Diatomaceous Earth for Candida Balance

Spring is finally here and if you dug yourself into a health hole this winter, don’t worry,  you are not alone!  This ‘recipe’ is for a simple, daily detox you can drink first thing in the morning to help give your whole digestive system a fresh start. I’ve been drinking this every morning for two months now and I think you might want to try it too!   The main ingredient?  It’s dirt!  Not just any dirt, for this healthy dietary supplement you want to get food grade diatomaceous earth.  You may have seen the non food grade stuff for sale at a garden center or hardware store.  There are a lot of ways to use D.E. around the house, garden and even on your pets.

diatomaceous earth

I want to focus on the long list of health benefits associated with drinking a teaspoon to a tablespoon of food grade diatomaceous earth daily, mixed in water or juice.   According to DiatomaceousEarth.com: “Food grade DE contains about 14 trace minerals. “Trace” means up to 1 percent, so each of the trace minerals are present in that amount. This means that food grade diatomaceous earth is largely made up of amorphous silica, which comprises about 85 percent of food grade diatomaceous earth. There is some research that suggests possible health benefits from silica. The health benefits listed below are ones reported by other people who have used DE in their diet:

  • – better digestive health
  • – more regular bowel movements
  • – detoxifies
  • – healthier colon
  • – reduced cholesterol
  • – better food absorption
  • – better night’s sleep
  • – clearer skin
  • – stronger teeth and gums
  • – healthier hair and nails
  • – less joint and ligament pain
  • – helps arthritis
  • – less sickness
  • – more energy
  • – soothes burns
  • – insect bites
  • – clears skin rashes
  • – less acne
  • – possible antiparasitic
  • – could lower Candida levels”

I decided to give this a try when I learned it could help with Candida, on top of all those other nice side effects.  I started with a teaspoon and slowly worked my way up to a heaping tablespoon per day in water first thing in the morning.  I had some detox symptoms (headache, feverish, nausea) in the afternoon and evening of the first day, but was able to avoid more symptoms by very slowing increasing my dose over several days.  Not everyone experiences detox symptoms, I had a hunch that I would since I have digestive Candida issues.  I have noticed that my digestion is better, I get less of a reaction to foods containing carbohydrates and sugars, fewer Candida symptoms overall and yes, my nails are stronger, my skin is clear and my knees are not complaining about running outside again!

From left to right: powdered psyllim husks, coconut oil, diatomaceous earth and liquid bentonite clay.
 IMG_20150214_094547

So, you know what it can do for you, but how does Diatomaceous Earth work in your digestive system?  Here’s a quick explanation from EarthWorksHealth.com:

“Diatomaceous Earth is quite hard. On the hardness scale where diamonds are a 9, Diatomaceous Earth is a 7. This is very important because as those millions of tiny, hard and sharp Diatomaceous Earth cylinders pass through the small and large intestines, they “scrub” the walls. After only a few months of taking Diatomaceous Earth, the intestine wall is no longer coated with mucus and molds but CLEAN!!”

Want to try drinking dirt?  Mix a teaspoon or less into 8 or more ounces of water or juice first thing in the morning.  D.E. has no taste, so it’s easy to drink.   Try it for a few weeks and see how you feel.   I like to add a teaspoon of powdered psyllium husks and a tablespoon of bentoite clay to the mix for the first week to help clean my digestive system and pull out toxins.  If you add the psyllium, make sure to drink more water or hot tea (8 oz or more) afterwards to give the psyllium enough water to absorb.   You can buy D.E. from the Pittsfield Health Food Center on North St. where they also sell bentonite clay and psyllium husk powder, or order online from DiatomaceousEarth.com

I like to add coconut oil to hot tea and drink that following the clay, D.E., psyllium mixture since coconut oil has lots of caprylic acid in it, great for combating excess Candida.

