BEING DIAGNOSED WITH CANDIDA.
I don’t want to start sounding like a broken record – I feel like I begin a lot of my blog posts recently with ‘I’ve had ill health for the last ten years’.
Undiagnosed illnesses are monotonous and draining and writing about it can feel just as strenuous.
That being said, when I shared my post Living with an Undiagnosed Condition, I received an abundance of messages of support and uncanny likeness to my situation. So many of us are battling each day without any answers and so it only felt right to share my updates as and when I had them.
After having my operation to diagnose Endometriosis, I felt a weight had been lifted. Even though the news wasn’t ideal (an incurable disease doesn’t feel great to be tied down with). It did feel good to finally have an answer and the knowledge I’d have some relief from the symptoms that had been, essentially, ruining my life.
Months passed by and I felt no difference. Day to day I was still cripplingly exhausted. My periods were, if anything, worse than before and I was in chronic pain every day. Something as simple as holding my phone to my ear for a phone call left me with agonising joint pain.
The disappointment was real.
I took to instagram stories to offload my thoughts at the beginning of the year. One lovely lady replied letting me know about Orchard Clinic. She knew we lived relatively local to one another and said her partner had had chronic health issues that no GP had ever been able to lockdown. He had booked himself in for an allergy test at the clinic, and intolerances had shown up that he’d not even considered before.
Immediately I visited the website and booked an appointment. It was a hefty waiting list, but one I was prepared to sit out. If ten years of ill health could be answered with this one simple test I was absolutely going to do it.
I asked to be put on the cancellation list so that I’d be able to get an earlier appointment should one become available. Luckily for me, I was contacted one evening in late January asking if I could come in the next morning.
SO, WHAT IS AN ALLERGY TEST?
I assumed it would be a blood test – but Orchard Clinic takes a more holistic approach.
If I’m being completely honest? This would be something I’d have turned my nose up at before – if it’s not ‘medically’ approved then what’s the point? But after a decade of living at my GP’s I was prepared to try anything.
Below is taken from Allergy Test UK website (the body that runs at the clinic I attended):
The method used is Bio-Energetic Response testing (BER). The patient is put in circuit with the testing unit by holding an electrode in one hand and a probe is placed on an acue-pressure point of the other hand. Substances are placed into the unit one by one and readings are taken, a lowered reading indicates the body has resistance to that substance.
The units we employ are called Mora RM10 made by MedTronik in Germany. Registered as Medical Testing Equipment in Germany.
I arrived with an open mind as I wasn’t sure at all what to expect.
Before we started the test, Sam, the director and founder of Allergy Test UK sat down with me and went through a heap of questions surrounding my health. After listing my copious symptoms she said she thought I had Candida – a fungal gut infection.
We proceeded to complete the test (which was totally pain free) – and about as far away from invasive as you could imagine. Which was absolutely welcomed after having god knows what stuck up my bum the last few years.
As she suspected, my intolerances suggested Candida. I’d never heard of it before, but Sam explained that it’s essentially an overgrowth of yeast in the gut. That is, thankfully, CURABLE!!!!! Hoorah!!!
She provided me with a folder full of information on Candida and how we were going to treat it. The principle was simple: Diet and Probiotics.
Candida lives in all our bodies, and aids with the process of digestion. Usually, the healthy bacteria in your body 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. Sam advised that it hadn’t reached my blood stream yet, but it wasn’t far off, which was terrifying to say the least.
Sam asked that I didn’t google Candida and stuck explicitly to her advice. Like with any illnesses, Dr. Google is always at hand to bombard you with information. And ultimately lead you down a rabbit hole of doom.
I mentioned above that if the machine struggles to reach a higher reading, it indicates intolerance. My intolerances showed as:
- Chocolate / Sweets
- Flavour enhancer/monosodium glut/E621 (MSG)
- Raisins/dried fruit
Essentially what I had to do was cut all of the above out of my diet for 8 weeks.
No more bread or cakes for me!!
But I left the clinic with such relief to finally have an answer, especially because it was one I could manage and try and fix myself. It was an emotional few hours.
I felt pretty overwhelmed by it all and as soon as I got home I removed all the food from my cupboard and put it to one side in carrier bags. That evening Jamie and I went to Waitrose. I’m not going to lie, I nearly cried whilst we were in there. I may have only had a handful of intolerances – but they appear in almost every food group on the supermarket aisles.
Near enough everything contains sugar.
From crisps to biscuits and cooking sauces to peanut butter, I had a big lifestyle change ahead of me.
