Are you on a hormonal roller coaster? Let’s talk about what perimenopause and menopause are before we dive into what might be happening to this listener (and possibly you). I’ll also share tips on managing your diet and allowing some self-care.Read More
An ongoing conversation on topics that matter to you — by Stephanie Ewals
Why is maintaining healthy blood sugar levels or keeping your blood sugar balanced so important for your thyroid? In this episode, we’ll explore some whys and how-to’s surrounding this issue. Also, check out my RESTART program for more information and support on getting your blood sugar balanced.Read More
Q. How do you push through the fatigue? I just want to get my life back on track.
Q. I’ve got hypothyroidism/Hashimotos. Around noon I start getting tired and it can get to the point of dozing off. I've had every thyroid level possible checked and it's within normal range. We've actually checked it numerous times. I've had my b12 and folic acid checked along with my hormone levels, vitamin levels, and had a CBC done. Everything is good. I'm wondering if maybe we are missing something. Could I have something that we haven't checked for yet. I've also got bipolar2, depression/anxiety and ptsd which I take Topamax for. I also take Levothyroxine for my hypothyroidism.
First let’s talk about Topamax. I want you to know what you are on. Your doctor should be testing your kidney and liver function and your blood should be tested to be sure you are able to process the drug well. They can become toxic very quickly.
You should not drink alcohol while on this medication as it interferes with the effectiveness and it can make you sleepy as well as slow your heart rate.
Antacids will keep you from being able to absorb this medication as well as any nutrients from your food.
Fiber supplements can reduce the effectiveness of this medication.
This drug will cause you to be low in folate or deficient in it.
It has not been approved to treat PTSD but is endorsed by the National Alliance on Mental Illness to treat bipolar disorder and other mood disorders.
Common side effects:
Diarrhea, Dizziness, Double vision, Fever, Hair loss, Loss of appetite, Mood changes, Nausea, Reduced perspiration, Sinusitis, Stomach upset, Taste changes, Tingling or prickly skin sensations, Tremors, Uncontrollable eye movements, Urinary tract infection, Weakness, Weight loss.
With that being said, let’s move on and talk about fatigue.
This is a super common issue for those of us dealing with thyroid issues and there are a number of reasons why fatigue could be your issue.
You can have anemia from a deficiency of B12, Iron or folic acid. Your doctor may check your iron levels but do they check B12, folic acid and ferritin? Any one of these can contribute to fatigue. And just because your lab says you are in the normal range doesn’t mean you are in the optimal range. j
Normal ferritin levels are between 12 -150 ng/mL. Mine is currently at 17 and I struggle with energy often. Some thyroid experts would say that optimal ferritin levels should be at 90-110 ng/ml for good thyroid function. If you are still losing your hair- it could be an iron deficiency.
And B12 values from your doctors lab may include values from people who were deficient in B12 so you can’t always rely on the lab values. “normal” is between 200-900 pg/mL but under 350 can give you neurological symptoms.
Food sensitivities, not food allergies which is when your immune system reacts to protect you like when someone’s throat closes off in a nut allergy. This alerts the IgE part of your immune system and happens as soon as a food is ingested. The IgA and IgG sections of the immune system will react to foods in what I would call a sensitivity or intolerance. These can cause us to be fatigued.
IgA reactions happen in the intestinal tract which can cause inflammation there each time we consume a particular food. This will damage the intestines and can cause us to be unable to absorb nutrients from our diet. You may have symptoms like diarrhea or looser stools, constipation, reflux or you may not have any symptoms at all. You can end up with conditions like IBS, gas, rashes on your skin, acne, asthma, headaches, irritability and fatigue. Celiac disease is in this category.
If your T3 is low and you have high Reverse T3, this will affect your energy. T3 helps our cells make more energy. Reverse T3 makes T3 ineffective so that we are slowed down a bit. If Reverse T3 is high, we will not have any energy and one of the biggest reasons this might be high is due to stress. Another problem could be that you are not converting T4 into T3. This can be due to stress, or even nutrient deficiencies either due to low stomach acid or a compromised gut. You might find you need to be on a medication that has T3 in it.
If your TSH is high, you will not have energy. Not all lab values are created equal here. You need to make sure that you are in a good range. Lab values for TSH are made up from a population of all kinds of people- those who are seemingly healthy and those who have undiagnosed thyroid problems and even the elderly who often have lower functioning thyroids. The best reference range for most people is to have a TSH around .5-2 uIU/L. Personally, mine is lower than .5 and I feel pretty good on that. If you are taking NDT you can have a TSH that might look hyper and if your T3 is in normal range you probably feel pretty good. This can cause alarm with your doctor but try to have a conversation with them about it.
