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My Battle with Candida and How I Healed My Gut

October 15, 2013

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For most of my adult life, I’ve had stomachaches. I never really thought much of it. I figured everyone had them, and if mine were slightly worse, it was just genetic and there was nothing I could do about it.

It wasn’t until I went to culinary school and they became increasingly worse that I realized there was probably something going on with my digestive system. My doctor tested me for celiac disease and when the results came back negative, she said there was nothing left to do but an elimination diet. I decided to take things into my own hands and did a little digging on the internet until I came across a Candida quiz. Sure enough, I had many of the symptoms.

What is Candida?

Put simply, Candida is an overgrowth of yeast in your gut. The presence of yeast in your intestines is natural and only starts to give you problems when it multiplies and becomes too much for the good bacteria in your gut to fight off.  Candida feeds off of sugar and refined carbohydrates, so if you have a diet very heavy in these foods, chances are you might have Candida overgrowth in your gut. Candida overgrowth has also been linked to the use of oral contraceptives, excessive consumption of alcohol, antibiotics, and living a high stress lifestyle.

What are the symptoms of Candida overgrowth?

 Here are the top ten symptoms that people with Candida overgrowth experience:

  1. Digestive issues such as bloating, constipation or diarrhea and frequent stomachaches
  2. Difficulty focusing and poor memory
  3. Trouble sleeping
  4. Vaginal or urinary tract infections
  5. Strong seasonal allergies
  6. Irritability and moodiness or even anxiety and depression.
  7. Skin and nail fungal infections
  8. Feeling run down and tired all of the time, even when you have gotten enough sleep
  9. Strong sugar and starch cravings
  10. Autoimmune diseases, particularly skin-related ones like psoriasis 

How do you test for Candida overgrowth?

Most primary care doctors do not treat for Candida. However, there are a few ways to test the Candida levels in your body. The first is a blood test. Have your doctor run tests to check your IgG, IgM and IgA levels. Very high levels indicate overgrowth.

The next option is a stool test, which can be the most accurate way to test for Candida. The level of yeast in your stool will determine the overgrowth level in your gut. 

The final way, and the way I chose to get my diagnosis, was from a naturopathic chiropractor specializing in a process called nutrition response testing. My doctor used vials of different bacteria, viruses, and foods to determine what I was sensitive to and what bacteria was ailing my digestive tract.

Can you treat Candida?

Yes! The most effective way to treat Candida is to change your lifestyle, particularly your diet. For me, that meant going on a strict 21-day Candida cleanse which means absolutely no sugar (even fruit) or simple carbohydrates. This eliminates the food source for the yeast so that it isn’t able to continue multiplying. In addition to the diet, my doctor put me on a series of Chinese herbs that helped my healing process. This is something that is unique to each patient and will need to be discussed with your naturopathic doctor.

If you don’t want to see a doctor, you can also try taking a daily probiotic in conjunction with the candida cleanse. It will increase the number of good Candida-fighting bacteria in your gut.

There are several books and diets that can help you determine if you have Candida overgrowth and help you get rid of it. The Candida Diet is a good option to explore as well as The Body Ecology Diet.  Living with Candida overgrowth is very uncomfortable, so if you think any of the symptoms sound like what you have, I highly encourage doing more research into the topic to see if a Candida cleanse could work for you.