Kicking Candida’s Butt – The Cleanse Phase

leap-of-faith

It has begun. I am officially on Day Three of my Candida Diet Journey.

Since I wrote my post about my Candida diagnosis (here) I have been flooded with emails. Some readers who are struggling with their own Candida issues, others felt very convinced after reading the symptoms checklist that they had it and then there were those gorgeous, encouraging words from people that had beaten it. Here is a paraphrased email from one gorgeous lady;

I just wanted to extend any support you may want along the way with Candida, its a nasty bitch! I dont mean to make it sound like you are going to war but I really did struggle and get lower within myself before results started to show, I pretty much stopped doing all other things in my life besides the given work and loving my man and our fur babies, social with good friends. Everyone’s story is different. No doctor could tell me anything except I was healthy and it was all in my head. Going to what most of my friends would call a witch doctor aka naturopath was the best thing I ever did in my life. In 3 months I lost 10kgs and my cray cray cleared.

You my electronic friend can totally do this!

A lot of gorgeous women also contact me however feeling completely overwhelmed by all the information and wanting to know my plan of attack. So I have decided to share it with you as I go along. I will be spelling out exactly what I do, how I feel, how much it costs and any tips and tricks I learn along the way.

For me it will be a 2 month process though some people go as long as a year! There are a few stages: preparation, the cleanse, the candida diet and then reintroducing foods (or not). So lets gets started.

The Week Before – Preparation

As soon as I realised what was wrong with my body I wanted it gone immediately. I was ready to tip my honey down the drain the very next day. After some sage advice thought I realised that this is not the sort of eating plan to jump into rashly. This sort of undertaking takes preparation –mentally and in terms of stocking your kitchen.

To set myself up for success I made a vision board and a reminders list. The vision board had pictures of times when I had been happy with my body and how I felt in it, images of how I want to feel and motivations – like my husband and Lucy. I have included it below.

candida Vision board

Then there is my Reminders List which is a list of all the symptoms I no longer want and a few notes I made about how unwell I currently feel. I don’t like to stick these reminders in plain sight as it is negative reinforcement. But I know if I am ever on the verge of cracking I can pull the list out and be reminded of exactly why I am doing this. One to get me motivated, the other to keep me accountable. Check.

You also may need to tell your friends and family for support and to avoid any inconveniences. I have forewarned everyone that I will not be able to come to their house for dinner for the next 2 months unless I bring my own food. This avoids the awkward ‘sorry I can’t eat that’ conversation every time you are going to go over. This being said I am strictly sticking to the 100% organic component of the diet, if you are going to be a bit relaxed a simple dinner of meat/fish and vegetables would be fine. So I guess it depends on how comfortable you are with the invitee. I will also be focusing catch ups around walks and tea houses rather than wine bars. Sigh.

Beyond that I needed to stock my cupboard. Aside from filling the fridge with diet friendly foods there were also strange ingredients to buy that weren’t commonly in my cupboard. I will list them all as the series progresses but for example you need probiotics, antifungals and other kooky bits like Edible Clay (read on!).

Week 1 – The Cleanse

For the first 3 – 10 days you must cleanse your colon. How sexy is this diet by the way? My diet pre-cleanse was free of refined sugars and most packaged foods so I am only doing a 3 day cleanse, however if you have had a diet that was heavy on those sorts of foods you may need to commit to a bit longer. Feel it out and see how you go.

Candida colonies are primarily found in your colon so you need to flush as much of the bacteria out before embarking on a diet that’s sole purpose is to kill it. When Candida bacteria die of suddenly and in large quantities it lets off a lot of by-products (neurotoxins etc) which can leave you feeling pretty poorly. This is called die-off. So you want as much of the bacteria gone before you incorporate antifungals and probiotics to give yourself a bit of a head start on healing.

Diet

Your diet must be made up solely of select raw and steamed vegetables. Nothing starchy must pass thine lips. No carrots, potatoes, sweet potatoes (kumara/yam), pumpkins, squashes, parsnip, beetroots or turnips.

You are allowed herbs and spices – in fact a lot of them are natural antifungals. So I have been tarting up my dishes with garlic, ginger, coriander and cinnamon.

While this has been a relatively boring few days of eating it has definitely been bearable. Spices and herbs are my saviours.

For a full list of the vegetables, oil and spices you are allowed to eat see here.

Colon Cleansing Tonic

To flush my system I start every day with a colon cleansing tonic of Bentonite Clay and Pysllium husks. I know it seems strange to eat clay but here is a great article about all the benefits but in short the clay binds to tee toxins in your body and the fibre escorts it from the building.

I ordered the clay online from Australian Healing Clay for around $20 (including delivery) and it arrived within a few days. Here’s how you do it;

  • 2 teaspoons Bentonite Clay
  • 1 tablespoon Pysllium Husks
  • 1 cup water (filtered if possible)
  1. Mix the ingredients and then drink quickly as Pysllium swells in water.
  2. Then drink another glass of water.

Do not drink this before a long journey on public transport as you will need to consult a toilet within the hour. You have been warned. I was on the toilet within 20 minutes.