How is your blood sugar?
This is a really really big one because it affects our adrenal glands which also have a role in energy. The good old blood sugar roller coaster will cause your adrenals to become weaker or cause the signaling between your brain and your adrenals to not work well leading to what is called adrenal fatigue or HPA axis dysfunction. For people like us with Hashimoto’s we may not tolerate those refined carbohydrates very well at all. Sometimes we get a big release of insulin when we consume sugary or refined “white” foods that others might not. So our blood sugar goes up really fast and we may have too much insulin in our blood which causes us to crash with fatigue and even anxiety or nervousness. This stresses our adrenals and leads to more fatigue.
Adrenal health is important for energy. If you are suffering from Adrenal fatigue you likely don’t have much energy to speak of even if this is the only thing you are dealing with. This is such a big deal and it takes some time to bring your adrenal health back in good standing. You need to avoid caffeine, keep your blood sugar balanced, make sure you are sleeping well and resting when you can, managing stress and probably supplementing. You can listen to Episode 7 of this podcast for more on adrenals.
Having good digestion is key to energy.
Many of us will be nutrient deficient and usually deficient in those nutrients that help our thyroids to function well. Just having hypothyroidism makes it harder for us to get our nutrients out of the food we are eating. This means the digestive system has to work a little harder to break down our foods and this can cause a lot of fatigue. We often have lower levels of stomach acid and most of us don’t eat when we are relaxed and we certainly don’t take the time to chew our food well. Right there is three strikes against us in the energy department.
When we are not relaxed when we eat, we are not in “rest and digest” mode or what is called parasympathetic mode. This means we are in fight or flight mode which is not a good environment for good digestion. We already are not making enough stomach acid because we have symptoms of hypothyroidism, then we are not relaxed so we make even less. Then we are not chewing our food well- like 20 chews per bite to break it down. So, we have all this food in our stomach, not enough stomach acid and it is not being broken down. Our digestive system is working extra hard to try to break this stuff down- using all kinds of extra energy and that makes us tired. Then you have undigested food going through your intestines. You have leaky gut or intestinal permeability and these undigested food particles are then getting in to your blood stream causing your immune system to go on alert and inflammation occurs in the body. Fatigue is going to be a factor here.
If you have low vitamin D, you can have fatigue. Get some sun. Lay in the sun for 10-15 minutes or go for a walk on a sunny day and expose as much skin as possible. Take a supplement of D3 if needed and make sure to have your levels checked by your doctor. Low D is a factor in autoimmune diseases like Hashimoto’s.
A good diet will go a long way to helping you with your energy problems. High quality proteins and veggies along with a small amount of fruit. The big foods to eliminate for us are going to be gluten, dairy, eggs, nuts and I would try to eliminate nightshades to see if you feel better. This is basically called an elimination diet and is important for you to start to feel better, have more energy and bring your body back in to balance.
You can find Hydrozyme at www.getbiotics.com use code DFILC163 to access.
This is published 2 months after the three days I spent on the elemental diet. I had the post written down but life got in the way and it is just getting out now.
I slept well again. Felt pretty good and energy was good. I was really not looking forward to drinking this stuff one more day. The actual smell of it, even though it smells like vanilla frosting, was becoming repulsive. I can do almost anything for three days though so I powered through.
I didn’t have my first scoops of Elemental Formula until about 9am. I ended up hurrying to get some things done in the morning and had my second 2 scoops at about 11:00. I took my daughter and her friend to our county fair for the afternoon and ended up with low blood sugar after a couple hours of walking around. I pre made some formula and brought it with but I found myself feeling exhausted. I sat down and drank 4 scoops in about 30 minutes. By the end of the day I was starving so I drank the rest of the last of it by 6pm and thought I would be fine.
I was not. I was starving by about 8pm. I was shaky and had some serious brain fog. I also wanted to eat everything in sight. I didn’t, but I wanted to.
We were at a restaurant and sitting outside. It was a nice night. Everything smelled so good which didn’t help the hunger pangs. I didn’t want to ruin all the good work I did for my body so left and went to our campsite and had some bone broth. I had two mugs of it before going to bed and I felt pretty good.
While the elemental diet wasn’t miserable, I do not wish to do it again any time soon. I think the low blood sugar issues were a problem on days I was more active so I would consider discussing with your practitioner what your activity level is and adjust your caloric needs based on that.