 

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Fire Cider: Food as Medicine for Candida Overgrowth

Candida Overgrowth is something that you may have been hearing more about lately, or maybe you’re like me, and have had a personal experience with too much Candida. Candida Albicans is a naturally occurring type of beneficial yeast found in every body’s mucus membranes. Under certain conditions the Candida mutates into a fungal form. This fungal Candida grows roots and can penetrate the walls of your intestines or other areas of the body causing all kinds of symptoms. Unfortunately, the conditions that can cause Candida to multiply in it’s damaging fungal form are all part of a typical American lifestyle: use of synthetic hormone based birth control, antibiotic consumption/use, too much stress, not enough movement and deep breathing, a diet high in processed sugars, alcohol and/or carbohydrates and the consumption of processed foods and body products loaded with chemicals, hormone disruptors and antibiotics.

you-are-what-you-eat1

The symptoms of Candida Overgrowth are many but here are the highlights: sugar cravings, bloated abdomen, gas and digestive pain, especially after consuming carbohydrates or sugary foods, IBS, weight gain, joint pain, feeling sluggish or tired, brain fog, itchy skin, chronic vaginal yeast infections, bladder infections, jock itch and/or thrush which usually means a white or yellowish coating on the tongue. Not everyone has all the symptoms and Candida Overgrowth can overlap with other imbalances. It’s best to get tested and properly diagnosed before treating yourself for any health issue. The test for Candida Overgrowth should include an in depth medical history and a lab test on saliva, blood and stool samples.

food heart

The good news is that the way to get Candida back into balance is all about using the food you eat everyday as medicine, no drugs or prescriptions necessary! My blog, The Candida Diaries, is dedicated to sharing delicious recipes and remedies so that you can eat your way back to health. The Candida diet is actually pretty simple and similar to the Paleo or Atkins diets: no sugars, no carbohydrates, yes to lots of green veggies, fresh herbs, organic proteins and fats, nuts and seeds and naturally fermented foods like sauerkraut, crème fraiche and raw apple cider vinegar. These fermented foods help to repopulate your digestive system with beneficial organisms that help support a healthy internal balance.

When I was first diagnosed, I worked with my doctor to come up with a list of supplements, herbs and medicinal foods to help me recover. I started by complimenting a no sugar, no carbohydrate diet with a lot of immune support. I took high does of Vitamin C with Quercetin as well as Osha, Ecchinacea and started eating more fresh green herbs, bone broth, raw sauerkraut and aloe vera juice. After I was on the diet for a few weeks, eating well and supporting my immune system, I added in antifungal foods and supplements: raw garlic, oil of oregano, pau d’acro tea or tincture, chaparral tincture, digestive enzymes and caprylic acid aka coconut oil. There are many anti fungal, anti viral and anti bacterial plants out there so you can easily rotate your foods and herbs for maximum effect and support.

Me with Unsweetened Fire Cider in front of a wall of food starch packing peanuts (yes, they are biodegradable!)

Me with Unsweetened Fire Cider in front of a wall of food starch packing peanuts (yes, they are biodegradable!)

 

In 2009 my husband Dana introduced me to a vinegar and honey based health tonic that he had been making for his seasonal bouts of allergies and bronchitis for the past 10 years. Without adding the honey in at the end, this tonic is a mix of a lot of the foods I had been eating for their anti-fungal, anti-bacterial and immune boosting properties: organic, raw apple cider vinegar, citrus, onions, garlic, ginger, turmeric, horseradish and habanero peppers. I used Dana’s tonic, now known as Shire City Herbals Fire Cider® and also called master tonic, plague tonic, etc, as a digestive aid after meals to reduce excess Candida, gas and bloating. It also helped me to avoid getting sick all the time during the winter.  Unsweeteend Fire Cider was a life changing experience and I have been using it daily ever since to keep my Candida in balance and my immune system supported. In 2011 my husband, brother and I decided to start Shire City Herbals so we could make Fire Cider on a large scale and share this traditional remedy with as many people as possible.

I have also found a lot of non food things to support my health, like loving what I do for a living! A regular yoga practice, deep breathing, getting exercise outside, these activities keep me grounded and help me manage stress. Keeping a food journal and working with a naturopath have been tremendously helpful. A holistic approach to health and wellness is one that recognizes that everything is connected, you food, your environment, your relationships, your job, everything! Using your food as medicine is a great way to start reconnecting with your healthiest self.

Non Dairy Milk Alternatives

Don’t get me wrong, I love cow’s milk in its many forms: cheese, creme fraiche, Ayelada!  And I’d say that when you consume cultured whole milk dairy, from cows, goats or sheep, that have been raised humanly on an organic diet optimal for each breed, dairy counts as health food, in proper amounts, of course!  Unfortunately, like many of us, I don’t have the necessary enzymes to digest lactose, or milk sugars, present in raw dairy.  I’m ok with cultured cream or cheese but plain milk, no way!

