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Candida The yeast in my life
Written by Beki Johnson. Monday, March 12th, 2012
After years of health problems, hives, rashes, heart problems, passing out, trips to the hospital under blue lights, sexual health problems and generally feeling poorly, one day it dawned on me that they were all linked. A friend of mine was telling me how she had figured out she was a celiac, and she showed me a list of symptoms of an allergic reaction – guess what! 90% of them were very familiar! I made an appointment with the doctors, but after many tests, and a lot of random tablets thrown at me, the doctor was adamant that I have no problem with food, and that it was my heart tablets causing the problem (despite the fact my problems went further back then my tablets!)
After much frustration I went to the Chinese herbalist shop in town, and paid of a hair analysis allergy test. They explained that the blood tests the doctors do only show allergies, where as the hair analysis test show’s food intolerances. They found I was intolerant to Wheat, chocolate, caffeine, yeast, all alcohol, nuts, and had a slight reaction to bananas, dust, pollen, animal dander, avocados and citrus fruit, once I removed the food items from my diet, straight away I started to feel better.
On my visit to the cardiologist before my allergy tests, I told him I thought it was food related, which he agreed could be the cause, but we need to figure it out. On my last visit, I was proud to tell him that since I have cut these foods out my diet I hadn’t had any more problems with my heart. He agreed straight away, and said the caffeine alcohol and chocolate are known things to cause heart problems, so he immediately took me off my tablets! Result! I knew I didn’t need to be on them.
Although I had now stopped putting more unwanted things in my body, I wasn’t happy; I knew I hadn’t quite found the answer yet. The more I read online, the more I knew I had Candida – it all made sense! But kept reading how the Candida diet made you really ill, and there was no way my partner was going to let me do it because he was concerned about me. He was also very sceptical about me doing things on my own, and not through the doctor. I was already taking pro-biotic tablets, and had been for years from an earlier self diagnosis about the huge amount of yeast I seemed to be producing.
It was around this time that I started making contacts online, such as Bunmi at Foods you can, and Rebecca at Candida can be fun, who were both very supportive. They both gave me a lot of help and advice, when I felt I had no one else to turn to.
I should mention here that because I couldn’t eat chocolate, I had started eating a lot more sweets, and was using them as an energy source on nights out! Then when I went to meet up with some friends in October I hadn’t seen for a year, I found out my friends mum was on the Candida diet, and I realised how naive I had been about it all – apparently I shouldn’t have been eating sugar as it feeds the yeast overgrowth!!!! Well…. when I got home, I sat with sweets in front of me thinking, I will eat these and then no more… but I couldn’t make myself eat them! I felt physically sick at the thought of what they were doing to me! So my partner then got the task of eating all the sweets in the house!
In the first week of November whilst away on holiday in Scotland I came to a decision that I was going to do the Candida diet, and that as soon as we got back, there would be no more sugar. I enjoyed the week and even had one last eat what I want meal and pudding, ‘I don’t care how I react!’
The first hurdle was figuring out what extra I COULDN’T eat… My god! EVERTHING seemed to have sugar in it! That was one painful shopping trip, half the food I had adjusted to eating with my intolerances I could no longer eat, the gluten free section now only has a couple of items I can eat.
I sorted my food out, and started eating my new diet. The effect hit me within a day! I started feeling ill, and tired. I struggled through the first week at work, but by the weekend, it was getting really bad and I had lost half a stone. Diarrhoea and sickness started; there was no going to work the next Monday. I then proceeded from day to day with different symptoms, one day I was on the toilet, the next I was curled up on the sofa with a hot water bottle crying with the pain in my stomach. I wasn’t much interested in eating. I went through the motions with the doctors, in case I needed a sick note the following week, but they didn’t have a clue, and were giving me random tablets. By Sunday it was still looking peaky as my diarrhoea had started again, but I felt a bit better then next day, so I ventured into work. The week to follow was a little better, but not much. I was tired and still had a lot of stomach ache, and not a nice week for people to be around me with my moods as unpredictable as they had become.
My energy was shot, I could hardly do anything without getting tired, and how I carried on at work I have no idea. I wanted to clean through the house before Christmas, but that was not going to happen. The first weekend of December, sat on the sofa feeling sorry for myself, I decided I wanted to try and put the Christmas tree up in the mess of a living room I didn’t have the energy to tidy, I managed to get it out the box and put together, but not pulled out into a tree shape before I had to sit down and do nothing for the rest of the day, I felt sick, dizzy and tired. It took me about a week to complete the tree.
It was during this week that I spoke to Rebecca at Candida can be fun, who passed my details onto a nutritionalist who comes to my area. Sarah from Nutritional Vitality came to see me mid December, we spoke about every period of sickness, or anything I had had wrong with me in my life, and we pin pointed the start of all this to be when I was only a few years old. I went through a bout of chest infections and had many courses of anti-biotics, which would kill the beneficial bacteria as well as the bad, and at a stage where I was only just developing the bacteria in my stomach, I may not have developed properly in the first place, meaning I probably had a yeast over growth from being a baby.
