The Candida diet – our story

Introduction

Candida overgrowth has been a menace for me and my kiddo since quite long. I have had a long history of antibiotic treatment of my childhood bronchitis and strep throat, due to which my gut is in a very bad shape. I have systemic candida, which is a major reason for my sinusitis, migraine, Acid reflux,and Irritable Bowel Syndrome(IBS) since 20 odd years or more. My kiddo has a similar history of prolonged antibiotic treatment till 5-7 years of age, due to similar issues. It is worth mentioning here, that his first regression started at the age of 2 years, when he was treated for his recurrent ear and throat infections and wheezing, for about 6 months i.e. 18 months to 24 months. The most common antibiotics used for him were Augmentin and Cefalexin, during this period. Little did I know that all this will lead to such a prolonged struggle to eradicate Candida!!!

My kiddo too has a very bad gut. We got his stools tested for candida (GI effects test at Metametrix lab, USA) and it was double positive. The gut flora too was skewed. We were also thinking of getting the OATS test done for him, but this testing thing has been draining us so much financially that we did not go for it. Anyways, we had all the symptoms in him to confirm that: e.g.inappropriate laughter, sleep disturbances, bed wetting, aggression, hyperactivity, high pitched squealing, jumping, running, tiptoe walking, sugar cravings, gas/bloating, stimming, etc. Since we did not treat candida so very well initially, I feel it has become systemic for him too. Now, at the age of 12 years he is having dandruff, toenail infections and thrush too.

 

So…… we have a very long and difficult road ahead!!! I had been doing the GFCFSF diet for him all these years alongwith biomedical treatments, but not much improvement was seen. In fact, his hyperactivity and restlessness increased manifold after MB12 and oral DMSA chelation, suggested by our DAN doctor.  We had also done homeopathy with which he improved a bit, and then plateaued. We started with a natural healing protocol for him in June 2013 and also started new DIETS and supplements, so as to drive candida to death, through all possible means.

 

There are a lot of posts and websites which will give you a fair idea about Candida overgrowth and various methods people have adopted to get rid of it.  Diet is one of the most important aspects when you are dealing with Candida. Some of my favorite websites to read more are: http://www.tacanow.org/family-resources/what-is-yeast-overgrowth/ , http://bodyecology.com/the-body-ecology-diet-book.html, http://www.gaps.me/ , http://www.breakingtheviciouscycle.info/ and many more blogs and websites. Hence, I am not repeating all that in my post. When I did my research and discussed with other autism parents, in a similar situation, I found that following a well balanced and easily digestible low carb/low starch diet was the key, alongwith other methods of killing candida,  replenishing the gut flora and strengthening the immune system. I will not go deep into the technical aspects of how candida gets eradicated, when we do this kind of diet, but simple explanation is that Starches/carbs/sugars feed candida, and when you deprive it of its food, it eventually dies off!! So, that was the basis of formulating the diet for my kiddo and me. Our diet is still evolving as there are continuous changes in likes and dislikes, family circumstances, resources and new researches.

The diet

GAPS!!!

When we started the healing protocol for my kid, we also needed to do grain free diet along with that. It was recommended that we follow the GAPS diet if we could. So, a decision was taken and all the grains were stopped slowly, many other restrictions were there in the choice of vegetables, lentils/pulses, etc (look up the GAPS diet legal foods list if interested) and Bone broth was to be included. It was a huge change for us as Indian food usually contains grains as staple food. Now, if there’s no grain, how would we fill our stomach? The obvious answer was Egg, meat, fish and of course vegetables. As recommended in GAPS diet, we changed our eating style, Proteins became our staple, cooked vegetables would be on the side and lots of bone broth to drink. I can share a sample diet here, which we used to follow:

Breakfast: {1 egg omlette with finely chopped greens and other veggies + avocado and coconut milk smoothie} OR {Mixed dals cheela added with grated veggies and coriander leaves + avocado-coconut chutney} OR {Zucchini or Carrot fritters (added with 1 egg and 1 tbsp almond flour) + avocado smoothie}

Snack 1:{1 cup broth + lentil chips/crackers} OR {1 cup broth + Banana chips} OR {Salad sticks with Hummus/coconut yogurt dip}

Lunch:{Boneless chicken breast steak (marinate and roast) + cauliflower mash} OR {Steamed or grilled fish + steamed and tossed veggies}

Snack 2: {Veggie cutlets+ nut milk/coconut yogurt lassi} OR {Pakode/dal vada/etc + nut milk/coconut yogurt lassi}

Dinner: Veggie soup with Bone broth + {Chicken casserole} OR {same as lunch}

Fortunately we are non-vegetarians so this was easier for us…..I don’t know how vegetarians/vegans do this diet!!!

We started the diet with a determination, and hence were able to pull off for quite some time. Some of my issues with this diet were

1)     My kiddo is a foodie and loves to eat anything and everything. Which meant the complete family would have to do the diet together or else it would fail. My kiddo would feel unhappy, grab from others and sometimes cry and become aggressive too. So we decided to do the diet as a family!!

2)     My husband and older son were not as determined and hence started objecting to the menus very soon. They also started craving for grains and hence ate out a lot. Sometimes they would bring some breads/ croissants home, after the younger kiddo slept off. The leftover resulted in diet infraction for my kiddo, the next day, quite a number of times.

