So.... what is "candida" anyway? Do you mean Canadia? The candida diet isn't all that popular (even in the world of a health food store and its vast number of visitors!) I'm going to sum its unpopularity up as having one main reason: it's a really strict diet and requires some lifestyle changes. Then there are sub-causes, like the overwhelming unavailability of proper foods to eat publicly while on it (though I'm sure learning and finding more as I go!) A second sub-cause is that people are very unaware of it. And I'll even branch out to say a third cause is people (like myself) who are fully aware of it and are well-equipped (knowledgeably) to carry it out........... but don't... because it's hard. (Sub-cause #4 is that alcohol feeds the fungus, and haulting drinking isn't at the top of most peoples' agendas....) I WOULD LIKE TO ADD: You do not have to become vegetarian to follow the candida diet. As a matter of fact, it's much easier if you aren't. That being said, I give you.......*drum roll*..... Candida Albicans Unmasked:
Candida Albicans is an opportunistic fungus (or form of yeast) that is the cause of many undesirable symptoms ranging from fatigue and weight gain, to joint pain and gas.
The Candida yeast is a part of the gut flora, a group of microorganisms that live in your mouth and intestine. When the Candida population starts getting out of control it weakens the intestinal wall, penetrating through into the bloodstream and spreading throughout the body.
As it spreads it produces toxic by-products that cause damage to your body tissues and organs, wreaking havoc on your immune system. The major waste product of yeast cell activity is Acetaldehyde, a poisonous toxin that promotes free radical activity in the body. Acetaldehyde is also converted by the liver into ethanol (drinking alcohol). Some people even report feeling a drunk or hungover feeling along with debilitating fatigue from the high amounts of ethanol is their system.
Do You Have Candida?
Everyone has Candida, and a significant proportion of us may have Candidiasis, or an overgrowth of Candida. Candida starts to cause trouble when there is some change in your body that allows it to overgrow. This change could be anything from a few courses of antibiotics, a prolonged diet rich in carbohydrates and sugar, or even something as common as a lengthy period of stress at work.
So it's a tough call. The symptoms are so wide-ranging that Candidiasis can be misdiagnosed easier than it can even be diagnosed! How do you know if you have Candidiasis? Well, there are tests you can take (at-home), or there's always monitoring your body. Here's a little list of common symptoms, though note that these aren't always caused by Candida alone. There may be underlying issues.
-recurring illness (colds, flu, stomach bugs...)
-troubled skin/hair/nails (including inexplainable rashes/spots/blotches on the skin that can be pink, red/brown, or white)
And that's the short list!!! It's common that most people might only think that females get it, as a yeast infection is the most well-known form of Candidiasis. But it can take many other forms in men, too. But to the ladies, I will say, by committing to the proper diet and treating the overgrowth, you will never have another yeast infection again! (unless you let things get out of hand in the future.....) I'm also experimenting on its effect on period regularity.
So now that we've covered a bit of what candida is, I'll explain the diet a bit.
*Disclaimer: This diet should preferably be a firmly-rooted commitment. This may become a total lifestyle change, if you find success. It is best to take your time, and that can mean you may even want to stick things out for the better part of one year.
I hope that doesn't make you stop reading. It's taken me several years to finally arrive at the point in my life when I'm ready for the "real deal." I've done 3-4 "candida cleanses" over the span of the last 5 years, and they were a month long each. I used the brand Renew Life's "Candida Cleanse" kit each time, and adjusted my diet to their guidelines. These work great, I felt wonderful, I noticed beneficial changes.... but I never committed to maintaining the routine. But each time I cleansed, I learned something new, whether it was a new recipe, a new mental approach, or a new fact as to why it was beneficial. I would strongly suggest a month-long cleanse of some sort to anyone approaching this diet. It will give you a window with which to view the basic scheme of things.