Raw cow's milk in glass bottles from Cricket Creek Farm in Williamstown, MA

Raw cow’s milk in glass bottles from Cricket Creek Farm in Williamstown, MA

So, what should you drink in place of dairy milk?  I used almond milk for a long time since I’m allergic to soy due to years of eating highly processed vegetarian soy products, consider yourself warned, those are not health foods!  Almond milk comes in conventional and organic varieties, in these cardboard boxes, some refrigerated, some shelf stable, all of them with too many questionable ingredients.  And those containers are not recycle-able everywhere the way glass and metal are.  The same goes for the processed coconut milks and other nuts or seed based dairy alternatives.

The packaging is not awesome, the fillers and ingredients are weird and you are paying for water, with flavor.  Anyone can make flavored water!

The packaging is not awesome, the fillers and ingredients are weird and you are paying for water, with flavor. Anyone can make flavored water!

I have made my own almond milk, there’s one good solution.  Way less packaging, especially if you buy almonds in bulk, which you kind of need to in order to make homemade almond milk (or other nut/seed milk) affordable.  And almond prices are going way up since this years crop was a disaster.  My issue with making almond milk myself isn’t just the time, it’s putting the leftover almond pulp to good use.   Even though I have a great almond cracker recipe, totally worth making, it is time-consuming and I don’t really want to eat that many almond crackers each week.  The amount of milk I want to drink far exceeds the amount of leftover pulp I want to eat. And that’s why I haven’t ever gotten into the habit of making my own and my guess is most folks don’t either for many of the same reasons.  But I also no longer want to buy almond flavored water with junk in it!

The answer to the milk alternative issue is so simple I’m wondering how I could have overlooked it for so long: Canned, organic coconut milk and filtered water combine to make…coconut milk.  A non dairy milk that is organic, has minimal recyclable packaging, is nutritious AND it’s fast and easy to make, perfect!  When you make your own coconut based milk there are no weird ingredients or thickeners, and you are paying for some actual nutrition, not flavored water!

Coconut milk has a lot of health benefits to offer!

Coconut milk has a lot of health benefits to offer!

Coconut milk is nutritious?  Isn’t it high in fat?  Yes, and yes, one of the best fats you should consume regularly!  “Coconuts are highly nutritious and rich in fiber, vitamins C, E, B1, B3, B5 and B6 and minerals including iron, selenium, sodium, calcium, magnesium and phosphorous.

Coconuts contain significant amounts of fat, but unlike other nuts, they provide fat that is mostly in the form of medium chain saturated fatty acids (MCFAs) in particular, one called lauric acid. Lauric acid is converted in the body into a highly beneficial compound called monolaurin, an antiviral and antibacterial that destroys a wide variety of disease causing organisms. It is therefore now thought that consumption of coconut milk may help protect the body from infections and viruses.

MCFAs are rapidly metabolized into energy in the liver. It is thought that unlike other saturated fats, MCFAs are used up more quickly by the body and are less likely to be stored as fat.”  -excerpt from Jo Lewin, Nutrtional Therapist on the  Good Food Blog

Two cans of coconut milk will make up to two 64 oz Mason jars.

Two cans of coconut milk will make up to two 64 oz Mason jars.

Organic, canned coconut milk costs me about $1.80 per can from the buying club at my co-op.  I use 1 can to make about 1/2 gallon mason jar of coconut milk, much cheaper than any of the pre-made non dairy milks, organic or otherwise that you can buy in the store.

To make: open one or two cans of organic coconut milk, add one can per 64 oz wide mouth mason jar.  Fill at least halfway with filtered water and blend using an immersion blender.  Add more water to desired consistency.  You can also add: vanilla or another extract and stevia or honey to sweetened things up if that’s your style.  Non dairy milk that’s affordable, organic, easy to make and delicious- let’s drink to your health!

