What is Candida Albicans? My Candida Story

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This is how I imagined candida to look back in the day when I thought about it all the time. When I cried myself to sleep asking whyyyyyy are you wrecking havoc on me? Tiny little monsters. Little did I know when kept in check candida is a good thing!

Is Candida Albicans taking over your life?

I take it, if you’re here, you’ve heard of candida albicans (candida for short) before? Whether you’ve been diagnosed with an overgrowth of candida by a natural health practitioner or you have self-diagnosed yourself I am positive it’s been driving you nuts. I’m sure you dream about candida, think about how much you hate candida, google everything related to candida and wonder when the heck this overgrowth of candida is going to subside itself.

At least that’s what it was like for me. It overtook my life.

Candida overgrowth has the tendency to make you feel fucking terrible. Just terrible enough that every day feels like a struggle but not terrible enough that anyone seems to take you seriously.

I found out when I was 15 years old that I had a bad case of candida overgrowth from a naturopath. I had a variety of the symptoms below and he did some sort of test and my levels were at an all-time high. Then I battled the overgrowth on and off for the next 10 years.

What is Candida Albicans?

Candida Albicans (candida for short) is a form of yeast that naturally lives in everyone’s body. It’s meant to be there but in smaller numbers. Usually, the healthy bacteria in your gut keep them in check. It lives on your skin, and in your mouth, gut and vagina. 

But when you don’t have enough of the good guys (bacteria) to keep the bad guys in check, the candida can overgrow and wreak havoc on the body. That’s how my naturopath explained it to my 15-year-old self back in the day. 

This is a graphic representation of how I felt. My stomach was always crying.  I like to get imaginative. I just pictured these little guys in there feeding on everything. Please note this is not a real representation, I don’t even think candida live in the small intestine. However, I do know they live in the large intestine/ colon because I watched them float down a plastic tube as the colonic lady pointed them out. 

What are the symptoms of a candida albicans overgrowth?

This is by far the most comprehensive list of symptoms I have come across in my years of learning about and searching for a cure to my candida overgrowth. It is taken from this article on Candida by Food Matters.  

An overgrowth of candida can manifest in a variety of symptoms in your body such as:

(I’ve bolded the ones in I’ve personally experienced – and I no longer have them, yippie, if you’re like me there is hope to overcome this you guys!)

