Thursday, February 21, 2013

My At-Home Yeast Cleanse How-To Guide

Well, 6 weeks of a strict diet and supplement routine and I feel 10x better!  I'm still not perfect and the road was not an easy one.  I battled mood swings, fatigue, depression, intestinal pain, bloating, and gas.  I have been very dedicated to healing my body though, so I pushed through.  I figured the pain of the treatment is better than the constant agony I felt living with the symptoms I dealt with for years.  I was right.  I haven't seen my skin this clear in 5 years (when the symptoms began).  My energy is still a bit low but it's improving.  I've found it much easier to digest food and I'm having fairly regular bowel movements (sorry if that's TMI!).  My general body odor has become less potent too.  I can tell I need to continue to stay pretty strict on the diet and continue with the supplements because it's working and I'm now on the road to recovery.

It took a lot of researching to figure out how to do a yeast cleanse without spending a completely absurd amount of money, although I still ended up spending a lot.  I didn't want to purchase the yeast buster packages that will cost you $300-$500 for a month's supply, but I was tired of being sick.  I began by eliminating my food sensitivities for 3 months, as recommended by my naturopath, but that wasn't enough.  My symptoms were less severe, but the symptoms of candidiasis were more obvious with the reactive foods eliminated from my diet.  The hard part is, this isn't JUST a diet.  This is a new way of life.

More information:
Test Yourself for Candidiasis
My Candida Diet
The Beast Called Yeast
Note: I am not a doctor or other practitioner, just a woman trying to regain her health and share her knowledge.  This is how I have been battling my candida overgrowth and it may not be appropriate for you.  I'm not selling or advertising anything here, just providing some information from all of the research I've done.  Do your own research too and please share with me anything that has been helpful for you too!
If all of this seems too restrictive to you, I heard about the McCombs plan after I had already started my own plan (and paid for all of my supplements).  It sounds like an easier plan than what I'm doing, but I'm still a but leery of .allowing fruit in the diet  Otherwise, I think I mostly agree with his plan.  Either way, I still found the following interviews very interesting.
Interview with Dr. Jeffrey McCombs (part1)
Interview with Dr. Jeffrey McCombs (part2)

Keep a journal to track your symptoms, foods consumed, and supplements taken.  It's a lot to keep track of and the journal definitely helps!  I hate doing it every day but I know it helps.  It's nice to go back and read it to remind yourself how far you've come along and keep  you motivated to continue.  It's also how I noticed that I shouldn't eat nuts and severely limit my seed intake because I noticed higher mucous production and gas within 24 hours of consuming them.

Bentonite/Psyllium cleanse:
bentonite clay liquid- 1 Tblsp
psyllium husk- 1 tsp
grapefruit extract- 10 drops
water- at least 4 oz
--> I did this 2 hours before breakfast and 2 hours after dinner daily for a month.  You need the 2 hour break because it will absorb supplements and nutrients before your body does.  You want to add the psyllium last and drink the mixture quickly because it will thicken and be harder to drink. Drink a full glass of water after the cleanse mix.  You may see some strange things in your stool at first because the mixture expands and brushes your intestines.  I saw a lot of cloudy white mucusy stuff for at least 2 weeks (sorry if that's TMI!). After one month, I switched to just taking this once before bed, but do what seems best for you.

Undecylenic Acid Tablets
If you can't find this you could take caprylic acid or caproil liquid (add to cleanse mix) instead.  Amazon has a few good options to choose from though.

Oregano Oil Tablets
I recently got a potent Chinese one from my acupuncturist  for "dampness" and have only been taking it for about a week, but I really think it's helping.  It's supposed to be taken 3 times a day for a month.

You can take a potent supplement or try to eat at least one fresh clove of garlic each day.  I love garlic, so I just tried to put some raw or cooked garlic in both lunch and dinner.

Pau d'arco and green teas are best.  Try to avoid black, old, and caffeinated teas.

Try to find plant-based enzymes made for a high vegetable diet.  Enzymes will help you break down the foods you eat so that your body can get the nutrients it needs.  If you're having digestive problems, you probably need enzymes.  They've helped me a lot!  I took enzymes 15-30 minutes before each meal.  I also took candida enzymes away from meals to help break down yeast cell walls.

Find one that's at least 50 billion, and has Lactobacillus Acidophilus and Lactobacillus Salivarius. These are the two that I read the most about being beneficial for fighting off candida albicans, but there are many others.  Do your research and buy them refrigerated (VitaCost ships in a cold pack).  I took my probiotics after meals (the theory here is to give the bacteria something to eat).  They also help restore balance and regularity, a must for those with candidiasis and food sensitivities.

