Gut Health Chat: My Intestinal Candida Experience
Finding out I had an overgrowth of intestinal Candida was one of those lightbulb moments for me. After a year of waking up bloated unexpectedly, despite having removed any potential causes from my diet, a diagnosis by chance gave me the information I needed to finally get a handle on it. I often think back and wonder why I didn’t try to do anything sooner; but I think it was just one of those things you ignored because it didn’t seem like a huge issue at the time.
In late 2015 I started seeing the team at BePure who were helping me fine tune my health. I had lost the weight but they were going to help me make my body run better than it ever had before. My clinician at BePure, Melanie, put me through a series of tests before we found out that I had an overgrowth of intestinal candida as well as leaky gut. You can test for Candida overgrowth in a series of ways, however I had the pleasant task of doing a stool test. This was the beginning of my gut health journey.
So, what is Candida? Candida Albicans is a form of yeast that is part of your gut flora, a group of microorganisms that live in your mouth and intestine. When the population of Candida becomes out of control, it penetrates the intestinal wall, creating small holes (leaky gut) and releases toxins straight into the blood stream.
This can cause symptoms ranging from bloating, lethargy, sugar cravings, struggle to lose weight, headaches, brain fog, constipation, acne and much much more! For some women, it may even mean reoccuring thrush.
For me, I was experiencing a range of these symptoms (the bloating, sugar cravings and my weight loss had stalled) and finding out I had candida was a huge weight off of my shoulders. It meant I had a place to start working from.
Melanie is a total superstar and got me started immediately. She gave me a great information pack on both leaky gut and candida since she knows I love to learn, and talked me through the process. It involved removing a few additional foods during the kill, lowering my carbs and a course of supplements.
The supplements included BioKult Candea Probiotics which are my absolute favourite, as well as a herbal tea, cod liver oil (YUCK), Grapefruit Seed Extract (very powerful when it comes to Candida), S. Boulardii (commonly used when travelling through asian countries, this helps supports your digestive tract and with bowel movements if they become too loose) and a number of other supplements. These were all taken at specific times of day in a particular order.
When it came down to it, I essentially went strict paleo keto for around a month or so and it kinda sucked. Not only did I have to lower my carbs, but I also wasn’t able to have garlic or onion as well as a number of other foods. The reason for lowering my carbs is because Candida feeds off of sugar. This meant that I was eating around 20g net carbs/30g total carbs a day which is very very little. For example, I couldn’t eat kumara (sweet potato), very rarely ate pumpkin and had no fruit other than avocado.
A typical days eating was generally:
Breakfast – Eggs, half an avo, spinach, nitrate free bacon
Lunch – Poached chicken with lettuce, spinach, capsicum, carrot, red onion and paleo mayo
Dinner – Meat and vegetables of some description – usually steak and broccolini.
However I had no treats and I did struggle without garlic! I ended up eating like this for around 2 months. Now this being said – I was already reasonably strict so this what what I needed to do personally. Most people continue to consume between 50-100g of carbs with no issues. Please consult a health practitioner on a one on one basis, as candida can actually be resistant with too little carbs unless your body is used to going ultra low carb. This needs to be a personalised journey for each individual!
The kill itself really took it out of me and I had to wind back on my workouts for awhile. I spent around 2 weeks feeling pretty tired and a little foggy. However thankfully that seemed to be the worst of it!
After that it came down to repairing Leaky Gut, which meant being super careful avoiding foods I am intolerant to (gluten and dairy are my two biggest but there are some mild reactions to other things too) and ensuring I drink plenty of Bone Broth to help seal up the gut lining.
Once I was through the kill, I can honestly say I didn’t feel that much different, however I did immediately notice the bloating was gone and I felt clear headed again. I know when this returns that I need to reign in the food.
Not long ago I was contacted by Dr Amanda Wiggins, who spoke to me about a brand called Kolorex. Kolorex is brand that sells all natural products, made right here in New Zealand, from native Horopito plants (see the beautiful orchard photo for the feature picture). After doing some research and speaking with Melanie, I decided to try it out. Back in 1982, a study was done by scientists at the University of Canterbury which showed the extract from Horopito containing polygodial was more effective at killing Candida Albicans than the powerful pharmaceutical anti-Candida drug, Amphotericin B.
As someone who always likes to pursue the natural route where possible, this was very exciting for me when it came to managing Candida over a long time. Once you have a candida overgrowth, you are prone to getting it back again. I had been experiencing really bad skin, and after trying all manner of things to clear it up, my research lead me back to my Candida.
I received my Kolorex and within a few days it had improved my skin dramatically.
I was amazed to say the least. Prior to that, I had been applying canestan cream to my blemishes which started improving them but didn’t make them go completely. I used it for around 3-4 weeks and then stopped as I didn’t feel like it was something I wanted to apply long term.
My skin is now a little touch and go again due to the stress of the move and then the usual airplane skin, but I hope it continues to improve with regular use of Kolorex. I have been ensuring I cleanse morning and night, and have been using BioHoney Acne Cream which is an all natural NZ made moisturiser containing 20% Medicinal Grade 300+ Manuka Honey which appears to be helping a little.
Kolorex has a number of products from intimate wash, to toe and foot cream, intestinal candida supplements and more. I took their Advanced Candia Care which you can find on HealthPost and I even managed to secure a discount code with Kolorex on HealthPost: “SHRINKINGV” will get you 10% off of your order if you want to add this to your candida care. Simply add this to the coupon section when checking out.
I was instructed by Melanie to take one bottle of my Kolorex and then have a month off followed by taking the next if I feel I need it. This stops your body from getting too used to it. I have also thought about buying one of their creams for my face, but I will keep an eye on my skin in the next few weeks as life starts to settle again.
Naturally everyone will have different symptoms and I highly recommend getting confirmation before going ahead and assuming you have a candida overgrowth and buying products. This is the main reason I have no included every product I use, as I believe if you have not had confirmation you should definitely seek a test before doing DIY treatments.
Long term to keep my Candida in its place, I continue to take the BioKult probiotics, the Kolorex and sometimes I also get the Grapefruit Seed Extract from iHerb.com (discount code LCR423) when I’m placing an order.
I will continue to keep you all updated on my Kolorex use, however so far it has been awesome. Please let me know if you have any further questions about my Candida journey – I have tried to be as thorough as possible!
Please note: These are simply my personal experiences with these products and I pride myself in my honesty when it comes to reviewing and talking about a product.