I did enjoy how I felt for the most part on the diet. I also enjoyed the freedom from having to decide what to eat and what to cook. It was a nice break. I didn’t crave anything until I was super hungry and that was quite freeing.
I was flipping through Netflix looking for a good documentary to watch and came across Food Choices. When I read the description and realized it was about a plant based diet I was ready to take notes and tell you all about why it was a ridiculous documentary and how you should just not bother watching it. I am not going to do that though because they actually made some valid points in parts of the film. The opinions expressed in this post are just that, I do not make reference to any studies or papers. I would encourage you to watch the film and make an informed decision about what is best for your health by doing a little research and not doing something because someone, including myself, says so.
I did find a lot in the movie I didn’t agree with but I was so surprised to find there was some parts of the movie that I actually did agree with.
The movie starts out with a lot of information about how animal protein is really bad for you. How it will raise your cholesterol, cause diabetes and cancer. Dr. T. Colin Campbell, author of The China Study tells us that the amount of animal protein we eat is the problem. He states that too much will stress the kidneys and the liver. He states all the animals we eat for protein are vegetarians and the movie shows a picture of a cow, chickens and turkeys.
Not all animals we eat are vegetarians. First of all, the natural diet of chickens and turkeys includes bugs which are “animal” protein and chickens will eat mice and other varmints if given a chance. They are NOT vegetarian. Pigs are not vegetarians either. They eat other animals, they eat just about anything actually.
The movie claims that protein elevates cholesterol, starts heart disease, increases the production of free radicals and stimulates the production of hormones. Personally, my diet is pretty high in protein and fat and my most recent (spring 2017) total cholesterol was 167. Read my post on protein and fat to learn more about why these two macronutrients are not villains. Bottom line, protein breaks down in to amino acids which help us make neurotransmitters and are the building blocks of the body. You can get protein from vegetables too, I prefer to get some protein from meat and you should know that it is okay for you to get some protein from meat too.
The next claim was that we are getting too much saturated fat, calories and sodium from meat. If you are eating a high quality piece of meat, you are not getting too much of any of these things. Again, read my post on fat to learn why saturated fat will not kill you. Also, think about this- how can something like saturated fat which is solid at room temperature or colder go plant itself in our arteries as a solid? Isn’t fat broken down and emulsified by bile in our body? Yes it is. Our body temperature is also 98.6º which would keep that saturated fat in a liquid state keeping it from planting itself in our arteries and clogging them.
The film goes on to vilify milk and dairy products. They are telling you to get your calcium from oranges but they don’t tell you that you would need about 10 oranges a day to get the recommended amount of calcium for an adult. Calcium is found in many vegetables including leafy greens and you don’t need to eat dairy products to get enough calcium daily. The problem with calcium is not that we aren’t getting enough but that we don’t have the proper co-factors (things in our body needed to help us use the calcium we do get) to digest and assimilate calcium. We need to have good digestion, proper pH within the body, good hormone function, enough water, other minerals and vitamins and fat (helps get calcium in to our cells).
The film calls dairy liquid meat. “A cocktail of growth hormones engineered for rapid growth”. The campaign for raw milk would, of course, disagree with that statement. Dairy products that are not from grass fed and pastured animals would not be on my list of things to consume but if my body tolerated dairy, I would drink raw milk and consume raw milk products occasionally without worrying about the effects.
Next on the films list of foods to avoid to be healthy was eggs. Some people consider eggs to be the perfect food. Pasture raised eggs are best. Eggs contain a variety of minerals and vitamins and are a great source of high quality protein and contain a complete protein. All the B vitamins are in eggs and contain more choline than any other food. They are a good source for most of the minerals our body requires including selenium and iodine which are important for thyroid health. According to www.whfoods.com, eggs sho no increased risk of heart attack or stroke and they can help increase your HDL, or good, cholesterol.
Food Choices is telling us that eggs are too high in cholesterol and they show you some very moving pictures of a chicken developing in the eggshell. They also talk about the feed for chickens being full of Genetically Modified corn and soy and the toxin Roundup. They are not wrong about this if you are not buying eggs from a local farmer. Even then the chicken feed may contain corn and soy. It is cheap feed. As long as they are on pasture and getting most of their diet from bugs, you might have to be okay with a bit of supplemental feed.
The movie moves on to talk about the high amount of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids needed in our diet. They say a higher Omega 3 amount in our diet leads to Type II Diabetes. I would bet that processed foods and sugar would be a more likely culprit for most of Americans with Type II Diabetes. The studies are out there at your finger tips.
Meat will give you Erectile Dysfunction says the movie, because it blocks blood vessels. I think we covered that in talking about saturated fat.