Dana’s Pork or Chicken Stock Recipe

The secret to amazing pork stock?  The answer is trotters, aka pigs feet!  The same goes for chicken stock, it’s best with chicken feet.  Now don’t get all ewwww about it, the feet are perfectly clean.  You eat animals, they have feet, it’s really not a big deal. When we kill animals for food we should use every bit, nose to tail, because all those bits in between are full of health building essentials!  The reasons this specific part of the animal is so great for making stock are threefold:

1. Trotters especially are known for their gelatin, so when you simmer them for hours, they make a naturally thick, deeply flavorful stock that is soothing to the digestive system, full of cartilage repairing collagen and deep immune support.

2. They are cheap and plentiful.  For every hog that’s butchered, there go 4 more trotters.  Your local butcher or farmer can hook you up with feet for cheap, just ask!

3. Waste not, want not: chicken feet and trotters can certainly be deep fried into one of the best bar snacks you’ll ever eat but I’d argue that making stock from the bones and feet of an animal is the best and easiest way to use them.  And you’ll be sure you are making the most out of the food you raise or buy.

Bone Broth or Stock is relatively easy to make in large amounts, it just takes some time.  I eat a bowl of broth a day during the winter months, dressing it up with kelp, mushrooms and chickpea miso.  Or making traditional chicken soup.  You can also add frozen cubes of stock concentrate to all kinds of recipes to add deep nutrition and lots of flavor.  I recommend a bowl a day to stay warm and healthy til Spring.  Here’s the basic recipe and method my husband Dana uses-

Ingredients for 2 ½ quarts Chicken /Turkey /Pork Stock:

  • 5 pounds assorted organic, local farm raised chicken parts (2-3 pounds of feet plus backs, necks, legs, and wings), rinsed.  For pork stock, use the bones from your last roast plus several trotters.
  • Handful dried shiitake mushrooms
  • 1 medium carrot, chopped into 2-inch lengths
  • 2 celery stalks, chopped into 2-inch lengths
  • 2 medium leeks or one onion, chopped into 2-inch chunks
  • 1 dried bay leaf
  • 1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
  • 1-2 Tablespoons Apple Cider Vinegar, or 1-2 Cups wine/hard cider

Optional, but highly recommended for ultimate, health enhancing stock add:

  • 2-4 tongue-depressor sized pieces Astragalus root (available from mountainroseherbs.com)
  • Small handful dried Reishi and/or Maitake mushroom
  • 1-2 ginseng roots

Method:

  1. Place all of the ingredients in a stockpot large enough to hold them with about 3 inches of room above (an 8-quart pot should do) and add enough water to cover by at least 1 inch (about 3 quarts).
  2. Heat until bubbling, then reduce heat to a bare simmer (bubbles should just gently break the surface). A slow cooker works well for this if you have one. Simmer for 8-48 hours.  I think the longer the better.
  3. Pass stock through a sieve into another bowl or pot, line the sieve with cheesecloth if you want clearer stock.  I never bother.  Discard the solids, I recommend composting them, or feed to your chickens.
  4. You can use the stock for soup right now, yummmm!
  5. If you are planning to store it without reducing it, stick it in the fridge or freezer.  The fat will rise to the top as it cools, and you can remove it, or leave it in. You can also boil the stock uncovered and reduce it by as much as 90%.  This makes for easier storage of large amounts of stock concentrate.
  6. Note: I use ice cube trays to freeze cooled stock.  Then I keep the cubes in a container in the freezer for use whenever I need.  It’s easy to make a cup of hot broth by adding cubes to a mug with boiling water or throw a bunch into soups.  Sometimes I sauté greens until almost done, then add a cube of stock to finish for extra flavor and health benefits.

A Carbohydrate Is A Carbohydrate Is A Sugar. Except When it’s Not.

I have been eating a no sugar, very low carbohydrate diet for four and a half years because of an overabundance of Candida.  When I first started this diet, I didn’t know anyone else with Candida who was eating like me: whole, unprocessed foods, mostly green vegetables, nuts, seeds, healthy fats like coconut and olive oil and protein from healthy animals like eggs, cheese and bacon.   If you are diabetic or trying to eat a low glycemic diet, this is good information for you as well.  And frankly, when you think about it, there are essential fatty acids (fat) and essential amino acids (proteins) that we need to eat to survive but there is no such thing as an essential sugar or an essential carbohydrate.  More food for thought like that can be found in the bestselling bookWhy We Get Fat and What To Do About It’ by Gary Taubes. 

