6 major symptoms of Candida overgrowth and 6 effective steps to treat it

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(disclaimer: I am not a doctor, only a former sufferer of Candida who has researched this topic to death. I am happy to provide links to medically backed documentation if needed and while I am not authorized to give medical advice, I am happy to provide suggestions that have worked for me and others in the treatment of Candida overgrowth.)

Candida is an evil, tricky beast. It lives in everyone’s gut and is designed to work symbiotically with our microbiome, but it can quickly become a monster if given the oppurtunity. Some things that trigger candida overgrowth are; excessive carb, sugar and alcohol consumption, antibiotic and hormonal contraceptive use as well as a high stress lifestyle.

Being an opportunistic fungus, it can be notoriously hard to eradicate once it takes over. The best measure of defense against candida is to avoid an overgrowth in the first place. This can be done by opting for natural forms of birth control and avoiding antibiotics when not medically necessary. It is also important to eat a low sugar, grain free diet rich in pre, and probiotics and to manage stress with whatever means necessary.

Unfortunately, thanks to modern high carb, high stress lifestyles candida overgrowth is becoming a chronic problem for many people. Contrary to popular belief, it is not just a female problem, men are also susceptible, however, studies have shown that high estrogen levels can be a contributing factor.

It is common for candida sufferers to be labeled as hypochondriacs due to the long list of vague, seemingly unrelated symptoms, however, it is not to be taken lightly. In severe cases of long term, untreated candida, the fungus can spread into the blood stream leading to effects on the brain, heart, and lymphatic system. It overburdens the liver as your body struggles to filter out endotoxins. It increases intestinal permeability, leading to leaky gut and other associated disorders. It is shown to trigger autoimmune disorders and has even in some studies been linked to higher instances of cancer.

Scary stuff right? In my quest to heal my own autoimmune disorders I kept stumbling back upon the word ‘Candida’ and decided to learn all I could about it. Eventually, I reached the conclusion that treating this yucky fungus would be a necessary first step in my healing journey.

So how do you identify Candida overgrowth in your body and what do you do if you think you’ve got it?

There are some obvious symptoms of candida that shouldn’t be ignored, these include;
1. Fungal infections (yeast infections, jock itch, ringworm, toenail fungus, perioral dermatitis etc.)
2. Fatigue, brain fog and worse than normal forgetfulness
3. Autoimmune disorders and associated symptoms
4. Digestive issues (bloating, gas, gurgling stomach, stomach pain and nutrient deficiencies)
5. Mood swings and irritability
6. Intense carb and sugar cravings

If you recognise two or more of these symptoms in yourself, it is time to get serious about crushing this evil fungal monster, so  you can take back control of your overall health.

One thing I have learned from my own experience, is that Candida is not quick or easy to treat. It may be tempting to just toss back fistfuls of antifungals and go on living, but the process is not so simple. Massive Candida die offs will cause symptoms far worse than the actual Candida itself and is not advised (take it from someone who has learned this one the hard way!)

In order to let your body do a good job of detoxing, it is important that your method of attack is slow and strategic while special care is simultaneously taken to support your liver throughout the process.

There are many candida cleanse kits available online as well as in stores and they are not all created equal!  If you choose to go this route do your research and read reviews. There are also a few super effective antifungals available otc. Because I’m such a granola cruncher, I always opt to go the natural route first, however in in extreme cases of Candida it is recommended that you seek medical advice.

My six most important natural tools for fighting candida are;
1. A parasite cleanse. Parasites may seem unrelated to Candida but they can operate symbiotically. Parasites often reside in your liver and it is vital that the liver be strengthened first so it can do its very important job of removing all the endotoxins produced in the Candida die off. Many anti-parasitic ingredients are also antifungals so starting with a parasite cleanse is a great way to come out swinging and weaken that candida right out of the gate.

