Why I Don't Have Fermented Foods on My Blog - Part One

Fermented Foods like kombucha, kerif, sauerkraut, and kimchi are supposed to be great for leaky gut, but they have been a problem for me. Come find out why. Think you have a yeast allergy? You'll be interested in this post too!

Seeing as Whole New Mom is a blog that mainly talks about health and related topics, you may be wondering why I've never done a post about fermented foods.

I've got posts about going sugar-free, about the dangers of gluten, and about heavy metal toxicity and the burden of toxins on our health.

But no posts about:

and all that cultured stuff.

Read on to find out why--and hang with me. This is one of those longish posts with lots of info.

Remember my series on Candida and Gut Health from a while ago? If you didn't read it, hop on over there. You'll get to see up close and personal the way that candida wreaked havoc on my body and my life.

Candida is essentially a term to describe an overgrowth of yeast that causes many problems in the affected person.

And I had it bad.

If you look around the internet, many people say that kombucha and fermented foods are one of the key ways to rid oneself of candida.

But they didn't work for me.

Here's what happened instead.

The Candida Diet and Fermented Foods

About 4 years ago (I think that's when this all started), I went on a pretty strict dietary regimen that excluded all sugary foods, and limited starches. The program included fermented foods in the "restricted" category, stating that often when folks were dealing with systemic candida, their bodies were sensitized to yeast products and fermented foods.  Instead of the body responding positively to the introduction of such "beneficial foods," their bodies might react negatively instead.

So I followed that prescription.

No--

  • kombucha
  • kefir
  • vinegars
  • mustard
  • yeast
  • nutritional yeast

Etcetera.

The whole thing was pretty complex (more on the story later), but overall I was getting better. Sort of. Actually, there is a reason why the Candida Diet didn't "do it" for me, but I will touch on that in a future post.  So make sure you join my newsletter if you haven't already. You'll for sure not want to miss that.

Anyway, I always wondered about the exclusion of fermented foods from the list of allowed foods, because there are many who tout cultured foods as being key to overcoming candidiasis (systemic candida).

Trial #1 - Super Fermented Drink

After a while of "doing the Candida Diet," I was hitting a wall. So I talked with a man who had a lot of experience in candida, heavy metals, and the like, and he recommended my doing a "flush the bad guys out" protocol.

The Plan? Buy a boatload (about 5 2 liter bottles) of heavy-duty probiotic drink, and drink a bunch of it over the course of a few weeks.

It was expensive, but I was desperate to get better.

So I bought it and started to drink.

What followed was very unpleasant.

My symptoms worsened. A lot.

Itching everywhere. Intense and uncomfortable. And frightening.

I really didn't think I could go on and see where this might lead. I felt like my body was rebelling against me and I was ready to surrender.

I packed up the unused portion of the boatload and paid to ship it back.

No more fermented foods for me for a long time.

Trial #2 - Kombucha

Fast forward a few years. I'd made a lot of changes--tightened up my diet and worked on adrenal healing, heavy metal toxicity, and more. It was a hard, hard time for me but I was starting to have more energy and wanted to start making kombucha for my family (and maybe for me---I hoped).

So I did. And I drank.

Not good.

More itching. Lots of it. Skin, scalp, ears, and the dreaded feminine itching thing. (Sorry if that's TMI.)

I talked with my practitioner and she said that maybe I was reacting to the fermentation, or perhaps I should just go with fermented veggies since they have no sugar that can remain in them. She also said that I could try again sometime down the road.

Now, to be clear, I fermented my kombucha 'til it tasted like a strong vinegar, so I think there was little to no sugar in that stuff, but I still wasn't tolerating it.

I ended up trying to ferment some carrots, but they didn't work well. Sigh.

So since I couldn't tolerate it, and I was still pretty low on energy, the SCOBY died and I left the dream of fermented foods alone for awhile.

Trial #3 - Fermented Superfood Probiotic

This next part is a little murky, but here's basically what happened.

I started taking a new fermented superfood probiotic back in July of 2012.

I went right into a full serving, but I ended up having some ear itching again and thought I needed to back off. The symptoms went away immediately, so I thought I was having a reaction to fermentation. Again.