Today, this low sugar, low carbohydrate way of eating is getting more and more popular- it’s the perfect diet for diabetics, the book Wheat Belly’ is a groundbreaking top seller and, unfortunately, because of our typical American diet and lifestyle, more and more people are discovering that they too have an abundance of Candida.  Candida, a type of yeast, lives in all of our bodies and can get out of balance for a number of reasons: stress, anti biotic and prescription drug use, eating too many refined carbohydrates and sugars, hormonal birth control methods and more.  So, here’s some information about the Candida diet which has broad spectrum applications.

When you first start out on the Candida Diet the most important thing to remember is that a carbohydrate, be it from a whole grain, a gluten-free baked thingie or a potato, will be broken down in your digestive system into simple sugars.  Candida is a type of yeast that feeds off of sugars and it’s not picky.  It does not care if its sugar comes from a whole food source like brown rice or from a hostess cupcake.  You must remember: a carbohydrate is just a complex sugar.  Likewise, when you are in a health crisis, a sugar is a sugar: honey comes from a natural source and has immune boosting properties but it will feed the yeast just as well as cane sugar, corn syrup or fruits.    All sugar sources are sugars, no matter where they come from.  In order to reduce the amount of Candida in your body and your digestive system, you’ve got to stop feeding it the sugars it needs to survive in abundance.  No matter how you got sick: antibiotics destroyed your internal rainforest, birth control pills wacked out your hormone balance, a junk diet high in carbohydrates and sugars, too much stress not enough sleep-  they way back to balance involves nourishing your body while starving the excess yeast.

This is the idea behind the Candida Diet: eat foods that feed your body, avoid foods that feed the yeast until the Candida is back to normal levels, your digestive system has healed and you feel healthy and strong again. Then, you move beyond the crisis stage.  You even move beyond the maintenance stage- you feel healthy, your stomach isn’t bloated, you have energy, you want to eat a wider variety of foods.  And now here’s where things can get tricky: not all sugars or carbohydrates were created equally.   The sugars mother nature made for us to eat are just one element of  foods that contain other essentials like vitamins, minerals, fiber and anti oxidants.  Fruits, vegetables, legumes and whole gains have a very different effect on your body then say, fruit roll ups, tater tots and wheat pasta.

Your body is smart; it can tell the difference between honey or fruit (healthy, whole foods) and highly processed crap like soy nuggets and corn sugars- I hate those pro corn syrup ads, what a bunch of bull! For example, I sometimes eat dark chocolate which usually has a bit of cane sugar as a sweetener.  After eating a few pieces of what I thought was high quality chocolate I got a nearly immediate negative reaction: stomach bloating and itchy skin.  I realized I hadn’t read the ingredients, turns out there was corn syrup in it!  The other variety, of the same brand, but without the corn syrup, had never bothered me like that.  Once you have gone to such lengths to clean up your diet and heal your body there is little chance that you will be able to tolerate chemicals, preservatives, overly processed sugars or carbohydrates, and good riddance!  But how and what should you add back in?

Complex carbohydrates are actually easier to add back in than any other form of sugar.  I’m not a scientist or a biologist but I do know that complex carbohydrates break down slowly over time during digestion.  So, unlike the jolt you get from a handful of grapes, a serving of quinoa will be broken down slowly, giving your body time to deal with small amounts of sugar at a time.  I’d say that beans and quinoa are good foods to start with since they have a balance of carbohydrates, protein and fiber.  And they are not going to send your blood sugar through the roof like potatoes or wheat bread will.

What you add back in and in what quantities will also be determined by how you got sick in the first place.  I had been eating refined carbohydrates, candy and overly processed soy foods (along with other lifestyle factors) right up until I got so sick I couldn’t eat much of anything.  I am still, after four and a half years on the Candida diet, very sensitive to anything processed, especially wheat and simple sugars.  I over dosed on these strong substances and now my body has a very strong, survivalist reaction to anything like the foods I ate that made me so sick in the first place.  If your Candida overabundance is due to too many antibiotics or hormonal birth control, chances are you will have to avoid those substances and eat a moderately low sugar diet in order to maintain a healthy balance.  Figure out what your trigger is so that you can replace it with something healthy for you!