2. A well planed diet. When battling candida, a well planned diet is life. A grain free, reduced carb diet is what worked for me but in severe cases a full blown anti candida diet or keto may be necessary. Candida lives off carbs and sugar, it needs to be essentially starved for a long period of time to actually die down to healthy, long term levels. In addition to avoiding high glycemic foods adding fermented foods such as sour kraut and kimchi to your diet, can be helpful to replenish good gut bacteria.

3. Antifungals. One of the trickiest things about Candida is that it can build up a resistance to various antifungals, which leads to the argument that antifungals should be rotated. Still, other scientists would argue that this can lead to quicker strain mutations and make candida stronger in the long run.  I don’t know about you, but I find conflicting advice super confusing.   At the end of the day what worked for me was selecting one high quality herbal antifungal and simultaneously supplementing my diet with natural antifungal food sources such as raw garlic, kefir and pau d’arco tea. Start with the recommended dose and taper it up or down according to your die off reaction.

4. Liver support. Warm water with lemon, dandelion root tea, bitters, these should all become a part of any Candida fighting diet. Your liver will be working overtime for you throughout the duration and is going to need a little extra love to get the job done right.

5. Sauna and dry rubbing. This is a detox tool I personally used with positive results. I am sure people can do a fine candida cleanse without it, but I found it useful to speed up my toxin elimination and it seemed to reduce die off symptoms as well. Rub a bore bristle brush over your body starting at your extremities and moving towards your heart, step into a hot sauna (infrared is best) and get your sweat on. That’s it. Not only is a good form of detox, it has improved my cellulite and made my skin glow.

6. Probiotics. Good ones. They can and should be taken throughout the duration of the candida diet but especially when your course of antifungals is over. Because antifungals will inevitably kill off some good bacteria, it is extremely vital that the good stuff be replenished. I now try to maintain a steady stream of probiotic supplementation for maintenance. I know good probiotics can be pricey, but they are so worth it. I have had scary moments where I’ve noticed symptoms creeping back up when I don’t take them for prolonged periods.

So that’s it, I would say my candida symptoms have improved about 85% since the completion of my cleanse and have stayed steady at this level. I ended up staying on a fairly strict candida diet and antifungals for three full months and continue to supplement with pre and probiotics regularly. Whenever I notice symptoms creeping up I find relief in cutting back carbs and amping up my probiotics.  I plan to undertake another three-month candida cleanse some time in the next year and hope to knock this beast out completely. I’m also quite confident that eating a largely grain free, moderate carb diet has helped me to maintain the progress I have achieved.

On another note… I seriously can not wait to sell my house so I can start messing up my kitchen again! I have so many great grain free recipes just waiting to be dropped. Stay tuned. xx

Sometimes good things come in bad packages – my house selling fiasco

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Life can have a weird way of working itself out. I’m reminded of this very lesson in my current life as I go through the tumultuous process of selling my house.

It would seem to the outside observer, everything that could go wrong so far, has.

Initially we listed without an agent, after three months with only five showings we threw in the towel and decided to ante up and re list with a realtor in the spring.

This ended up working in our favour as over the spring our dead market thawed a bit and we were pummelled with showings right out the gate.

We were quickly easing our way towards a sale (I could feel it) when one night as I was vacuuming my basement to prepare for a viewing, I stepped in something wet and smelly. It turns out we had a sewage back up. We had to cancel all upcoming showings and put our listing on hold. At the time I thought, this is the worst possible thing that could happen, but then I got the insurance cheque.

Let’s just say everything was well taken care of, including a fluffy new basement carpet and a good chunk leftover because we did a lot of the work ourselves. Disaster averted.

And then, a week later we got an offer.  After a few shenanigans (including some insulting low balls and writing a bunch of our personal possessions into the offer) we were able to agree on a price. It was less than I had hoped but something I could live with, and it was an offer!

I was sure things were looking up, until I awoke one morning shivering and could almost see my breath hanging in the air. Our furnace had died during an unusual cold patch.

I could hardly believe our luck.

