Following on from the Detox in phase one of the plan, the diet restrictions that would otherwise seem extremely strict are almost generous!
So if you have already completed the first phase, look forward to this part when you can begin to start experimenting with recipes that fit the limitations. Hello (very small amounts of) proteins and carbs, my old friends!
Unfortunately a huge amount of time has now lapsed since I completed the UCD, I had written about my experiences in some word docs that I thought I was saving as I went but alas I cannot find them anywhere! So in the interests of completing what I started I will give a retrospective review of the rest of the cleanse here before I can move on to some more relevant issues in my life now.
The biggest challenge I found was the social aspect. It is incredibly inconvenient to have such strict restrictions on what you can eat, it means that restaurant dining is virtually impossible and no-booze can make socialising tricky if you’re not used to it. But mostly I got very tired of having to explain my diet and then illness to people who didn’t really understand what I was going through…
Just quickly, here’s a little bit about Candida. Candida is a micro-organism that lives in your gut, it can exist in healthy yeast form in balance with the other micro-organisms in your gut (also known as gut flora, good bacteria, or micro-biome). However in its fungal form the Candida can grow out of balance and cause Candidiasis or Candida Overgrowth. The symptoms of this can be bloating, brain fog, digestive problems, fatigue, fungal infections, thrush and weakened immune system among many others. It has also been specifically linked to many autoimmune conditions, including Fibromyalgia and CFS. Things that cause a Candida overgrowth are: taking the contraceptive pill; taking antibiotics; drinking alcohol; eating wheat and sugar; and stress. Sound like you? Yeah, same, and most of my mates. So when I heard that Candida effects 70% of people, knowing that I have to varying degrees committed ALL of the candida sins and suffer or have suffered from most of the symptoms I thought it must be worth trying out this cleanse. If you suffer from any of the symptoms or your lifestyle sounds like the causation list, you would probably benefit from doing the cleanse too so have a look into it. (It’s worth mentioning here that you do not have to suffer from thrush in order to have Candida! I ignored the possibility of Candida being an issue for me because I don’t get thrush, but it can express itself in many different ways, the main ones for me being digestive issues, fatigue and brain fog, as well as the autoimmune condition of course!)
Candida feeds on sugars and fermentation in your gut which allows it to grow and overpower the “good bacteria” which help your body and immune system to function properly. It gets its fuel from sucrose, fructose, glucose, and lactose… all the oses! Hence the no carbs, no fruit, no dairy, no booze yada yada…
If you haven’t already please read my previous post with a specific review of the first phase of the UCD. What I don’t think I mentioned there however was that I took the Candidate detox supplement as recommended in the book, I found it on Amazon and went through 2 bottles (the second one lasted me well past the end of the diet but I continued to take it until it was finished).
Phase Two: Start the UCD (week 2 onwards)
The Ultimate Candida Diet is essentially about consuming as much high-fibre and nutritious foods as possible whilst not feeding the Candida bacteria the sugars that it needs to grow, then throw in some anti-fungals, probiotics and detox supplements to get the bugger back under control! There are many carbohydrates and starchy vegetables that are off the menu, and pretty much all fruits (everything you consider a fruit is a no-go), so it is still extremely restrictive but wonderfully healthy. I get through it by setting up my veg box with Abel & Cole to have all the banned foods on my “never send” list, this means each week I have a box of fresh organic veggies delivered to my door that is over flowing with (some new and exciting) veggies that I can cook with. I highly recommend doing this as it provided some variety, saved me the slog to the supermarket and also meant that I was never caught out without food I can eat!