L-glutamine Powder
This is an important amino acid that's helpful in repairing muscle and tissue damage, as well as the lining of the intestinal wall.  I add 1/2 tsp of l-glutamine powder to green smoothies or just in some almond milk.

Vegan Multivitamins
Keep your immune system strong.  You don't want a multivitamin that contains gluten, yeast, dairy, or other products you may be sensitive to.

Plenty of Water
Although there's a lot of debate about the amount of water people should consume (whether or not 8 glasses is excessive), I recommend drinking a lot of good filtered water when you're consuming a lot of fiber and detoxing your system.  I usually drink two 32 oz. Nalgene bottles of water each day.

Other Supplements
There are plenty of other potentially beneficial supplements you could try.  Horopito, barberine, olive leaf, echinacea, goldenseel, black walnut, and many others you will find on the internet may be useful.  There are also many anti-fungal supplements that contain some of the anti-fungals I recommended.  Get what you think sounds best for you!  It is important that you supplement with some sort of anti-fungals to aid your immune system in regaining the proper balance.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Breakfast Redefined

When you go all Paleo or Candida or Grain-Free (whatever you want to call your diet), you have to look at meals differently. No more pancakes for breakfast, a sandwich for lunch, or spaghetti for dinner. This is about being healthy, getting your digestive system back on track, and restoring your body's natural defenses. So, the cultural idea of "breakfast" that you've learned is out the window. Whether or not our ancestors even ate breakfast is up for debate, but I know that I can't go without my breakfast.  It's easier to talk yourself into veggies and meat for the other meals, but veggies and meat for breakfast!? This has probably been the hardest thing for me.

When you're on a yeast cleansing diet, you have to eliminate all sugars, starches, grains, vinegar, fermented foods, and fruits for at least 6 weeks.  Then, once the yeast is under control, you may begin integrating some low-sugar fruits and some grains back into your diet.  This makes meals like breakfast frustrating.  I also do not own a microwave, intentionally, which means my breakfasts tend to take slightly longer than most.  Here are some breakfast ideas I've come up with that have made it easier for me to get my morning started right.

Eggs any which way.  If you can eat eggs, you're so lucky because you can make omelets, a quiche, or a couple of over-easies to start your day.  Unfortunately, I have an egg sensitivity, so this is not one of my options.  This is also the go-to food for every yeast diet, but not for food sensitivity diets.  Yeast-free and gluten-free cookbooks always have recipes for eggy breakfasts.

Meats that are prepared in bulk, portioned, and frozen.  I recommend not buying prepackaged meats because they are likely to contain sugars or vinegar (yeast feeders), as well as a higher fat content, fewer nutrients, and preservatives.  All of the following are wonderful with a few slices of avocado and occasionally your favorite tomato/sugar/vinegar free hot sauce (there are very few, but I like Tapatio and El Pato).
  • My wonderfully supportive significant other made homemade sausages (like these from skinnyms. or Multiply Delicious) out of about 3 lbs. of lean ground turkey.  I used parchment paper to separate each patty, then bagged and froze the lot of them.  I just throw 1 or 2 of these on my cast iron with some olive or coconut oil when I get up in the morning.
  • You can always cook up some leftover steak or pork.  For some reason, chicken (although we eat chicken eggs) doesn't sound that appetizing in the morning.
  • Another easy option is some natural, low processed, fresh sliced from the deli counter lunch-meat wrapped around some veggies.  I know I said nothing processed, but high quality brands like Boar's Head are gluten, dairy, and sugar free, plus lower in sodium.  Just roll up some green beans, sliced carrots, peppers, and maybe some spinach.  If you have to have a dip, try olive oil with cracked pepper and spices, or you can make homemade vegan mayonnaise (add some dill and cracked pepper = ranch!).
  • Tofu (the meat alternative).  If you just season and fry up some organic sprouted tofu when you're just completely tired of meat and veggies, it's really not too bad.  You have to find some good seasonings though and pan fry it in small cubes or slices on each side until that side is golden brown.  Tofu, garlic, and spinach makes a delicious breakfast.
Veggies pan fried or roasted are great for breakfast. Peppers, kale, asparagus, onions, spinach,... really any vegetable, prepared how ever you want.  
  • Prep your veggies the night before to save on time in the morning.  This helps keep you on track with your diet!  I usually slice up my combo, toss it in a bag with olive oil and spices, and put it in the fridge.  Just try not to burn them when you're styling your hair!
  • Butternut squash roasted in coconut oil with some cinnamon and nutmeg gives you an almost sweet flavor for breakfast.
  • Sauteed spinach or kale with onions and minced garlic is delicious served with one of the meat options.  I just throw a frozen patty and some veggies on the cast iron when I get up in the morning.
  • If you don't have a lot of time, you can dip celery in your favorite natural/organic nut butter (with nothing added!).  If you're on a yeast free diet, don't use peanut butter do this too often (creates mucous, can contain mold, and naturally contains a little sugar).
Plain yogurt or an alternative yogurt if you must.  This isn't something that a yeast free dieter should have regularly during the cleansing period, but if you really have no time one morning, go with a plain unsweetened yogurt like Whole Soy or you can make your own.  I've found that a little cinnamon or an alcohol-free extract (I use orange or lemon) makes any unsweet plain yogurt tasty.