I decided to back off. But tried again around October.

Same thing.  Ear itching and sinus stuff.

I figured fermented foods and I just didn't get along.

Trial #4 - Fermented Superfood Probiotic

In March of 2013, I decided to try one more time to see if I could handle the fermented food probiotic.

I really really wanted to add this stuff to my diet and felt like the probiotic was really great for my gut.

There are sooo many probiotics out there and I have tried A LOT of them. With most of them, you just know that they aren't working, but with this one, I could tell for sure that it was.

So I tried.

I started with 1/8 of a teaspoon and progressed to 1/4 and was tolerating it pretty well.

March 22 - I upped my dose of the probiotic to 1/2 teaspoon and my eyes started itching again.  I backed off again.

Trial #5 - Lots of Fermented Foods

By mid-April, I was trying again. I was determined to get this stuff into my system.

I ramped my dosage up to 1 teaspoon per day and felt great (tons of energy and great digestion), but I ate some other foods with yeast in them on April 15 and woke up with INTENSE itching in my ears.  Like "I'm going to go nuts" itching.

Well, I know this is kind of gross, but my ears were peeling inside a little and I smelled some of the discharge / skin.

The discharge from one of my ears smelled like yeast.

Was this my body trying to get rid of it?

Or was this a reaction to the fermented foods?

Regardless, it seemed I was doomed. Big sigh.

Trial #6 -  The Big Guns

Just 3 days later, April 15, I was given the chance of a lifetime.

The chance to talk with someone who really knows his stuff about probiotics.

Not just a health food store employee, but an expert in the field of probiotics and superfoods.

I'll fill you in in the next post about what he said and what happened.

Click here for part two of Why I Don't Have Fermented Foods on My Blog.
Click here for part three--Why I WILL Have Fermented Foods on My Blog.

Sorry to keep you hanging, but I've got a lot to say on this topic :-).

Have you had reactions to fermented foods or been told you are sensitive to them?

By the way, the photo up there was taken by Michaela of Vicariously Vintage. Nice shot, eh?

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219 Comments

  1. Sounds to me like your suffering with histamine intolerance (so many people suffer with this and don’t even realise it) and hence the intense reaction (especially the itching) to fermented products which are a BIG NO NO for anyone struggling with Histamine related issues.

    I definitely don’t think it’s a detoxification reaction like some comments have said nor do I think it’s Candida related

    1. Hi there. I would tend to agree but then it got better while I was using more. Odd, wouldn't you say?

  2. I am 53 and people say I look 33 and I fit into the school pants I wore in 1983 so maybe I am doing something right. I have recenlty realised if I drink more than a small bottle of Kombucha and a cup of green tea a day, I get itchy legs, this has happened on a number of occasions and now I can look at my watch for it to kick in, very odd.

    What I can maybe contribute is that after reading an article by a baker on sourdough he pointed out that the bread we buy in grocery stores, even a lot of health stores, contains as little as 10 % of the original wheat grain. And all commercial wheat is thrashed out by metal blades at high heat which destroys, apparently a lot of the bacterial and nutritional benefits of a whole what grain. The baker ( whose dad was a baker whose dad was a baker whose dad was a baker ....) only uses stone ground whole wheat kernels in his bread. So I bought a hand wound stone grinder and I make small baguettes and muffins for the kids school lunches, the occasional pasta dish, etc and it is remarkable how quickly the kids fill up after eating whole wheat products and don't need to snack for hours. And they love it. Apologies if you are a coeliac but they are close to a pill you can pop soon.

  3. Same here! I think it's because off the bad bacteria that was left and grew more AFTER taking so....many antifungal and antibiotics "to kill" the yeast. AND adding fermented drinks and pickles, plus sauerkraut which I absoulety LOVE (and everybody and their Mom says it's good for you!) When it's REALLY like adding gasoline to the low burning fire! Did nothing, but give me cold sores and nasal drainage along with itchy ears too. I've had a inner ear infection as well for a month Now. Therefore, results come in for me ASWELL
    NO ! More fermented pickles, sauerkraut, kombucha...blah...blah
    ..blah. It's ALL lies! Doesn't kill yeast. They like it AND have a bigger party.