Again, we got an insurance cheque and my husbands friend was able to install a high efficiency furnace that he had refurbished for a fraction of what it would normally cost. He told us our old furnace would have never passed inspection and I realised, this had all once again been a blessing in disguise.

As our closing day approached, we went house hunting and found an adorable place across from a park on a huge lot. I paid the deposit and spent a few glorious days visualising how it would look with our updates and furniture. I had a place worked out for my studio, and big plans for the backyard, and then we got the call. Our buyers financing had fallen through, and they had waited until the very last moment to tell us.

Now here we are again, showing our house almost daily and waiting for the silver lining in all this to reveal itself (as I’m sure it eventually will).

When things seem to be going awry, I’m reminded of a Chinese parable that was told to me as a little girl and has stuck with me throughout my life.

To paraphrase:  A poor famer diligently saves money to purchase a fine horse, but soon after the purchase, the horse runs away. A neighbour offers his condolences saying, ‘sorry to hear about your horse, that is some bad luck,’ to which the farmer replies, ‘bad luck good luck, who can say?’
The neighbour thinks the man is crazy, of course the loss of an expensive horse could be nothing but bad luck, but he is given pause when days later, the farmers horse returns and has brought another fine horse with it.
So, the farmer gives the second horse to his son, but his son is thrown from the horse and badly breaks his leg.
‘Sorry about your sons bad luck’ says the concerned neighbour again upon hearing of the accident, but the farmer calmly replies, ‘bad luck good luck, who can say?’
A week later the emperor comes to the village and takes every able-bodied young man to fight in a gruesome war, because of the broken leg, the farmers son is spared.

The parable goes on but I digress, sometimes things don’t work out, and for good reason. That failed relationship that left you feeling like your heart had been stomped by stilettos may have needed to end to open the door for your soulmate. That job you lost (and hated) finally freed you up to find the career of your dreams.

There are stories of people who have missed flights that have later crashed. I even remember hearing about a woman who worked at the world trade centre sleeping through her alarm for the first time ever on the morning of 9/11.

In my own life, learning of my first pregnancy as a broke, unmarried, 23 year old seemed like a full blown disaster. When those two lines appeared on a pregnancy test a second time, with a barely three month old baby, I basically considered my life to be over. Now at 33 with two amazing sons and a PCOS diagnosis I am so very thankful for both of those successful pregnancies and never does a day pass when I take them for granted.

My entire autoimmune diagnosis has actually ended up transforming my life in so many ways and I am actually healthier in my body and mind than I ever was pre-diagnosis.
Whatever you may be going through at the moment, give it time. It’s hard to see the whole picture when you’re standing in it, but at some point in the future it will all make sense.

Sometimes life hands us lemons, and have you guys seen the prices of lemons lately?

(Have you ever had a tumultuous house selling experience that worked out in the end? Tell me!)

How a long term lie taught me that honesty is so important

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My lie started as a little tiny baby lie but grew into something so tremendously ridiculous that it effected my life and permanently altered my friendships.

In a world where lying seems like a normal part of existence, I unfortunately had to learn the hard way that honesty trumps all.

My parents put me into school in a year too early. I had been deemed intellectually ready, but in many ways, I mentally was so not. When one of my classmates invited everyone in the class to her birthday except for me I was crushed. I asked her why and she said it was because she didn’t want to be friends with a little kid.

So as any seven year old would do, I went home crying and at the suggestion of my Dad, I started to lie about my age. We decided that in the minds of eight year olds, an extra year of life could go a long way.

If you ever listen to little kids playing on the playground, the very first question they ask each other is ‘how old are you?’ ‘Six and a quarter’ or some other super detailed number they answer, always making sure to include every single precious month. To kids, years of age are like facial tatoos among gang members, instant street cred.

So, I began to tell my peers I was one year older, and thanks to the short attention span of young kids, a year older I became.

Eventually my body grew to match my faux age, and my confidence grew with it. I found my people, wonderful, hilarious friends who accepted me for me, but I just couldn’t shake the lie.

