Wednesday, 28 March 2007
I've spoken to Christine's Dad about this and he believes that it would annoy him if people started talking to him on the train - why?
Don't get me wrong Germany is wonderful and the people here are really friendly. It is just that serendipitous interaction between the people is somewhat limited and this frustrates me. I would like to return here and live for longer. The chances are that, if I am healthy, I will return to Germany in May and finish off the write up of my thesis. However, long term, I see my future in Scotland. It is with envy that I read the events and happenings within my university. There seems to be so much going on. Collaboration that has been missing in the past seems to be igniting and I want to be part of this. However, I want to be with Christine and she is going to be here. I would really like to be in two places at once.
Monday, 26 March 2007
This is a really easy meal to prepare and it is made with kitchen staples.
1 filet of salmon (skinned, boned and chopped into small pieces)
8 to 12 cooked asparagus spears cut into 1-inch lengths
500 ml of veggie stock
2 tablespoons of butter
1 medium onion
130g of arborio rice (I used organic short-grain brown rice to correspond to the diet)
dash of cream (optional)
- Gently fry the onion in butter over medium heat until soft, then zest the lemon and stir it with the onion.
- Stir in the rice to coat all the grains of rice with butter.
- Start adding stock approx. 150 ml at a time. Have the heat such that the stock just simmers. The stock will reduce and thicken. Every time this happens, add another 150ml. Stir frequently and continue until the rice is just about done. Meanwhile, squeeze the lemon and add a couple tablespoons along with some broth.
(Save the last bit of lemon juice to season the dish with at the end.)
- When the rice is just a tad underdone, stir in the asparagus and salmon. Season with salt, pepper, and lemon juice.
- Cover the pot and let it sit for 5 minutes. By then the salmon is usually cooked, but it may need a minute more. If you wish add a dash of cream now.
The first is a soup. When on a candida diet you are not allowed fruit so you have to make up for this with numerous portions of veggies. One way of doing this that never gets tiresome is soup. One of my new favourite soup recipes is creamy Kale - it is wholesome, filling, delicious, not to mention full of fibre, nutrients and flavour. I adapted the recipe from one I found at Fran's house of Ayurveda. I know nothing about Asian life philosophies, but Fran's website has a great collection of recipes.
1/2 cup Green lentils (or lentils of your preference)
1/4 cup brown rice
1/4 cup quinoa
1/2 medium onion, finely chopped
1 clove of garlic
4 tbsp olive oil
1/2 bunch of kale
5 cups water
1 tsp veggie stock
1 tsp of cumin powder (heaping, or as desired)
1 1/2 tsp of curry powder
1 tsp of sea salt, to taste
1 Tbsp tahini (heaping, or as desired)
2 Tbsp flax / olive oil
Before you start to cook, add all spices together in a small bowl and mix well (prevents clumping when added to the cooking pot later). Wash kale and chop finely.
Add olive oil to a pre-heated cooking pot on medium temperature. When the oil is hot, add onions and garlic and cook until soft. Add the spices, being careful to blend well. Then add lentils, brown rice and quinoa right away and stir well. When that is done, add chopped kale and mix.
At this stage, take a moment to appreciate how beautiful the mixture looks -- but not too long, because the water must now be added. Cover the pot and bring to a boil. Simmer on low for 45 minutes.
With about 10 minutes to go add the Tahini mix.
Thursday, 22 March 2007
The recipe is adapted from one by James Tanner and is extremely quick and easy to prepare. Perfect for those on the Candida diet who have to prepare everything from scratch.
1 tbsp olive oil
300g of potatoes sliced
1 fennel bulb, finely sliced
1 lemon, juice only
salt and freshly ground black pepper
small handful fresh basil leaves, to garnish
1. Heat the oil in a frying pan over a medium heat and fry the potatoes until golden-brown. (I prefer to par-boil the potatoes)
2. Add the fennel and lemon juice and stir well. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper and cook until the fennel is tender.
3. To serve, place the warm salad onto a plate and garnish with basil leaves.
Enjoy! More to come
A quick update on the diet and the capryllic acid. I think it is going well. After the second day on the acid I thought I was going to get a reaction similar to the replete, the wind came back etc. However, it has not worked out like that. I started to drink lots of water and this may have helped my body deal with things. I read that the capryllic acid finds its way into the liver and plenty of fluids help to flush it out of the system - hopefully along with any toxins from the candida growth.