  • Allergies, sensitivities, and intolerances that worsen in damp, muggy or moldy places or weather that is damp, muggy, humid or rainy.
  • Hay fever and asthma.
  • Intolerances or allergies to perfumes, odors, fumes, fabric shop odors, grass, cats, dogs or other animals, tobacco smoke, chemicals, smog, molds, dust mites, dust, pollen, and other airborne substances.
  • Athlete’s foot.
  • Babies – colic, diaper rash, thrush (coated, white tongue), and cradle cap.
  • Bruising easily.
  • Cheekbone or forehead tenderness, pain.
  • Cold hands or feet, low body temperature.
  • Cold-like symptoms: excessive mucus in the sinuses, nose, throat, bronchial tubes and lungs.
  • Cravings or addictions for sugar, bread, pasta and other high carb foods, and also alcohol.
  • Cysts, abnormal formation of, in different parts of the body, especially around the neck, throat, and ovaries, and in the bladder or scrotum.
  • Digestive problems – diarrhea, constipation, abdominal distention, bloating or pain, gas, mucus in the stools, hiatal hernia, ulcers, suffering from bacteria, i.e. salmonella, E. coli, h. pylori, etc.
  • Ears – ringing in the ears (tinnitus), sounds in the ears, ear infections, dryness, itchiness, ear pain, ear aches, ear discharges, fluid in ears, deafness, abnormal wax build-up.
  • Eyes – erratic vision, spots in front of eyes (eye floaters) and flashing lights; redness, dryness, itching, excessive tearing, inability to tear, etc.
  • Fatigue, chronic fatigue syndrome or Epstein Barr, or a feeling of being drained of energy, lethargy, drowsiness.
  • Flu-like symptoms.
  • Glands – swollen, too little saliva (dryness in the mouth), blocked salivary glands, swollen lymph nodes.
  • Hair loss, scum on the scalp, dandruff, itchy scalp, scalp sores and dryness.
  • Heart palpitations and irregular heart beat.
  • Headaches, migraines, brain fog, dizziness, etc.
  • Hemorrhoids and rectal itching, rash, irritation and redness.
  • Hypoglycemia (low blood sugar), and diabetes.
  • Hypothyroidism, Wilson’s Thyroid Syndrome, Hashimoto’s disease, hyperthyroidism, erratic thyroid function, etc.
  • Irritability, nervousness, jitteriness and panic attacks.
  • Lesions on the skin, and inside the body, i.e. the brain.
  • Male-associated problems – jock itch, loss of sex drive, impotence, prostatitis, penis infections, difficulty urinating, urinary frequency or urgency, painful intercourse, swollen scrotum, etc.
  • Female health problems – infertility, vaginitis, unusual odors, endometriosis (irregular or painful menstruation), cramps, menstrual irregularities, pre-menstrual syndrome (PMS), discharge, painful intercourse, loss of sexual drive, redness or swelling of the vulva and surrounding area, vaginal itching or thrush, burning or redness, or persistent infections.
  • Fungal infections of the skin or nails, i.e. ringworm, seborrheic dermatitis, dark and light patches on the skin (tinea versicolor), etc.
  • Joint pain, stiffness or swelling (arthritis).
  • Kidney and bladder – infections, cystitis (inflammation of the bladder with possible infection), urinary frequency or urgency, low urine output, smelly urine, difficulty urinating, burning pain when urinating.
  • Lack of appetite.
  • Mind and Mood – anxiety attacks, crying spells, memory loss, feeling spaced out, depression (including suicidal feelings), manic feelings, inability to concentrate, mood swings, irritability, etc.
  • Mouth sores or blisters, canker sores, dryness, bad breath, a white coating on the tongue (thrush) and blocked salivary glands.
  • Muscle aches and pain, numbness, burning or tingling, and lack of strength and coordination.
  • Nasal congestion, postnasal drip, itching, dryness.
  • The odor of the feet, hair or body not relieved by washing.
  • Respiratory – cough, bronchitis or pneumonia, pain or tightness in the chest, wheezing, shortness of breath, asthma.
  • Sick all over feeling.
  • Sinus inflammation, swelling and infections.
  • Skin – dryness, dry red patches, acne, pimples, hives, rashes, itching skin, eczema, psoriasis, seborrhea, ringworm, contact dermatitis, rosacea, etc.
  • Stomach – h. pylori bacteria (causes ulcers), heartburn, indigestion, hiatal hernia, acid reflux, belching, vomiting, burning, stomach pains, needle-like pains, food that seems to sit in the stomach like a lump, etc.
  • Sleep – insomnia, waking up frequently, nightmares, restless sleep, etc.
  • A sore throat, hoarse voice, constant tickle in the throat, laryngitis (loss of voice), etc.

 

Like seriously, what the actual fuck. This list is seemingly endless. It’s like every symptom under the sun. You might have a few symptoms, you might have a little. All I know is that having a multitude of symptoms like that can seriously lower your quality of life!

I personally had around 20 of these. I looked healthy on the outside, thanks to a boatload of make-up and hair extensions. But any interaction with me at the time and you would find me spaced out, sleepy, laying on the floor in pain or looking for the closest bathroom and complaining about my stomach aches or my constantly itchy vagina, or how I thought that I was going to be bald by the time I was 25. 


We’re supposed to be living amazing lives where we feel good all the time. We’re not supposed to wake up and feel shitty. We’re supposed to wake up clear-headed, energized and ready to seize the day pain-free! Fuck you candida. 

We can’t be walking around tired, brain foggy, and sick all the time. How are we supposed to accomplish anything great that way ? These are the thoughts that encircled my mind as I spent countless hours for years googling ‘how to fix candida’ and all the symptoms it came with.

Is Candida Overgrowth a real thing?

It is important to note that candida overgrowth (also known as candidiasis or candida albicans) is more recognized in the natural medicine community than it is with the medical community. 