Never did it seem to be the right time to say, ‘actually guys, I’ve been lying all along, I’m only 14 (or whatever age I had faux turned that year).’ The thought of coming clean made me feel like the biggest weirdo, (which I probably was) and to protect myself from shame and discomfort I kept on bs-ing.

It was just such a bizarre situation with no easy way out. I was no longer being bullied and had friends that surely wouldn’t care what age I was, but I was certain they would care that I had been insecure enough to lie in the first place.

One day I was finally over it. Every birthday brought with it a sense of dread and I finally told one of my friends the truth. She agreed everyone might think I was a freak and helped to keep my secret as another shameful birthday passed, but the feeling of complete honesty felt so good that I told another friend and another until eventually, I was outed to all of our peers.

Did I ultimately lose friends because of my lie? Not completely, but people looked at me differently.

When my two best friends heard about my age from a mutual friend, they confronted me, and as expected, made me feel super weird about it. Everything I said from that point on was met with a certain scepticism. They seemed to look at me like they didn’t even know who I was any more, and how could they not? Even though nothing but my age had really changed, in their eyes I had been a completely different person all along. A liar.

Breaking someone’s trust is easy but earning it back can be so difficult. That is why moving forward I have built my life on honesty.

It seems that lying has become such a normal part of life that it is almost to be expected but it doesn’t have to be that way. Honesty feels so much better for everyone involved.
We humans get so wrapped up in lying for our benefit that we fail to realise our lies also hurt others.

When I found out one of my favorite vegan bloggers was busted eating meat because of her own health problems I was admittedly horrified. I had been struggling with health issues for years but kept up a vegan diet because I had been told repeatedly by people I trusted that it worked for them and I was probably just doing it wrong.

While other vegan bloggers have received flack on the front end after coming clean about switching to a more paleo lifestyle, those are the people whose brands ultimately survive, because they chose honesty.

Buying kids ways into Ivy league schools, hurts the kids whose grades should have allowed them those spots but weren’t born into financial superiority.

Lying about cosmetic surgery hurts the little girls (or boys) who grow up hating themselves because they don’t look a certain way.

Lying about affairs hurts everyone involved and lying when you are in a position of power or influence is especially harmful.

People actually believed that Kylie got her new lips from sucking on a shot glass, and just look at the carnage that little doozie of lie caused.

Lets also not forget that lying hurts the liar. Unless you are a complete psychopath, carrying the guilt and burden of a lie is heavy and uncomfortable.

I know first hand how hard it is to come clean about a lie that’s already out there but choosing honesty over lies going forward makes life so much easier.

My experience has changed my entire outlook on honesty and I firmly believe lying should just be avoided in all cases, unless, it is to make someone feel better about themselves. So if your wife asks if her butt looks fat or your dad asks if his hair is thinning, go ahead and stretch the truth a bit.

I drank celery juice for 30 days and here’s what happened.

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Celery juice is all the hype these days. Perhaps you too have observed the recent trend of hot girls on Instagram touting it’s health benefits?

If anything can convince me to try out a bizarre health trend with absolutely no medical evidence to back it up, it is the dewy skinned, flowing haired selfies of (often surgically enhanced and photoshopped) babes telling me I too can have a #healthylife if I just power back 16 ounces of salty green sludge every morning.

I have a love hate relationship with juicing. I love drinking fresh pressed juice and can literally feel the plants enzymes flowing into my body and giving my cells life but I hate assembling/ cleaning out my juicer. The bags full of wasted pulp bother me a bit, and I still have not figured out a use for it other than to feed my compost (I’ll keep you posted on that one). I did manage a decent carrot muffin with carrot/ pineapple pulp at one point, but celery pulp, blech!

I don’t even really like celery at all to be honest.

Sure, it finds it’s way into many of my soup recipes and can cool off a plate of hot wings but that’s about it for me. The stringy texture and bitter salty flavor has just never appealed.

As per the medical medium, you are supposed to wake in the morning and down a 16 ounce glass of celery juice on an empty stomach waiting 30 minutes before consuming anything else.