In the spirit of honesty I will say that I struggled the first time I did this. It does not taste offensive in anyway but for some reason the texture made me feel queasy. This being said I felt exactly the same way about oil-pulling at first and I can do that standing on my head nowadays.

You can have this up to 3 times a day. I also have one in the evening after dinner.

Not sure about that, Mum?

Not sure about that, Mum?

Olive Leaf Extract

Straight after my shake I have a teaspoon of Olive Leaf Extract which is a potent antifungal. You can get it at most health food stores for around $30. It can only be described as pungent and you can mix it with water if you need to.

If you are experiencing die-off symptoms already then omit taking any antifungal during your cleanse. You want to ease yourself into this diet without feeling horrendous. Wait a week – then add it back in and see how you go.

Liver Cleansing Tonic

You colon isn’t the only one working hard. Your liver is processing a hell of a lot too. To support it you can drink this cleansing tonic in the evening. If you have had a Colon Cleansing Shake you must wait one hour before drinking the Liver Cleansing Tonic.

  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • Small chunk of fresh ginger
  • 1 cup water (filtered if possible)
  1. Blend together and drink

This step is optional but is good to do. I added a bit of extra ginger to cut through the taste and make it a bit more palatable.
My Typical Day on the Candida Cleanse

Pre-Breakfast  Colon Cleansing Tonic1 teaspoon Olive Leaf ExtractWarm water with lemon, Apple Cider Vinegar and coconut oil
Breakfast Green Smoothie – kale, silverbeet, cucumber, ginger, mint, filtered water, Spirulina, chlorella
Snack Avocado with tomato and onion and lots of pepper!
Lunch Steamed broccoli and cauliflower with garlic, ginger, chilli and coriander stirred through
Snack Green juice or smoothie (same as above)or Herbal Teaor glass of water with shot of wheatgrass powder
Dinner Steamed broccoli and cabbage with garlic, ginger, chilli and coriander stirred through
Post-Dinner Colon Cleansing TonicHerbal tea1 hour later – Liver Cleansing Tonic

Other Tips

  • Remember you are cleansing… so the number one rule is WATER WATER WATER!
  • Keep up any of your other detoxifying habits for extra effect (or add some in) like oil-pulling and dry body-brushing. I am also spending 15 minutes in the sauna every day but that is a bit of a luxury.
  • Tell yourself every day what an amazing thing you are doing for yourself.

In my next post I will go over the diet and over the coming months I will share my experiences, recipes and revelations as well. You can also follow my journey on Facebook or Instagram or sign up to my newsletter here.

If you think that you may also want to try out the Candida Diet then by all means send me an email and we can hold hands together. It is going to be a long two months but my goodness the results are going to be worth it.

Have you ever made a massive lifestyle change? Was it worth it? Tell me all about it in the comments…

A Wonderfully Awful Diagnosis

Image by Emma Hack

Image by Emma Hack

Have you ever had one of those moments where everything all of a sudden just clicks? Yesterday I did.

And I am wondering if my epiphany can help you too.

It all started with Dry July

(which was actually not that dry)

Any Instagram or Facebook friends here would know that I have been participating with a group of girlfriends in a Dry July detox. Under extreme sufferance. I committed to a month of no animal products, refined sugar, gluten and most importantly – god forbid – no alcohol!

And while my food choices have been impressive I will be honest – for the first 14 days of Dry July I had a glass of wine every day. Sometimes two. Or three. However after a few pep talks to myself I complied and I have been delightfully committed to being alcohol-free. Not known for my self-discipline within the realm of burgundy deliciousness I have completed shocked myself.

But wait?..

I expected a near-instant transformation. I felt that my bloating would disappear, my mood would lift to dizzying heights, I would lose weight and the oppressive fog that had settled in my brain would evaporate.

Nope.

Even without the alcohol I felt permanently hung-over. I felt jipped and to tell you the truth my husband may have had to wrestle the champagne bottle from my desperate, disappointed hands at one point.

As hard as I tried to be patient I felt disheartened, especially when everyone around me was reporting these fantastic results – better skin, better sleep, weight loss, feeling happier. All those things I had wanted.

The nosedive continued and I started thinking about what I was doing wrong. Why wasn’t I reaching my goals after 3 years of trying damn hard at nearly every of eating style around? Vegan, high-carb, low-carb, no,-carb, juice cleanse, paleo and vegan a couple more times. I had tried everything and still wasn’t seeing results. I wasn’t losing weight, my brain was still foggy, my digestion was still shit, I still felt anxious a lot of the time. Even recently while I have been eating a totally alkaline diet and meditating twice daily my wee is still showing up an acidic pH. Something about the picture was wrong.

I tried to lift myself out of my funk by procrastinating and reading some wellness-nerd literature. All of a sudden three words jumped out at me; The Candida Diet. What the hell is that? I know what Candida is and I certainly don’t want to eat it. So I clicked on the link.

And then I REALLY clicked.

EUREKA!