GREEN SMOOTHIES are probably my favorite way to start my day.  I have to make mine the night before because the apartment walls are so thin.  I plan to post some of my recipes as I refine them, but the key to a yeast free diet smoothie is NO FRUIT, which is hard to do if you want a creamy smoothie.  If you are able to have some sugar in your diet, some fruits are less sweet, like blackberries, raspberries, and strawberries.  I usually make mine with carrots, kale, cucumber, flax or hemp seeds, almond milk or water, and l-glutamine (good for rebuilding muscles after a workout and good for rebuilding damaged intestinal walls).  Instead of fruit, I use avocados.  They are nearly flavorless in a smoothie and give you a similar consistency that a banana would.  You can flavor your smoothie with alcohol-free extracts, lemon or lime, cinnamon, fresh mint, raw unsweetened cocoa powder, or Stevia.  If you use protein powder, pay attention to the ingredients.  Many of them are sweetened or contain allergens.  For me, I can't have vanilla or whey, and during the yeast cleanse, the protein powder should probably be skipped anyway.

I hope these ideas helped you with your breakfast routine.  It took me a few weeks of experimenting and searching to find grain, dairy, fruit, and egg free options for breakfast.  Now, breakfast is quick and easy.  Enjoy!

Let me know if you have any ideas!

Friday, December 28, 2012

Me-Friendly Yeast-Free Diet

I've officially decided that I'm going to eliminate yeast from my diet and kill the excess yeast in my system.  Simply taking medications for this will not solve the problem and may only temporarily alleviate the symptoms.  After removing all of my problem foods for over two months, I can tell that the source of my problem is yeast.  How?  When I eat sugar or carbs (even gluten free cereals, tortillas, pastas, etc.), which break down into sugars, my body reacts in very unpleasant ways.  I couldn't tell before eliminating my problem foods because I have so many of them and I was consuming at least one problem food multiple times a day, so I never had a symptom break.  Now, I can tell.  After eating food that feeds my yeast overgrowth, I have anxiety, itchy skin, breakouts, white/yellowy discharge, bloating, gas, alternating diarrhea and constipation, and more recently, nausea.  Some of these symptoms start within an hour of eating and all of the symptoms persist up to 3 days.  It's awful.  It's time to fix me.

When you go on a yeast-free or candida diet, expect to go through withdrawals, called "die-off."  This is part of why I've waited so long to do this diet.  Expect it to make you sick.  More information here: Yeast Die-Off Symptoms and Ways to Help

I'm not going to fast.  I've tried that before.  It will just make me sick, severely low on calories, and I'll in turn be more susceptible to cheating on the diet.  I'm simply going to do a strict yeast-free diet, take a few supplements and anti-fungals, and drink a lot of water.  I've mostly read recommendations of at least 6 weeks on a yeast-free diet to see results.  So, I plan to spend 6 weeks eating only the following food categories (as selected from the Whole Approach Food List and after eliminating my food sensitivities). I will re-evaluate at 6 weeks and see where I need to go with my diet.

