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Dead Healthy.

March 29, 2011

Fresh Organic Vegetables

One would think that when you know a little about food, and especially when you are conscious about what you eat, that you should be filled with health and vitality and be full of the joys of life. Not so. After a long struggle and battle with recurring yeast infections, I decided it was time to do something about it, since western medicine is just not measuring up. After a boatload of blood tests and samples ( I won’t elaborate on that…), suddenly there are real reasons for my extreme exhaustion, irritability, depression, lack of memory, inability to think clearly, painful joints, sore achy body etc. Not only is my body in a state of ” acute allergic reaction” to quote my GP, I also have extremely low Ferritin Levels, low blood sugar and candida albicans (since 2008). After an intense search on the net, it appears that all these symptoms are in fact linked, to candida.

How do you cure candida? Not with prescription anti fungals, but with diet. So I have turned to nature for help, and with the help of a naturopath am on a strict regiment of correct diet and herbs and potions to kill the beast lurking inside me. Candida is a yeast/fungus that thrives on sugar. This means that I have to eliminate all sugar and foods that potentially are converted to sugars in the body. Carbohydrates turn to sugar (glucose) in your body, so naturally I have had to eliminate all wheat and gluten from my diet. This includes all products made from wheat. Goodbye muffins, cakes, pastries, bread, pasta, cereals, crackers and anything else you can think of that is made from wheat or gluten. Obviously all baked goods also contain sugar, so by avoiding baked goods you automatically avoid sugar. Guess what else contains sugars? Dairy, in the form of lactose. So goodbye diary. No mushrooms or foods that have fungus growing on them e.g. peanuts and pistachio nuts which are very susceptible to fungus on their shells. No stimulants i.e. alcohol (high sugar content) and coffee ( although I do sneak a cup of coffee with unsweetened soya milk when the going gets really tough) and nothing that contains yeast.

What’s left you may ask. Well all the real food that nature actually intended us to eat in the first place. Vegetables in massive quantities, although I had to avoid the sweet vegetables like carrots, beets and sweet potatoes for the first month. Animal protein, pulses in moderation, no fruit (because of the high sugar content) except for grapefruit and green apples, eggs, whole grain rice, millet (which is actually a seed not a grain), buckwheat (which is actually a fruit not a grain) and some of the ancient gluten-free grains like Teff, Quinoa and Amaranth.

After the first three weeks on the diet I lost 5 kgs, something that I did not intend, but obviously avoiding refined carbs and sugar, weight loss would be inevitable. It has been a month, and I no longer feel bloated, my joints are less painful, and I am starting to feel my energy levels returning once again. There is still a long way ahead, before the dreaded beast is slayed, but this is the only way to get rid of candida and regain my health.

The weird thing is, that I have gained a new awareness of food. Food is powerful. It can kill you if you are not careful. It can also heal you and bring you vitality, health and longevity. Let me just pull my soapbox closer. We all love eating good food. I love to cook and bake as much as the next “foodie” (I hate that word) does. However, like all things we need to keep a clear perspective on what we are putting into our bodies. Once you have had a pizza, a bowl of pasta, a sandwich or two, maybe a slice of cake or a muffin and a few bowls of cereal, in a week you have massively increased your carbohydrate intake, along with your sugar intake. Diabetics take note. It has become obvious to me that we all eat far too many carbs, far too much sugar (sugars are hidden in all processed foods including baked goods, cereals, fizzy drinks, alcohol) and far too little fresh fruit and vegetables.

I have been doing a lot of research recently about different types of diets. Vegetarian, Vegan, Blood Type and Paleolithic (or the original Hunter Gatherer diet). For a really fantastic, unbiased and scientific explanation of our ancestral diets, visit www.stevegagne.com. I have come to the conclusion that we should use our common sense and good judgement when it comes to food. You also need a good deal of will power not to fall into the trap of modern eating. Which will ultimately kill you. Before it does that however, you should maybe do a little check on your current health status, just to see how far off track you are. This is also a good indicator of your kids’ health status. How are your energy levels? What’s your skin, hair and nails looking like? What about your mood? Feeling edgy, depressed, moody? What about your kids’ moods? Are they hyper, do they have an inability to concentrate or sit still for a longer period of time? What about your bowel habits? If your bowel habits are sluggish, you need to take your health a lot more serious.