The symptoms of a Candida imbalance read like my past 3 years of journaling. In fact in my very public journal (this blog) I have spoken about these symptoms here, here and again here. Here are a selection of symptoms that really got my attention.

  • Inability to focus
  • Inability to lose weight
  • poor memory
  • brain fog
  • irritability
  • anger
  • dizziness
  • depression
  • panic attacks
  • recurrent Urinary Tract Infections
  • cravings for sweets and alcohol
  • insomnia
  • skin sensitivies such as allergies
  • flatulence (‘fraid so)
  • bloating
  • unexplained stomach pain

Sounding familiar? The list goes on. Click here to see it for yourself if any alarm bells are going off right now!

For me it was like the crack of the cosmic egg of my universe. EVERYTHING MADE SENSE. I wasn’t crazy. I wasn’t a hypochondriac. I don’t have some mystery disease. I wasn’t half-assing all my attempts at healthy living. I just have an unhealthy gut. Oh, the sleepless nights and wasted time I could have saved had I known.

What the hell is it?

Basically its all about the ‘Gut Flora’. If we are thinking of it in terms of gardens, Candida is the weed (a pathogen / bacteria) that exists within our guts and is kept at a healthy level by our guts diligent little gardeners (the microorganisms). The problem comes when there is an imbalance in your microorganisms: similar to weeds, the Candida multiplies and basically pollutes your gut. It pollutes your gut by releasing by-products (like uric acid and neurotoxins) that can then cause a host of nasty symptoms (such as the ones that I listed above).

How do you get it?

It has been estimated that up to 70% of people have Candida in their guts and that is not always a problem, unless there is an imbalance. Here are the three common causes of an imbalance;

  1. A course of antibiotics
  2. Eating a high-sugar diet 
  3. A long period of stress

I traced back to when I first felt unwell and saw a surge of these symptoms and it makes a lot of sense. 2006 I was a uni student living off a fairly poor diet that included an excessive amount of alcohol (aka sugar) and my dad had just been diagnosed with cancer (cue long period of stress). There was definitely a course or two of antibiotics in there as well. Then my body seemed to magically correct itself until 2010. A course of antibiotics, a very financially stressed time and (again) a diet that included an excessive amount of alcohol/sugar. 

By the time I was starting to put these pieces of the puzzle together I was virtually crying tears of relief. 

What next?

Since diagnosing the problem has taken so many years surely this solution of a couple of months should be simple. Surely. Simple? Yes. Easy? No! It is going to take an awful lot of drive – but that I have! Basically Candida feeds off sugar and so I have to completely starve it.

Step 1. Cleanse

The first week is the most restrictive and consists of a strict diet of organic vegetables only. Absolutely no sweet, starchy vegetables like beetroots (beets), carrots, pumpkin (yams) or sweet potato (kumara). In the initial phase I need to allow the body to kill off as much of the candida as possible and support the liver while it does the hard work. Luckily select herbs, spices and oils are permitted as is steaming and grilling. Phewph.

Step 2. The Diet 

After this initial cleanse other foods are allowed to be introduced. The emphasis is on the word organic. Conventional produce is treated with all sorts of chemicals and farmed animals (including fish) are dosed up with antibiotics. We do not want any more of that in there! So in this stage you can add to the above mentioned vegetables;

  • organic unprocessed meats (except pork)
  • probiotic yoghurt
  • kefir
  • some wild fish (herring, anchovies, salmon, sardines)
  • gluten-free grains (millet, oat-bran, quinoa, rice)
  • herbal teas (except green)

Basically I can eat anything on this list. 

Yes you are correct in noticing a complete omission of all fruit. No honey either. And safe to say Dry July will be extending into September. If you are interested, here is a list of the foods to avoid

On top of just eating those foods I also need to eat a diet that is heavy on probiotics and anitfungals. To give you a few ideas;

Probiotic Foods

  • Probiotic Yoghurt
  • Kefir
  • Fermented vegetables (raw, unpasteurized saukraut, kim chi)
  • Prebiotics (like chicory root tea)

Natural Antifungal Treatments

  • Aloe Vera
  • Black Walnut
  • Caprylic Acid
  • Cloves
  • Coconut Oil 
  • Garlic
  • Goldenseal
  • Grapefruit Seed
  • Olive Leaf Extract
  • Oregano Oil
  • Oregon Grape
  • Pantethine
  • Pau d’Arco

Besides the simple grocery store heroes (cloves, garlic and coconut oil) you can find a lot of the listed items at good health food stores; most commonly Aloe Vera, Olive Leaf Extract and Grapefruit Seed. 

Relief

While Candida Overgrowth is a fairly icky diagnosis to receive – images of a garden in my belly wig me out -I am over the moon about it. Knowledge is power and while I know that I am going to have a hard slog ahead for the next few months I also know the pay-off is going to be so unbelievably worth it. 

So wish me luck on this quest! I cannot wait to update you with my progress as I move through it and I am beyond excited to reveal the new improved Em. What a bloody relief! 

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Did any of this ring a bell for you? Do you think this could also be a piece in your puzzle? Would love to hear about it in the comments.