Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Yeast Cleanse Plan

This post was actually written, by me, almost 2 years ago and posted on another website. I decided to repost it here on my blog, just for information purposes. Yeast can be a real problem for a lot of people. I struggle with keeping it at bay. Sticking to a yeast free diet it tough.

I don't call it a diet plan because I don't like the word diet. Any word that contains the word die and requires food deprivation is not a word I want in my vocabulary, so live-it it is. First, let me give you a bit of background as to why I am on this live-it plan in the first place and briefly explain what Candida is.

Candida Albicans are a group of fungi (or yeast) that grow normally in the human gut and mouth. When these flora are in balance there is no problem, but if they start growing out of control, they produce toxic by-products in the body that disrupt normal body functions and cause a host of problems.

 One of the major contributors to a yeast overgrowth is a diet filled with too much sugar and simple carbohydrates. They literally feed the yeast and the yeast multiply. Another cause is overuse of antibiotics. This kills off all the good bacteria in the intestines and allows the yeast to multiply unchecked. If left untreated, we start to have a number of unpleasant symptoms like these:

*Abdominal pain - sometimes confused with IBS; Fatigue - you struggle to get up in the mornings; Bloating, gas, indigestion - again, sometimes confused with IBS; Oral Thrush - sometimes appearing as white film on the tongue; Joint pain - sometimes confused with arthritis; Weight gain - very resistant to dieting; Fungus - on your fingernails, or athlete's foot; Confusion, dizziness- you struggle to keep up with life; Urinary infections - antibiotics don't help; Red, itching eyes - no eye remedies help; Rashes and itching - from a yeast infection; Depression or mood swings - occur randomly and without warning; Cravings - for alcohol and sweets; Acne - and other skin problems like eczema

It was the symptoms highlighted in red that sent me to the doctor's office about 3 weeks ago. He ran a number of blood tests and a gall bladder scan and they all came out normal. The only thing I did have was a vaginal yeast infection.

 I cried for almost a whole day because I knew there was something wrong with me. I had been experiencing these symptoms for quite some time and had just ignored them or put them off as a sign that I was getting older - nothing to do about that. But, there came a time when I could not longer ignore it; I had reached that point.

 I had heard about Candida overgrowth before, so I looked it up. Source after source listed symptoms almost identical to mine, so I couldn't ignore the possibility that this is indeed what I had. I was hesitant to bring it up to the doctor because this condition is not something that is recognized as 'real' in the scientific community.

 I figured I had nothing to lose by telling him and I am glad I did because as luck would have it, he believed me. He said that he has other patients who have it and in the absence of any clinical reason for my symptoms (ie the normal test results) a diagnosis of candidiasis was reasonable. He put me on a course of Diflucan and the rest was up to me. That is where the work comes in and the live-it plan begins.

In my web searches I found an overwhelming amount of information, and not just a little bit of quackery, out there. I steered clear of all websites that claimed that only through buying their products were you assured of full recovery of your yeast overgrowth, or ones that claimed to cure Autism, ADD, cancer and other disorders/diseases and concentrated on websites that were balanced and straightforward in their approach.

 What I found in each and every site I visited is that I would have to go on a diet - there's that word again. I really did not want to change my diet, but I felt so horrible, and was so desperate, not to mention horrified at the number on the scale at the doctor's office, that I was willing to try anything. 

The diet is very restrictive. You need to avoid sugar, fruit, gluten, cheese and most dairy, alcohol, mushrooms, some nuts, potatoes, chocolate, caffeine, and any additives derived from yeast. Now. Let me tell you something - that list of no-nos WAS my diet.

 I had never been a big meat eater and for the past few months had even started to cut out meat more and more, toying with the idea of becoming a vegetarian. It was no wonder my system was so jacked up. I was thinking - what can I eat.

Turns out there is quite a bit that I can eat and I am learning to not only survive, but to thrive on this live-it plan of mine. Let me tell you this, though, I did not cut out my coffee and tea. I figured that even if it took me a little longer to cleanse my body, I was not going to give it up. I may at a later date.

 I eat plenty of green leafy vegetables, celery, broccoli, tomatoes, onion, bell peppers. garlic and live cultured yogurt, because these are super foods for fighting yeast, as is lean protein in the form of meat, nuts (excluding peanuts and pistachios) and eggs. Some other foods that are not necessarily yeast fighters, but are neutral and can be eaten moderately are brown and wild rice, millet and quinoa. The only sweetener that you can use (sparingly) is pure stevia..

The first three - five days was horrible. I experienced what is called die off, which is where all of the yeast are dying off, and their dead little yeasty selves floating around my body made me feel like I was coming down with the flu or something. It was very unpleasant, plus I craved, craved, craved sugar and bread. Once I was over the hump though, I felt so much better that I figured I could actually do it.

 I have energy, my skin is clearing up and has stopped itching, my heartburn is gone, my runny red eyes have cleared up, I'm not dizzy any more. I was amazed at just how quickly things could turn around. Probably the greatest side effect is that I lost 10 pounds in two week - and not by starving myself. I eat a lot of food. I have learned some creative ways to cook and have a new-found love for foods that I didn't bother eating before. I was never a picky eater - I'll eat just about anything, but I did have a preference for sweet, starchy and cheesy food and would eat them more often than anything else.

I should also note, that along with the live-it plan and the Diflucan prescribed by the doctor, I am also taking some supplements to help keep the yeast at bay. I bought an all in one supplement called CandiGone, which has an assemblage of herbal ingredients, but you can buy them all separately if you so choose.

 If you only want to use a few supplements, I would suggest grapefruit seed extract, garlic,, oregano oil, pau d' arco root bark, and a good probiotic. There are also a lot of colon cleansing products on the market that are sometimes recommended to clean the system out, since constipation is a common symptom of candidiasis, there is often a back up of - matter, in the colon that needs to be cleaned out. I chose not to do a full cleanse, but have added psyllium and senna to my daily supplement regimen.

Now, moving forward. Am I going to have to be on this live-it plan for the rest of my life? Maybe. Maybe not. There is no scientific research that conclusively gives a formula for how long you need to be on this plan, so it is up to the individual to determine what your body can handle.

 What I plan to do is stay on this plan for three months and then slowly add back in a few foods and see how I tolerate it. Sugar will be the last thing I add back, and I may treat it like a drug to which I am addicted and abstain from it for the long haul or I may have an occasional piece of cake or a cookie. I'm not sure.

I hope that my story will help someone else identify candidiasis in themselves, or at least spurs someone to advocate for themselves when doctor after doctor says that all the tests are normal. We often have to be bold and find out information on our own. Doctors are a great resource, but they don't know everything.

Resources:

The Candida Diet * above list of symptoms was copied from this website

Every Diet

Holistic Health Solutions

Complete Candida Yeast Guidebook

Candida Control Cookbook

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