Step 1 is detoxing & killing the overgrowth. Step 1 can be a very difficult (but extremely rewarding) rite-of-passage into the success of healing your body. It's the step that will actually starve the yeast/fungus of all that it feeds on. This does not mean you have to starve your body! And there are many ways to achieve this step successfully. Want to know an easy way? Do a yeast cleanse like I mentioned above for one month, following it as strictly as you can. It gets a little grey in step 1, as there are so many approaches. Some websites & practitioners go so far as to recommend colonics (colon cleansing). My opinion? I wouldn't think someone would need to go that far unless they were a.)diagnosed with any severe disease(s), b.)severely overweight (a lot of "weight" is stored in the colon as broken-down matter from things you digest, or c.)if you are very regulary irregular (hahah sorry I love word-play) In other words, if constipation is a common issue in your life. If you already have a severe digestive disorder, colonics may not be for you. Your doctor should very likely be able to make that call, and if he/she can't, I think the colonic practitioners know enough about it to inform you.
The toughest part about Step 1 is creating new food habits. I give a link further down that offers FULLY-LOADED lists of foods to avoid and foods to consume. The second-toughest part is going through the "detox" bit. It, to me, seems to have many similarities to what people might go through when quitting smoking or actual drug detox. Thankfully, most of these symptoms seem to only hang around the first 24 hours or so. If they stick around for longer, it generally just means your body really needed the purge. Of course if you're on medications or really struggling, you'll want to be careful. Don't hurt yourself! But "hurt" is a different threshold for many, and many people are quickly defeated. I personally generally suffer a headache through the first day that subsides by the next day. More on that in my future posts of my experiences. You may get cravings for the things you are avoiding, you may be moody, you may be tired, you may become nauseous, etc. I can't stress enough that these are very common reactions. Our diets are poor. We don't eat enough fresh foods, and we drink, smoke, or eat fast foods far too often.
Step 2 is repopulating the good bacteria in your gut. You'd be staying on the strict diet here, but you can opt to reintroduce some foods that you avoided in Step 1. Another word for "good bacteria" is "probiotics." You've all likely heard of "ANTI-biotics." These save lives. They wipe out disease in ways we've never experienced before.... but they take all the "good guys" too! "Anti-Biotic" litereally means "anti-life." That's great when it means "anti-life of deathly diseases in my body," but it's horrible when it means "oops now all of my good bacteria was taken down too, and I have no immune system!!" Sad but true. So, yogurt is likely the first thing that comes to mind here. You know how some doctors tell you to eat yogurt when taking antibiotics? ....did they ever explain why? Yogurt is known to have "cultures" (probiotics) in it, naturally. And that's a good start. But the amount of probiotics in yogurt is tiny, compared to the amounts supplied in capsules that you can buy. You can take probiotics in Step 1 also, they really can't hurt you. If you're lactose-intolerant, you may want to watch that the probiotics you go to purchase are totally free of dairy. Oh and just a suggestion, you might not want to go to a GNC or Walgreens. You can get the real deal at a health food store.
Step 3 is just keeping up with the general rif-raf of the whole thing. Keep avoiding bad foods, eat lots of better-quality foods, and you can even continue taking probiotics just to keep things in check (esp. if you "cheat" a bit later on down the road and eat something really unhealthy.
For a way more in-depth description, check out this wicked site that I recently found: www.thecandidadiet.com It explains just about EVERYTHING!
You'll notice I changed the Steps 1, 2, & 3 around to my liking, because their "1" and "2" are basically the same thing.
Well! I think I've covered most of the basic explanations. It's really easy for me to "over-explain" things; I don't like to leave people guessing, and communication is important to me. If you find yourself reading this and have ANY QUESTIONS, please leave a comment that you've got a question (or more!), and I will contact you right away to help out!!
I will now be posting a weekly or bi-weekly blog charting and tracking my progress with the chosen course of following this diet! I'm excited about this and hope that it will even help my personal progress as something to keep me on track. Thanks so much for reading! I really truly hope it helps, even if only in educating people about their health.