Phase Three: Start taking a probiotic (day 15 onwards)
It is extremely important to invest in a good probiotic! They can be/seem expensive but these babies are worth it. The good bacteria in your gut is a large and valuable part of your immune system, I like to think of them as my little army. If their levels are depleted (due to taking antibiotics) or they are out-numbered by the bad guys (due to carbs/sugar/alcohol) then you need to bring in extra troops, and you want them to be the best that money can buy! When it comes to choosing a probiotic, there are a few key things to look out for. Firstly, you want to make sure that they are kept in the fridge so keep on moving down that isle until you come to the VIP area where all the cool kids are chilling out (insert sunglasses face emoji). The fridge provides the most stable environment for the probiotics to remain alive and kicking and will maximise their effectiveness when you are ready to take them. Secondly you want to look for the highest number of colonies (clue: massive! The one I use has 50 billion), and thirdly you want one with as many different strains as possible. I use Jarrow Formulas’ Ultra Jarro-Dophilus because it was most reasonably priced and the best quality I could find. It ranges between £25-£30 for 60 capsules which will last you 2 months. Click here to buy it from Amazon.
Phase Four: Start taking anti-fungals (day 22 onwards)
I went out to Wholefoods and bought all the anti-fungals recommended in the book: Olive Leaf Extract, Grapefruit Seed Extract, Caprylic Acid, Oregano Oil (I noticed after I got home that the Olive Leaf Extract I had bought was a sweet syrup so I decided not to take it). The plan recommends that you combine multiple anti-fungals for a comprehensive attack. I put together a very complicated rota that showed what I had to take and when to try and get my head around the different doses and requirements (some on an empty stomach, some with food, most multiple times each day), I would tick it off as I went because there was so many to keep track of and my brain fog wasn’t letting me manage that alone. For the first day or two I suffered from excruciating stomach cramps so I decided to cut out the Grapefruit Seed Extract which is extremely strong, and to just consume plenty of coconut oil rather than taking the Caprylic Acid (Caprylic Acid is one of the active ingredients in Coconut Oil), after that I was fine and the dosage became much more manageable. Since completing the UCD I have become a huge fan of the Oregano Oil and the GSE which have saved me from a few bouts and helped me through with my reoccurring tonsillitis issues (one evening I felt the early symptoms coming on, gargled with some diluted GSE and the next morning felt fine, it seemed the attack was stopped in it’s tracks!)
Phase Five: Begin to reintroduce some foods (day 60 onwards)
By this point you have practically forgotten what you used to eat! Apart from all the naughty treats which you would not be advised to binge on immediately (if at all!). I decided early on that I do not intend to reintroduce sugar or gluten to my diet at all for the time being so cake and pizza will remain off the menu for quite some time yet. I began by saying hello to some of my old starchy-veg friends that I had missed, like beetroot and carrots, building up my confidence before inviting sweet potato to the party. Then after a few days I introduced some low-sugar fruit like green apples and berries, as well as live probiotic yoghurt and butter. By this point these things are complete luxury to me and a real treat! Eventually I reintroduced rice, but I still find that my gut is not totally happy with rice so I try to keep it to a minimum. I chose not to start drinking again, although I have had the odd glass on extremely rare occasions (friend’s wedding, dad’s funeral). I’m now back to drinking my green tea daily and eating up to 3 servings of fruit a day, totally gluten and added-sugar-free and keeping non-glutinous grains to a minimum. This is what I find works best for me at the moment.
The important thing is learning to listen to your body. I found that doing the UCD cleanse meant that I was stripping back a lot of noise that was getting in the way of me being able to hear what my body was trying to communicate to me. Now I am listening to my little micro-biome soldiers and trying to think about that will help them to grow strong and healthy so that they can help my body to better convert my food into fuel and medicine, and so that they can support my immune system in correcting its various malfunctions.
I can’t say that doing the Ultimate Candida Diet has cured my ME, but it has certainly helped solve a lot of my digestive issues that I had been having, leaving me feeling stronger and more energetic. I feel that the program was extremely beneficial and I would highly recommend it to anyone who suspects that they may be suffering from a Candida overgrowth. I look forward to trying more detoxes and cleanses to help strengthen and heal my precious body.
If you have tried The Ultimate Candida Diet and would like to share your experience, please comment below. Or if you are thinking about it and have any questions that I haven’t covered, please don’t hesitate to ask!
Much love and wellness,