Tuesday, 20 February 2007

A bug in the system - Candida albicans

I have long suspected that my CFS / ME symptoms were, in part at least, due to some kind of bacteria imbalance in my gut. There are many evidences that point to this. The fact that I, along with much of the teenage population of Great Britain took anti-biotics for acne for a long period of time (I took them on the advice of my doctor at the time for 2.5 years) is one possible pointer. The numerous infections I have had in the last ten months is another. I have had fungal infections in various body parts, Epididymitis three times and various urinary tract and throat infections, which all point toward a damaged immune system (50-60% of the body's immune system is in the gut). My recent digestion problems were the last piece of evidence that I needed to confirm my suspicions of some kind of candida type problem- it is now time to do something about it.

Candida albicans is an overpopulation of yeast in the stomach. As with most things relating to CFS / ME there is controversy regarding Candida and a large amount of disagreement. Some doctors deny that Candida is a common problem, while a few claim that it underlies the majority of cases of food intolerance. A third group suggest that Candida itself is not the guilty party and the real culprits are still to be identified. Only time will tell who is right.

All of us have millions of bacteria and yeasts living harmlessly inside us (the gut flora); these are natural inhabitants of the large intestine. In a healthy person these are a balanced community of different organisms and act in defense of infection etc.. However, the balanced nature of the gut flora can be disturbed in a few ways. The use of anti-biotics which kill off good and bad bacterias and allow others to grow can be one cause of imbalance. A severe bout of diarrheoa, which flushes a lot of microbes out of the bowel, can be another. The result is a yeast growth that feeds on the sugar in our diet.

I am now undertaking a strict diet to try and recover the levels of bacteria in my system and bring them back into balance. Already, for over a week, I have been avoiding sugars, but I have not been strict with fruit etc. Weight is something that I am very worried about at the moment because I have lost over 10kg since first becoming ill and in the last week I have lost a further 2kg. I am now at the 67kg mark, when really I should be around 80kg. I cannot afford to lose more.

I think this diet is something that I have to plan carefully so this week I have been creating with the help of my herbalist what we think will be a balanced and safe sugar and yeast free diet. The diet is summarised below:

The basics to avoid are sugar, refined carbs such as biscuits, rice krispies, bread, cheese, miso, soy sauce, mushrooms, vinegar, most fruits, dried fruits, any non-fresh veg, anything else fermented, alcohol, tea and coffee. Good foods are - wholegrains, veg, proteins, garlic, onions, Pau D'arco tea. So the diet is based around protein foods of fish and meat complemented with lots of fresh veggies - probably steamed so as not to kill off the vitimin C that I will most definately lose by cutting out fruit.

It will be a tough month, but I hope to start the diet next week. I will be giving details of my progress, the meals I have eaten etc. on a daily basis. Wish me luck!


Sarah said...


I too have just started a blog on this subject (www.copingwithme.blogspot.com). It's really interesting to read what you have been going through as it sounds very similar to what happened to me at an earlier stage! I thought I had Candida, turns out I didn't - now I don't eat dairy, wheat or yeast. Feel free to get in touch if you want to...


David Elsweiler said...

Hi Sarah,

Nice to hear from you. Thank you for getting in touch and sharing your blog. I have added you to my other CFS blogs list.

Yeah, I think it is important to realise that other people out there are going through the same or similar things. Have you found that the change in your diet helps or have changed other things too that makes it difficult to tell? I found that herbalism really helped me too when I was at my worst, but now I am unsure if it was just cutting down on sugars that coincided with the herbs. It really is difficult to tell.

I was interested to read that you believe that nickel poisoning is at the root of your symptoms. It really does confirm my belief that CFS is not one illness, but a variety of illnesses with similar symptoms. It annoys me often when I read about people who are miraculously cured after 1 year and others who have had this for 15yrs + being lumped into the one group. Because of the way CFS is diagnosed there is just no way of telling whether these things are the same or not.

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