Could it be Candida?

When I was diagnosed with Candida ten years ago, I was actually relieved. I had been searching for an answer for the majority of my life, visiting countless doctors and undergoing test after test after test. Being poked and prodded for most of my teens left me very anxious and depressed. I was bloated all day everyday and had terrible stomach pains. I suffered from chronic fatigue where it became impossible to get out of bed in the morning. My skin was terrible. cystic acne everywhere... and it was so painful.

When I was finally introduced to Holistic Medicine, my whole life changed. Within days of following my Naturopathic Doctor's advice to remove Candida, a weight was lifted off of me.  For the first time in my entire life, I wasn't bloated. Of course my healing journey to cure Candida was not that simple. I had to follow a protocol for awhile to make sure it had been eliminated.  And even now, I still have some setbacks. However, my quality of life is so much better than it used to be.

When I decided to become a Holistic Health Coach, I made it my duty to research gut health so that I could help others lift this burden too. Throughout my studies, I discovered that Candida is much more common than we think. In fact, an average of 70% of Americans are effected by a Candida overgrowth in their lifetime.

Candida is a fungus, which is a form of yeast, and a very small amount of it lives in your mouth and intestines. Its main job? Helping out with digestion and nutrient absorption.  It's important to understand that everyone has Candida in their system, but when overproduced, Candida can break down the wall of the intestines and penetrate the bloodstream — releasing toxic by-products into your body and causing leaky gut. This can lead to many different health problems, from digestive issues to depression. 

Common symptoms of Candida: 

  • Skin and nail fungus

  • Feeling tired or worn out, chronic fatigue

  • Digestive issues such as bloating, constipation, diarrhea

  • Autoimmune diseases such as Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, rheumatoid arthritis, ulcerative colitis, lupus, psoriasis, scleroderma, or multiple sclerosis

  • Difficulty concentrating, poor memory, lack of focus, ADD, ADHA, and brain fog

  • Skin issues like eczema, psoriasis, hives, rashes

  • Irritability, mood swings, anxiety, depression

  • Vaginal infection, urinary track infections, rectal itching, or vaginal itching

  • Severe allergies or itchy ears

  • Strong carbohydrate and sugar cravings

You may be thinking, well, some of these apply to me but how do I know if it is Candida? There are many variables along the way. Some people are born with Candida. It can be common or associated higher risk with c-section babies because they are not exposed to some nutrients when born. Even as a baby, I struggled with many digestive issues and back then, doctors did not have enough research to understand what I was going through. If you weren't born with it and one day it started rearing its ugly head, chances are you acquired it from these following pathways.

Things that contribute to the direct cause of Candida: 

  • Eating a diet high in refined carbs and sugar

  • Consuming alcohol daily or in excess

  • Taking oral contraceptives (birth control)

  • Living a high-stress lifestyle

  • Taking a round of antibiotics that killed too many of the good bacteria

1. Diet high in sugar

Consistently consuming high sugar foods feed the Candida bacteria, causing it to multiply. Sounds gross right? It is! They actually thrive off sugar. This includes white sugar but also any foods that converts to sugar like white potatoes and white flour. 

2. Chronic Stress

Stress affects your entire body, which can lead to excess Candida. One of your body’s first reactions to a stressful situation is to release cortisol, a hormone that suppresses your immune system and raises your blood sugar level. The Candida yeast feeds on the extra sugar, while your weakened immune system is powerless to stop it. Stress gives it the chance to overpower the existing gut flora in your small intestine.

3. Overuse of antibiotics

Antibiotics serve their purpose when needed, but in extended doses and excessive use, they break down our healthy bacteria and disrupt our gut flora. This, in turn, weakens the immune system, making it nearly impossible for the body to fight off disease, especially Candida.

4. Birth Control

According to TheCandidaDiet.com (a great trusted resource for Candida info) an outbreak of Candida can be traced to the contraceptive pill. The intestines depend on the right environment to support them, and this equilibrium can be thrown off by the hormonal imbalances caused by the contraceptive pill.

