This time last year I was diagnosed with candida albicans a yeast infection of the gut.
Long term side effects were just that, long term. I was always tired and lethargic. It didn’t matter whether I had ten or six hours of sleep a night, I would wake up feeling like I had ran a marathon.
I would literally drag myself to the bathroom such was the exhaustion I felt. I put it down to the menopause, hormone imbalances, mood swings, nausea, sickness, fuzzy head, a feeling that all I ever wanted to do was lie down and sleep for a week.
It was awful and the final straw was mid January 2016 when my husband and I took a day off from work to meet with some friends from Spain who were celebrating their wedding anniversary with a trip to the UK.
A lunch and two prosecco later I felt grim my face went a darker shade of puce, I vomited and my heart felt like it was about to explode, without exaggeration I sat in the toilet of the restaurant downstairs thinking what the heck could I be allergic too that could cause such a severe reaction?
Having eaten I assumed it must be food related and although I had been keeping a food diary for the last year I could not see anything in my diet that cause such a violent reaction.
Fortunately Rocio our friend happens to be an ER nurse she was concerned for me and tried to ascertain what the problem was. By the time we came to leave my heart rate had slowed and my stomach felt a bit better. But I still felt awful.
We travelled back from Cambridge and I was able to get a Dr’s appointment the following morning.
By the time I went to bed I was wasted, the nausea had lessened but I had a headache and felt like it was the morning after the night before.
The visit to the Dr didn’t highlight any abnormality either she felt around my abdomen explaining that she wanted to feel if my liver was swollen.
I had the proprietary blood test and after an explanation of my symptoms my Dr was none the wiser.
It was my six weekly maintenance check at my osteopath and a quiet mention of what had happened prompted her to recommend seeing an allergy specialist.
Two days later there I was right palm turned upwards with a strange looking copper probe attached to a machine, a type of acupuncture, non invasive and totally pain free.
Having been asked a whole host of questions and being grilled about my lifestyle, when was the last time I had taken antibiotics, had food poisoning, was I on HRT and so forth. I was convinced I was allergic to something, but what, I had no idea.
I hinted maybe it might be shellfish? Did you have that at lunchtime when you started to be ill, no I said.
She set her pen down gave me a wry smile and said I know exactly what it is but, I am going to do the proprietary tests to confirm my diagnosis.
Almost forty minutes later Sam sat back in her chair and said ‘you have candida albicans.’
In its basic form it is like having thrush in the gut, ‘that sounds nasty’, I said.
It is, ‘and if we don’t get a grip of it now the long term side effects are awful.’
I am severely allergic to sugar and yeast and the change I had made in my diet in the middle of 2015 going vegetarian eating bran and oat based products were full of sugar.
Those two prosecco I had had were the last straw on my body, finally it had had enough and that was why the reaction was so bad.
Was I really a sugar addict?
Sam explained that even though I had been keeping a food diary, I couldn’t see the correlation between any of the foods because what I was looking for is invisible.
It is hidden in all the foods we eat, SUGAR. Over time I had unwittingly increased the amount I was consuming not by fault but because the healthier food alternatives I had substituted into my diet were full of sugar.
In fact the more I studied the ingredients the more I found that these so called healthier foods contained more sugar than the standard food items.
Yeast wasn’t so much of a problem it meant replacing bread with sourdough bread, gravy, mushrooms, cheese, but I was allowed the creamy cheeses, nuts had to go and I needed to make sure I didn’t over do it on the carbohydrates which if you remember in biology, convert to sugar.
Trying to find food products without sugar that turned out to be another story.
Pretty much everything I had in my cupboard contained sugar in some shape or form, even my organic pasta, rice, soups, pasta sauces. I couldn’t believe it sugar was in all the food groups I presumed to be good for you.
Take Kellog’s cereal it boasts that it has niacin, vitamin C and D and yet sugar lurks there the same with babies’ follow on milk.
That was the biggest shock as I picked up the milk I used to feed my two boys after I finished breastfeeding and there it was again, sugar, easy to miss and why would you examine the ingredients in such detail you assume that these brands have your babies’ welfare at heart.
We are a nation of obese people, we are addicted to the white stuff and yet half of us don’t even know it. Sugar is introduced into our diet at birth and we have no control over it.
In spite of the various campaigns to highlight how bad sugar is, brands are still incorporating it into all their foodstuffs.
I’m not advocating complete elimination a little bit of what you like does you good my mother’s saying goes but we cannot get on top of the obesity or diabetes crisis unless we do something about how brands communicate exactly how much sugar is in the product.
One year on and the brain fuzz has gone I am fitter and leaner than ever, my diet consists of three meals a day and no snacking in between.
When I was tested in January, Sam gave me a clean bill of health I had nuked the candida.
This wasn’t a sign for me to get back on the wagon but the occasional glass of red wine which I had sorely missed and the odd bit of chocolate was allowed.
I am in this habit now and old habits die hard, a subtle reminder of nausea tells me that I shouldn’t have had that hot cross bun, a reality check that sugar can’t ever be in my diet.
Diabetes and obesity is costing the NHS billions which is great news for the pharmaceutical companies, they sell their drugs needed to help people with diabetes and health related problems, therefore they have a vested interest in ensuring sugar stays well and truly in our diets.
I am reminded of the that wonderful film Wall-E when the human race has left earth because of the huge garbage pile up, we are there except it is obesity and not garbage.
A worrying thought for the future of the human race?
We are on a self destruct button without even knowing it.
And unless the food giants start taking responsibility and take the necessary action to support our well being and health then I fear that candida will be just the tip of a very long and deep iceberg.