Low carb diets are all the rage and they claim high carb diets don’t cause weight gain. They say the paleo diet is a copy of the Atkins diet and that was written by people who have not published a scientific paper. They claim low carb diets make you sick and are dangerous. They are in agreement that cutting down on sugar and refined carbs would be a good thing. The paleo community is pretty big, just as is the vegan community. Neither diet is the be all end all for everyone. That is what we need to remember. We are bio-individuals. What works for one person will not work for everyone.
Their next claim is that many people who are plant based are healthy but there are still a lot of vegetarians who are still sick because they are eating junk food or dairy and some fish. I would agree with the filmmakers about eating junk food. They also say that if you have not given up oil as a vegan and are still fat, then the oil is the reason why you are still fat. “Fat you eat is fat you wear” they said. Again, read my post on fat.
They claim a whole foods plant based diet is free. You don’t have to pay for any gimmicks or shakes. I would say that if you are just eating real food, it is not free because you have to pay for it, then you are one step ahead of the rest of the world who is looking for that great organic convenience food to buy.
I agree with them when they say we ought to be 90-95% plant based. Maybe 80% plant based would be more like it. We could all stand to eat more vegetables, including me. I love how I feel when my diet is mostly veggies with a little bit of meat each day. I have lots of energy, I feel clean inside. I have little bloating and my eliminations are just where they should be.
They are telling you in this movie that you should not believe “The key to good health is moderation”. They say this doesn’t work. I know it doesn’t work for me. I can’t just have one bite of a sweet treat. I want the whole pan. Moderation might work for you. It does for some people and for some it doesn’t.
Next on the list is blaming the media for making the Paleo diet credible. The problem was that the media “let both sides speak” in regards to the China Study which has hundreds of references and then interviewed someone on the Paleo diet which was little more than a story book. The Paleo diet has helped thousands of people feel good just as a vegan diet has. A vegan diet doesn’t work for everyone though. A few more notable folks who really struggled with their health on a vegan diet are Denise Minger and Lierre Keith. I am sure there are people who don’t do well on a Paleo diet too. I just have not heard of them.
I have to agree with the film when they talk about the nutrition training doctors receive in medical school. It is little to nothing. Doctors are not able to get to the root cause of your health problems because they are being taught pharmaceutical based medicine. This is sometimes necessary but there are other options out there. People on medication long term may have side effects causing other health problems and their overall health to decline. The movie is spot on here. A plant based diet may be very helpful for the short term and maybe long term. It depends on you and your individual biological make up.
They state the cause and cure for disease is in our hands and that the money is in the drugs. We need to shift our dollars from expensive procedures to education. I could not agree more.
Supplements- they say it is a big industry stealing your money. I am in partial agreement with them on this. There is no magic bullet supplement. The nutrients you need are in your food. You have to be able to digest and assimilate your food and for that, you may need a supplement. You may be depleted of certain nutrients and need a supplement to get you by until you are able to get them from your food again.
The big problem for plant based diets is vitamin B12 which is found in animals. One expert in the movie says you can get B12 in a supplement or from fortified foods. As long as you don’t have a methylation problem this might work for you. Again, it is not for everyone.
One thing I found interesting and quite intriguing is their statement of “what we eat determines how we use the planet”. They said that 98% of destroyed rainforest is used for meat production. This is sad. This is also why I tell everyone I teach and work with to know where your food comes from. Buy local whenever possible. Support your local farmers. They said 70% of farmable land is used to grow crops for animals and not humans. This statistic is also quite sad.
Another quote from the movie, “It takes 2400 gallons of water and 12 pounds of grain to make one pound of beef.” Cows eat grass. They were evolved to eat grass and not grain so if you stop buying grain fed meat, that will help. “The excrements of 80 billion land animals raised for food each year aren't’ treated and go in to water basins and oceans”. They show pastured cows in the movie after this statement, not livestock in concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFO) which is more likely to be what they are referring to. This can be solved by eating local, supporting local farmers and eating less meat than you might right now.
“The environmental impact we have is more than just about livestock. it is what we consume, the amount of stuff we acquire, overpopulation, dependance on fossil fuels, etc” says an expert in the movie. He is not wrong. All the packaging in processed foods, the cars we drive the amount of electronics in our households. All of this stuff has an environmental impact on the earth, not just factory farms.