By disturbing this balance, the contraceptive pill opens the door for Candida to once again outgrow its competitors in the gut. Estrogen, the major ingredient in the contraceptive pill, is known to promote the growth of yeast. If you need evidence of how this can happen, see how many women get regular yeast infections while on the pill. It’s exactly the same principle, and it has been documented by multiple research studies.

5. Non-organic food

By exposing yourself to genetically modified foods (GMO's) and pesticides, your immune system breaks down making it more susceptible to yeast.  Buying organic food can help to reduce your exposure to antibiotics. An astounding 55% of the antibiotics used in the US are in the livestock industry. Herds of cattle are fed antibiotics to keep mortality rates low and profit margins high. Some of these residual antibiotics make their way onto our plates in foods like beef and milk. This has become so widespread that the European Union has banned it completely and won’t even import beef that has been raised with antibiotics.

Reducing your exposure to these five pathways will significantly decrease your Candida overgrowth but there are additional steps that need to take place.
 
First: you need to REMOVE the yeast. To remove the yeast you basically have to starve off the cells from reproducing. It can take up to six months to remove the bad bacteria so it is important to stay strong through the process. 

The two most important aspects of ridding Candida: Diet and Lifestyle. 

Diet Changes - Avoid toxic triggers: 

  • Caffeine

  • Sugar

  • Alcohol

  • Gluten

  • Dairy

Lifestyle Changes - Stress less
 
Stress is one of the biggest contributors to Candida. Stress ignites the reproduction of the cells, so it is very important for you to take care of yourself mentally and not overextend yourself when trying to eliminate Candida. Here are a few helpful tools for decreasing the stress in your life:  

  • Journal (get those unwanted thoughts out of your head)

  • Exercise

  • Plan ahead

  • Avoid or manage toxic relationships

  • Take a weekend trip to unwind

  • Choose yourself first

Out of all these rituals, journaling is my favorite. It provides a road map to your health. I often find it extremely helpful when assisting my clients and helping them understand their body and its reactions. 

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Healthy daily rituals

It is really important during your detox of Candida to take it really easy. When the body disposes of the excess yeast, it can be very overwhelming on the immune system. Proper rest and relaxation is key in your recovery. Slowing down your workouts and focusing on self-care is helpful too. It is common that people will experience cold and/or flu-like symptoms too, but remember that taking an antibiotic for these will only delay your success. It's best to weather it our with vitamins and bone broth.

Having structure around your day helps to keep the stress at bay. Also, these healthy rituals will help your body DETOX the yeast faster. 

  • Oil pulling

  • Hot Epsom salt baths

  • Meditating

  • Daily exercise

  • Hot water with lemon and cayenne

  • Drinking room temperature spring water

  • Dry sauna

  • Alternating hot/cold showers

The most important thing to remember is you are not alone. Many people are struggling with these symptoms and making these changes all the time. If you are looking for a supportive community with other people going through this then join my crew. The JRW Crew is a wonderful Facebook community of women who are all on their healing journey and support one another. Join here.

Is there testing for Candida?

Yes there are many tests that will show Candida. Spit and blood are the best ways. I perform a simple finger prick blood test for my clients through a company called KBMO Diagnostics. Additionally, they test for food sensitivities and inflammation in the body. I have done over 50 of these tests on clients in the last year and at least 50% of them were high in Candida. If this test is something you have interest in, you can book a complimentary consultation here so we can connect.

