During the first 3 months of self-diagnosis and treatment of Candida, I had a “kill” attitude. I was determined to follow the diet, eliminating carbs, sugars, dairy, and caffeine so the Candida would starve and die off. Every decision I made was focused on killing this invisible monster that was attacking my body. I’m glad I took those steps, but something was missing. It’s easy in life to get so focused on the negative and get so wrapped up that the positive gets neglected. In retrospect, that was what had happened.
As I read more books about gut health, like The Good Gut by Justin and Erica Sonnenburg or Eat Dirt by Dr. Josh Axe, I began to realize that I needed to nourish the good bacteria in the gut. Along with fighting the bad bacteria, I needed to encourage the good bacteria. A one-sided battle was not going to win this fight against Candida. There are so many links between mental and physical issues to poor gut health. It seems like scientists are making new discoveries every day. It’s the chicken and egg idea. What came first? Did poor gut health lead to these mental or physical issues or did the mental or physical issues lead to poor gut health? We know there is a link at the very least, and what is most encouraging, is that we can change our gut health for the better. If we can improve our gut health, we can improve our mental or physical issues. In fact, for some of us, our bodies can be healed from these issues. I don’t know about you, but this is a great encouragement for me.
The next question is how? How do we change our gut health? One way we can change it is through our diet (foods that we eat). Diets high in sugar, processed foods, and low in fiber will change your gut bacteria and health for the worse. Only certain bacteria can thrive off that kind of “nourishment.” Diets low in sugar, high in fiber, vegetables, and fruits that are in their “natural” state nourish a wide range of good bacteria. That is our goal, to have diverse gut bacteria. Including probiotics in your diet also improves your gut health. It is best to enjoy 3 different kinds of probiotics per day because each contain different strains of live bacteria. Fermented foods like sauerkraut, kefir, kimchi, kombucha, and yogurt with live cultures provide transient probiotics. As they pass through the body, our body reacts to them by priming our immune system and making our large intestine less permeable.
Another way to improve your gut health is increasing your exposure to soil, bacteria, and plant oils. As a culture, we have gotten far away from the outdoors. We have become so “clean”, that we are actually hurting ourselves. All the chemical exposure from cleaning chemicals, pesticides, etc. are changing the gut bacteria for the worse. The antibacterial soaps and antibiotics we overuse kill good and bad bacteria alike. They do not discriminate between the good and bad. Anything you can do to prioritize or lessen the use of these items, is a positive step towards better gut health. Using natural cleaners like vinegar, castile soap, or organic essential oils are all great steps to protecting your gut health. Exposing yourself to dirt (it contains soil based organisms that support gut health and immune response) is also helpful. Deciphering between exposure to really harmful bacteria and good bacteria when making decisions is essential. For example, if you don’t wash your hands after coming in from outside, this means more exposure to good bacteria. On the other hand, washing your hands after using the restroom eliminates exposure to harmful bacteria.
Changing our habits is a challenging process. I’m going to be real with you. It takes determination and work. We can’t expect to change without sacrifice. I am a creature made of flesh just like you and when I see the desserts or bread at work, I want to dive in head first. Maybe my symptoms pushed me harder to decline or just take a bite every once in a while. On the whole, I avoid buying groceries that contain this stuff. If it makes it to my home, it makes it to my mouth. I also didn’t try to change everything at one time. I started with my diet because that’s what was most needed at the time. I’ve been in that process since November 2015. I started organic foods in August which tripled my grocery bill, but I have grown stronger physically. Organic also seems to taste better. Also, on a side note, I stopped buying baby carrots. Even the “organic” versions get bathed in a chlorine bath. This kills good bacteria in your gut.
I am learning more every day. This is a process. I am just now starting to implement some organic essential oils and replace harmful chemicals. If you are struggling with issues today, hang in there. Try some of these “natural” methods and see if you improve. Our culture’s view of medicine today seems to be take a pill or several, but that has negative gut consequences too. Ironically, my back pain and joint pain were just symptoms Candida was causing. It wasn’t “back pain” per se, it was “Candida pain”. If I continued to take pain meds, I would have been on them for life. Changing my diet and eliminating toxins in my body has changed the rest of my life. That is worth the sacrifice.