There is much debate on whether overgrowth of candida albicans is real and actually the cause of all those symptoms. Like all things health and wellness, the internet and differing opinions of natural and medical professionals kind of leaves you more confused than when you started out. There always seems to be two sides to everything these days. 

According to Dr. Micheal Gregor, who dissects all the research and studies done on health-related topics to find the truth, it appears that there is little scientific evidence to prove that candida overgrowth is real…which may be why the medical community thinks people who claim candida are a little wacko….you can check out that video here.  

Maybe they need to do more research? Who knows? But for me, candida overgrowth felt very very real. 

It put a name to all the symptoms I was experiencing. Without my candida overgrowth diagnosis I would have felt so lost. I would have been constantly wondering what was wrong with me. 

How do you develop candida overgrowth?

The primary reasons for developing a candida albicans overgrowth come from:

  • Stress
  • Antibiotic use 
  • Oral Contraceptives
  • Diet – a diet high in refined sugar and processed foods, refined carbohydrates and alcohol….basically a diet that we know is bad for us but continue to eat anyways cause well cravings are real life or we often don’t realize this our diet is making us sick until we’ve exhausted all other avenues

How do you treat an Overgrowth of Candida Albicans (and my experience with the typical treatment) ?

Well my friend. This is where it gets a little bit confusing. There are many things you can do. There are many supplements you can take. Seriously so many. I have spent thousands upon thousands of dollars trying to heal my candida and visiting naturopath after naturopath.

And none of the supplements will work well unless you also adhere to a strict diet. 

The dreaded anti-candida diet. This diet is hell. 

The anti-candida in short summation is a very low-carb, high fat diet, with a focus on protein, no sugar, very little fruits, very little grains, no  starchy veggies, nothing that ‘apparently’ feeds the candida. It has a lot of little nuances like no vinegar, no mushrooms, etc. 

I’ve done the anti-candida diet. I did it first at 15 years old. It was horrible. I did it for 3 months. The only saving grace I had was my dad was doing it with me- otherwise I never would have made it through.

That was the first time I remembered feeling good. 

It lasted a few months.

But then life happened and I went back to eating all the regular food, drinking and living a stressful yet fun highschool and university life, and taking antibiotics whenever I had a sinus infection –  and my candida overgrowth came back with a vengeance. I had chronic fatigue, severe brain fog, incessant constipation and bloating, followed by diarrhea. My hair was thinning, my cravings were unreal and I had random skin infections. I got sinus infections on the regular and my skin was terrible. I also had female jock itch at one point- like who even knew that was possible? I was definitely scared before I figured out what it was. 

And then a few years later I got yeast infections, chronic ones. They were the fucking worst. If you’ve ever had one you know how hellish they are! 

Hands down the best part about my candida overgrowth was for some reason every time I ate sugar I would feel drunk. Not like fake drunk but like I actually felt super tipsy. So on occasion, I’d opt for a bag of candy over an alcoholic beverage to get me through the night. That was a bonus. But what was not a bonus was eating too much candy while studying and starting to feel loopy and intoxicated. My cousin used to tell me I was ‘Cookie Drunk’.

So in my last year of uni I spent all my dollars on naturopaths and cleanses and herbs and supplements. And I continued to do this for years.  I needed to find relief. I did the fod-map diet for SIBO (as per instructed by my naturopath), I tried to live the paleo diet lifestyle and also spent months on the anti-candida diet again and again. And I only ever found temporary relief.

I was always craving carbohydrates and I couldn’t eat very many. Even fruit and healthy grains were meant to be not consumed or kept to a minimum. I remember being advised my by naturopath to only eat blueberries (in small amounts) and citrus. This left me feeling sad and warding off cravings for carbohydrates 24 hours of every day. My willpower could only take so much.

I knew I could not live on these diets forever. Believe me I tried. You aren’t supposed to do the anti-candida forever but I found every time I stopped the diet, my symptoms came back with a vengeance. 

Until finally I figured out a way to keep my Candida in check without spending tons of money on naturopaths and supplements and without following the anti-candida diet!

