I wrote my first Candida post in April of last year, after being diagnosed in the January. If you’d like to read that post and get up to speed, click here.
For those that might not have the time to do so, a brief overview on what Candida actually is:
lives in all our bodies, and aids with the process of digestion. Usually, the healthy bacteria in our bodies will keep Candida levels under control, but if that good bacteria is disrupted or the immune system is compromised, Candida can overproduce.
CAUSES AND SYMPTOMS
The below are a few contributors to Candida overgrowth:
- Taking antibiotics
- High sugar diet
- Oral contraceptives
- Anixtey/High stress levels
- High alcohol consumption
And here are a few symptoms:
- Oral thrush
- Chronic fatigue
- Recurring urine infections
- Digestive issues
- Sinus infections
- Joint pain
Whilst it’s treatable, if left undiagnosed it can infiltrate the blood stream causing much more serious health problems.
I was initially diagnosed at Orchard Clinic in Thrapston, via a holistic allergy test. I have read a few things which insinuated I was recommending this as an alternative to seeing a GP or western medicine. Just as a quick disclaimer, I am absolutely not recommending you do that. I am just here to share my own experiences with you. Wherein I will speak only of my own opinion on my own health and not on what might work for others. I hope that’s okay.
On my first appointment, my initial intolerances showed as:
- Chocolate / Sweets
- Flavour enhancer/monosodium glut/E621 (MSG)
- Raisins/dried fruit
all of which I cut out of my diet for eight weeks. After revisiting the clinic and being given the candida all clear, I did a
little big happy dance and cry and sang at the top of my lungs all the way home.
My body had become accustomed to a particular diet – avoiding all of the items listed above. Anything I wanted to reintroduce, I needed to do slowly. Over the course of those eight weeks, I had found alternatives that worked for me at home; and so I decided for the rest of 2019 I would stick to that diet at home, but allow myself to eat out and have the occasional sweet treat, too.
For the entirety of 2019, my health was the best it had been in years. Gone were the episodes of rushing to the toilet up to ten times a day with persistent diarrhoea. I said so long to constipation, mucus and fainting. Low blood sugar and losing control of my bowels were nowhere to be seen, and I was so happy.
It didn’t occur to me to check in with you lot to let you know how I was getting on, because truly, everything was great.
Our health is something we can often take for granted and I honestly felt like a new woman. It was a very joyful time.
THE SLIPPERY SLOPE
But late last year, I found my stress levels were rising. My anxiety was off the charts and my rational brain felt like it had been flushed down the toilet.
I lost some of my hair, which was utterly soul crushing and something I felt incredibly embarrassed about. I found myself blurting it out to people I knew just in case they noticed and thought I looked disgusting. (Of course the rational Megs would’ve been able to reason how ridiculous that was, but at the time I absolutely couldn’t).
I decided to go back to my GP and she prescribed a higher dosage of the anti-depressants I was on. Apparently citalopram works for both depression and anxiety, but a higher dosage is often needed to treat anxiety. She also ran some blood tests to check my thyroid, which all came back clear.
Honestly? Over those few months I didn’t notice an improvement in my mood. What I did notice was my tummy symptoms creeping back in.
Sam had already told me that my anti-depressants would be a playground for candida overgrowth and upping the dose had enabled it to go into overdrive again.
When I’m unwell my mood is, quite aptly, lower. And so, it felt utterly counterproductive to be taking a drug to balance my low mood, when in turn it was just wreaking havoc with my gut and making me poorly.
I’d started to show the early signs of my last ten years of ill-health.
- Violent sickness
- Chronic fatigue
And so I booked back in to see Sam a few weeks ago. As suspected, she confirmed that the build up of yeast was back. Even though my exposure to it was incredibly limited (I was only having it if I was eating out, which wasn’t that often) – the citalopram had clung on to any that had entered my gut for dear life.
Sam advised I take Chromium tablets to help with my blood sugar levels and that I go back to a no yeast diet for a few weeks to see how I felt.
I also made the personal decision to cut back a little on the amount of sugary treats I was *treating* myself to.
And, having seen no real improvement from taking the extra dose of anti-depressants, I made the call to slowly reduce my dose with my GP. (It goes without saying that this is something you shouldn’t do quickly, or on your own). I’ve been on citalopram for nearly three years and I think the time has come where I’d like to see how I feel without its support for a little bit. It’s going to be a long slog to get there, reducing a dose of any drug takes a long time, but I’m hopeful it will be worth it.
I’m already noticing a difference in my gut symptoms from the very small reduction – and so far I’m feeling good in my mood too.
I have to admit that not being able to eat what I want makes me feel a bit crappy sometimes. Especially when I struggle with my mood so much already. I have my days of sheer frustration, sure. But I do still feel hopeful. As they say, knowledge is power and I feel like I have enough of that now to see real improvements in my health all round.
Over the next few weeks I’m going to work on putting some posts together that include the food I’ve come to rely on. Some will just be supermarket alternatives to sugar and yeast and others will be some recipes for you to try if you’d like to.
Managing our health is such a personal journey. But one thing we can all agree on is the relief of understanding our body and symptoms. You’re not alone in what you’re struggling with. There are so many people who are feeling just like you, and you’re not crazy. I think that’s the main reason I share these health updates, to remind myself I’m not alone with it either.
Perhaps I’ll check back in soon to let you know what happens next.
Lots of love,
Allergy Test UK are based all over the UK, so just click here.
WHAT I’M WEARING:
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Photography by Ewa