Well, being lazy and adverse to cleaning out my juicer, I decided I would be smart about it and just blend that celery in my trusty vitamix. I thought I would save myself some time, and with a house on the market, the less cleaning I need to do the better.

Between the time I spent powering that green bad boy down (literally gagging over the sink) and then dramatically running to the bathroom for the rest of the day, no time was saved.

Guys, don’t just blend a full bunch of celery into a smoothie without fruity additives. Trust me on this one. Thick, frothy, celery smoothie is not the business.

After my false start I almost dropped the plan entirely. A hot almond latte just seemed so much more enticing in the morning, but for the blog, and those luscious IG models I persevered.  To save time (but for real) I pre-washed my celery the night before and had my juicer set up and ready to go on the counter the next day.

I have to say, drinking fresh pressed celery juice is not what I would consider a treat, but after my traumatic introduction to drinking celery, it was definitely do-able. I knocked that green boy back like a champ and noticed a burst of energy more powerful and longer lasting than any almond latte has ever provided.

The following morning, I dutifully continued with my celery experiment, but decided to add a half cucumber, one lemon and a granny smith apple to the juicer.
(Adding to the celery juice is not prohibited by the medical medium, but is discouraged. Regardless, I didn’t feel like torturing myself every morning for the next month and the extras improved the juice taste so dramatically my kids even knocked back shots of it.)

Even with my controversial add ins, the results of my experiment were pretty amaze.

Celery juice is said to improve skin tone and digestion. It is also great for increasing stomach acid which helps us better absorb nutrients from the foods and supplements we consume. It acts as a diuretic and is helpful in allowing the body to flush out fat and toxins.

Sometimes its easy to miss subtle changes that happen slowly over time so I took before and afters for my own reflection. Once I get over how much I hate how I look in photos, I will post the pics, but for now you will just have to take my word for it.

The whites of my eyes began to appear brighter at just a few days in and the redness in my skin decreased exponentially at around the half way point. I usually put on some bb cream or foundation in the mornings so people don’t ask me if I’m tired or sick, and by the end I honestly didn’t even really need it.

The dark circles under my eyes seemed to lighten, but that could also be due to getting more sleep or having my allergies ease up a bit towards the end. (Snow mold kills me every spring and I have finally found a natural solution that works for me that I can’t wait to talk about in a future post.)

Additionally, I have also noticed less hair shedding in the shower which is a huge win for me. Maybe I can attribute that to the improvement in circulation (celery juice increases it) and the extra iron I was getting. (There’s iron in celery juice, who knew?!)

Finally, I lost a half inch from my waist! Since switching to more of a paleo diet, I’ve actually noticed my body composition shift from very pear shaped to more of an hourglass, my breasts have grown nearly a cup size in the past 6 months without any increase in weight, and I’ve learned this is actually a common occurrence on the paleo diet. I’m not sure if I can attribute the 1/2 inch loss to the celery juice or just my improved diet in general, but I’ll take it.

All in all, I would have to say celery juice is a worthwhile health hack to add to your daily routine. If one month of c-juicing has produced these benefits I can’t wait to see what I will look like in a year (fingers crossed I will transform completely into an ethereal IG goddess… ha!) but in all seriousness, I’m gonna keep juicing those green things and hope to soon replace my coffee with juice entirely in the near future.  A girl can dream right?

Here is my every day version of ‘celery juice’ much improved with my healthy ad ins. (On a side note, has anyone else noticed the price of celery shoot right up since the start of this whole celery juice craze?  Price is yet one more reason to dilute your juice with some tasty, healthy add ins.)

Celery Juice (+ other goodness)

1 large organic bunch of celery – celery is a member of the dirty dozen and not something you can really peel so it should be purchased organic.

1 organic cucumber – These are another dirty dozen member, however sometimes the organic version is so pricey that I will opt for conventional and just be sure to wash it well and peel it before juicing.

