I’ve received a lot of questions about my experience with Candida, how it’s impacting me, how I knew I had it, and what I’ll be doing to treat it. I decided to put all that information in one place.
As of writing this blog post I’ve been on the below protocol for 4.5 days. I felt terrible at first due to the die off but now my stomach is officially flatter than it has been in MONTHS. My mind is starting to clear up (though I’m still feeling a bit foggy), I have no hives or itching in unfriendly places, and I look forward to seeing more improvements as I continue on my protocol.
Candida is tricky and the internet is just full of information on what you should be doing to treat it. Your body might be different (think hormone imbalances, other gut overgrowths, digestive issues, unknown food sensitivities), so it’s important to work with a trained healthcare practitioner to figure out what’s best for you.
What is Candida?
Candida Albicans, otherwise known as Candida, is a type of yeast that is naturally occuring in the gastrointestinal system, skin, mouth, and vagina. Candida is normally kept in check by the immune system, gut bacteria/other yeast, and a low pH in our gut. Candida begins to take over, however, if one or more of those things is out of balance.
I have taken several rounds of antibiotics in my life. Antibiotics kill both the good and bad bacteria, and if we aren’t actively working to repopulate our system with good bacteria, an overgrowth may occur. Other people may find themselves with Candida because they consume a highly processed diet, experience chronic stress, have used hormonal birth control, have diabetes, or ingest chemicals that interfere with the balance of the gut microbiome.
How did I know I had Candida?
I was experiencing the following Candida symptoms:
Rashes and hives when I ate high carb foods
Brain fog and memory loss
Vaginal yeast infections
Gas and bloating
Some other common Candida symptoms include: fatigue, fungus on nails, eczema, psoriasis, mood swings, anxiety, depression, sugar cravings, rectal itching, tongue thrush, headaches, heartburn, bad breath, and hair loss.
Candida symptoms are similar to many other symptoms of imbalance in the body. Just because you have a couple of the symptoms doesn’t necessarily mean you have Candida. The best thing to do is work with a healthcare practitioner to get appropriate testing done. Don’t play the guessing game!
When I initially started having symptoms, I assumed SIBO (Small Intestine Bacterial Overgrowth) was to blame because I had it in the past and its recurral rates are high. I did a three hour breath test which I ordered through my physician, but the test results came back negative. I was relieved to know I had officially rid my body of SIBO (after several rounds of treatment), but I suspected something else was off.
SIBO and Candida can react similarly to certain foods. Since carbohydrates were giving me a tough time, and I was experiencing several Candida symptoms, I decided to request a stool test through the same practitioner. Unsurprisingly, the test results came back positive for yeast. I can’t tell you how happy I am that I spent the $200 checking for both SIBO and Candida to ensure I was targeting the right thing through my protocol.
Nystatin. There is quite a bit of debate over whether or not prescription antifungals should be used to fight candida. I personally believe there is a time and a place for conventional medicine and I don’t mind taking antifungals in an attempt to reduce my debilitating symptoms. According to my physician and my research, Nystatin is a mild drug that does not get absorbed through the mucosal lining of the digestive tract, so it won’t directly impact other systems in the body.
Caprylic Acid. This is a fatty acid derived from coconut oil that helps kill yeast.
ProbioMax Plus DF. This specific probiotic helps with the production of cytokines, which enhance our body’s natural ability to fight Candida.
Paleozyme - This helps to break down the Candida biofilm so the antifungal can get to the yeast. It also helps my body properly break down food in order to prevent lingering, poorly digested foods to hang out in my small intestine (thus causing rancidity and inflammation).
The point of an anti-Candida diet is to eliminate foods that feed yeast (sugars, wine
& beer, high sugar fruits, gluten and grains, beans and legumes, mushrooms, dairy and foods with high mold content) and replace them with vegetables and protein. Some physicians are not a fan of this diet because it removes most carbohydrates, and studies have shown Candida feeds off ketones (these are produced when the body is no longer using carbohydrates for energy). Instead, these physicians approach Candida with a low FODMAP diet (which only removes a certain type of carbohydrates that are often poorly absorbed and quickly fermented in the GI tract).
Both schools of thought claim success. I have decided to customize the anti-Candida diet to include some higher carb low FODMAP foods and will eat them sparingly throughout the week (these are listed as “occasional” foods). I’ll also make sure I’m eating tons of compliant veggies, taking my digestive enzymes, chewing properly, and eating in a relaxed state for optimal digestion. If I wanted to get really strict about it, I would track my food in My Fitness Pal to make sure I was eating approximately 60 - 70 grams of carbs/day to stay out of ketosis, but I have a history of disordered eating and obsessiveness, and My Fitness Pal is incredibly triggering for me. I may end up getting ketone test strips, but I haven’t made that purchase yet.
I compiled a Candida Grocery List, filled with all the foods I’m eating during this protocol and I’m sharing it with you here. The good news is it’s really just a modified paleo diet, so if you’ve been following that you won’t feel too deprived!
Get the list of foods I’m using to fight candida below. Note, any item with an asterisk should be omitted if you are AIP.
This is the protocol I’m on as I’m STARTING to fight Candida. I may have to tweak things along the way, which is the case with most protocols I’ve done.