I have uncovered, in the last few days, some evidence that I think points towards a milk intolerance (apologies to those who suggested this before for my prompt dismissal of the idea). After visiting the German doctor the other week, on the advice of the doctor, I started to drink lots of milk. He recommended a litre of milk per day. I love milk so I happily indulged in this. I have since learned that milk is a big no no for the candida diet (oops). Anyway, after over a week of enjoyable but heavy milk drinking, I noticed that the dermititus on my pinky (I have posted before about how this disappeared when I started the diet) returned and was worsening on a day by day basis. The only change I had made was the milk so I cut this out straight away. After only a few days the redness lessened and the pinky seemed to be healing. I can only think of two explanations. The first is that I have a milk intolerence. The second is that the lactose (milk sugar) had influenced the candida. Yoghurt and cream do not seem to be a problem, so it could be the latter. However, I have read that the fermintation process involved in yoghurt and cream lessens the quantities of lactose. I think the only thing for me to do is to stop milk for 2-3 months. Hopefully I will be healthy at this point and then try to re-introduce it.
Monday, 19 March 2007
Sunday, 18 March 2007
The diet has taken quite a lot of thought and preparation in terms of what I can eat and how I can maintain a balanced diet with all of the nutrients that I need. I have spent a lot of time looking at labels to see if any nasty extras have been sneaked into food products that would make them unsuitable for me and a lot of time searching for recipes. When following such a diet, most meals have to be prepared completely from scratch. I have made my own mustard without sugar or vinegar, my own mayonaise and my own bread spreads. Bread spreads are important even though I am not allowed bread. Staple snacks have been oatcakes (homemade), rye crackers and rice waffles and after a while the same spreads become tiresome.
As you can imagine it has been quite a challenge to keep an interesting and varied diet while following the rules of the sugar and yeast free diet, but my girlfriend and I have managed it. Actually it has been an opportunity for us both to search for new recipes and some of the ones we have found are delicious. I plan to post a selection of candida diet friendly recipes and guidelines over the coming weeks to perhaps ease the workload of others following a similar path.
The diet itself has not been the main challenge for me, the problem has been how I have been feeling healthwise as I have been following the diet. The first week was so easy because I could see that I was improving healthwise. There was an almost immediate effect. My eyes were clearer, I had more energy and the wind that I had been suffering from died back somewhat. This made it easy to continue with the diet because I felt it was doing me good.
The second week was not so easy however. I had problems with low blood pressure and was panicky about this even though I don't think this was anything to do with the diet. On top of this I had increased wind which worsened as the week went on. I also had increasing tiredness towards the end of the second week. I attributed these second symptoms to two things: 1)the relete acidophilus that I was taking along with the diet to rebuild my gut flora and 2) some kind of die of reaction from the candida.
Sure enough, at the start of the third week, when the course of replete was complete, I came to a turning point. I started to feel much better, both mentally and physically and this continued for the whole of week 3. I've been able to work effectively, get out and about more and generally enjoy my life. Christine and I have been able to do things together; we've been to museums, out with friends, and to watch her nephew play football. So this week has been great. Hopefully, it continues this way.
Now, I am moving on to the next phase of the diet, where I take capryllic acid, which should take care of the remaining candida. I have been warned during this phase that I may experience some discomfort due to the yeast dying off, but hopefully because I experienced these symptoms earlier this final phase of the diet will become easier. Wish me luck!
Thursday, 15 March 2007
- When I read signs, adverts or newspaper billboards, the words that i read are often not the words printed, but words that look similar, relating to something that I have been recently thinking about. After a second look the real word comes to me.
- A similar thing happens with people. Often, when I walk past people in the street, for the first few seconds I see a person that i recognise. Again, a second or closer look makes it obvious that the person is not who I am thinking and often looks nothing like that person. This has been happening a lot to me in Germany.
- My memory for names has become apalling. I find that when I am introduced to someone their name never sticks in my head. This never used to happen.
- Also, I don't really pay attention to what I'm doing. I often find myself asking - did I lock the door? Did I take my tablets?
- Again, relating to attention, my concentration span is terrible. I cannot concentrate on anything for any length of time before my mind wanders off elsewhere.
Tuesday, 13 March 2007
As far as I can tell there are two reasons for this - well three if you count the glorious sunshine we had today.
The first is that I never had to take the replete today. While my herbalist is convinced that the stuff will restore my gut flora to a healthy state, I never did feel comfortable taking it. It really is so strong and upset my entire digestive rythmn and latterly I believe my energy levels too. So, not having to take a sachet this morning, I believe, has made me feel so much better in myself.
The second reason that I believe I am feeling better is the thorough examination I received yesterday at the heart specialist. I never believed that there was anything wrong with my heart or my CV system, I've had it checked out before, but the low pressure mystery and the fact that someone felt it needed to be checked starts to eat away at you.
So, to the examination. Firstly, I had a full ultrasound. Starting with the heart, the doctor proceeded to check all of my major organs. All of which were healthy and normal. Then, I had a "belastungs EKG" or to you and I, a heart test while going through a full workout.
