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The Candida Mystery and PIP Friendly Foods!

by Lisa on February 22, 2011

You have spoken, and it sounds like you are interested in candida. How exciting for me…I have so much to say about it, after my extensive experience with it personally and through research. It seems like the best way for me to start, is to tell you my story and then to address the topic in installments, with some other stuff in between to build up the suspense (i.e. prevent boredom).

My story.

I moved to Boston when I was 22, and I thought I was pretty healthy, but I did have a lot of  issues with low energy and low mood. I’m not calling it depression, because it wasn’t like I was unhappy, sometimes I just…turned into a zombie and felt like I was moving through glue. I worked in the fitness program at an Air Force Base, and it was common practice for me to (1) drink some fancy sugary drinks from Dunkin Donuts in the morning and (2) to spend my whole paycheck at Whole Foods after work buying Jack Salads (named by my friend Brian–who was known for buying $18 salads and getting jacked in the gym) and fancy parfaits.

A few of my recent attempts at bacteria balance---Dr Cow nut cheese, Raw cultured ginger carrots (gonna make some again too b/c these are ridiculously expensive to buy and super cheap to make), kombucha (also brewed this, but my poor SCOBY got a mold problem. gross), and tea shots (I don't think this was for bacteria balance...I was just trying to cut back on coffee (to be less acidic)

One thing led to another, and I ended up at the doctor’s office for my very responsible annual exam. I mentioned my low energy, and my doctor shrugged it off—after all, I looked healthy and my numbers were all normal. Over the next few months, something weird started happening. Occasionally, I would wake up in the morning with a hangover…when I hadn’t had anything alcoholic to drink. I couldn’t swallow water, I was shaky, my stomach felt like rot gut. The doctor, again, told me nothing was wrong with me and that exploring my (already pretty balanced, but  not without splurges) eating habits wouldn’t help.

I explored it anyway.

Green drinks have been a major part of my quest. But the problem (candida-wise) with how most people drink their juice and smoothies is that fruits are high in sugar...which feeds the yeast problem. I don't put fruit in my juice. I use stevia. It's awesome!

We all always have some yeast in our bodies, and this is good. I found out that candida (yeast) imbalance or overgrowth is a major problem for many people, and when it is out of balance in the digestive tract or throughout the body, it is pretty difficult to diagnose (versus when it shows up in a more obvious way. ahem. You know what I mean.). The problem even when it does show up in an obvious way, is that it can be a symptom of a deeper inner problem or it can be just a localized bacterial imbalance. If the vaginal yeast infection (yes, that’s what I’m talking about) is treated with an OTC or prescription drug, this can be helpful for a localized imbalance (but isn’t recommended for recurring issues or digestive/systemic based problems—and it takes a little mystery-solving to figure out the origin). I don’t actually recommend the drugs for anyone. Things like garlic, caprylic acid, boric acid, and tea tree oil can be used too, with fewer side effects if done correctly.

Drugs can lead to Super Bugs and a much worse problem.

Here's one of the nut cheeses up close...this one had seaweed in it. Way expensive, but really yummy. I'll also be making my own of this again soon.

In my own experience with candida, I had atypical symptoms, like the hangovers, lethargy, skin issues, etc. For other people it can show up as digestive issues (gluten intolerance, IBS, constipation or diarrhea, bloating, gas…you get the idea), emotional imbalances, all kinds of skin issues, sinus problems, headaches, and more. Lucky for me, atypical symptoms did not lead me to try drugs to fix it. Unlucky for me, I found out through research, that antibiotic use, birth control pills, and other medications are known to cause yeast imbalance. I had been on antibiotics and birth control pills for a combined total of 8 years at that point (and continued the bc pills for another 8 after that…what was I going to do? It made my skin clear, and that seemed like a good enough compromise at the time). I did enough damage, and did not have the tendency toward the more obvious symptoms, so that I did not investigate this soon enough…or believe fully the depth of the problem.

Before I go on, consider taking this candida quiz. It’s not automated…you’ll have to add up some numbers!

Candida imbalance has been linked to so many disorders and conditions, including autism and many chronic diseases. Donna Gates is one of the leaders in the field, and I recommend her book, Body Ecology Diet very highly. I’ll pick up here next time, with more info about my experience, the problem, and what to do about it!

I will say that wanting to get to the actual root of the problem is a big reason for me to be doing my Personal Improvement Plan (PIP). PIP helps me to address things that go really deeply into my health, and with a healthy person like me, I think that regardless if the whole problem is candida…whatever is going on needs a break from all the junk in life, physically and emotionally. I’ll do a PIP update soon. Maybe not till Thursday because I’ve got a jam packed schedule that includes Matthew and skiing (and hopefully cuddling)…

Some PIP friendly foods:

I'm not going crazy with the body ecology diet right now...because if I was, I wouldn't eat any nightshades (tomatoes) or beans (mung bean pasta here). But I have limited my carbs to complex carbs from veggies and beans only (no fruit and no sugar). This is Joe's sauce...so I know there's no added sugar!

The goop for kale chips---I used hemp seeds this time instead of cashews. Cashews are better, but I'm still going to use hummus one of these days!

I've been eating a lot of this, Avocado chocolate pudding: 1 avo, 1 scoop sun warrior, 2tbsp cacao powder, 1tbsp maca, lots of liquid stevia (to taste), and sometimes I throw in a little yacon. This is super high calorie---but that doesn't seem to matter b/c since I've de-puffed on PIP, I've lost 3.6 pounds.

The chocolate pudding makes me wish my head could fit in the blender so I could lick out all the stuff I can’t scrape out. Just being honest.

On Thursday or Friday, I’m going to talk about why I think I’ve lost a couple pounds, and what my results from PIP have been so far.

Have you ever lost weight without trying?

Do you have a favorite sugar free, non-dairy, vegan, gluten-free, no-egg, no-soy recipe snack to share with me? I need variety!

Do you have any experience (or think you may have) with candida?


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