Washed, organic when possible.  Avoid tomatoes and mushrooms.  No pre-packaged sauces.  No starchy veggies, like potatoes.
Organic when possible.  Not packaged meats that contain sweeteners, vinegar, other additives.  Not fried.
Nuts and Seeds
Blanched or soaked to eliminate fungus and aid with digestion.  Fresh, not roasted.  No peanuts or cashews.  Eat in moderation. Update: I learned that nuts and seeds were not good for me. I often over-eat them, especially nut butters.  They create more mucus which can cause discomfort and assists the yeast.  It was also obvious in my stool that I was not completely digesting them. Pay attention to your body and do what works best for you.
Not sweetened. Water, hot unsweetened teas, unsweetened unflavored almond milk.  Squeeze a lemon or lime wedge in your water- it's ok.  Update: I also drank shots of aloe vera juice during the first 2 weeks to aid with digestion and cleansing.
If you must have a sweetener, use stevia... nothing that ends in "-ose" or "-ol"! No alcohols. Read the ingredients.
Not cow dairy.  Plain unsweetened goat, soy, or coconut kefir for the pre- and pro-biotics.
Spices and Seasonings
Not only are they good for you, they make your food taste better.  Experiment.  Try to use fresh herbs when possible, but at least don't use the old stuff that you haven't used in a year.
Some oils are really good for you, aid in digestion and anti-inflammatory, and have anti-fungal properties.  The oils I'm using are olive and coconut.
Other notes:
DO NOT eat processed foods (pre-packaged), leftovers (at least not more than 1 day old!), starches or grains. Shop only on the outer edges of the grocery food (refrigerated and fresh!).  In my research I discovered that fruit, vinegar, and fermented foods are all questionable.  Since I couldn't find the real answer, I chose to avoid these as well.  If you choose to include them, go with the fruits that are least sugary (like berries), organic vinegar, and ferment your own foods.  Definitely do not consume baked goods or gluten, but if you have to have some sort of a grain or carbohydrate, try quinoa, amaranth, or buckwheat but only in moderation.  Also, there will be things that contain natural sugars, and you should try to limit them, but the important thing is that you aren't eating things with added sweetener.  You can't avoid all sugar, and some sugar is necessary to keep you going and feed the good bacteria in your system.

I've been using Follow Me on Pinterest for searching and sharing new recipes. I'm actively trying to find new ways to enjoy food.

Saturday, December 15, 2012


I've acquired a few friends who are also on a gluten free diet and all of our symptoms vary in type and severity.  Some are gluten intolerant and some have Celiac Disease.  We jokingly call ourselves, "Glu-tards" just to lighten it up a little.  This word has been acquired by the Urban Dictionary.  On a more serious note though, there's a significant distinction between the intolerance and the disease, mainly the intolerance is easier to treat (just don't eat it!).  Also, the simple explanation for why "normal" people shouldn't eat gluten either: our bodies just can't break it down.  I remember when I was a teenager and my dad told me (yes, Dad, sometimes I do listen to you and learned a lot from you) that our bodies can't process hydrogenated fats, I starting reading labels and paying attention to what I was ingesting.  Gradually, I became more and more health conscious as I learned more about the horrifying things that are in our food products.  Luckily, these skills I gained (understanding of whole foods, nutrition, supplements, and ability to read food labels) have helped me with my food intolerances.  Some people go into complete shock when they have to go from eating fast-food for 2-3 meals a day and having no understanding of food nutrition to suddenly being required to eat whole foods, cook their own meals, and reading complex nutrition labels in order to regain health.  Everyone should learn how to eat for proper nutrition and try to avoid eating so many processed foods, with or without a known food intolerance!

Here's the gluten problem explained:

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

The Beast Called Yeast

An overgrowth of yeast (candidiasis) could be the cause or one of the factors of many health problems.  When you go to the doctor with health problems, they give you a medication that "treats" your condition, which typically means stopping or reducing the symptoms.  They may or may not have told you what's wrong with you.  Millions of people have health problems and don't know the cause.  I don't know about you, but I prefer to treat the problem, not the symptoms.  A yeast overgrowth may actually be the cause, and a yeast-free diet to cleanse the body, followed by maintenance of a yeast-fighting environment for your body, may be the cure.  The goal is to get your body back in balance. (Check your symptoms.)

70% of our immune system lies in our intestinal tract.

Intestinal health is the key is whole body health. 

When you have a yeast overgrowth, some of the most common symptoms are bloating, abdominal pain, and fatigue.  It weakens your immune system because your body spends so much time fighting the yeast, which in turn also wears you out.  When your intestinal bacterial flora is out of balance, it can lead to many problems throughout your body.  Yeast overgrowth has been blamed for many diseases and conditions, such as: chronic fatigue, irritable bowel syndrome, fibromyalgia, brain fog, chronic immune suppression, chronic sinus issues, joint aches, depression, skin rashes, acne, and other infections.  We've all heard about the importance of probiotics to create and maintain the proper balance of intestinal bacteria, but we fight the idea of creating the proper balance of yeast.  The right kind of probiotics help fight yeast, but that's not the only solution.