I did more exercise in this one session than I have in one go since I became ill. While hooked up to the heart monitor I had a 12 minute session on the exercise bike, starting from a moderate pace, building up to 250 watts (so the doctor told me) or in laymans terms, a pretty high level. My pulse and blood pressure reacted as they should and after the session was complete, returned to a normal level reasonably quickly. I was really proud of my efforts, especially considering it was only 2 days ago that I needed to find a seat while shopping. However, as everyone who has experienced CFS will know, at the back of mind I was expecting a crash today. It did not happen! I know that it could still happen tomorrow, or at somepoint later this week, but at the moment I just don't believe that it will.
I don't believe for one minute that I have been magically cured, but I am determined to keep this positive outlook, continue this diet and look after myself. With hard work and a happy face I will beat this thing!
Sunday, 11 March 2007
Strangely, I have been able to concentrate ok. My work has progressed over the last week, despite my overall health going the other way. This has been my shining light. My other positive is that I believe that this replete, that I have mentioned a few times, is the root cause of my lack of energy. It is only since I started taking it that my energy-levels have suffered. I hope, I really hope, that after I take the last sachet tomorrow that my system will return into its natural flow and my energy will return.
Tonight I am meant to be going to a concert. Fanfare Ciocarlia - the fastest brass band in the world and one of Christine's favourite bands - are playing in Nuremberg. I bought the tickets as a treat for us both and a thank you to Christine for putting up with me. However, I was feeling somewhat better when I bought them and now I am really dreading it. At the same time though I do not want this illness to define who I am and I am determined to go. I will take a nap this afternoon and hopefully this will leave me in a fit state to enjoy myself this evening.
Thursday, 8 March 2007
However, the tests begin tomorrow. I have had most of these tests before, but I was not about to turn down this man's help. I am scheduled for "ein grosses Blutbild" (full range of blood tests), ecg, blood pressure tomorrow with the results coming on Monday.
The doctor was not too supportive of my diet. He said that at the moment I should eat anything that takes my fancy. This way I will not become deficient in anything on top of CFS. However, I want to continue with this. I have put a lot into this diet and do not want to give up now before I potentially reap the rewards. There are a few things worrying me however. The first is having blood tests without any sugar afterwards. I am not the greatest when it comes to giving blood and usually, to keep me from collapsing in a heap, I take a supply of chocolate with me. The other thing that is worrying me is the replete. It has really changed my digestive pattern and I am not comfortable taking it at all. I will have to chat over all of these issues with my herbalist.
So, we shall see what the tests bring. I am pretty sure they will all come back normal but we shall wait and see.
Wednesday, 7 March 2007
Tuesday morning, after a hot and cold shower and a few stretches, the b.p was on the verge of normal (105/59), but by lunch time this had lowered to (100/41). Desparate for it not to fall any more I went for a short, brisk walk. When I returned I had lunch but I wasn't feeling great. I thought a short 30 min nap would sort me out. I woke up 2 hrs later, panic stricken, heart pounding, sweating and disorientated. I lay in bed not knowing exactly what to do, but I tried to go back to sleep. A few hours later I woke up, felt ok (ish). I took my b.p, which was normal (something like 115 / 70 - the highest it had been in a week). I found this bizarre. I went to the doctors to check it out anyway. Again the doctor read my b.p as normal, but recommend I see a specialist to get my C.V system checked out properly. This is what I am doing tomorrow. However, since then my readings have been fine and I have had no other symptoms etc. This seemed truelly bizarre until I discovered that the readings my girl friend's parents' b.p measure varies depending on the position of your arm. When I hold it in the position I was instructed by the doctor I get a low reading (altho everyone else seems to get a normal reading this way) and when you hold it as instructed in the manual, you get a normal reading. This means that the chances are my bp had never actually been as low as I thought. However, how do you explain the dizzy headaches, cold hands and feet, embossed veins and pains? All of these disappeared on Tuesday afternoon so were they all manifested by panic? Hopefully the specialist will get to the bottom of my little mystery.
During all of this I entered the next phase of the diet. On Monday I started taking the replete that I was actually meant to take along with starting the diet, but found difficult to source in Germany. So I have started 2 weeks late. Biocare Replete is high strength acidophilus recommended to me by my herbalist. It contains 100 billion bacteria per sachet (50 times the strength of my quest acidophilus) and you take 1 sachet per day for 7 days. You take each sachet dissolved in water and with your first sip you can feel the effect. Actually, it is not a particularly pleasant sensation, bringing about wind (not disimilar to what I have been experiencing). The tub notes this as a possible side effect, so I will keep an eye on it and consult my herbalist if it continues.
