Candida albicans is a yeast organism that is part of the gut flora that everyone has in their mouth and intestine. The Candida normally lives in symbiosis with other healthy bacteria. It helps detect and destroy pathogenic bacteria that can enter the body, but when your immune system is under stress the Candida can take over quickly and multiply. As the Candida multiplies it produces toxic by-products that cause damage to your body tissues and organs and compromises your immune system. The Candida can permeate the intestinal wall creating microscopic holes that cause leaky gut syndrome and food allergies when toxins enter the blood stream.
Candida can cause a number of debilitating symptoms and the range and severity is unique to each person. It can often go undiagnosed because the symptoms may all apear unrelated. These are my symptoms:
- allergies - sugar cane specifically
- fatigue, never feeling well rested even after lots of sleep
- poor digestion - diarrhea, bloating
- carbohydrate cravings
- irritability, mood swings
- brain fog, difficulty concentrating/mind wandering
- skin rash - Tinea versicolor, cheeks flushing
- cold extremities
I also was tested for Candida in my allergy testing which showed I am having an immunological response to the bacteria.
|Blood sample taken December 7, 2011|
So how did my immune system get so stressed?!
I think it was a combination of multiple things. When I was 14 I started taking birth control and antibiotics to clear my skin of acne. I was willing to do anything and it really did help. I took birth control all throughout high school and a few years in University. So far I've been off birth control for 3 years.
Also, I'm a big sugar addict and love eating muffins, cookies and of course chocolate. I probably at at least one of those three things everyday since middle school up until I found the paleo diet.
Lastly, I am a "worrier". Although it may seem like I handle stressful situations well on the outside and that I'm fairly calm, I often feel "stressed out" even over the smallest things. I really should have read the book "Don't sweat the small stuff" when my mom gave it to me one of my teenage years.
Not only do I have to change my diet to overcome the candida overgrowth, I also need to de-stress. I tend to take on too many things at once and overload myself. I'm one of those people who have a hard time saying no when I'm asked a favor, or to help out with something. I am now aware of this and that it is causing a problem to my health so I'm working on avoiding stressful situations and also looking at things in a different perspective. My first change was for the month of December, I bought a metro pass instead of riding my bike to work. When I bike, I leave at the very last minute I can to make it to work on time, which would lead to me riding as fast as I could, getting all sweaty, and worrying about being late.
Following a sugar-restricted diet mainly of fresh vegetables, chicken, wild game, fish and eggs will clear the overgrowth of Candida and reduce inflammation in the gut so that it has a chance to heal. These foods are also not taxing on the liver, promoting optimal digestion and detoxification.
So far the sugar/carb restriction has been going well, I haven't had any big cravings and my new treat is having a spoonful (or two...) of coconut oil. I just let it melt in my mouth and it's the most delicious thing ever! (I use the brand Nutiva). My energy levels seem to be improving and I've been less irritable this week.
More to come about details of my symptoms!