The movie goes on to attack grass fed beef as a fabrication by the meat and dairy industry to perpetuate the slaughter of animals. They say grass fed beef is even less sustainable because of land shortages and is worse than CAFO’s. I am not sure how they are coming up with this type of information. They do not list resources. I could put two cows on my 8.5 acres and have enough meat to feed my family and the families of two of my neighbors if we all ate meat just a few times a week. Small organic local farms that practice sustainability are better for the planet than CAFO’s in my opinion.
Over fishing is depleting the oceans. I think maybe this is true. The ocean provides more oxygen to us than trees do. It is a very important ecosystem worth protecting.
The final point I took away from the movie is that people have eaten animals for 1000’s of years and today there is no reason for us to eat them because it is not essential for survival as it was 1000’s of years ago. The film says we now have a choice and we can choose not to eat meat.
They say we resist taking in information from places other than the mainstream. I agree with this. Many of my views on health and wellness are not what is considered mainstream. Things that are not mainstream are scary to some and so they choose to believe what is safer.
Lastly, “It won’t matter how healthy we are if the planet isn’t healthy. Stop following the system without questioning it. Vote with your dollars.” I couldn’t agree more.
Tell me in the comments if you have seen Food Choices on Netflix and what you thought?
The short answer here is that you may not need one. Most of us get enough calcium in our diets but lack the needed cofactors to use and assimilate the calcium.
Foods that are rich in calcium
Natto (fermented soy)
Dark Meat Chicken.
You do not have to consume dairy products to get enough calcium but if you do, the best sources of dairy calcium are raw milk, yogurt and cheese (Jarlsberg in particular).
Calcium makes up about 2% of your body weight contributing to bone structure as well as playing a role in controlling muscle and nerve function. We definitely need calcium but you may not need to supplement with it as long as you are eating a well balanced diet. Too much calcium in the diet can deposit itself in places like blood vessels and as kidney stones in the kidneys.
While calcium is essential for muscle contraction, magnesium serves as a calcium blocker. It is the calcium in too high amounts that creates a muscle cramp and magnesium that creates the relaxation. So it is important for these two to be in balance especially when it comes to your heart.
It is not enough to try to replace these minerals that may be lacking in the diet. They need to be in balance and we need to be asking ourselves why there is an imbalance in the first place.
Some things to look at to see whether or not your body is able to use the calcium in your diet are:
How are your hormones functioning? Your parathyroid plays a very big role in maintaining blood calcium levels, thyroid hormone decreases blood calcium levels, adrenal hormones control sodium and potassium which have a relationship with calcium and sex hormones play a role in bone structure. Vitamin D works like a hormone in the body. We need it to increase the absorption through the digestive system. More on that later.
Are you drinking enough water? Good hydration ensures that blood is fluid or thin and free flowing enough to efficiently transport calcium throughout the body. Having balanced electrolytes will help make sure calcium is transferred in and out of the cells.
Are you getting enough other minerals in your diet? You should not only be looking at the amount of minerals you are getting in your diet (from food) but are they in balance with the amount of calcium you are getting.
Are you digesting your fats or taking in quality fats? Fatty acids are needed to transport calcium in to the cells and help increase calcium levels in the tissues.
Is your digestion working properly? Calcium is only absorbed in an acidic environment and so it needs adequate stomach acid for the body to be able to use it.
There are two other factors that come in to play in regards to calcium and our ability to use it properly in the body.
Vitamin K and Vitamin D.
First let’s look at Vitamin K which has two forms. K1 and K2. This is a very simplified explanation of K1 and K2 as there are more forms of Vitamin K that play very specific roles in the body but for the purposes of this post I am keeping it simple for you all. If you want to learn about these vitamins in greater detail google Chris Masterjohn. He has made a career out of studying fat soluble vitamins.
Vitamin K2 Health Benefits
It prevents calcium from going in to all the wrong places, as discussed above, like keeping it out of your kidneys where stones can form and the blood vessels where it can contribute or cause heart disease. It also helps get it in to your bones and teeth where your bones will get strong and your teeth will be able to fight off decay.
It helps you make insulin and helps to prevent insulin resistance. Remember this is when your cells turn the insulin carrying glucose away because they have had too much. In this way it helps to keep your blood sugar stable. It also helps you use energy properly making exercise a little easier and protects you from cancer.
Vitamin K comes in different forms with K1 being the most well known for helping with blood clotting so you want to avoid supplementing with Vitamin K if you are on an anticoagulant. K1 is found mostly in plants and especially in leafy greens and K2 is found most often in animal products. This is a fat soluble vitamin so you might notice that the animal products it is found in are naturally higher in fat so you can use it. This is why I tell my clients and students to eat their veggies with a little bit of fat so they can actually use the vitamins in the plant.