This would explain the problems I had as a child, including a constant scab right across my scalp. It was not nice and I had to have special treatment for it, I still have problems to this day, but not so bad.
Sarah confirmed that I was suffering from Candida and that when I cut out the sugar this was the start of dye off and possibly partly withdrawal. Sarah put together a diet plan for me of things I should and should not eat, and a list of tablets I should start taking, stronger pro-biotics and some to boost my immune system. We decided because I had reacted so bad to taking the sugar out, I would not be able to cope with killing the yeast off just yet. Because I had been like this for so long, we would be better to build up my depleted immune system while continuing to starve the yeast.
I had started to feel better by the time I saw Sarah, but when I took the extra things out my diet and adjusted my eating again, I started to get poorly again. My rashes started to come up again, my moods went crazy, I felt ill, and gradually I became more and more tired. The house was a state by this point as I wasn’t helping with anything. It was Christmas and I didn’t feel well, and didn’t even know what I would eat on Christmas day. It was a very hard month for me, partly because of what I was going through, but at work I was surrounded by chocolates, cakes, buffets… I couldn’t get away from it, so to add to my moods I was also getting depressed and it was making me angry at my colleagues.
My energy levels and the state of me started making my partner angry, he didn’t like to see me like this and hated that I was paying for treatment when I only seemed to be getting worse, so the stress at home made it even harder to cope with. I felt like I had no support at home or work and that I was on my own. I so badly knew I needed to do this and I wanted to prove them all wrong.
January wasn’t much better. I felt in myself I was doing well, my skin was better, my spots had cleared up! I’ve never had clear skin on my face before, but despite all this, I was still ill. I started to notice that I was missing things at work. I am normally on top of everything, and know what’s happening with my case load, but I started to miss silly things. I was already getting worried about it when someone pointed out something I had missed that should have been done weeks ago – instead of just dealing with it as I would have in the past, I burst into tears. I ended up in the rest room with my manager bawling my eyes out about how it was all going wrong and I felt like I was letting everyone down. It seems a few of my colleagues had already been to him concerned about me and my condition.
I will say here… it got easier…
As my energy came back, I learnt a lot more about cooking, and different foods. I learnt to enjoy a lot more vegetables, and different ways to use them. At Christmas we managed to have a nice Christmas dinner, and mum even made me a sugar free pudding, with sugar free custard! As I started feeling like myself again my partner even started to come round to it as even he had to agree he had seen an improvement.
I saw my Nutritionalist again in February, and luckily my health had pulled up enough for us to consider moving onto the next phase… anti-fungals. Earlier in the month I had a day where I felt really poorly, and the thought of starting anti-fungals really quite upset me. There was always the possibility that if the yeast has not yet died off, that I will become poorly again. The thought of getting poorly like I was back in November was a painful thought…. but I had come this far, there was no turning back. I started the tablets at 1 a day to start with in case I reacted to them. The idea being that we would try to keep the reactions to a minimum, which meant taking them over a possible 3 months instead of the usual 6 weeks.
I am now on week 3 of the tablets and I’m taking 3 a day! I’ve had no reactions, so fingers crossed the yeast has already died through starving it, which means by the time I finish this course of tablets, I may be able to re-introduce some foods back into my diet!
Back in January, when I went back to my Zumba classes with my mum, I struggled to make it through the hour, in fact one week I sat out for ¾ of it! But each week I have gradually improved, I worked up to being able to do the full hour at minimal effort. Likewise, a month ago at the gym, I was alarmed at how weak I had become, I had already discovered that I could no longer do Cardio work, my body just couldn’t take it, a few minutes made me dizzy and sick, and set me off balance for the next few days. I could still do muscle work, but I had to drop the weight and reps right down. I am pleased to say that Tuesday this week I managed to push myself and do a really good work out at Zumba, the following night I did 10 minutes on the treadmill at a steady 5 miles per hour, followed by a decent work out with the weights. Then again on Friday I repeated the gym routine, but with a lightly faster pace on the treadmill.
It has been a very hard experience but I look at it and think – 1 year of not eating much nice food is nothing compared to living the next 70 years in pain and discomfort, which was the alternative!
I would recommend to anyone to get a hair analysis test, as it changed my life. I feel like I have my health finally and have my life back. I still have a few months to go before I proceed to a liver detox, and to re-build my body’s supply of various vitamins and minerals, then hopefully soon after that I can start bringing foods back into my diet. Now my stomach is getting sorted out, there is a possibility I will be able to tolerate some of the original foods again! So there may be hope yet!
Either way – as hard as all this has been – it’s defiantly been worth the pain!!
Follow Beki’s blog at - http://myintolerantlife.blogspot.com/