So – there I was… celebrating a FULL 6 MONTHS – with ZERO ‘reactions’ to foods…. A female cycle that was SPOT-ON every month… No major mood-swings. No fatigue. No gut probs or digestive upsets of any kind…. I was a hormonally-balanced diva! For 6 solid months – straight – no wavering….
Then….. Ooops! I slipped up. But I’d have never guessed what was really behind my issues. *WARNING: TMI – about to occur: This is the one and only time I was actually grateful to have developed a yeast infection. (More about this below.)
First – a little background for ya. I’ve always been very tuned-in to my bod and its (ever mysterious) signals. And yet, I’m not a medical pro – so I have limited knowledge about the root cause of many a malady. (Speaking of root causes… I believe there’s often more to it than merely the physical – but I shall elaborate on this more in the new year!)
Anywho…. At around age 17…. It was time for ‘the pill’. [OMG. So, SO young. Were we really that young? As a mother of 2 girls, I now cringe at this thought…] Anyway – enter: chronic yeast infections, relentless emotional reactions to what would otherwise be simple things, major mood disruption & seriously irrational thoughts and reactions to those thoughts, major sleep disturbances, weight gain, brain fog/ forgetfulness, hair where I didn’t want it – and brittle lifeless hair where I did want it, and much more. Let’s just say – I was ill-informed, naive, and – well – patient. I tried 4 different pills over the course of 5 years before I finally decided that the possibility of having a baby earlier than planned was better than feeling like the possessed chick in the Exorcist for 3 weeks out of every month. So ended my initial (hell-on-earth) bout with hormone irregularity. That was only my FIRST bout (a 5-year-trek, no less)…. There’s more to come.
After getting off of oral contraceptives, I didn’t have a single, solitary yeast issue for over 7 FULL YEARS!!!!!!!!!!! (Yay.) My weight got back to my norm, my moods evened out more (not completely – but more so), and I was myself more often than not.
Then, I had baby #2… And my body was like, “Heeeyooooooooh! Guess what? You’re in for round 2, biatch!” You can read more about those deets here if you’re so inclined.
I eliminated gluten once that was determined to be a potential cause of some of my ailments. Turns out – it was a hearty provoker of ALL of my issues – though not without aid from a few other culprits in combined force. However – it was definitely the primary evil behind my hormonal upsets – and I even tested the theory to be sure. (Better than any ‘medical test’ out there, my friends. I knew without a doubt.)
Soooo began my next journey out of hormone-havoc.
I was struggling to figure out specific foods and things – beyond gluten – that were still impacting me (though thankfully – not quite as harshly – but still filling me with weirdo-symptoms and irregular cycles). I finally started a food journal – which effectively saved my sanity!
This led to a gradual culmination of knowledge about my bod’s signals – and what to embrace, what to limit, and what to avoid altogether. BRILLIANT!
Then there was that crazy night of a unique combination of unusual binging for D-Mack: Gluten-free cupcakes (though not grain-free, and still encompassing fructose-induction), non-pastured and non-organic or aged cheeses, gf cookies (though again – not sugar-free), and wine. Not only that – but I embraced a new activity for some hours in a garage that was so filled with cigarette smoke it would rival any unregulated casino of days gone by…
Add all of this up…. and boom – I had myself a heavy-duty migraine. And, what do you know – mucho gut distress and digestive quandaries. And hey…. how about – you guessed it – (TMI ALERT) – a nice little yeast infection. Damn. What was I THINKING?
Then I GOT to thinking… Why am I still struggling with (albeit occasionally now) yeast infections? I mean – what happened differently over those 7 years of not having to deal with ’em?
More thorough research on the topic of yeast/ candida proved to be muy-beneficial.
REVELATION: When you treat candida/ yeast – (which is always present in our bods, but at small levels that help rather than harm) – you can still have an overgrowth of a systemic variety – lurking within your body – ready to jump at the opportunity to invade further when provided the appropriate conditions. When in overgrowth, these little invaders can basically grow tentacles (literally) and latch on inside you – via various tissues. I had flash-backs to a couple of years back when I was prescribed antibiotics for roughly 4 bouts of ‘infection’ (a toe, a sinus infection, an ear infection….) over the course of about a year. Antibiotics = wiping out the healthy gut flora with the unhealthy – enabling the invaders to take over and proliferate. Essentially – I had provided the IDEAL breeding ground and they took over – seemingly hidden from deep within my body – waiting for that moment (of weakness.)
Not only that – but I was suddenly more tired again. I was sleeping poorly. I was moody. My cycle was ‘off’ (though only slightly), and I was experiencing some of my ‘weirdo’ mystery-symptoms again (the ones that no doc can seem to pin to anything specific.) I had TRIED the doctor route (which I advocate – with a trusted physician – preferably one who practices functional/ holistic medicine.) But for me – I’d been there, done that. It was time to take things into my own hands – as safely and cautiously as possible.
LOADS of reading later, and some experimentation with some natural remedies – I found something that seemed to ‘work’ wonders! Many forums were chatting up the ability of Apple cider Vinegar (ACV) to help wipe-out candida at the source, along with a diet void of refined sugars and most (if not all) grains. (I personally still ate brown & Basmati rices -organically grown.) *This may or may not work for you…. which leads to ANOTHER RE-REVELATION!