Vitamin D Health Benefits
This fat soluble vitamin plays a big role in your overall health by impacting around 3000 of your genes. It turns on or off the genes that prevent or make worse diseases such as cancer, high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, MS, gum disease, IBS, colds and flu and many more.
Much of the population is deficient in Vitamin D, especially those with darker skin and those living in the north. Most of us need about ten times what the Recommended Daily Allowance is (600 IU per day for RDA) and the very best way to get it is by getting sunlight daily or taking a high quality supplement. Be aware though that if you supplement you need to have your levels checked regularly by a doctor because you can take too much.
Vitamin D helps you absorb calcium and vitamin K2 sends the calcium to your bones, again, keeping it from depositing in the wrong places. A build up of plaque in the arteries results from a damaged blood vessel having calcium deposited there so that you can remain alive. This is how heart disease begins. A build up of this kind of plaque can result in an eventual heart attack. Remember that sugar and processed foods are what cause the damage to the blood vessels in the first place. Vitamin K and D work together to protect your blood vessels from this plaque formation.
If you are taking calcium and vitamin D supplements but are deficient in K, you could be doing more harm than good than if you didn’t take a calcium supplement at all because that calcium is just one part of your overall bone and heart health.
You may not need a calcium supplement, you are probably getting enough from your diet.
You need good digestion.
You need to be well hydrated.
You need to do some weight bearing exercise like walking or lifting weights.
You need those good quality fats in your diet and you need to digest them.
You need to optimize your vitamin D intake (and get some sun) and check your blood levels regularly.
Get K2 from leafy greens, fermented veggies, or raw milk cheeses
Eat a wide and varied diet of real whole foods.
Tell me in the comments. Do you take a calcium supplement or a vitamin D supplement? Do you spend time outside getting some sunshine?
Are Christmas Cookies Your Gateway Drug?
The other day I heard a radio show host say that she was never doing a cookie exchange again. She said she had too many cookies and they were just a gateway drug for her. One led to another. This time of year we tend to throw caution to the wind and indulge in the sweets which can make us crave more and more and more.
Christmas cookies or the sugar in them, particularly, are definitely my gateway drug. I so loved hearing someone on the radio say that because its exactly how I feel. I end up walking around the house after eating some sugar, looking for a fix like an addict. I am opening cupboards and standing there, staring at the lack of treats in my house. There is nothing there for me to get my fix.
What if that fix you need is less about willpower and more about a beast within you that is causing you to crave it. That beast is affecting your mood and even your overall health. This beast has a name. It is called Candida Albicans.
Candida is a pathogenic or opportunistic yeast that is quite common and can overgrow in the intestines. We all have candida albicans within our gut. That is not the problem. The problem is when it overgrows. When other “normal” bacteria are killed off by antibiotics, this yeast can rapidly increase and create an imbalance with the beneficial bacteria within our gut. This can cause problems with the skin in the form of rashes or even yeast infections.
Long term infestation of candida in anyone with a weakened or compromised immune system as in the case of someone with an autoimmune disease can result in an overgrowth of the yeast. It can then morph in to a form of fungus and grow roots that set up shop in your intestinal tract. When candida sets up shop like this within the body it gets to work making all kinds of toxic byproducts, some as toxic as nail polish remover, to be absorbed in to the blood stream. Now, the body naturally makes toxins through metabolic processes which the liver cleans up so they can be eliminated. The liver naturally has a ton of work to do for you each day so candida calls for overtime and sometimes the liver just can’t keep up. If your liver can’t keep up your body will create antibodies to the Candida creating system wide problems and you start to see symptoms like described below.
In addition to the liver playing a huge role in processing the toxins that candida creates, your spleen gets involved if you have intestinal permeability. The spleens job is to get rid of pathogens, viruses and bacteria, things that make us sick. It is now having to work extra hard too.
What are the symptoms of Candida overgrowth?
recurrent skin fungus infections or nail problems
headaches, brain fog, fatigue
cystitis or prostatitis
mood swings, depression or confusion
intense cravings for sweets, bread or alcohol
indigestion or reactions/sensitivities to foods
Of course, Candida overgrowth is more common in women than men and can affect our hormone balance which can lead to abnormal and painful periods. If you have had a c-section, both baby and mother are at risk for it. These cravings for sweets can be driven by the yeast because that is what they feed off of.
How do you know if you are likely to have a Candida overgrowth?
