Day Twenty-Four: Thinking Outside the Box cont… Candida
When I finally found the doctor who homed in on my food allergies as underlying the various health issues I was having (high blood pressure, irritated bladder,depression, and random new allergies appearing, like having my throat swell shut while eating cashews one day), she took a “big picture” look at my health. We found out that my vitamin D was below normal, and that my B vitamins were below normal. She also wanted to do a stool test, to check the health of the good flora (bacteria) that live in the intestines. When the test came back, we were shocked: there weren’t any good bacteria found in my gut, and there was a prevalence of “bad” bacteria: candida.
You can find a lot to read on candida. I will briefly mention that it is a yeast-type of bacteria, that normally lives in your gut, and is kept in check by the good bacteria. When you take antibiotics, the good bacteria are killed as well as the bad, and this can create an imbalance that allows the candida to take over. Also, candida thrives on sugar, so lots of carbs, sugar, even fruit sugar, make it grow like crazy. This overgrowth of candida creates a dangerously unhealthy environment, which can lead to a leaky gut… meaning food particles can pass through into your blood stream before they are digested. What does your body do when a foreign substance appears in the blood stream? It creates antibodies to fight it. And now, when your cells encounter that thing again, it has a reaction all ready for it. A new food-allergy is created.
My doctor said that it was possible, due to my very unhealthy gut, that the candida was playing a role in my suddenly developing so many allergies. The reason I still call this part of my story “thinking outside the box,” is because many mainstream doctors do not recognize candida as a cause for health issues. It is getting more widely known, but it has taken a long time. Before finding this doctor, my previous one was trying medication after medication to treat me for blood pressure and depression, only to have me react allergically to them, either with hives, or my throat swelling shut, or my hands and legs swelling.
I also found out, with this new doctor, that ringing ears, and even frequent urination (or bladder irritation) are signs of allergies. When I started reintroducing foods, after eliminating them for 6 weeks, those were some symptoms that came back. It blew my mind! Those symptoms I had been dealing with for years were actually signs that my body was reacting to something.
My old doctor kept trying medication after medication, and I was reacting to them all. I had said to him “can’t I take a break from trying these, until my immune system calms down? It is reacting to everything.” And he said “I don’t see what good that will do, but I will give you one month. But you are going to have to accept that you will be on these meds, for the rest of your life.” This was the push that led me to finding the new doctor. And with her completely different approach to my health, I have not had to take those meds at all… I have been off of them for 3 1/2 years.
Lest you think this new doctor was completely anti-medication, and would grasp at anything to say I don’t need to take any, when I left her office after my first visit, with the packet on the elimination diet I was going to start that day, she also handed me a prescription. My blood pressure at that time was running 185/129. She said if my blood pressure didn’t come down within one week, to fill the script and start taking it. Well, in three days, my blood pressure was down to 135/90, so I never needed to fill it. It continued to come down, as my body began to heal.
What does this 3-part story have to do with “Less Stress in Allergy-Free Eating?” Although discovering my food allergies created a complexity to my meal planning, shopping and cooking, it transformed my life in good ways as well. Having a doctor who thinks outside the box when it comes to health and allergies makes such a big difference. I had been toying with the idea of eating gluten-free for a few years. But my doctor at the time thought it would be a waste of time. Others around me were skeptical. So I didn’t try it. Support is so key.
How do you find a doctor who is not anti-medication, and yet also not a med-pusher? You network and you ask around. When my doctor left her practice to stay home with her firstborn, I had to find a new doctor. I did not hurry. And guess how I found my one?! On Facebook! 🙂 I posted what I was looking for, and had 5 different people private message me recommending the same one. Some of them drive an hour to go to this guy. He happens to be 25 minutes from me.
The funny thing is, this new guy helped my former doctor, who found my allergies, to start her practice. And remember the doctor who had insisted I would have to take meds forever? My current doctor and he are good friends, and their sons are buddies. My doctor says, he has been “trying to bring him over to our side for years.” LOL Such a small world!
I have used a cookbook called the Yeast Connection Cookbook, written by a doctor and nurse, who have pioneered in the area of Candida. The recipes are free of many of the common allergens, so I don’t have to tweak them very much. It has has a section talking about Candida, what it is, and how the Candida Diet works.