Katherine Dempsey with kinesiology kitLet's begin with all these weird symptoms that you have been experiencing. It may be that nothing seems to show up on any tests that your Doctor has run on you, leaving them baffled and you frustrated. You've probably convinced yourself and your GP that you are going crazy, but that doesn't stop the pain and discomfort and it doesn't go away. Candida is still not a well-known illness, yet so many suffer from it … most of the time without realising that the strange symptoms experienced are caused by this seemingly harmless little yeast. Newsflash: We've all got Candida. Don't panic! It is just us unlucky ones, whose Candida has run riot in their bodies, who need to sit up and listen. There is a whole host of information on the internet (a lot of it conflicting) that you can research, so I am not going to go into too much detail here. For a start, I am not qualified to do so. However, I am lucky enough to know someone who is. My Nutritionist, Katherine Dempsey, who has helped me back to good health over the last few years, has written the chapter on 'Supplement Advice and Holistic Therapy Treatments for Candida Sufferers'. My role is to help you on your road to recovery and to make sure that you are well fed with the right foods. We are all individuals and, as our symptoms differ, so will the treatment. As a fellow “Yeasty”, we are in this together.

Candida is an organism that can be found living naturally in small amounts in the mucous membranes (e.g. mouth, vagina or rectum), in our digestive system, or on our skin, causing us no problems. However, when our immune system is compromised, or the numbers of 'friendly' bacteria in our intestinal system are diminished (e.g. through over-use of antibiotics) Candida can change into its fungal state, where the spore has roots which attach to the walls of the intestines. Without early treatment, this can then spore through the gut wall into the rest of the body via the bloodstream, wreaking havoc in our genitals, sinuses and lungs, to name but a few of its favourite holiday destinations. This transformation is known as 'Leaky Gut Syndrome'. Candida in this form is pretty toxic stuff. There is literally a battle going on in your intestines between the good guys and the bad guys. You need to get control over it, or else your whole immune system can suffer and you may find yourself with a whole host of ailments.

You may begin to suffer with random symptoms that you have never experienced before, or at least not for a long time. This is what began to happen to me … 'Why have my headaches/migraines and 'auras' returned? I feel nauseous and my right hand side is weak. I have an over-active sense of smell, with tingling and numb sensations, dizziness and slurred speech. I just don't feel right and can't concentrate; my head feels foggy. I used to able to eat anything I liked, now food leaves me feeling bloated and flatulent, even rushing to the toilet with diarrhoea within twenty minutes of my meal. The odd bout of thrush or cystitis that I suffered with earlier on in my life has suddenly become more frequent, for no apparent reason. Since when did my urine turn into battery acid?! As if things weren't bad enough, I have developed haemorrhoids. I can probably put it down to 'old age', but I am sure I had more energy instead of this extreme fatigue I am now experiencing. Perhaps it is hormonal, as my periods never used to be as painful as this and I was never as short-tempered and depressed as I feel now. What happened to my sex life? I haven't got the energy or inclination any more and anyway, I'm too sore to even entertain the thought of it. And what's that itchy patch of skin on my foot that I can't see all about? I have never suffered with asthma or eczema before, how come I have suddenly been diagnosed with it as an adult? Was I always this revolted and upset by the smell of gas, petrol fumes or bleach, leaving me feeling physically sick and furious? The smell of perfume, after shave and household cleaning products is really offensive to me. It's never bothered me before. How come I am the only person I know that needs a hot water bottle in August? Why am I so cold all the time? Am I going mad?!!!!'

Well, I thought I was. Does any of this sound familiar to you? This is the story of my life, which I go into in more detail in my book as to how I feel my lifestyle has contributed to where I am now. These symptoms can come on at any stage in your life, so just because you were fine before, doesn't mean you're okay now. It is also true that some people are more sensitive than others. It has been said that an unbalanced endocrine system causing hormonal changes in a women's life can bring on the symptoms. However, it is not just women that suffer from this debilitating illness. Both men and children can also experience it, so if you are a man reading this web site, please don't feel excluded that most of this information is directed at the female of the species.

So how did we end up in this state? Nothing is 'set in stone', which is why it is difficult for the medical profession to acknowledge its existence. However, contributory factors that have been associated with Candida are hormonal changes and use of the contraceptive pill/HRT. Drugs in any form, mostly antibiotics, steroids, vaccinations and recreational drugs could have all played a hand in it. Mercury poisoning from dental fillings has been named as another potential part of the puzzle. Allergies from environmental pollutants, such as chemicals, etc. are related. Stress also plays another major part in Candida. Add all of these factors to a diet of sugary/starchy foods and unhealthy lifestyle of drinking alcohol and smoking and you have a recipe for disaster.

You will most likely be diagnosed by a Qualified Nutritionist, as opposed to your GP because, as stated earlier, Candida is not often recognised as an accepted condition by the medical profession and is therefore dismissed as being unfounded. However, having said this, you must always start with your GP to undergo tests, especially if it is a child that is suffering these symptoms, in the event that there is some underlying cause that is not Candida. You may have found yourself going back and forth to your Doctor with recurrent thrush or cystitis and coming away every time with a prescription of antibiotics. Whilst the relief of having those tablets is insurmountable, as you know the pain will stop in a day or so, what you do not realise is that the antibiotics are going to wipe out your good bacteria, as well as the bad, and that you are setting yourself up for a great breeding ground for the fungal Candida, as your good guys are taken over by the bad! Before you know it, you'll be back to the Doctors in a couple of weeks/months with the same complaint. We need to restore the intestinal balance and get you back to health and a normal and, hopefully, improved lifestyle. I've undergone practically every blood test, examination, swab and scan there is and, thankfully for me, the only thing my Doctor has told me is: 'All other tests are clear, but your vaginal swab shows that you have a little thrush.' I rest my case.

If this scenario is familiar to you, then don't you think it's worth giving the Candida diet a go?

If you are interested in setting up a consultation for yourself (and I strongly recommend that you do before embarking on the diet) you will be able to locate a Nutritionist that is close to your home location by searching on the internet. The B.A.N.T website is a helpful resource for qualified practitioners:

My Nutritionist, Katherine Dempsey ITEC, DIP D-T RGG, AoR, a qualified Nutritional Consultant and Reflexologist, was a constant source of support to me.