I like! The reason this is necessary for recovery is that sweating is one of our primary sources of eliminating toxins from the body.
No Alcohol. Wine, beer, and hard liquor will all make candida worse and allow the yeast to thrive. So if you are a drinker, sorry to be the one to have to tell you to cut it out.
The thing about dealing with candida is that its very similar to battling a parasite infection. There is a withdrawal period and the yeast will create cravings for carbs and sugars because that is what keeps them alive. You may also feel irritable and extra hungry even for the green stuff you are eating to starve the yeast. As I write this I’m already feeling withdrawal and its only been a day. If you can survive a full week, the cravings should start to dissipate as the yeast dies off. Cave in and eat anything sweet, and you will be back to square one. It’s tough, but you will make it through. I will too…although I will be having vivid dreams until the end of this year about eating bananas, mangoes, and a million other things.
If you are a woman and experiencing yeast infections, a vaginal suppository that has boric acid as an ingredient is great for that. Candida suffers can also try things like consuming bitter grapefruit seed extract. Oregano oil is another one that is thrown around, but my doc says it can be very harsh on the system. I’m sure I’ll be following up with more revelations or tips as I work through this. I’m aiming for at least three months, six months would be ideal but may be impossible, of no sugar in any form (God help me besides maybe one apple in a green juice), and seeing how I feel as I go along. -XoXo Raw Girl