No one likes to hear they're a walking science fair experiment, but it's true. We all have bacteria, both good and bad, inside and all around us. In fact, we have about 100 trillion bacteria in our gut and around our body!
The key to health is striking the perfect balance between good and bad bacteria, but when the bad bacteria get out of hand, it can cause health issues and unwanted weight gain.
In my mid-30s, I was gaining weight at an alarming speed despite rigorously working out. Not knowing what to do, I met with a naturopath who helped me understand that candida candida was making me fat and I had to stop feeding it. Following a candida diet, I lost over 40 pounds. For the first time in my life I wasn't trying to lose weight — I just wanted to feel healthy and lively again.
Both men and women can have candida, a yeast pathogen feeds on processed and refined foods made with wheat, dairy, sugar and preservatives like sulphites.
Here are the top six signs you may be suffering from Candida:
1. You feel extremely tired or lethargic all the time.
I was sleeping over 10 hours a night and still couldn't get out of bed feeling refreshed in the morning. The lethargy continued throughout the day and I just couldn't understand why I was so tired all the time.
2. Brain fog, poor memory or lack of focus.
I found it hard to focus and concentrate on the task at hand, no matter what it was. My thinking was foggy and impaired, and I'd feel like life was a big blur at times. I couldn't recall facts and details from the recent past.
3. Mood swings, anger, anxiety, or depression.
I'm not surprised I suffered from erratic emotions. Studies show that the gut is akin to a second brain, so what you feed it will definitely affect your mood and emotions.
4. Strong cravings for carb-rich and sugary foods.
Candida leads to a condition called "leaky gut" wherein the gut lining has small tears. This means your food isn't absorbed as nutrients and instead becomes toxins in your bloodstream.
With so few nutrients being absorbed, I felt hungry all the time. Often, the easiest fix was carb-heavy, starchy foods because they were readily available. But these foods easily convert to sugar, which is exactly what candida thrives on.
5. Skin and fungal infections.
Fortunately, I only suffered slight psoriasis on my thumb, but they're very common in people with candid. Now, I know that when I experience a skin of fungal infection, I need to lay off the carbs that are converting to sugar and I do a candida cleanse for a few days to get back on track.
6. Digestive issues such as bloating, diarrhea or constipation.
One thing I learned from my diagnosis is that I'd developed food sensitivities to the foods that most often lead to candida: wheat, coffee, dairy and processed ingredients like sugars.
An elimination diet consisting of "real" food like non-starchy veggies, protein, low-sugar fruits and limited non-glutinous grains helped me recover health in my digestive tract. This in turn lead to fewer instances of bloating and bowel issues.
As a candida sufferer, I'll always need to pay attention to how I'm eating, especially on the run. It's been a life-altering path learning how to eat in a way that rejects popular western food paradigms, but keeping it real ultimately honors me and my long-term health.