I’ve been hesitant to talk about my stomach for fear of speaking too soon only to backslide to where I was most of last year. I realized though that anything could change, so I should share the good news while it’s here.
It all started with my visit to the homeopathic doctor who I lovingly refer to as the witchdoctor. He was so wonderful. He listened and immediately identified my underlying problem which was causing a whole variety of nasty side effects. The basic issue was an overgrowth of fungus (candida) in my intestines which was brewing up an unhealthy amount of yeast in my stomach and gut. It was never idenitified as an issue before because most conventional doctors don’t consider fungal growth a problem. Luckily, the witchdoctor does, and he got me started on a special diet and herbal remedy plan immediately. There are anti-fungals you can take for this issue but they can be pretty rough on your liver, so we decided to pursue this course of action first.
The idea, he said, was to starve the fungus by cutting out it’s number one food source: sugar, of course. He doesn’t believe in extreme diets, so he only asked me to avoid all forms of refined sugar. Additionally, we didn’t want to introduce any new fungus via fermented foods, so no wine or beer, vinegar or mushrooms. Honestly, the wine was the worst part. I don’t have a huge sweet tooth, but I do enjoy a nightly glass of wine. Still, it had been such an awful year, I would have done anything in the hope of feeling better. Because it wasn’t a totally restrictive diet, I was able to start right away. The only tricky switch was the vinegar. I usually have a salad every day for lunch, and almost all dressings contain some variety of vinegar. I switched to olive oil and lemon which I was surprised to find most salad joints have on hand. I didn’t love it at first and missed the variety, but it’s really grown on me!
There was also an herbal component which included some multivitamins and digestive enzymes. The vitamins are excellent especially my new multi which includes valerian root and has done wonders for my general anxiety levels. It’s hard to tell if the enzymes have made a difference, but they haven’t hurt.
I started feeling better almost immediately. I’d say within 14 days I could tell a noticeable differnce. After a month, I finally ditched the “emergency bag” I’d hauled with me literally everywhere for the past year. This was a bag full of 4-5 different type of stomach meds, ginger chews, peppermint gum and chamomile tea. All of which I used to employ (usually all in the same day) to keep my stomach symptoms at bay. I couldn’t believe how much better I felt. It was as if I didn’t even realize how bad things had gotten until I finally remembered what it feels like to feel normal. I didn’t even have to plan my outings around bathroom stops anymore! It was a life changer, but I still wasn’t 100%. I still had tough days and couldn’t figure out why, so I did a little digging.
There’s a ton of research out there about the candida diet, and all of it agrees that sugar is the number one irritant, and it needs to be elimintated. Like I said earlier, I don’t really have a sweet tooth, and I didn’t consume tons of sugar before starting the diet, so I didn’t really understand what eliminating sugar would do. After doing some reading, I realized I was forgetting about a main source of sugar that I definitely did have in my diet, which was carbs. I’d done the gluten free thing before and felt better but I never considered (and still don’t consider) myself gluten intolerant. Still, I decided to cut out all simple carbs for a few weeks and see how I felt.
I should pause here to note, that there are plenty of people out there who don’t even believe Candida is a real issue. That’s cool, but since making a real effort to eliminate it, I feel 100xs better. I’m not sure what that means, but I’m happy, and I’m a believer.
Researching a carb free lifestyle led me almost immediately to the Paleo Diet. Having experimented with vegetarianism and gluten free living, I am obviously not shy about hopping on diet trends. Still, I was skeptical. Would I have to start cross-fitting? Would I need to convert everyone I love? All of that and more in Part Two, but let’s just say, going Paleo has changed my life, and I don’t think I’ll ever go back. Yep. I’m one of those now. Sorry.