1 organic granny smith apple – these have the lowest sugar content of all the apple varieties and add such a crisp, green sweetness to the juice. If you cant find organic, just be sure to peel it.

1 lemon peeled – Lemons are an absolute superfood for your liver. One of my best friends is a nutritionist and she always says one of the easiest things we can do to improve our help is to drink lemon juice on a daily basis.

Optional add ins – ginger, turmeric, cilantro, or parsley. Sometimes I’ll also add one of two of the optional add ins for a little boost of anti-inflammatory detoxing power.

If you can’t do normal celery juice, or want to stretch your juicing budget a little farther, try my version and let me know what improvements you notice in your health!

Happy juicing.

Start where you are, how consistent baby steps lead to success

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These adorable little arms belong to my youngest son who is working on his ‘business.’  He wanted me to buy him bulk candy to sell at school but when I told him he would have to give me a cut of all his profits he was not impressed.  While I might seem like a greedy mean Mommy, I was trying to teach him a valuable lesson.

I asked him to get really creative about how he can start from scratch with what he has now to raise the money for the candy all by himself.  This way the business is all his and he won’t get taxed by mom.

Well, my little entrepreneur decided to go through his old pokemon cards and build his own packs , selling each pack of 10 for a dollar.  He’s barely made a dent in his expansive pokemon collection and now has a good amount to invest in his candy business as well as the satisfaction of knowing that he did this on his own.

Sometimes it’s hard to know where to start in our own lives.  I haven’t been blogging much this month for reasons I will address below, when yesterday I was listening to a Lewis Howes podcast episode and he said something that made me stop in my tracks.  ‘It’s amazing what can happen if you show up for something every week for 6 years.’ He said it casually as he introduced his guest, but as someone who knows what Lewis actually has built in the last six years, it was one of the most inspiring things I’ve heard in a while.

I was like, ‘hot damn Lewis, you just lit a fire right up under my booty.’ This morning I jumped out of bed bright and early and got cracking on some blog posts that have been simmering in the back of my mind for a bit.

This blog is not going to write itself and if I don’t make things happen, in six years I’ll never know what could have been had I just shown up for myself every week.

This past month has been a real doozie at my place.  I have my house on the market and have been hosting showings pretty much daily. Of course, I want the showings but I feel like I haven’t been able to use my kitchen for fear or messing it up. I am a notoriously messy cook and when I get in that zone ingredients have been known to fly all over the place.

With so many showings, I had expected our house to sell by now, but the consensus is that our street is too busy for most of the viewers. As a courtesy to all the future homes I look at, I will always do a quick google map search to determine that the property of interest is in a location I like so I don’t waste peoples time. (Can you tell I’m getting jaded by all the cleaning, maintaining, and lack of cooking and recipe development that I truly want to be doing?)

So rather than just waiting for that sale so I can get comfortable in my kitchen again, I’m going to use this cooking downtime to blog more about general health and my growing business.  I’m just working with what I’ve got my friends.

I opened my vintage shop at the end of December and already have 60 sales, this may seem like peanuts to some, but I consider it a huge achievement, especially since I’ve grossed over a 1k monthly and have so far treated it as a side hustle while I still work my real gig as a hairstylist.

I’ve also been steady developing my eco clothing line and have hired a business coach to help me strategize how to move forwards in the most efficient way, as well as a social media expert to assist me in making better use of Instagram, because if any of you follow my accounts @lesagevintage or @tha_wild_sage, you know I’m struggling in that department.

I’ve been filling my head with knowledge and positivity, listening to inspiring podcasts and reading some great books. I am daily drinking green juice, working out and using who I was 6 months, 12 months and six years ago as a barometer of my success instead of comparing myself to others.

The point I’m trying to make is, my lack of consistent blogging in recent days doesn’t mean I’m not still moving in a trajectory towards my end goal.

Sometimes we just need to start where we are and work with what we’ve got. Rather than getting bogged down in the details, if we consistently take baby steps towards an end goal, its amazing what can come out of it in the other long term. And remember,  it’s more than ok if those baby steps travel in more of a zig zag than a straight line.