I prepared fresh meals at home most of the time anyway, but it meant I had to check every single ingredient. Things like stock, vinegar and cooked hams were a no-go. Any kind of sauce, be it ketchup or chilli-con-carne had to be put back on the shelf. The first shopping trip was incredibly deflating. BUT Sam’s information provided me with recommendations for alternative foods and exactly what I should be avoiding, too, which was incredibly helpful. For the first few weeks, I took those lists everywhere with me.
WHAT TO EAT
I found Waitrose the best supermarket for alternative foods, including Ombar sugar free chocolate, Booja Booja ice-cream, sugar free jams and sourdough bread made with flour, water and sea salt.
Meat, fruit and dairy were still allowed (thank goodness) (Dr. Google will tell you that you can’t have fruit whilst on the Candida diet, but Sam advised if I wasn’t showing intolerance to it, it was fine – hence no googling!!!) and so cooking at home really wasn’t a problem. The thing I struggled with most was quick snacks and eating out.
Naturally, takeaways were absolutely prohibited, along with most chain restaurants too. I managed to find a few local, independent places that were happy to accommodate my needs, which was really lovely – but it definitely made socialising very difficult for that time period. Even eating at friends’ houses meant I had to be able to check ingredients and the situation was just a bit embarrassing for me.
THE EIGHT WEEKS
The first five days were hell on earth. I was having withdrawal symptoms (mainly from the sugar) and felt like death. Nausea, headaches, exhaustion – you name it I was probably feeling it. Whilst I felt like absolute crap, it was pretty eye opening to see what a negative affect sugar has on our bodies.
After that period had passed I started to feel better and as every week went by the transformation was easy to see. My energy levels increased ten-fold, I no longer needed to empty my bowels up to ten times a day and my cramps had disappeared.
It was truly incredible, and also quite infuriating; to know that just a few weeks of changing my diet could absolutely change my life.
Not one GP in the ten years I visited with recurring health issues even sniffed at the idea of it being Candida.
About halfway through I started to feel pretty awful, but this time with flu like symptoms. I messaged Sam (who was on hand for every panic I had throughout the whole duration) and she said it could well be Candida die-off. Which essentially means when a vast number of Candida cells are being killed rapidly, it can cause your body to freak out. Sam recommended I introduce some vitamin C capsules and it cleared up within a day or two. I was back on the path to recovery and feeling really quite wonderful.
I can’t stress just how important it is that you STICK with the diet. No little slip-ups or ‘just a little bit of chocolate won’t hurt’. It absolutely will and all your hard work will be for nothing.
Those 8 weeks were challenging, yes. So many people said to me that they wouldn’t have been able to do it – but 8 weeks in the scheme of good health and your entire life? It was nothing, really.
After I’d completed the diet, I had to go back to the clinic to have a re-test. The appointment was half the time, as Sam would just be testing for the items I showed intolerance to on our first meeting.
The anxiety was real – after a tough 8 weeks I wanted nothing more than for her to say I was well again. I certainly felt well, but I knew it would be foolish to get my hopes up.
I needn’t have worried – the hard work was worth it and I was Candida free (!!!!!)
I’ve decided to keep up with my probiotics (along with Vitamin C, Cranberry tablets for urine infections and Maca for energy levels).
I’m now able to reintroduce those food groups back into my diet. I’m still keeping with a lot of my alternative foods, like the bread and cooking with sugar, yeast and MSG free ingredients at home. But I’ll let myself eat out and have the odd sweet treat, too. It’s important to note that Candida can come back, so it’s imperative you keep on top of your gut health and do all you can to keep it at bay.
I get up at 7.30am every morning, whereas before I was struggling to get up by 9am. I no longer need to nap in the day, which was always a must by midday and I’ll stay up easily until gone 10pm. My digestive problems are pretty much non-existent, my arm and knee joint pain is gone and I haven’t had a urine infection since I started the diet.
I’m still taking my oral contraceptive – but I’m far more mindful of how much sugar I have to counterbalance that.
It’s safe to say I am a changed woman and SO much happier for it. I’ll always be grateful for the recommendation to Orchard Clinic. And to Sam and Allergy Test UK for changing my life.
Allergy Test UK are based all over the UK, so just click here to find your local clinic. Below are the prices I paid via Orchard Clinic:
Allergy Test £68
Cranberry Tablets: £6.50
If you experience health issues such as headaches, migraines, tiredness, fatigue, weight problems, eczema, asthma, catarrh, sinus congestion, IBS, digestive disorders, anxiety, M.E. or depression I’d 100% recommend getting a test done. It could turn your life around and you can’t really put a price on that.
Completely aware of how lengthily this post was! So I’d be more than happy to put together a few recipe/food alternative blog posts for meals and snacks if anyone would like them? Just let me know!
I think that’s all for now.
Photography by Alexandra Cameron
Dress by Sister Jane