It sounds crazy that this could be the source of all of your problems.  Why didn't your doctor suggest this?  Something people (including doctors and their assistants) always seem to forget is that the clinic or hospital is a business.  Sometimes, they're just bad at their jobs.  Sometimes, they're just more interested in having you return and spend more money, or receiving money from the prescription medicine company that left them a delicious chocolate cake in the break room.  Some doctors have tried telling people they need to eat differently and met resistance from the patients ("I only eat McDonald's for lunch." or "Whatever, I eat healthy and I'm not fat, so that doesn't make sense." or the patient just goes home and doesn't follow the diet).  Most patients want the drugs that make them feel better now.  If you get a regular doctor to believe you, he'll put you on a prescription which may make these symptoms go away, but what about the side effects, and if you don't change your lifestyle, you'll never get away from the pills.  I was on antibiotics for a problem that turned out to not be bacterial, but the doctor didn't figure that out, I did when the antibiotics weren't working after a whole year of taking them.  They actually worsened the problem by allowing the yeast to thrive without beneficial bacteria around to fight them off.  If you don't find the source of your problems and change your lifestyle, you'll just get sick again.  I totally believe in alternative medicine now.  Any non-western medicine doctor you go to will listen to your symptoms and help you treat the cause, which will resolve your issues, and alleviate your symptoms.

If you want to learn more about the yeast problem, this article is terrific:  Path of Yeast Resistance.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Commentary on Processed Foods


Think about what you're eating!
The things we've come accustomed to eating is appalling! I say "things" because much of it is completely void of any semblance of food, let alone any vitamins or nutrients.  The more it's processed, the less likely your body will be able to process it and that it will have nutritional value.  So, why do we eat it?  There are many obvious ones you can think of, like cost, convenience, shelf-life, etc.  It also comes down to what we were taught as kids.  Mom and Dad, it's not your fault.  When the processed food trend began, no one realized how bad it all is.  Think about how little people knew about the side effects of cigarettes.

Do you remember school lunches.  We all ate 5 school lunches a week (and some ate breakfasts and snacks as well).  Do you remember what you ate?  How big of an impact do you think it made on the way you eat now?

Honestly, think about when they put veggies on our plates in school.. how many of you actually ate the veggies?  I'll fess up that I only ate the ones that were coated in butter or smothered in cheese.  The "before" plate is what I was served (they put at least one veggie or fruit on the plate though... so, substitute apple crumble for the cupcake).  The "after" is apparently what they are starting to integrate into public schools.  I haven't seen plates like this in Anchorage yet.  I have seen them put a little iceberg lettuce into a Styrofoam bowl with a packet of Ranch and call it a "salad," to replace the macaroni in the "before" photo.  At least they are trying, but I still have a few problems with this: 1) I'm pretty sure Styrofoam isn't safe to eat from (especially hot food and to consume food from daily), 2) couldn't we use something recyclable or less wasteful than Styrofoam and plastics?, 3) the whole foods are still genetically modified and may not have been washed well (who knows?), 4) Ranch and tortillas still aren't very healthy but at least it's an improvement, 5) is it just me or does it seem like this is more  food than the "before", which means either it's unlikely to be this way due to cost and waste, or they're teaching the kids to eat too much, and 6) I'm still feeling bad for the gluten and dairy intolerant children.

The food pyramid (1992) I was taught in school...

How we translated that information
(well, in college this was the pyramid we all followed)...

The revised food guide (2011) which is a great improvement...

How we really should be eating...  Take your pick:

This last image is the paleo pyramid and Dr. Fuhrman's food pyriamid.  I don't completely believe in the paleo diet fad because people started making desserts and other baked or fried foods that were obviously not part of the paleolithic era.  The core of the paleo diet is a good one though.  I like Dr. Fuhrman's pyramid though because of the higher quantity of vegetables.  I think both of these are good pyramids to follow and are very person-specific.  These pyramids and the candida seems pretty smart in that you eliminate the foods that are the least healthy... duh?  

Ann Cooper has an interesting TED Talk about healthier and more sustainable school lunches:

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Quit Consuming Crap!

More reasons why smoking causes a slow and painful death: food intolerances. Apparently, smoking can diminish the affects of your food intolerance treatment. Cigarettes contain food particles, sugar, and added flavoring, things which you may have a sensitivity to or develop a sensitivity to, potentially worsening your symptoms (not to mention all of the other known side effects of smoking).

Alcoholic beverages also contain or are made from foods, sugars, and other additives. They are also created by fermentation, which means yeast, which is another discussion all together. The food you're intolerant to will also be more quickly absorbed into your body in its alcohol form.

Although you think you're taking a medication or supplement to help your condition, you may be doing more harm. Pills typically contain food particles and sometimes yeast, so you're just prolonging the problem.

I love the Reader's Digest's article 10 Bad Habits and the Best Ways to Quit Them.