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Friday, April 9, 2010


This subject is controversial in the medical community, but here it is:  Candida!  The information below is what I learned from my reading and my doctor.  Most conventional doctors do not believe that a systemic Candida infection is possible.  They confuse it with a much more serious condition which cancer patients can get.  The book "The Yeast Connection" addresses the common misconceptions made by doctors and explains this much better than I can.  In England, Candida is much more accepted in the medical community.  In fact, that's where I first heard about it.  A teacher I worked with over there ate avocados and rice cakes every day for lunch.  When I asked why, I was educated by her.  Later, I met several more people (in England) who were diagnosed with Candida by their doctors.  Over here, no one has heard of it.

After my Functional Medicine Practitioner (Dr. Cooper) did endless tests, she diagnosed me with a Candida (yeast) overgrowth in my digestive system.  (I won't go into detail about HOW they can test for this....but they can test for it.)

We all have Candida in our digestive tract and it usually isn't a problem because the "good" bacteria keeps it in check.  However, frequent doses of antibiotics kill the good bacteria and the yeast can grow out of balance.  In addition, a diet which is high in sugar and refined carbs will feed the yeast, which also helps it to grow out of proportion.

Now, I have never had a yeast infection where a lot of women have yeast infections so I didn't think I had a problem.  BUT - this diagnosis is the only thing I have come across which makes sense of all my symptoms.  I did have a lot of ear infections and strep throat infections as a child so I did take multiple rounds of antibiotics.  In addition, I am a sugar fiend!  For years, I ate a lot of sugar and sweet things.  No wonder I'm out of balance. 

My symptoms and possible causes:
  • migraine headaches - Dr. Cooper thinks my headaches are caused by digestive issues having to do with the candida.  Toxins released by the candida can cause a variety of symptoms including migraines.  Also, I lack the chromosome that helps the body detox so the toxins build up in my system.  
  • itchy skin - sometimes when I exercise, I'll start to itch all over.  It's weird.  No doctor has ever been able to figure out why.  (Am I allergic to exercise?)  Anyway, I was reading "The Yeast Connection" and it said that candida can travel through the blood stream and cause itching.
  • leaky gut syndrome - It's not what it sounds like!  Apparently, the Candida yeast shoots out runners (like a strawberry plant) which can pierce the intestinal wall.  Microscopic food particles can "leak" out which your body attacks like an invader.  Dr. Cooper found undigested gluten particles in my blood when she tested it.  The only way they can get there is through the intestinal wall.  
  • feeling sick all over - Vague symptoms and feeling sick all over is an indication of a Candida infection.  It is frustrating to go to the doctor and have them tell you "it's all in your head".
  • severe carb cravings - As I said before, Candida feeds on sugar and refined carbs.  When you don't eat these things, the Candida starts to die and it will send signals to your brain to eat sugar.  If it doesn't get it, it will make you feel terrible until you do.  For years I could never figure out why I always felt awful when I tried to eat healthily.  Then, when I ate french fries and a coke, I instantly felt better! This did not make sense to me until now.  I had to suck it up and feel terrible for 3 days until the sugar was out of my system.  (Seriously!  I felt like I had the flu for 3 whole day just because of not eating sugar and refined carbs.)  
  • infertility - Yep.  Candida can cause that too!
Dr. Cooper says there are three ways to get rid of yeast:
1.  Kill the yeast - take an antifungal like Nystatin or Diflucan
2.  Replace the yeast - take a probiotic to replace the good bacteria. (Eating yogurt is NOT enough.  Plus, there's sugar in most commercial yogurt which feeds the yeast and makes it worse.) 
3.  Stop feeding it - no sugar or anything which turns into sugar.  Not even fruit sugar!  And no alcohol either.  (Drinking alcohol is like throwing gasoline on a fire.  It just flares up.)

The above remedies are temporary.  Once the imbalance it corrected you can enjoy fruit again in moderation.  It takes a long time to get rid of Candida though.  6 months to a year in most cases.  I have been on the Candida Diet for 6 months now.  I lost 30 pounds on it.

Anyway, you can take or leave what I wrote here.  This works for me.  Here are some books that I found immensely helpful:

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