Let’s talk about yeast baby, let’s talk about you and me, let’s talk about all the good things, and the bad things that it brings, let’s talk about it!
Yeast. Wonderful stuff if you’re baking bread, rolls or some desserts. Not nearly so welcome when it’s lodged in your system and creating the kind of havoc that only yeast can cause. I woke this morning and realized I had become an unwilling incubator for this most irritating of substances. Yeast. Candida. Thrush (and I’m not talking about the songbird!). Yuk!
I’m going to make a confession right from the start here. I’m a slow learner. Yep. I just don’t get it a lot of the time. And I’m supremely gifted at ignoring the signals sent to my brain by my very own body. Upon waking and seeing the white coating on my tongue this morning, it slowly dawned on me that my poor beleaguered body has been begging me to see the signals it’s been hurling at me. The fatigue. For no reason I’ve been just dragging. Loss of interest in activity. The desire to sleep much more, but trouble sleeping. It feels like depression, but it’s not. Weight gain for no apparent reason. A troubled tummy. Bloating, indigestion, gas and often diarrhea. Then, a steady ramp-up of joint pain. Increased incidence of the tendonitis that’s part and parcel of my condition, as well as the fibromyalgia type of pain and tenderness. Up and down appetite. Brain fog. Skin issues. In fact, my right hand is peeling and looks like it has contact dermatitis. It doesn’t, I’ve got candida.
The list of symptoms is looooong and annoying.
- Abdominal gas and bloating
- Acid reflux
- Excessive fatigue
- Cravings for alcohol
- Cravings for sweets
- Cognitive impairment: inability to think clearly or concentrate, poor memory and learning difficulties
- Mood swings
- Vaginitis (vaginal inflammation, leading to itchy, red vagina, sometimes with foul-smelling discharge)
- Itchy, furry tongue
- Rectal itching
- Itching in other parts of the body
- Mouth sores or tenderness
- Sinusitis (sinus inflammation)
- Pre-menstrual syndrome
- Persistent cough
- Low sex drive
- Muscle weakness
- Sensitivity to fragrances and/or other chemicals
- Athlete’s foot
- Sore throat
- Chronic pain
- Nighttime urination.
[Sarah: in my recent two-part interview with Dr Teitelbaum, I addressed how Dr. T believes yeast to be an underlying cause of chronic fatigue syndrome and often routinely treats his patients with the anti-fungal medication Diflucan. Many of these symptoms also resemble those of hypothyroidism, but it is possible for both conditions to be concurrent.]
I’ve got most of this list going on right now and, trust me, life has been increasingly unpleasant over the last month as it’s grown and I’ve ignored it. In fact, I think I’ll have another cookie while I suffer! Seriously, sugar has invaded my life in a big way and I’ve been guilty of feeding it daily. I noticed a few weeks ago that I had been consuming a LOT of sweetened food items. Like a little redheaded bee to honey. Literally! You see, I just moved back to the United States after living in China for almost five years. I’m also gluten free, and didn’t have access to most of the lovely substitute products available here, like all the cookie, cake and bread mixes. My father, saint that he is, would ship me care packages a couple times a year and I would have a brief, glorious treat then. But that was it. Since coming home, I’ve ingested cookies, cakes, doughnuts, waffles and all that good stuff I’d been missing for so long. Oh, that left a lot less room in my expanding tummy for veggies and low-carb fruits and soups and the like. Hmmmmm. Is it any wonder I’ve developed a problem?? I think not.
I’d like to add a side note here about gluten intolerance. Many of the symptoms of gluten allergy, sensitivity or even celiac disease mimic the yeast symptoms, with a few exceptions. You can go to the doctor and be tested for both of these conditions. Since I know I’ve been really good with being gluten free, and I still have thrush and the severe gas (pretty, ain’t it??) and indigestion, I know this is a yeast issue. But, if you have any doubt or are confused, get thee to the physician and have a sit-down conversation with them about it. It is always better to go that extra step than to guess. A word though, many physicians don’t really give yeast its due, so if you don’t have gluten intolerance, and you still feel bad, try the cleanse. It’s not an unhealthy thing to do and you will most likely feel better from it, regardless. Hey, we all know it’s never a bad idea to cut back on sweets, right?
So, as the realization hits me, the dread at what comes next follows. Yes, I MUST undergo a stabilizing anti-yeast protocol. Oh joy. Never done one? Not fun. And like I said, a minimum of two months is needed. What does it entail? Stopping. Stopping the breads and the cookies. And the rice and grains that even a gluten-free guy or gal can eat. Oh! Did I just say “guy??” oh yes I did! You fellas can become overrun by yeast as well. Especially if you’ve got an autoimmune disease. The no-no list is long. Sigh.
-No caffeine (caffeine prompts the liver to dump large doses of sugar into the bloodstream)
-No preservatives and additives
-No refined and processed foods
-No moldy foods
-No dairy (except yogurt and butter on occasion)
Cheese and milk contain lactose (milk sugar) which the yeast will feed on.
(some people can do small amounts of cottage cheese)
What can I eat?
-Lean meat and fish
-High protein and vegetables
-Low fruit and nuts
The basic and most successful anti-candida diet should consist of nothing but lean meat, eggs, and low-carbohydrate vegetables. A small amount of whole fruit, nuts and seeds may be acceptable if they don’t cause symptoms to flare.
I will also add in some other items in the form of herbs and antibacterials. There are kits available aplenty that help kill yeast and balance the system. I will take a prebiotic and probiotic[i], drink plenty of warm green tea and lemon water with grapefruit seed extract or oil of oregano (which, by the way, smells foul and tastes the same. But it works!) There is a ton of information online about diets and protocol. I prefer a few diets due to their high information and low hype content. This is a tough cleanse, no doubt. But if you have any of the symptoms, or are feeling sluggish and wrong in general, a month on this protocol may not be a bad idea. With the focus on whole, healthy natural foods, herbs and vitamins, it might just be the pick-me-up your beleaguered body needs. And don’t we all want to slide into summer in a healthy, slimmer, glowing body? I know I do. After all, there is too much fun to be had, not to mention cute shoes and clothing to be worn, to be sidelined by yeast and illness. I’m putting my money where my mouth is, so that I don’t have room in there for sugar! Happy spring cleansing, everyone!
[i] Prebiotics are best described as the nourishment the probiotic bacteria need to grow and colonize the bowels. They are more commonly referred to as synbiotics. The most common kind of prebiotic is made of fructo-oligosaccharide molecules. These are short-chain sugar molecules containing fructose. The exciting thing about prebiotics is that, as they travel through our stomach and small intestines, we are not able to take prebiotic molecules and digest them ourselves. The molecules, therefore, pass through untouched and are available for probiotic bacteria to use as nutrition for their own purposes. Ideal nutrition plus healthy bacteria make for a perfect environment inside the colon for these bacteria to colonize and wipe out the pathogenic bacteria.
While probiotics and prebiotics are taken orally in capsule or tablet form, they do not simply stop doing an effective job of recolonizing the body’s micro-environment once they colonize the colon. Scientific research has shown that colonizing the colon with healthy bacteria also alters the colonization of the micro-environments of the genital areas, the mouth and the skin. By using probiotics and prebiotic supplements, the micro-environment of the entire body can be optimized and can keep pathogenic bacteria from gaining an unwelcome foothold on your body systems.