The following are factors that play a role in Candida overgrowing in the body:
frequent long term use of antibiotics
being on the birth control pill
too much alcohol or caffeine
recurrent yeast infections or prostate problems
regular use of drugs containing cortisone
chronic stress, chronic fatigue
sensitivity and or exposure to molds, damp places or certain smells
depression, mood swings or confusion
intense sugar cravings that feel bigger than you
recurrent ringworm, athletes foot, jock itch or nail problems
Untreated candida can take over in the gut creating inflammation throughout the body. These cravings listed are sometimes totally out of our control because something inside us is wanting those things to stay alive and grow. This overgrowth creates system wide inflammation which is why see the symptoms and factors that play a role in the overgrowth. Our bodies are innately intelligent with all the mechanisms needed to keep us healthy but sometimes whether through diet and lifestyle or necessary medical treatment we knock things out of balance. This is when the pathogens like candida can take that opportunity to thrive.
It is crucial to create the proper balance of bacteria within the small intestine and the colon for good health. Without it, we are not digesting our food well and we are not making B vitamins or vitamin K. The intestinal bacteria play a role in the final stages of digesting protein and milk products. Without this healthy balance of bacteria we end up with poor digestion, an unhealthy or damaged gut lining (where nutrients get absorbed) and possibility for food allergies to develop. Your energy levels drop, your metabolism isn’t working like it should, your thyroid slows down and you end up with adrenal fatigue. You have to look at the whole picture. When one thing is out of whack within us, it affects the whole of us.
Bacteria is the oldest living organism at around 10 trillion years old which is very much a part of us. They play a crucial role in keeping our immune system working properly so we can thrive. The U.S. went through a “kill all bacteria” phase with the use of bacteria killing soaps and hand sanitizer and bleaching surfaces in schools. Women and doctors are scheduling c-sections for convenience. At some point bottle feeding our children was promoted heavily so there is a whole generation of kids who were not breastfed. Vaginal births and breastfeeding is where babies get to build their immune system.
How do you treat candida overgrowth?
1. Don’t allow them to thrive and multiply.
Candida needs sugar to thrive. It feeds off of fermentation. Cancer feeds on the fermentation of sugar as well. Clearing up an issue like candida can also reduce your risk of cancer. So the first thing you need to do is not to feed it any sugar. Candida live on mostly simple sugars like processed refined foods, yeasts and fermented foods, fruits, juices, dried fruit, alcohol, cheese, vinegar, breads or other yeasted or fermented products like soy sauce.
What you can include in your diet is vegetables, meat, fish, soaked and sprouted whole grains, nuts, seeds and the occasional egg. Yogurt with beneficial bacteria if you tolerate dairy products would be fine too with homemade being best of course so you can control the ingredients. You need to make sure you are absolutely not eating any sugar at all. You are also going to have to avoid anything that is fermented.
2. Supplement with anti-fungals and address the whole body.
You will want to heal your gut and repopulate it with good bacteria. You need to make sure you are making adequate stomach acid and that all of your detoxification pathways are working properly with elimination being one of them.
If you have candida, you are inflamed. Your gut is inflamed too. When then gut is inflamed you may not digest your food well allowing it to ferment and feed the yeast. You may need to supplement with stomach acid (Betaine HCl) or digestive enzymes.
Nystatin is often prescribed by doctors and it will kill the yeast. The problem with Nystatin is that the yeast or bacteria can become resistant to it, so you can’t just take a prescription and think you are going to get rid of it. The good thing about it though is that your body doesn’t absorb nystatin, it just goes in there and kills off the yeast.
While the yeast are being killed off you can run in to symptoms of die off such as headache, fatigue, flu like symptoms or worsening of already existing symptoms. Enemas can be very helpful every few days or a colonic every couple of weeks.
Natural remedies that help to kill yeast or keep it from growing are caprylic acid, fresh garlic, or extract of garlic, oregano oil and herbs like pau d’arco or taheebo. You can also use things like food grade Diatomaceous Earth which will go in there and act like little razor blades to the candida and won’t harm the body at all. You can follow that up with bentonite clay and drink lots of water and both soluble and insoluble fibers so you can get all the toxins out of the body.
3. Restore or repopulate the gut.
Here we are restoring the good bacteria in the gut. Lactobacillus Acidophilus is the main bacteria used to repopulate the colon but it is wise to mix up the kind or strains of bacteria you use to ensure good gut health. Acidophilus DDS-1 has been shown to have an anti-biotic effect on pathogens in the colon and inhibit the growth of candida albicans and helps restore the bacteria that produce B vitamins. DDS-1 and other bacteria are beneficial in other ways too such as having an anti-viral effect helping reduce the severity and incidence of cold sores, canker sores and herpes outbreaks.