I recently heard the story of Colin O’Brady. He’s a tremendous athlete and the first person to transverse Antarctica alone. In his 20’s he was burned so badly that he was told he wouldn’t walk again. He talks about how during his healing process, his mom would move his chair just a little farther every day so he would be forced to take just one more step than the day before. Eventually, he not only walked, but competed in triathlons and went on to set a world record in Antarctica!

If you have established an end goal but keep spinning in circles when it comes to working out all the details, just start where you are now.

Make one choice today that will set you in the right direction, and tomorrow you can make two, then three and so on.

Maybe that means getting a salad instead of pizza for dinner or going to the gym instead of bingeing on game of thrones. Maybe you just need to write that blog post you have been procrastinating and stop using the fact that your house is on the market as an excuse to sleep on it (*coughs*).

We’ve all heard the saying Rome wasn’t built in a day, well neither was a blog, perfect health, a perfect body, a podcast or a brand.

Tony Robbins famously says ‘People overestimate what they can do in a year and underestimate what they can accomplish in a decade.’ That’s because we always get so bogged down in the details about how we are going to accomplish things rather than just show up for ourselves everyday (or week) and take those baby steps towards our future.

Start where you are and start now.  It’s constant baby steps that lead to success and you’ve come this far already.

Why I removed my IUD and what I now use for birth control instead

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My second child was a miracle. I say that now, after a PCOS diagnosis and a kid who makes life amazing, but at the time it was a major wtf how could this happen moment.

I had just given birth to my first child three months earlier when the two lines appeared on a home pregnancy test. I had no idea when I could have conceived as the one possible instance of post partum intimacy had led me to take the morning after pill, just as a precaution.

My first baby had been 9 pounds 4 ounces, and was delivered naturally at home, so the pain of labour was still very fresh in my mind. I was also not yet sleeping well, was living in a tiny apartment, had no money and was quite honestly scared sh**less. But, I knew in my heart this was a blessing, and given the circumstances was so obviously meant to be.

My second little baby was much kinder to body, weighing only 7 pounds, his birth was easier than the first, but that’s where the easiness ended. He had colic, he seemed to hate sleeping, and was only ever happy in my arms. This time around I swore I wouldn’t tempt fate and wouldn’t even let my husband so much as glance my way until I was safely using birth control.

I went into the hospital at three months post partum and had my IUD inserted while my tiny baby slept on my chest. The insertion hurt, but I felt so relieved, there would be no more surprises any time soon.

Due to all of my hormonal issues I opted for the copper IUD (paraguard). It was touted as  the most natural form of birth control, after all copper is an element essential to health, and I was told it would not affect my hormones at all.

In the beginning I was still nervous about pregnancy. How could this tiny piece of metal really stop a baby? In time I began to feel more at ease with the IUD and eventually came to trust it completely. For me it worked like a charm as far as preventing pregnancy but in other ways my body didn’t seem stoked on the little thing at all.

My periods were so extreme and heavy I would be running to the bathroom every hour to empty my diva cup, and with the heavy blood loss every month (or so) my ferratin levels just would not rise. I eventually became chronically iron deficient. In addition to the menorrhagia my cramps were like early labour pains and I would be fully incapacitated for the first two days of every cycle.

I have a girlfriend who developed breast implant illness, and in reading up a bit about the subject, I came to understand that many people’s immune systems will actually fight against any foreign object in our bodies. I had developed, or at least been diagnosed with an autoimmune disease while using the IUD, and couldn’t help but wonder if it had played some part in my hashimotos disease.

I also learned about copper toxicity, how it can build up in the soft tissues of the liver and impair the livers ability to detoxify. In addition, copper competes with zinc and manganese for absorption in the gut leading to mineral deficiencies.

Anyone with chronic illness will tell you, healing is like a crusade towards the light. My friend finally opted to remove her breast implants and I decided if she could go to that extreme in a quest for health, removing my little IUD would be a cake walk.

