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Candida Nightmares: Wait, What is Candida?

FruitsWe’re now a week into the New Year, how exciting! It’s been several weeks of craziness for me, as I just finished a hectic term of grad school with a flurry of lengthy papers, presentations and exhaustion right before the holidays began. I pulled my first all-nighter in seven years… a terrible decision on my part. Not sleeping will do a number on your body, especially if you are used to 7-8 hours of sleep a night like I am. Stress and not sleeping well lowered my usually strong immune system and I ended up getting sick for the first time in three years, talk about not being able to enjoy the fruits of my labor, instead of eating all of my favorite foods and fruits, I spent the whole holiday season trying to figure out what was going on with my body. The lowered immunity caused the candida population in my stomach to increase and I was hit with a bunch of food intolerances and allergies right in the middle of all the holiday dinners and festivities. Dairy, meat, nuts and even fruits and veggies were giving me severe stomach pain and even my skin broke out in acne and hives, all strong signals of inflammation in the body and a push for me to reduce stress and re-balance my life and diet.

The immune system is not just one organ like the liver or the heart, instead it is made up of a collection of different organs and systems that work together to kill pathogens and protect the body. Almost every part of the body contributes something to the immune system, so if one piece starts to function below par, your overall health can be at risk. For me it was clear, not sleeping for 24 hours straight, and getting only 4-5 hours of sleep in the week prior, had caused me adrenal fatigue.

Adrenal fatigue occurs when your adrenal glands are placed under stress for long periods of time. I’m not just talking about high-pressure jobs – prolonged use of caffeine and insufficient sleep are more than enough to weaken your adrenals, as these important glands are responsible for maintaining hormone levels in the body. Overworked, fatigued adrenals will give you a feeling of tiredness and will weaken your immune system.

In addition to the adrenal glands, the intestines are also a crucial part of the immune system. With a lowered immune system, ‘good’ gut bacteria are quickly outnumbered by harmful and fast-growing Candida cells, which for some people leads to Leaky Gut Syndrome (weakening and inflammation of the intestinal wall) and often caused by Candida overgrowth. The Candida yeast cells attach themselves to the intestinal membrane, penetrating through into the bloodstream and provoking inflammation and a strong immune response. These allergic responses put pressure on the adrenal glands and immune system, the very parts of your body that you need to fight off the Candida.

After a failed visit to the doctor, it was obvious to me that I would have to take a more homeopathic route. I have been listening to my body for a long time, and my initial suspicions of Candida overgrowth was right as I have been feeling much better since I cut out caffeine, dairy and all sugars (including gluten), am getting more sleep, started a regimen of high quality probiotics, and going easy on introducing fruits back into my diet. I also tried the candida spit test and the results also point me to Candida overgrowth. I’ll have to keep you posted on my progress, as regaining a balance in gut flora takes a long time and requires careful attention, and I will have to be patient in introducing gluten, dairy and fruits back into my diet. All I can think about right now are bananas and cantaloupes, along with other super sugary fruits that the Candida is craving.

Not sure if you have an overgrowth of Candida? Symptoms can include any of the following:

  • Feeling tired and worn down or suffering from chronic fatigue
  • Digestive issues such as stomach pain, bloating, burping, heart burn, constipation, or diarrhea
  • Difficulty concentrating, poor memory, lack of focus, ADD, ADHD and brain fog
  • Strong sugar and refined carbohydrate cravings
  • Skin issues such as eczema, psoriasis, acne, hives, and rashes
  • Skin and nail fungal infections (such as athlete’s foot or toenail fungus)
  • Irritability, mood swings, anxiety, or depression
  • Severe seasonal allergies or itchy ears
  • Vaginal infections or urinary tract infections
  • PMS, Cystitis and Endomitriosis

This site (under the tab Candida Symptoms) has a list of 100 common Candida symptoms associated with systemic fungal candida. Also check out the short video below, where naturopath Ann Boroch discusses all of the the basics of candida and how you might be able to tell how much of an issue it might be for you:

Let me know if you have any experience in dealing with Candida. For now, I’m doing as much research as I can, resting well, eating right and posting about it here.

To Positively Strong Intestines,

Sunny

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