When you have an overgrowth of yeast, they take nutrients from you, ferment the foods you have eating and cause gas and bloating. Adding probiotics will help to reduce these symptoms.
One thing you have to remember is that digestion is one of the main foundations of our health. It that is not working properly, nothing else is going to work either. Taking supplemental digestive support will allow for the proper breakdown of foods to amino acids, essential fatty acids and you will be able to absorb and assimilate the minerals and vitamins within your food. This will aid the healing process allowing you to feel your very best and become quite clear about your health.
Getting rid of candida takes patience, time and diligence. The protocol can last several months depending on how severe your candida is. In the end you will find you have more energy, bloating will disappear and you will feel so very good.
Do I need a gallbladder? This is a really good question.
The quick answer is yes. You need it and your life will be forever altered without it. Gallbladders are a key player if the breakdown of fat in our diet. They get mucked up with sludgy bile when we consume a high carbohydrate low fat diet and when we consume the wrong kind of fats.
We have been sold a lie for years and years telling us that fat is bad for us. Fat will cause heard disease and obesity. The truth is almost the opposite of what we have been told and sold on for so many years. I have written about fat before and why it is good for us. You can find that information here.
I am writing specifically about gallbladders today because I have so many clients without them who didn’t know they needed support once it was removed. There are over 600,000 surgeries every year to remove gallbladders. Some of those removals are necessary but a far greater number of them are not. Your gallbladder can be saved. The trick here is that saving your gallbladder takes time and work on your part. It won’t happen over night and it will be a bit uncomfortable for you for awhile as you clean out the sludge in the gallbladder and your body begins to replace sludgy bile with clean and healthy bile to be stored.
How does this even work?
The liver, a real workhorse for our body, produces bile which gets stored in the gallbladder until food enters the small intestines. The gallbladder then releases bile to aid in the digestion or emulsification of fats. When the gallbladder is removed, the liver continues to produce bile and it just drips in to the small intestine. This means you won’t have enough bile to break down your dietary fat which leads to fats going undigested and leaving the body often as diarrhea.
Gallbladder surgery or cholecystectomy can be avoided with good nutrition and lifestyle. Diet is key here when you are trying to maintain a healthy gallbladder or even save it.
Symptoms of a gallbladder attack or need to support your gallbladder with diet changes are:
- pain or tenderness under the rib cage on the right
- pain between the shoulder blades
- light or chalky colored stools
- fatty or greasy looking stools
- stomach upset by greasy foods
- nausea, motion sickness
- dry skin, itchy feet
- headache over the eye
- bitter taste in mouth after a meal
Symptoms that can be experienced when you don’t have a gallbladder are:
- diarrhea, usually after a meal
- pain between the shoulder blades
- bloating and indigestion
If you have had your gallbladder removed it is likely you have been told to maintain a low fat diet for life. A low fat diet will deprive your body of necessary nutrients. Every cell in our bodies are made of a layer of fat. We need it for good cellular function and we are really just a bunch of cells put together that make up tissues, organs, systems and humans. If those cells are not healthy, then we are not healthy. No fat digestion means no ability to use vitamins A, D, E and K even if we supplement. Most importantly is that you will need to supplement with ox bile for the rest of your life.
If you still have a gallbladder but are struggling with the above listed symptoms, you can save it. Sludge in your gallbladder does NOT mean you have to remove it. If you are willing to put in the work to save it, you probably can. It takes time and you will feel uncomfortable and experience some pain as the sludge gets cleaned out. It won’t happen overnight.
This is what you can start to do to ensure you can clean out your gallbladder:
- Increase the healthy fats in your diet such as olive oil, flax oil, fish oils and coconut oil
- Eat a high fiber diet
- Consume lots and lots of vegetables. Half your plate at dinner should be veggies
- Eat at least one serving (2 cups) of raw, grated beets covered with the juice of half a lemon and two tablespoons of raw, unprocessed flax seed oil or olive oil
- Avoid dairy products except butter
- Avoid wheat/gluten
- Avoid fried foods, hydrogenated and partially hydrogenated fats
- Avoid refined carbohydrates
- Rule out any potential food allergies or sensitivities
There are also several supplements you can take to support your liver and gallbladder. Part of what I do as a Nutritional Therapy Practitioner is have you take an extensive questionnaire that will pinpoint if gallbladder or liver issues are something you need to be looking at.
Have you ever had a gallbladder attack? How did you deal with it? Leave me a comment below and let's start a conversation.