I wasn’t expecting any dramatic changes right away, but my first period after removal was like a dream. It came on quietly, no cramps, no bloating, just some slightly tender boobies, and it left just as quietly three days later. My blood loss was what I presume normal periods are supposed to be, and about ¼ the volume of previous cycles with the IUD.

In hopes that it wasn’t just a fluke I waited a full four more cycles before writing this and can now firmly attest that removing my IUD was the right choice.  Every consecutive period has been as benign as the last.

Having PCOS, I am already less fertile than the average woman, but as my pcos symptoms have been steadily improving and my periods have been becoming more regular (thank you diet changes!) I am definitely not in the clear as far as baby making goes, thus I am now using natural family planning to track my cycles.

In order to use natural family planning you will first have to determine your typical cycle length, you can do this using a calendar (start counting the first day of your period) or use a handy app to track it (there are lots of them out there).

Typically, women ovulate 14 days before their period and we are the most fertile 5 days before and 3 days after ovulation. So for about 8 days we should abstain, use condoms, or get busy, depending on the desired result.

We also produce a thin watery mucus when ovulating (kind of like natural lube) that is thicker or even non existent when not ovulating and we are about 1 degree warmer during our most fertile days.

By paying attention to our bodies natural secretions, temperature, and getting in tune with our natural cycles we can family plan naturally, safely and for free.

While only abstinence is 100% guaranteed, lets get real, people are going to be getting busy and we don’t need to rely so heavily on invasive forms of birth control to avoid pregnancy.

I know lots of women who have had great results with natural family planning and if you are struggling with autoimmunity and trying to find that smoking gun, exploring the removal of foreign objects from your body could be a necessary step in your journey. For me removing my IUD has been a game changer.

What are nightshades and why they could be effecting your gut health?

 

If you have never heard the term nightshade, you would not be alone, and even if you have, you might not fully understand the health effects they could be having on your body.

In fact, many night shades are widely considered to be health foods but could be having an unhealthy effect on your gut and autoimmunity.

If you are still sitting here wondering what nightshades are, they are from a family of foods called Solanaceae with over 2500 varieties, many of which are inedible, though some are used for medicinal purposes.

Some of the common night shades that you have probably eaten are; potatoes, tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, tomatillos, chili peppers and gogi berries. The reason these foods can cause problems for some people comes down to their glycoalkaloids, in particular solanine.

Now if you are really wondering what the heck I’m taking, glycoalkaloids can easily be explained as a plants natural defense mechanism, it is most concentrated in the skin and is used to ward off insects and disease. This is why we are technically not supposed to eat green sprout-y potatoes and why people can get super sick from doing so. (Though c’mon, who among us hasn’t sliced off those little nobs and carried on with their potato cooking?)

In addition to Solanine, nightshades contain super high levels of Lectins (plant proteins) that can actually permeate cell walls, causing leaky gut and weird allergic reactions.
An ideal healthy gut can likely handle itself some glycoalkaloids. However, if your gut is already compromised (many of us with autoimmune disease have some level of leaky gut) or if your body displays an allergic reaction to nightshades, a wise choice would be to minimise your intake of them or cut them out entirely.

When I did my elimination diet, I was sure to also eliminate nightshades and discovered I get a severe reaction to eggplants. As a result, I have also cut back on eating peppers, potatoes and tomatoes just in case. My nutritionist informed me that cooked peeled Roma tomatoes are among the least gut offensive nightshades, provided I purchase them in a glass container (no BPA!) so thankfully tomato sauce is still on my menu and I still do enjoy me some peppers and potatoes in moderation.

Finally, it should be said that what is healthy for one person’s body can be incredibly toxic to another person and would never claim that everyone in the world should cut out nightshades entirely. I do highly recommend omitting them during an elimination diet and be very observant of how they affect you when you reintroduce them back into your diet.

For more information on how an elimination diet is an integral part of an overall health overhaul, I wrote a post about it here.