We ARE ALL DIFFERENT. WE NEED TO FIGURE OUT WHAT WORKS BEST FOR OUR BODIES (and souls). THERE IS NO ‘ONE-SIZE-FITS-ALL APPROACH’ to diet and clean living practices. Although this is very true – there are certain things that can benefit us ALL…. *I intend to touch on those more deeply in upcoming guides – and have made references in some of my articles (many of which can be found HERE, and also HERE.)
Here’s the most interesting part of my story…
When I first started taking a small amount of ACV + Baking Soda in the morning to help my body rid itself of the candida that was seemingly hiding out somewhere in my system (most likely my gut) – I am HAPPY to say that I felt like crap! Okay – bear with me. I had read that the candida die-off process (which can take longer for some than for others – depending on many variables) – feels horrible…. Like having the flu. And, they were RIGHT!
But – I have to say – I was SOOOO glad. Because I knew in my heart of hearts – that I was battling this little beast – and WINNING. By day 5 – I had no negative reaction to ingesting the ACV + BS. WOOT! Mission accomplished. I’m also glad I knew about the effects of die-off, so I didn’t stop mid-stretch. I feel like I must have accomplished the kill – as I not only no longer struggled with the flu-like symptoms of drinking down an otherwise helpful & natural health-boosting substance, but I was WAY more energized, started feeling less overwhelmed and more organized, my mood started to stabilize (again…), and I felt “GOOD” overall. It was like the missing link had emerged, and I was on my way to even better health than I could have imagined!
This was a couple of months ago – and I’m still reveling in the magic that is: A) Listening to my body…. B) Becoming (FULLY) INFORMED…. C) Outwitting the mainstream…. and D) TRUE health and vitality – all without an Rx or (lasting) side-effects. BAMA! (And many thanks so my God/ Uni for leading me there….)
I’m further intrigued to have learned that in general – a FODMAP diet is a good guiding principle for my overall food intolerances. NOTICE – I say it’s a good GUIDELINE… which leads to my NEXT REVELATION~
There are SO many ‘diets’ circulating out there – and many of the proponents of such diets claim there is ‘no other way’…. Here’s the thing. There is NO one size fits ALL in this.
PALEO, FODMAP, ATKINS, LOW-CARB, LOW-FAT, VEGAN, GLUTEN-FREE, SCD…. The list goes on and on. Now – while I DO believe that many of these diet-types can be beneficial to a degree – they simply are NOT ‘the fix’ for EVERYONE. I have yet to look at one and say “Yep – this is it. As long as I follow this program – I’m golden…” Three are too many things that I either still must avoid when a protocol claims it is ‘safe’, and that I still can enjoy when a protocol says that it’s ‘unsafe’. I’m personally a ‘cafeteria-dieter’. I don’t ‘diet’ per say, but I take bits and pieces from many of these different protocols – and incorporate what works for me. They are used as a guideline…. not the end-all, be-all.
- I’m gluten-free – though that doesn’t mean I indulge in any or all gf-derived goods on the market. Many of them contain less-than-ideal and sometimes downright harmful ingredients.
- I find that I benefit greatly from a FODMAP dietary guideline…. but I can still finagle some aspects of this – and do just fine. (i.e. I always wondered why, if it were due to sugar alone, I could tolerate potatoes so well. Turns out – potatoes are ‘safe’ for those who benefit from a FODMAP protocol. And while onion & garlic are definitely out – I can still enjoy asparagus, and honey for my home-made sweet treats, like my recipe for Healthy Peanut-Butter Balls.)
- I limit grains & am picky about dairy… but I’m definitely not full-on Paleo…. I love my organic rice, and I’m praying that it continues to love me. I also have the occasional organic corn-based goods – though I limit this greatly because of the exceptionally high-omega-6 content (which leads to systemic inflammation – big time.)
- I do super well on healthy fats – nuts, avocado, coconut oil, ghee, etc. I love them, and they love me. (Amen!)
- I do not do so well on ‘dairy’ in general…. But I am fine with small amounts, derived ideally from pastured animals (i.e. goat cheese), and of organic origin. Many cheeses, pastured butter & ghee, yogurt (without added sugars or artificial substances), cream cheese, even organic ice cream (with the fewest possible ingredients) as well as REAL cream (for cooking, tea, and the occasional cup of organic coffee) from pastured cows – all lend themselves well to my needs.
So as you can see – I get to pick and choose – according to my body. And guess what…. SO DO YOU! We ALL do! That’s the beauty of this ‘clean-living’ transition. It’s a journey – and you find your way according to your individual needs.
MY goal in this journey – is to provide you with (the many) HIDDEN TRUTHS regarding health –
so you can become TRULY INFORMED, and we can all contribute to the betterment of the system through our INFORMED CHOICES.
**AS ALWAYS: I recommend you get in touch with a trusted naturopath/ integrative meds doc/ holistic practitioner/ functional medicine doc before embarking on any new diet type, or attempting to rid yourself of something like candida. I’m sharing my experience, though it is not intended to substitute individualized care by your personal practitioner(s). You are responsible for how you elect to utilize the information provided.
I’m so grateful to be here on this journey with you – and I hope my story has been inspiring, and has perhaps shed light on something enlightening for YOU.
Thanks for taking that first step (becoming informed) along with me!
CHEERS TO OUR CONTINUED JOURNEY INTO A LIFE OF VITALITY –
One where we get to THRIVE rather than merely survive.