By: Jane Golson
Because I was having babies and nursing for the bulk of 10 years, my body was in constant change. I was always feeling tired. I had minor abdominal pain, low-grade back pain (kidney), headaches, insatiable sugar/carb cravings, sore joints, nighttime urge to urinate frequently, occasional mucous-looking discharge, and a myriad of other low-grade symptoms. Because those were the years of bearing children, I put aside my symptoms as part of my “baby body.”
To keep up, I fed myself lots of quick bowls of sugar cereal and milk, or grabbed a cookie, granola bar, or king-size candy bar at the gas station. I didn’t give a lot of thought to what I was eating. I didn’t give a lot of thought to the signals my body was sending me either. I just knew I NEEDED that cookie or candy bar!
Occasionally, the soreness in my lower abdomen would flare up, and I was CONVINCED I had a UTI (urinary tract infection) so I would go to the InstaCare and insisted on an antibiotic. My urine sample was always clear, but my symptoms matched the UTI symptoms so exactly they always prescribed me the antibiotic. I also had seasonal allergies that usually turn into a sinus infection about once a year, so my doctor would prescribe strong antibiotics (augmentin) for that. This cycle went on for 10+ years!
I had a vague idea that antibiotics can disrupt the body’s flora, creating yeast infections, and that eating yogurt helped that, so I also was eating lots of sugary yogurt and taking probiotics thinking that was taking care of the effects of antibiotic use. (What I didn’t realize is that our body’s microbiome is so much more complex and plays a role in so many other health factors.)
After having five kids, moving multiple times, and never really thinking much about my health, my health MADE me start paying attention. I finally went to see my OB/GYN. After reading the lab results, he said something that made a dim light bulb go on in my mind, “Jane, you have NO good bacteria in your system.” It dawned on me that all the antibiotics I had been treated with earlier had killed off all my bacteria. Basically, I had a very sick microbiome!
The doctor diagnosed me with an untreated chronic yeast infection that had led to bacterial vaginosis and pelvic inflammation. He ultimately told me, “This is really hard to clear up!” He prescribed more antibiotics and creams and said I could take a gut probiotic if I wanted to. He left me feeling like I had a chronic condition without a cure. There was NO discussion about my diet. He didn’t offer any solution as to how to “get back” my good bacteria other than “you can try regular gut probiotics and eat some yogurt.”
This vicious cycle of antibiotics and creams was expensive and the problem was only mitigated a week before the symptoms would return. So I started researching. I also prayed and fasted heavily for help. I came across several homeopathic articles talking about chronic yeast that they were calling candida. The listed symptoms seemed to match all of mine. The treatment for candida (chronic yeast) was very strict; it was a NO sugar diet.
When I started learning about the connection of sugar feeding candida a “light” went on for me! I had not paid attention to the way I was being ruled by sugar cravings. My eating habits literally consisted of bowls and bowls of cold cereal, a bunch of cookies or waffles, and white bread toast. By lunch I HAD to stop at the convenience store for a king size candy bar and fruit. I ate the typical American food for dinner. Not a green thing in site for days at a time. I was into eating whatever was quick and easy. It didn’t even occur to me that I wasn’t eating healthy because my weight was “acceptable.”
I felt I had nothing to lose so I determined to try giving up sugar. I started the week before Halloween (on purpose). I figured if I could get through Halloween without eating any sugar then I really would have mastered something in myself.
At this same time, I started making the connection that not only sugar but my whole diet was the cause of this malady!! So I began devouring healthy eating information: the documentary Forks Over Knives, Jane Birch’s “Discovering the Word of Wisdom” articles on Meridian Magazine, and reading all I could from Dr. John McDougall. I could not believe what I was learning about whole foods, plant-based Word of Wisdom eating!!
In my first week of trying to starve the sugar-loving yeast by eating NO sugar, I ate a variety of delicious, plant-based foods. I stayed clear of dairy, gluten, and starchy vegetables as well. I discovered no-sugar almond milk. I drank lots of water with lemon and ginger. I learned raw garlic is a yeast inhibitor and added Pro B phresh probiotics (made for vaginal flora) to my diet. For breakfasts, I frequently ate homemade oatmeal with NO sugar and some frozen blueberries and walnuts. For lunches I ate black beans, brown rice and cabbage salad with a squeeze of lime. I learned how to cook red quinoa (easy) and turned that into a base for salsa (delicious!). I cut back on meat.
The first three days were torture! Luckily, the articles I read about candida mentioned withdrawal symptoms called “candida die-off.” Had I not known about this phenomenon, I would have given up. Essentially, “die-off” is just all the symptoms heightened for about three days. So the kidney pain got really bad, the sugar cravings were high, and headaches were terrible, etc. Those sugar-loving microbes were making their last, dying stand!!
BUT . . . after just one week of clean eating, I was totally cured! No kidney pain, no abdominal pain, and no headaches. I was clear from discharge that accompanies the yeast overgrowth! I couldn’t believe it was all curable with diet! Jane Birch’s articles on the microbiome helped me understand that rebuilding the good microbes depends on a diet of high fiber. After the yeast cleared up, I was able to add the starchy veggies and fruits back into my diet. I also cut out all meat, dairy, and eggs.
I can’t believe how addicted to sugar I was! I thought I was feeling hungry, but I was only giving in to sugar cravings. Not being ruled by sugar is greatly freeing! I can now sleep all night because I don’t feel the abdominal pain and need to frequently make trips to the bathroom that the chronic inflammation caused by candida was doing to me! Also, other inflammation issues like joint pain are gone, and my skin looks way better and the brain fog has lifted! So many symptoms I thought were unrelated all healed with clean eating! I can’t believe this miracle!
One unexpected outcome was my visit to the dentist for a regular check up and cleaning. The hygienist noticed that my receding gums were actually reversing/healing and asked if I was doing something different.
I consider this an example of how the Lord made a weakness of mine into a strength and a blessing! I never would have delved into understanding the Word of Wisdom to this degree without being led to it through chronic malady. I am grateful for the curing truths in the Word of Wisdom!
Since my OB/GYN never mentioned diet as a treatment for chronic yeast, I wanted to share my story. I am hoping that other women who experience trouble with chronic yeast after taking antibiotics will consider adopting a No sugar, Word of Wisdom diet as a help for their women’s health issues.
Jane Golson (41) lives in Morgan, Utah. She is a former elementary school teacher and in the last 14 years has lived in 5 different states. She and her husband have 5 children, ranging in age from high school to preschool. She reports, “My main job description lately is taxi driver to track practice, basketball practice, skiing and music lessons. I am grateful gas prices are low! If I could have a refrigerator, closet and bed in my Suburban I would have it made!”