Supplements that support and eliminate Candida

Additionally, you can support your body with supplementation. There are a few different products you will want to include in an Anti-Candida protocol. An anti-fungal is almost always needed. This will help remove bacteria. You will also want to provide some good bacteria to through a quality probiotic. Lastly, you will want to work on healing the gut lining with an amino acid like L-Glutamine or Aloe. Be careful about purchasing some supplements online or low quality ones because they can cause more harm than good. I offer a professional grade products to my clients from a company called Xymogen. Xymogen is an exclusive to health care providers. They do not sell online through amazon, eBay, etc. in order to maintain the integrity of the product. As a Health Coach, I am not allowed to give out supplement advice to anyone who is not a current client, however I understand when someone may want some simple advice and recommendations for the interim.

That is why I have my Mini Consult. It’s done by phone for 40 minutes iand is $60. We will go over health history and concerns. Then I am able to provide you with a solid recommendation for your supplement protocol and specific instructions personal to you.

BOOK MINI CONSULT HERE

Ready to jump in head first? I have a Get Started Anti-Candida guide packed with more information on Candida plus:

  • foods to eat

  • foods not to eat

  • lifestyle recommendations

  • 7-day meal plan

  • grocery shopping list

  • recipes that help fight Candida

To get this guide, all you have to do is follow me on Instagram, tag 3 friends that would benefit from my Instagram page, and then send me a direct message with your email address. Then, I will email you the guide and you can start healing!

Lastly, you can make huge stride by checking out my FREE 5-Day Fix: Beat the Bloat guide. It is full of helpful information to start your healing journey. This guide has my top 5 tips that I tell anyone struggling with digestive issues. Keep in mind, it’s not always what you eat but how you eat it.

Xo Jaclyn Renee

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Food Combining + Gut Health

Food combining? Sounds complicated right? I thought the same when I first started studying it a few years ago, but I can assure you it's much simpler than it sounds. Food combining is a great way to improve gut health dramatically. It helps to combat bloating and fatigue post-meal as well. 

Back when I "thought" I was eating healthy (insert muscle head diet of chicken and brown rice constantly) I was still experiencing daily bloat. I can recall this one day that I was so bloated that I felt like I weighed 1,000 pounds. My stomach was sticking out further than a 8 month pregnant lady. And it was so uncomfortable. I didn't even want to leave the house.  I was so confused because again, I thought what I was eating was "clean."

At that point, my daily diet consisted of some type of egg breakfast with gf toast, lunch was chicken and brown rice, and dinner (if I even felt like eating by then, was some type of animal protein and steamed broccoli. I was so strong and so lean, yet I felt TERRIBLE everyday. Something had to change.

This is when I started to research how food actually breaks down in our intestines and what I found was astounding.

Each type of macro nutrient (protein, fats, carbohydrates) digest at different speeds. In addition, each type requires different enzymes and body solutions to break the food down. 

Acid vs. Alkaline

Let's take the example of my chicken and brown rice go-to lunch. Chicken, a protein, requires an acidic environment in which a digestive enzyme known as pepsin releases. An acidic environment  Pepsin is an endopeptidase (enzyme) that breaks down proteins into smaller peptides (that is, a protease). It is produced in the stomach and is one of the main digestive enzymes in the digestive systems of humans and many other animals, where it helps digest the proteins in food.

Brown rice, a complex carbohydrate, requires an alkaline environment to digest that releases an enzyme known as ptyalin. Ptyalin is an amylase (another word for saliva enzyme) found chiefly in saliva and pancreatic fluid, that converts starch and glycogen into simple sugars.

Since you can see that these two foods require very different environment's to completely digest, the result is that the food confuses the body and releases too many enzymes at once. This, in turn, slows down the digestive process. (Insert "aha moment")

What happens then? Bloating, fatigue, post-meal sluggishness. (Ahaaaaaaaa!)

If your food digestion is slowed down then it makes it easier for food particles to get stuck in the intestines and villi. (For more info on the gut, see Gut Health 101)  The longer those food particles linger in your intestines, the more they are inclined to ferment and cause bacteria. This is what the bacteria Candida, an overgrowth of yeast, lives for. Fermented starchy food hanging out in the gut is a breeding ground for bacteria. (I know, so gross!)