The smart thing to do would be to look at the lifestyles of people who currently enjoy health and vitality along with longevity. Check out people who live in The Blue Zones. These are four different regions around the world where the highest percentage of centurions live. A centurion is someone who is at least 100 years old. I think you will agree that these people obviously know the secrets to health and longevity. Researchers found that these people live longer and healthier lives because of the food they eat, the social circles they keep and their outlook on life. Theses people all have the following in common:

They eat a lean, plant-based diet, with meat occasionally.

Drink lots of water.

Do hard physical work, walk every day, walk everywhere.

Eat nuts.

Enjoy gardening. Grow their own vegetables.

Enjoy the sun.

Maintain social circles and relationships.

Laugh.

Value their elders.

There are some things that are particular to areas. In Okinawa they eat soy. In Sardinia they drink red wine moderately and in both Sardinia and the Greek Island of Ikaria they drink goats milk.

I will be keeping a close eye on my own and my family’s diet from now on. I am taking my responsibility as mother and carer very seriously. Any illnesses that we may get, as a direct result of the food we eat ( or don’t eat) will be my responsibility.  After all, who does the grocery shopping and cooking? Me.

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7 Comments leave one →
  1. March 29, 2011 12:23 PM

    Love this post Edwina. I read something once about the Grandma diet. Basically, our genes are two generations behind the times. We have been built to eat what our grandparents did. It’s little wonder then that the cabbage soup diet works so well on people of my age and background, because when my grandma was at my current stage of life, the Depression was present. Well at least I’m allowed tea and scones!

  2. March 29, 2011 1:43 PM

    Well written, Edwina. I liked the term “modern eating”. This is the trap for so many things, both short-term and long-term. I am convinced that the diet is THE major thing that decides over one’s well-being. In a time, where one is surrounded by restaurants, cafes, fast food, TV advertising and a lot of processed rubbish on the supermarket shelves, it is a question of education and perseverance and even discipline to go another route. I’ve been trying to do this for a few years now. Step by step I am getting closer to a healthier diet. Good luck to you. You are reaping the benefits already, and after some time you won’t even miss the stuff that once were a regular part of your diet.

  3. March 31, 2011 12:06 AM

    Edwina, you have happened upon our dilemma. Our blog is generally based on this principle of low-carb eating and this is a reminder that we need to focus on what we believe in. Both of us function better when we are following out low carb lifestyle. Candida is an awful thing and be wary of the die out symptoms which will make you feel worse before you feel better. If you stick to it, your body will truly reward you! Whole foods are tasty and healthy because that is exactly how God made them!

  4. March 31, 2011 12:37 PM

    I try to cook all of our meals at home to limit the unhealthy ingredients but I fear my husband contra-acts all my efforts as his “modern diet” also includes more units of alcohol per night than he should be consuming – all of it going to his waistline of course.

    A very informative post – all the best for your current journey through healthy eating.

  5. April 7, 2011 3:33 AM

    I’m a new visitor to your blog. Great post about a subject I am especially interested in, as I just began my own gluten free journey!
    Mary

  6. April 17, 2011 8:28 PM

    It is amazing how the foods we eat can bog us down and make us sick and they can also make us feel energized, wonderful and even cure us of certain ailments. Gluten has been one of the many foods that man has totally messed up. I hope that healthy minded people raise a big enough fuss that all of this GM ridiculousness gets shut down before there is no real food left in the world.

    • April 17, 2011 8:44 PM

      How true. Since cutting out gluten/ wheat, diary and sugar, I am slowly starting to feel better. Sugar and wheat are definitely addictions we should all try to kick. I believe it’s doing us more harm than good. Real whole foods are the way to go if you want to experience health and vitality.

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