Well that was my week. I hope this post makes sense. I feel as if I have just blurted out everything in one incoherant rambling. Maybe this is the best way to blog. Let me know what you think.
Friday, 2 March 2007
The worsening symptoms have really caused me to question whether or not the problem is candida. I have been searching for ways to diagnose Candida and here is what I have found.
Generally, diagnosis comes from symptoms. Several websites / books provide a list of symptoms that candida can cause and suggest that if a person has one or many of these symptoms Candida could be the answer. The most complete list I found was by Lindsey Duncan CN, a nutritionalist and founder of the Home Nutrition Clinc in California. A similar list is given in The Complete Guide to Food Allergy and Intolerance by Jonathan Brostoff and Linda Gamlin. However, I have misplaced my copy so I will need to refer to Lindsey Duncan's list.
Ask yourself the following questions. One or more "yes" answers is a strong indication you have Candidiasis.
1. Have you ever taken cortico-steroid drugs or antibiotics, or been on antibiotics for an extended length of time?
Yes, when I was in my teenage years I took several courses of antibiotics for acne. One period lasted over 2 and 1/2 years. I am convinced this is the reason for my illness. Since becoming ill, I have reluctantly had to take 3 more short courses of antibiotics for infections that could not have been controlled in any other way.
2. Are you currently on birth control pills or ever taken them for a period of two years or more?
3. Have you ever been plagued with vaginal yeast infections, vaginitis, PMS, menstrual pain, endometriosis, prostatitis, or loss of sexual interest?
4. Do you crave sweets, bread or alcoholic beverages?
Yes, I have often craved chocolate and other sweet goodies. Never alcohol though
5. Do you suffer from unexplained aches and pains or headaches?
Yes, I have had various unexplained aches and pains including headaches since my illness started
6. Have you been pregnant more than twice? (Hormonal changes contribute to candidiasis susceptibility.)
7. Are you overly sensitive to chemicals including perfumes, tobacco smoke, paint, insecticides, etc.?
Not that I know of
8. Are you bothered by chronic digestive complaints such as bloating, gas? Do you have constipation or diarrhea?
Yes, I have suffered wind for some time. Chronically over the last few months.
9. Do you find yourself having to deal with problems like athlete's foot, jock itch, nail fungus, ring worm? Do you have bouts with psoriasis, eczema, hives or chronic dermatitis?
Yes, I have had several fungal infections over the period of my illness in various parts of my body including my toes. I have also had dermatitis on my pinky for some time, although this has cleared up significantly since starting this new diet.
10. Are you chronically fatigued? Do you suffer from memory loss ("brain fog"), erratic vision, spots or "floaters" in front of your eyes, nervous tension?
Yes, I have been diagnosed formally with CFS. I have sometimes, since my illness began, suffered from tip-of-the-tongue situations and I have often referred to "brain fog" although this is not a permanent thing. My eyes are often yellow, blood shot and glased. Further, I have (uncharacteristically) been nervous and panicy many times since I became ill.
11. Do you feel depressed or ill for no known reason? Do you feel worse on damp days?
I have had many down days in the last year. However, mostly I remain a very positive person. I'm not sure about damp days that is something to look out for.
12. Do you often have cold hands and feet?
13. Is your tongue coated?
It has been but in the last few days I have noticed that it is less so - good sign?
So I scored high on most of these questions. In addition to taking this test I have taken the "Candida Spit test" that was first recommended to me by Sarah. I have since read about this test in a number of places. Including this site. who recommend the following:
First thing in the morning, before you put ANYTHING in your mouth, fill a clear glass with room temperature Bottled Water.
Work up a bit of saliva, then spit it into the glass of water. Check the water every 15 minutes or so for up to one hour.
If you have a potential problem, you will see strings (like legs) traveling down into the water from the saliva floating on the top, or "cloudy" saliva will sink to the bottom of the glass, or cloudy specks will seem to be suspended in the water.
If there are no strings and the saliva is still floating after at least one hour, you probably have Candida under control, and have nothing to worry about. Congratulations.this one, this is said to occur as a result of the yeast being killed too rapidly which overwhelms the body with yeast cells and their toxins. Any number of nasty symptoms can arise as a result, most frequently a flu-like feeling or worsening of symptoms already present. The solution to this may be to take a lower dose of anti-fungal for a while or take extra fibre or a product like bentonite clay to help carry the toxins out of the body before they are absorbed. My herbalist never mentioned this when he recommended the special diet, nor did the food allergy book, but it is certainly something I will ask him about.
So what do I do in the mean time? I think all that I can do is continue with my diet and perhaps try and increase my fibre intake.