My foray into holistic health and wellness started after a Hashimoto’s Disease diagnosis in 2007 which I could find no relief from. Medication didn’t help my thyroid or symptoms. So, what would?, I wondered. Enter The Yeast Connection and Women’s Health by Dr. William Crook — a book I just so happened to find in a book store while I was living half of the time in Brooklyn, NY and half of the time in Westchester. Books made for great companions on long train rides to and from the city.
After abiding by The Yeast Connection diet, in four short months my thyroid lab work improved by half. It was no coincidence; it was basic cause and effect. After that time, and with many other dietary tweaks, I was able to completely get off of all medication and keep my thyroid numbers stable (even during and post pregnancy). Needless to say, this information about yeast, or candida, it’s often called, was a life-changer.
But over the years since going to nutrition school and working as a Health Coach, I’ve seen behind the scenes at some of the biggest wellness brands in the industry. Big names, big circles, big ass facades, big product to sell. In these companies, we were directed to assign most clients to one of two or three categories: they either likely had yeast problems, parasites, or they had SIBO (small intestinal bacterial overgrowth). We couldn’t diagnose or treat, of course, but we could offer information for the consumer to do with what they pleased.
While almost all of the time (which I take very seriously), my clients left happy and wrote back weeks or months later reporting how much the information had helped them, I couldn’t shake the few who seemed to be unable to rid themselves of candida, no matter what they did. Short of seeing a functional medicine doctor, there was little more that could be done for them. And often, the functional medicine doctors they were seeing had less information or help for them than the health coaches I was working alongside, which put clients in a difficult position. Mainstream doctors wouldn’t even acknowledge yeast overgrowth and holistic doctors had few answers. Just how could they kick their candida “problem” for good?
In the holistic health and nutrition community, candida is seen as a means to an end. That is, tell someone who has all the symptoms of candida about candida and what to eat for it or what to avoid — or which products to buy — and voila! problem solved. This leads to super strict paleo, keto, and no-fruit-whatsoever diets which are nearly impossible to maintain for the long term. (Check the social media of your favorite paleo celebrities and you will likely see that even they have reintroduced gluten-free grains or legumes at some point).
Clients ended up coming to me “post paleo” or post other-famous-paleoish diets other nutrition experts had recommended because they not only still had yeast problems, but they lost way too much weight, developed anxiety from the constant food prep and kitchen demands, lost their social life, and worried every food under the sun was making them sick. This just isn’t helpful.
First, know that yeast overgrowth is a real phenomenon and I am not trying to insinuate it is not. I have seen it on lab work, and I have seen it in, well, “graphic” pictures my clients have sent to me over the years (bowel movements, mucus, etc etc.). Our modern foods, combined with stress and lack of healthy bodily flora, hormonal imbalances, and overuse of antibiotics has led to yeasty people. “Autointoxication syndrome” and raised levels of acetaldehyde are but two mainstream recognitions of this.
However, that said, if you have candida overgrowth that you cannot kick no matter which diet, supplements, or other remedies you try, there is a deeper underlying issue and you need to seek medical support. Throwing supplements and yet another strict diet at yeast over and over again for years will likely not stop the problem. You likely have an underlying health condition that is causing the yeast in the first place. You see, yeast is a symptom.
Some common underlying medical conditions that can cause yeast include: kidney disease, liver disease, chronic dehydration, adrenal fatigue, gene mutations or methylation problems, rare inherited genetic diseases, urea cycle disorders, heavy metal poisoning, chemical exposure, hormone imbalances, autoimmunity or depressed immune responses, cancer, nutritional deficiencies, G.I. diseases, contraindicated medication, and more.
I am not saying these things to scare you into thinking you have a terrible disease. I am telling you these things so that, if you are at the end of your rope with trying to improve the yeast problem, you won’t give up and will get proper medical attention. Please don’t go years thinking the next diet will rescue you. Healthy diet (in which you avoid your personal allergens, such as gluten, dairy, oxalates, salicylates, histamine, and/or sulfur) is essential. Getting in adequate nutrients daily is essential. Herbs and remedies are sometimes great. But at the root of the candida problem that cannot be helped is a medical issue and I encourage you to seek proper testing and diagnostics from a medical professional who can analyze your individual history and symptoms.