My Gut Health Journey (healing candida)

When it comes to your health and wellbeing, I will never mess around.

Our health is the most important asset we have.

If we aren't feeling well, we can't function at our best, we can't show up for our loved ones and people in our life, do the work we are passionate about, or even the activities we love. Everything is just harder and more of a struggle.

Have you been here before? I know I have.

Beyond the times I find myself sick in bed with a cold, flu, etc. (which I have to say has been a lot less frequently the more I put my health in the front seat - this virgo overachiever used to work and go non-stop until I was sick in bed for a week a couple times a year)... when I was 22 years old and had just finished college I was sicker than I've ever been in my life. A time when I should have been at my most vibrant health!

I was sleeping 14-16 hours a day and still in deep chronic fatigue almost every waking hour. I struggled every day getting to work on time at a job I absolutely loved. When I got home I could barely make myself dinner before I would pass out. Rinse, wash, repeat.

I had pretty extreme neck and back pain and started seeing a chiropractor 3 times a week. I was working with a naturopath and got over 20 vials of blood work sent out. While the chiropractic sessions helped tremendously, they weren't sticking like they should have been and he ended up having me diversify by going to weekly acupuncture and once a month to cranio-sacral massage.

My body was struggling hard. I had skin breakouts, digestive issues, and more.

To be honest with you, I knew for over a year before this got so extreme what was going on and what I needed to do when smaller symptoms started arising, but I made a million excuses because I "didn't have time" as a hyper busy college student taking a full course load, working, attending an acting school, and performing in a college musical. On top of my social butterfly tendencies.

You know the drill... less than 5 hours of sleep almost every night, bucket loads of caffeine every day, a little too much sugar, plenty of stress, and some alcohol (albeit pretty moderate for your typical college student).

Even with a vegan, gluten-free, soy-free, organic, mostly healthy diet... my body was screaming until I couldn't ignore it anymore.

I simply did not put my health in the front seat, and I ended up paying for it hard about a year later when it all compounded.

I didn't really need the blood work to come back to tell me that I had MAJOR candida overgrowth issues.

Even though I had already seen the amazing wonders of what changing your diet for health could do (first with dairy, then gluten, then soy), I wasn't prioritizing what I knew I needed to do.

Candida is a natural bacteria found in every single human body. Problems occur when it grows out of control. Many major health issues and even chronic diseases have been linked (at least in part) to candida overgrowth. I'm definitely not saying that it will 100% cure anything, and each of our bodies and situations are so unique. But most people can find benefit from addressing this.

What feeds it?
  • sugar
  • caffeine
  • alchohol
  • stress
  • not enough sleep
  • antibiotics
To name the top contributors that are all pretty much staples of a Western diet & lifestyle.

July 2011 I finally hit my breaking point and went on an "extreme" candida cleanse to reset my body and hopefully reclaim my health (it worked!).

After suffering for so long, I finally hit my breaking point and decided to dive head first into a strict candida cleanse.

The goal of this cleanse was to 100% starve the candida to get it back into a healthy balance.

I immediately cut out ALL:
  • sugar (not even any fruit!! except green apples, lemons, and limes)
  • alcohol
  • caffeine
  • grains (except quinoa, buckwheat, millet, and amaranth)
  • legumes
  • root vegetables (except red potatoes)
  • nuts (except raw almonds)
  • sesame seeds
*Candida cleanses also have you cutting out all processed foods, dairy, and gluten, but I was already dairy free, gluten-free, soy-free, and didn't eat any meat, fish, or processed foods. At the time I was still eating eggs, and after a while when things were getting better, but something was still off, eggs came back in my blood work as an intolerance and I immediately felt the difference when I cut them out in so many ways.

And I added in:
  • lots of ferments
  • plenty of seaweed
  • high quality probiotics
  • green juice almost daily
I was following a protocol from book The Body Ecology Diet (but tweaked it to my own dietary restrictions).

I didn't know how long I'd do this for. My only goal post was "until I felt 100% better".

In one month I started adding in legumes a few times a week (always accompanied with digestive enzymes).

After about 3 months I slowly started to introduce in fruit, grains, legumes, nuts, and root vegetables. But my whole perspective on what worked for my body had completely shifted. Those 3 months still inform my daily choices to this day.

I definitely still drink coffee almost every day (with some breaks as my body feels it or while cleansing), enjoy some alcohol on occasion, and eat some sugar (almost only maple syrup or dates).

I won't say this was easy. It was a lot of food prep. I basically had to make every single meal for myself for 3 months and learn new recipes (that part was fun for the budding chef in me!). Hint: if you live local to Superfresh!, many items on our menu are candida friendly! But we often don't have to go so extreme for so long if we listen to our bodies a little more and nourish them even a little bit.

Now I do 2-4 resets a year, usually with the shift in seasons, to reset my body and clear my mind (the mental clarity that comes when we clean out our gut is AMAZING!).

Imagine how you would feel if you weaved in JUST ONE of these things to your life.

Like, truly take a minute to sit back, close your eyes, and see yourself in full vibrant health. You consistently are getting amazing restful sleep, are living pain free with no digestive issues, your mind is clear, mood is stable, skin is glowing, have boundless energy...

Can you feel it?

Unless you're crazy ready to take a big leap and / or have major health issues to address right now, just adding in one of these things is an awesome start!

What if you added in a green juice even a few times a week?

What if you cut back on your sugar (especially processed sugar) intake?

What if you added in more ferments into your diet?

What if you drank half your body weight in ounces of water daily? Sidenote: this is my #1 first recommendation for ANYONE, always.

Just pick one.

I'm the biggest advocate of bit by bit, step by step, day by day. Poco a poco.

That can be where we start to see real lasting, sustainable change.

When we try to change EVERYTHING at once it can be so overwhelming and discouraging, and then we might "slip up" just because it's too much.

Just remember, even if you do "slip up", you can choose again in each new moment.

You are not a failure.

You can do this.

And every time you choose again you are choosing YOU, your health, your happiness, and reprogramming your life.

Over time that one new habit will just be a part of how you go about your day to day.

That's when the real magic and fun really begins!

Then you can add in another healthy habit. Start stacking them.

Notice that every time you choose something that makes you feel GOOD, you'll be less inclined to reach for the things that bog you down. I actually firmly believe those "slip up" moments are so important in our journey because we learn how to listen to our body more and more each time.

Bit by bit, step by step, day by day, you'll be on your way to a healthier you!

I'm so curious... what is one thing that you want to add in to your life today? Hit reply in the comments and let me know!

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