Your weird symptoms might be a chronic yeast infection…
Three weeks ago I became very sick, downright bed-ridden with what I initially thought was a nasty cold. But I hadn’t exactly been feeling myself before the crash. For weeks before I noticed heightened anxiety, moments of confusion, panic, brain fog, and even lapses in memory. I felt an overall exhaustion and moodiness despite adequate rest at night. I was also having intense sugar cravings all the time (vegan gluten-free cupcakes on the daily). I had a runny nose for weeks. My inner self was pinching me, telling me that this wasn’t just some cold to shrug off.
One day after twenty minutes of blowing my nose miserably in the bathroom, I looked up in the mirror and noticed my face had tiny skin colored bumps along my cheeks and jaw-line. I wanted to check my throat, so I stuck out my tongue in the mirror and saw a creamy-white thrush covered tongue instead of the usual pinkish hue. I immediately started browsing the internet and to my surprise a lot of my symptoms matched Candida overgrowth, also known as chronic yeast infection. The white patches on my tongue were indeed thrush. I realized that for months the general “crappy” feeling in my body was linked to chronic yeast infection!
Candida is yeast-like fungus that is part of our natural flora, and works to balance our system, playing an important role in the breakdown of food in the intestines for nutrient absorption. It is present on our skin, mouth, lady parts, and intestinal tract and is usually maintained in check by our immune system and the good bacteria in the body.
Things like stress, taking a round of antibiotics that may have damaged beneficial bacteria in your gut, consuming a high sugar and carbohydrate diet, drinking a few extra glasses of wine or beer a night, having taken birth control in the past or present, and even having one too many kombuchas can all lead to Candida overgrowth, and then voila–chronic yeast infection.
Some of the major symptoms of chronic yeast infection are sugar cravings, difficulty focusing and memory loss, irritability, sensitivity to fumes, muscle and joint aches, skin rashes and acne, problems with digestions like bloating, diarrhea, constipation, and food allergies. Sometimes women also get vaginal yeast infections, and even decreased libido.
These are the immediate steps I took to recover my body:
1. Stopped eating fruits, refined sugars, and packaged vegan goods.
I love fruits and they are a staple in my breakfast, but I knew I needed to go completely sugar free and all whole foods for a couple of weeks to feel a difference. I ate a ton of roasted vegetables and fresh salads, and tried to juice everyday to stay hydrated. Eating high quality fats really helps, so I roasted veggies in coconut oil and added avocados to my salads on the daily. Coconut oil contains 3 different fatty acids (Caprylic Acid, Capric Acid, Lauric Acid) that are effective in disarming Candida overgrowth. Avocados have essential fatty acids and proteins, in addition to containing over a dozen different minerals. Eating a restricted diet at first felt limiting, but adding those fats to my colorful veggie dishes helped me feel full throughout the day and kept my energy levels stable. Eating a combination of these Candida fighting foods daily will really help: garlic (3-4 raw cloves a day), coconut oil, apple cider vinegar, ginger, lemon juice, cinnamon, and cruciferous vegetables.
2. I stopped drinking coffee, kombucha, and alcohol.
Stopping coffee cold turkey was a hard one for me, but I knew that caffeine stresses our adrenal glands and causes spikes in our blood sugar, so I opted for caffeine free teas instead. I drank coconut water every day despite its sugar content, and it really helped me stay hydrated. I noticed one of the symptoms into my candida diet was extreme thirst! I made sure to drink several glasses of water throughout the day, and even had to get up in the middle of the night to drink water!
3. I researched natural ways to kill the Candida overgrowth.
I bought Terra Firma herbal tincture which contains natural anti-fungals like Pau D’ Arco, Marshmallow Root, and Black Walnut. I also bought Grapefruit Seed Extract which helps restore the pH of the body while containing immune boosting Vitamins C & E. A few drops of these in water throughout the day work wonders.
4. I tried to sweat as much as I could.
I took Epsom salt baths while many people use infrared saunas. Skin brushing is also a great way to help toxins leave the system. As you expel toxins and your body becomes more balanced, you will become more grounded and relaxed, while the confusion, nervousness, and anxiety will slowly dissipate.
5. Worked on my patience!
Staying positive and having faith that your body will restore itself is key. Our cells want to regenerate, heal, and help combat any illnesses in the body. Some days I got really down as I experienced Candida die-off symptoms like fatigue, skin rashes, exhaustion, and bloating. But after a week on the anti-fungals and diet, I noticed a huge improvement in my oral health and my energy levels slowly improved. There were and still are on and off days as I am still working on getting my Candida balanced (only two weeks in). I also made an appointment with a naturopath to get professional and holistic advice. Healing time varies from person to person, but it is worth the journey as I believe many modern day ailments from anxiety to thyroid problems are rooted in chronic yeast infection. Make sure to communicate openly with your loved ones on days you are feeling irritable and downright exhausted, because you will need an extra hug, and just extra empathy from friends and family who may not know what you are going through.
Also by Irena: 6 Steps to Restoring Your Energy!
Related: Could You Have Candida Overgrowth?
Photo: Chapendra via Flickr (top); Irena Stanisic