Candida… is that even a thing?? Or is it some hippy nonsense used to psych you into thinking something is wrong?
Well… I thought the same at first… until I was hit with the news after a blood test that I was experiencing Systemic Candida.
Candida – what is it??
Candida is a type of fungus found in our mouths, digestive systems and on our skin. When we are healthy and eating a well-balanced diet (void of refined sugars), there is a good balance of beneficial bacteria and immune system responses that keep candida from growing out of control.
Systemic Candida is defined as an overgrowth of the candida fungus. This can be present in our organs, mouth, skin, genital area, digestive system… even on our skin. Systemic candida can occur in people who are healthy just as easily as it can in people who aren’t as healthy.
Symptoms of Systemic Candida
- Burning sensations
- Yeast smell (almost like a bread)
- Skin/nail infections
- Difficulty focusing
My journey defeating candida
I had the itchy skin, feeling like my whole body smelled like white bread, forgetting half the things I set out to do or remember, endured total bran fog with difficulty focusing… and even found myself being snappy at my boys when they just wanted to have fun. And let’s not even talk about how much my lack of focus and motivation affected my business.
We had gone to see a doc to check on potential food allergies and sensitivities, thinking some of my 2 year old’s skin issues were because of the food we were eating, and figuring I would have myself checked too, since I was 7 months pregnant.
He came back with a list of foods for us to avoid for a while and suggested we work on gut-repair. Since overcoming my autoimmune issues, I thought we were pretty healthy… but turns out my gut needed a LOT of healing.
After going home… I did what I do best… took my research skills and gained some knowledge.
I found numerous articles that outlined how candida can cause autoimmune issues, and many more articles about connections between autoimmune issues, leaky gut, and candida overgrowth. (If you’re a research nerd, like me, check out www.scholar.google.com and www.pubmed.org and search for “leaky gut candida autoimmune disease” … its super intriguing.
Did you know… candida and having a leaky gut are common for people with autoimmune issues?? And healing your leaky gut can help both!
Turns out… they’re often related… often enough for me to wake up and pay attention. Having already healed my body from debilitating autoimmune issues (you can read my story here) filled with seizures, weakness, pain, and mobility restrictions… I wasn’t about to go down that road again… especially with having one small child and one on the way.
Combatting Candida Overgrowth & Systemic Candida
There are many ways you can combat candida – antifungals… better food habits to starve out the yeast… supplements to build up the good gut bacteria to help balance out the yeast overgrowth…
Some work temporarily… and different methods take different amounts of time.
For me… I decided to do what I could to kick my candida to the curb as efficiently as possible.
- Cut all forms of sugar (refined and fruit-based), wheat/gluten, grains, legumes from our food habits
- Used my DO’s recommended recipes for the Candida Diet… and worked with him to ensure it wasn’t going to negatively impact my pregnancy.
- Started taking a few supplements to help
My favorite supplements for Candida Overgrowth:
Probiotics – this is a no-brainer. You definitely need to help replenish the good bacteria in your gut that was starved out by the candida yeast overgrowth. However… the good bacteria you’re placing in your gut may or may not stay there for very long… because it’s not *YOUR* gut bacteria. Hence why we need to take probiotics regularly to have the best results. Probiotic supplements (if you’re taking a quality one) can help with:
- Mellow out “potty problems”
- Improve your mood
- Reduce anxiety
- Improve heart health
- Reduce allergy and eczema symptoms
Prebiotics – the unsung hero of our gut health. You hear everywhere nutritionists and health nuts praising “probiotics” like some sort of cult-following… but we rarely hear about prebiotics. What are they? Beneficial fiber that feeds the healthy bacteria in your digestive tract. This is important because while probiotics help add to your beneficial bacteria… PREBIOTICS help FEED them… keep them healthy, happy, alive, and where they are needed.
Benefits of taking prebiotics include:
- Increase in calcium and magnesium absorption
- Stronger bones increased bone density
- Enhanced and strengthened immune system
- Reduced blood triglyceride levels
- Better-controlled weight and appetite due to healthy gut hormonal changes
- Increased “good” bacteria in the gut – most important of all
- Concomitant decrease in the “bad,” unwanted bacteria in the gut
- Reduced abnormal bacterial leakage through the gut wall, otherwise known as “leaky gut syndrome“
- Improved bowel regularity
May reduce intestinal infections and inflammation
- May reduce anxiety
Postbiotics – are a lesser-known factor in optimizing your gut health. They’re created through the process of probiotics metabolizing prebiotics, creating an ecosystem within your microbiome that favors the continual growth of good bacteria, keeping the bad bacteria within lower numbers. Many people with compromised or underdeveloped immune systems find that taking postbiotics is much more gentle on their bodies than just taking probiotics
- May help lower blood sugar and prevent obesity
- Supports probiotics
- May help reduce inflammation, especially in people with inflammatory bowels
- May help with weight loss
- May help with supporting your cardiovascular system
- Helps to support your body’s immune system
Phytobiotics – help support the growth of good bacteria within your gut flora, having positive effects on mental health and the neurological system.
My favorite probiotic/prebiotic supplement is actually 4-in-one (probiotics, prebiotics, postbiotics, and phytobiotics) in an easy-to-make drink, called Happy Juice by Amare. I love it so much because it contains several different strains of probiotic bacteria, and is super gentle on my sensitive body. So other brands of probiotics I’ve tried in the past caused me to endure major stomach pains or no results at all, but this one has definitely earned its keep in my wellness cabinet.
Vitamins: Specifically Vitamin C. Helps cleanse the gastrointestinal tract, removing harmful microbes, which may help reduce gas, bloating, and digestive discomfort while helping promote regularity.
The side-effect to healing your gut
Since venturing out on my journey of discovering my systemic candida and healing my gut, I’ve noticed a few things happen that I wasn’t expecting.
Sure… I was excited to relieve some brain fog and not be so tired… but I wasn’t expecting:
- Significantly increased my energy
- Increased my desire to PLAY with my son
- Actually wanted to spend energy going for walks and running around
- Feeling happier, and able to cognitively function with more efficiency
- Actually wanting to take part in keeping our home clean
- Craving more vegetables and fewer sweets
- Felt more attractive… which totally enhanced my relationship with my husband
- Weight started vanishing… going down a pant size each month without much else being different in our routine
- My business productivity skyrocketed
It has been a blessing in more than one way. The Happy Juice I drink every day even became something my son was asking for. Allowing him to sip some (without the Energy+ mixed in) even changed his attitude towards veggies too! He had suddenly turned into a picky eater only wanting corn dogs, taquitos, or chicken nuggets when my husband deployed for 7 months… he didn’t want anything to do with veggies short of veggie chips and zucchini tots. My Happy Juice helped him start wanting to broaden his horizons with food. Now his favorite is spaghetti squash with meatballs… total Mom Win!
A Note From Nicole
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Nicole is a military-trained research analyst, homeschooling mom, healthy lifestyle coach, and flexible business consultant. After living through and overcoming a season of homelessness and chronic health, Nicole developed a passion for helping others using functional nutrition, herbalism, and aromatherapy. She now uses simple lifestyle shifts, self-care, and developing healthier habits to help people move through difficult times.