Keep reading below to find out how I healed my candida overgrowth. I’ve  also made a free Guide for you to follow my 10 steps to candida free life.  There’s a handy little checklist and some journal prompts to get you through all the mental blocks that might be standing in the way of you and a life where you feel really good.

 

How I Healed my Candida Albicans Overgrowth and How You Can Too!

So after many years of trying all the diets and all the supplements, cleanses and herbs. I found the power of a plant-based diet. A high-carb low-fat plant-based diet to be specific. Also known as a low-fat whole food plant-based diet.  This diet is basically the same as a whole food plant-based diet low in oils.  

It was the complete opposite to my high fat meat focused paleo and anti-candida diets. But since they weren’t working, and they were so unsustainable for me,  I knew I had to try something radically different. 

I had a super healthy friend that was on a plant-based diet and I was so jealous that she was allowed to eat fruit and grains. On my paleo and anti-candida diets fruits and grains were either a no-no or meant to be consumed in small quantities.  So I decided to copy her and slowly transitioned to a plant-based diet!

The real magic happened when I went from a very lazziz fair plant-based diet full of french fries, and processed foods, excessive amounts of nuts and coconut oil and raw cheesecakes to one that was not only plant-based but mostly oil-free, low in fat and entirely gluten-free. 

I know, if you’ve got this far and you just read that last line you’re probably like that diet is actually impossible.

But I’m here to tell you that it’s not. From a girl with no will power and an addiction to all food- if I can do it (and absolutely love it) then you can do it too!

A whole food plant-based diet is sustainable once you get the hang of it. Your body isn’t dealing with fighting intense carb cravings 24/7 because you actually allow yourself to eat them. You feel amazing, your food tastes so so good, and after a little trial and error you will be so excited on how much better you feel that you will want to live this plant-based lifestyle forever. 

And you’ll actually feel way less restricted. This lifestyle will open you up to trying so many more grain, legumes, vegetables, and fruits you’ve never had before. You’ll learn so many amazing recipes that actually keep you satisfied and healthy. You’ll start to feel in control of your health instead of controlled by your health – and that my friend is a powerful thing. 

And, on top of everything, wholefood plant-based diets can be inexpensive and your food looks so beautiful- double bonus! 

Remember the key is not to do just a plant-based diet. It is to do one that is high in carbohydrates and low in fat with very little to no oil.

Once I made this change my candida symptoms cleared up within a matter of weeks. I realize this sounds nuts for those of you who have been avoiding carbohydrates like the plague but I’m telling you, it worked for me and it was the best decision I’ve ever made.

If you want to learn the nitty-gritty details of eating this way to see if it is the answer to keeping your candida at bay you can check out my Plant-Based Basics Page. 

And don’t forget to grab my guide so you can follow and check off the steps to your candida-free life the plant-based way! Get it here .

 

If you want to learn more about the science and research behind a whole-food plant-based diet have a look into the works of Dr. McGregor, Dr. Esselstyn, and Dr. McDougall, and T.Colin Campbell. 

Remember, everybody’s different and your best bet is to try things out for yourself. The nice thing about a whole-food plant-based diet is that according to the Dr.’s above there is plenty of evidence to show that a whole-food plant-based diet is the healthiest diet for health and longevity. 

I feel called to share because this lifestyle truly changed my entire life! I’ve been free of my candida and IBS for four years now. And I genuinely believe I owe it all to a low-fat whole-food plant-based lifestyle. 

References: 

https://www.cdc.gov/fungal/diseases/candidiasis/index.html

https://www.foodmatters.com/article/how-to-overcome-candida-naturally

https://draxe.com/health/candida-symptoms/

https://goop.com/wellness/health/the-insidious-yeast-infection-we-all-have-and-how-to-treat-it/

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MEDICAL DISCLAIMER

I am not a doctor or dietitian. The information on here is based on what worked for me. There is a lot of research out there on plant-based diets and the positive impact this diet has on health which really made me comfortable with my plant- based lifestyle choice! If you want to dive more into the science/evidence side of things check out our resources section.  Any statements made on these platforms are not intended to diagnose, cure, treat or prevent any disease or illness. Please consult with your medical practitioner before making any changes to your current diet and lifestyle.

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