3)     My mother-in-law is a vegetarian, so, I had to cook separately for her. Her food was not changed at all which meant she would have to eat separately (at a different time or in a different room). She used to be unhappy about that, and most of the times we ended up eating together (to make her happy), and my kiddo getting angry at not being able to eat whatever Grandma was eating.

4)     We were missing our Indian vegetable and non vegetarian curries which are mixed with rice and eaten or eaten with rotis. Although we were eating almost all the vegetables, we used to eat previously, the preparations/recipes were quite different and the Indian delicacies were being missed.

My kiddo was doing great on the GAPS diet. His yeasty behavior was quite under control, barring a few instances when he had diet infractions. After every diet infraction, he would regress in his behavior and I had to endure it till he would overcome it with time. This was the time I decided to introduce millets. Why millets? Because they are mildly alkaline in nature and not acidic like rice. For eradicating Candida or for that matter any pathogens in our body, we need to have our body alkaline…..we need to eat more foods which have an alkaline ash. Most of the proteins are already acidic in nature, hence we need to eat grains, vegetables and fruits which are alkaline. Millets were easy to cook and would easily replace steamed rice. Millet, Buckwheat and Amaranth flours would yield good Indian breads too. This made easier to re-introduce our Indian dishes in our diet and my folks were happier.

What about candida…..after introduction of millets? Well, I could see an obvious deterioration in his behaviors, esp stimming and occasional giggling. There was a change in attention and focus too. But it had not gone back to what it was before starting GAPS diet. Actually we were still doing the broths, still eating meat/fish/egg as main course and then would eat small amounts of millet with our favorite veggies.

Enter seizures!!!!

Suddenly in October 2013, my kiddo started having seizures, for the first time in his life. Our Neurologist diagnosed Myoclonic seizures and prescribed seizure medicines for him. He also warned us regarding his diet and told us about high ammonia in blood, sometimes causing seizures. He recommended low intake of protein, because protein metabolism produces ammonia and if the liver is stressed or the urea cycle is skewed, the ammonia levels in the blood may rise, which may in turn lead to seizures. Damn!! Did we screw up his systems with so much protein in the diet?!! I don’t know, but now it was time to re-design the meals.

Body Ecology Diet!

One of my facebook friends and a mother of two autistic kids, recommended this diet to me. I read the book, learnt the principles and was quite convinced that this was going to help my kid and is doable too. Although, it talks primarily about introduction of fermented foods in the diet, I was excited more about the food combining and the 80:20 rules (Please refer to the book to know more if interested. I love these pages too!  http://www.trueactivist.com/6-food-combining-rules-for-optimal-digestion/ and http://bodyecology.com/articles/80-20_rule_essential_to_diet.php#.U7Lo4oaQaE ). The guidelines of the diet helped me reduce Protein as well as starchy carbs and increase non starchy veggies. Best thing was that we could keep our Millets, Buckwheat and Amaranth. Hence an Indian meal plan with a little tweak in combinations and quantities would work very well here. I was very excited….all my issues were getting resolved, with a promise to eradicate Candida too! Phew!!!!

I have not started the fermented foods recommended in the diet yet, as we have poor access to the Body Ecology products here in India, but the meal philosophy is now in place. It’s working quite well now. My kiddo is much more connected, attentive and focused. He is less hyperactive and has very little yeasty behavior left.

Our current meal plan looks something like this:

8:00 am Breakfast: {1 egg + Stir fried vegetables (sauce to vary daily)} OR {Millet Idli/Dosa + Sambar + Chutney} OR {GF poori Vegetable curry}

10:30 am Snack 1: Soaked almonds or almond milk

12:30 pm Lunch: {Boiled Millets + Thin Dal soup + 2 types of vegetable dishes (should contain at least 4-5 types of veggies)} OR {Millet Khichdi/Bisibele bhath(with lots of veggies) + Pan seared veggies + coconut Yogurt}

2:30 pm Snack 2: Crackers/salad sticks + dip

4:30 pm Snack 3: {Quinoa/millet upma with lots of veggies} OR {vegetable cutlets with dip} OR {veggie toast (on Flax bread)}

7:30 pm Dinner: {Chicken & veggie stew} OR {Chicken & veggie Paleo casserole} OR {Grilled chicken/tikka + Stir fried veggies} OR {GF Roti/Paratha + I veggie dish containing at least 2-3 types of veggies + Raw salads}

I am intending to add the fermented foods very soon, to complete the diet. Till then I am giving Digestive enzymes and probiotic capsules to my kid. I also give MCT oil as a supplement as it is known to help kill candida. Many people give Raw Virgin coconut oil instead, as VCO too contains MCT oil. I also make sure we eat steamed, baked, pan seared or grilled food and try to limit frying. This is because frying makes the food acidic and we don’t want that (as explained earlier)!! You may want to look up the acidic – alkaline foods list to understand this better, and the Body ecology diet book too explains how to balance the meals, so that the overall health improves!!

Happy healing!!

Advertisements

6 thoughts on “The Candida diet – our story

  1. Very well written anupriya!
    I will follow ur blog….keep up the good work.
    Please post ur B.E.D food recipe along wth pics.
    Best of luck
    Puja

  2. Hi Anu,

    Thank you for sharing all your trials in fighting Candida.

    Between, did you really find anyone in India who treats Candida ??

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s