Food combining 101

Let's dig into the "rules" of food combining so you can make smarter choices to improve your overall gut health and digestion. 

1. Pair protein with non-starchy vegetables

Since non-starchy vegetables are rich in their own digestive enzymes, they do not need an alkaline environment to break down. Combining them with high-quality proteins is an easy way to break down and absorb you meal quickly, leaving you full of nutrients and a boat load of energy. 

Examples:

Wild salmon + Broccoli
Organic Chicken + Bell Peppers
Organic Turkey + Mashed Cauliflower

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2. Pair starches with healthy fats and vegetables

Keeping foods together that require an alkaline environment will help boost digestion of starches and help you absorb the nutrients more readily. I've had many clients call me and say they get bloated from quinoa or legumes and my number one response is, "What did you eat it with?"

9 times out of 10, they combined it with a protein, because that is what they thought they should do, and I don't blame them because I thought that too! Keep the starches together like a little starch family and you shouldn't have a problem. 

Disclaimer: soaking your grains, beans, and legumes overnight helps release phytic acid making them easier to digest as well. Might as well take all precautions!

Examples: 

Quinoa + Chopped Cabbage + Avocado
Swiss Chard Salad + Sweet Potato + Olive Oil
Brown Rice + Carrots + Toasted Sesame Oil

3. Eat fruit alone (sad sigh) 

This one can be tough, especially because there are 100 delicious smoothies out there that have been known to help gut health. It's important to remember that this may or may not be ok for you considering that every one is different. Keep a journal and track when you get bloated from meals. If everyday after your fruit filled breakfast smoothie you are experiencing discomfort, then it may be time to switch it up a bit. 

Fruit is the fastest digesting food with an average of 20-30 minutes. If you combine it with any other food, it will develop a traffic jam in the gut since most other foods take at least 3-4 hours to break down. The best thing to do is simply eat them as a snack in between meals on an empty stomach. Then you can absorb the fiber without all the discomfort.

However, combining leafy greens or celery with fruit does not usually cause a problem since these veggies are mostly made from water. This is where the Liver Detox Smoothie comes in and saves the day!!

4. Drink water away from meals 

Gulping large sips of cold water during eating dilutes the digestive enzymes and slows the process. Rule of thumb is room temperature water is way better for the gut but in general it’s better to finish eating before you sip some water. 

You can assist the digestive process by drinking the room temp or warm water with lemon 20 minutes before meals or after you meals. Lemon contains natural absorbic acid which will stimulate and activate your digestive juices. (Oh yea baby!)

5. Keep it simple stupid

My mom has been saying that to me since I was a little girl (in the nicest, most playful way possible.) I kept that saying in the back of my head for my entire life. Anytime anything wasn't working out for me I would hear her saying it while laughing and pointing her finger. 

As a society, we tend to overthink and overdo EVERYTHING! This stands true for digestive health too. Keep your meals as simple as possible to avoid food gut bombs and traffic jams. 

Remember, gut health is the root of total body wellness. Happy gut, happy life. 

As a recommendation to understand your bio-individuality more, keep a journal when changing things around. Your body is your best guide. Keeping notes will help you become your own investigator and realize what does and does not work for you. 

In addition, if you’ve been struggling with bloating and giesting food for awhile, you can try a digestive enzyme to help your body break down food. My favorite digestve enzyme is the GI-ZYME by Mannatech. My clients experience less discomfort after meals and reported barely any bloating after taking for 1 week. Purchase here.

If you have been trying to break free from bloating for far too long and you can't seem to get a handle on it, sign up for my newsletter and receive my FREE 5-day Fix to BEAT THE BLOAT! My tips will help you break free from bloat and chronic inflammation of the gut for good.

I love hearing from you. Please leave your comments and concerns below! Got a friend who could use this info? Feel free to share!

Happy healing!

XO Jaclyn Renee