Your body is looking out for you and it wants nothing more than to maintain a healthy balance.  Your body will make the best out of what you eat and how you live your life but at a certain point, if you are abusing yourself with unhealthy lifestyle choices or punishing yourself with excessive use of drugs: sugar, wheat, alcohol, prescriptions or worse, eventually your body will begin to put up a fight that will be impossible to ignore!  Not a fight against you but a fight for survival against these substances that, in abundance, can be incredibly toxic.  So listen to the feedback you get from your body.  The more you listen, the more you know and the better you will look and feel!  It can be a long road, but not always, back to a healthy balance and you will learn a tremendous amount of fascinating things about yourself along the way.  When it’s time to add things back into your diet, go slowly, one food at a time, listening carefully, and you’ll be glad that you did.

Candida Support Network: You’re Invited!

During a call with one of my long time clients last week the topic turned to how to create a supportive community for folks like us on the Candida diet.  We came up with two things we could do right away to help each other feel supported and connected:
First, I have been using my facebook page as a way to share my Candida diet friendly recipes and would love to expand that to include tips and suggestions from our larger Candida community!  Please feel free to use my page as a place to share your challenges, success stories, favorite recipes, find each other and get connected.
Second, I would like to facilitate those interested in connecting for the purpose of supporting each other.  So,  If  you want to be in touch via email/phone/skype/chat with someone who is going through similar health challenges, please let me know.  I joked with my friend that the idea sounds similar to a dating service, but for Candida health.  And I think it could be a really fun and inspirational way to support one another.
If you are interested in getting connected, giving and receiving positive support, then please reply via my email: amyhuebner@gmail.com by answering the little questionnaire that follows. I will send a follow up email with the information you each provide so that you can match yourselves up.  If you are unclear about anything or have any suggestions please let me know!
Candida Matcher Questionnaire
Name:
Age:
Current Health Status:
Current location:
Preferred method of communication:
Frequency:
Type of support I am looking for:
Type of support I can give:
Biggest lesson I’ve learned on my Candida journey:
Anything else you want to share?
Contact me:  if you don’t want to provide contact info initially, you can say, ‘contact me through Amy’ and I’ll put you in touch : – )

New Spring Salad

Dana and I literally made room for our yoga practice.

I’ve been a bit pressed for time since there are a lot of exciting changes going on right now; the garden is growing, there are houses to bid on (woah!) and we converted an extra room in our house to a yoga/meditation room.  I have been naturally waking up consistently early for the past few weeks, a change I attribute to the new season and a sign that my health continues to improve.  The combination of getting up earlier and our yoga room means I’m able to do an hour of Kripalu yoga, mediate and start my day having already accomplished two of my most important goals for the day. Or I can work in an hour of yoga later in the day.  Either way, having hour long classes, on line, that range from gentle restorative yoga to more vigorous, challenging classes, right on the Kripalu home page, makes a daily practice pretty easy to incorporate.  If you have space for a yoga mat and an internet connection, you too can incorporate yoga into your daily routine.  Give it a try!

One of 4 post cards designed to promote the market. This one is my favorite. You can see the other designs on the New Amsterdam Market Facebook page.

Dana, Brian and I are also expanding Fire Cider to a weekly market in New York City called ‘The New Amsterdam Market’ which opens next Sunday at 11 am in the Old Fulton Fish Market.  This is such an exciting next step for us and there’s a lot  to do to get ready!  So, I find I have less time that I would like to spend writing new recipes and playing in the kitchen.  In the interest of time, mine and yours, I’ve come up with a new way to write recipes so I can continue to share with you on a weekly basis…

The ingredients will be listed in the order they are added to the recipe.  Simple instructions will appear throughout the list and the meal should take about 5-15 min to assemble or cook, sound good?  Healthy meals fast, yes please!

One dish dinner with the daffodils my mom picked for us, thanks mama!

New Spring Salad

In a large bowl combine:

1 can tuna

3-4 T mayo

2 T spicy dijon mustard

2 T raw apple cider vinegar

2 T each: Kalamata olives halved and chopped oil cured olives

salt and pepper to taste

Mix well then add

Salad greens of your choosing: baby spinach and dandelion greens are especially nutritious.

1 grated carrot

Mix again and top with

grated cheese, I used some Vermont cheese from the co-op that’s part cheddar and part Romano

a small handful of toasted, salted sunflower seeds

Serve and eat!

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