    1. Hmmm...this is confusing. My understanding is that adding good bacteria helps b/c it helps balancing things out. Why do you think it's adding gasoline to the fire?

      1. Hi. It's VERY simple. It's called, "consumerism!" It's ALL about spending MONEY. However, if you're going to spend the dollar might as well spend on what helps heal the BODY not makes it WORST. Like garlic, it's a natural anti fungal and antibiotic for less than $5- you get a safety batch that's healthy natural and good probiotic. Gut health without sugary or added unknown fermination. I ate pickles ALL my LIFE brined naturally or in added vinegar. My body NOW at 35yrs old says, "No more." The closest I can do is raw unfiltered brags apple cider vinegar with added homemade, fresh squeezed orange juice, maybe some organic ginger powder and blended garlic cloves. Great immune booster!

  4. Definitely sounds like all normal reactions. That just means your body is herxing. Which happens when your body is very out of balance. Definitely would recommend to keep going at it. Try young coconut kefir. And milk thistle, epsom salt baths, bentonite clay, enemas, etc. Those would help lessen the die off symptoms

  5. It’s called die-off. You flooded your body too fast. Fermented foods are beneficial if you use them properly. Some people have such a displace that they can’t tolerate fermented foods and it can take a long time of small doses to fix

  6. Hi there,
    I've had an extreme itching reaction to fermented foods and drinks myself. I was starting to think I was the only one until I read your post.
    First I had hives so I cut out kombucha to see if that was the cause. I took medication for the rash. I didn't stop eating fermented vegetables but I had a strange rash that kept coming back. It was different to hives.
    I went to my acupuncturist/tcm practitioner and told him my symptoms. He said it was my liver causing the rash (he's never been wrong when I've gone to see him.)
    I also get a rash when I drink wine regularly.
    I wondered whether fermented foods can affect the liver. They do contain alcohol so it could be possible.
    I've been taking Chinese herbs and eating alot of dark green leafy vegetables which he said supports the liver.

      1. Thanks, that was an interesting read 🙂
        I have been focusing so much on my gut health and wondering why I wasn't getting better. I need to give my liver some TLC!

  7. Have you ever looked into foods low in histamine? I have a histamine intolerance and therefore I can’t eat fermented foods or I will itch like you were describing. I hate it because I just came off two antibiotics and my gut feels destroyed and I wish I could use a probiotic but most are dairy or fermented.

  8. Thank you for this article! I have also been on a super long journey with systemic Candida. How's

    I also the believe I have the other fungal infection growing in my body. I wanted to start sauerkraut again and that's one reason why I Googled and found your article. I have never been able to tolerate any fermented foods. A friend of mine told me to start with a tiny scoop like super small like a micro scoop. Use that for weeks, and weeks if you have to, until you build up. I think a lot of the candida overgrowth for me has been living in moldy apartments and homes. Than there is parasites, Bacteria, Lyme, Co infections, metal toxicity, hormones, like estrogen dominance feeds candida... stress lol! There are so many factors, and can be so hard especially if you can't afford a Dr. To help along the way. I totally understand about the detoxing and all of the itching.... Especially the ears and private area, underarms etc . It really freaks me out! Thanks again for this article and will read more of them.

  9. I have lots of sickness. If I eat and sometime drink I vomit . more than once a day. And or have liquid poop . no warnings. So I bought the kumbacha tea. I drank1/2 the bottle . store said one bottle a day. Within 15min I projected vomit. Still am its been 7hrs. And every inch of me itches. I want to cry. I was hoping this would give me my life back.

    1. I'm sorry you are having so many problems. Have you seen a physician or natural practitioner to help?

  10. This sounds all like normal reactions. Especially to someone not sticking with it and yo-yo ing it. You have to stick to it in my opinion for the long haul. Otherwise I'm you aren't "curing" anything and it will still all be dormant. A good 2 months go at it and if those symptoms have not sorted themselves out than there is an issue.

  11. Oh wow! I tried Kombucha and would drink it regularly when I was first diagnosed with IBD. No symptoms, but I could not brew kombucha in my house (too unstable of temps). Fast forward 2 years later, and I tried brewing my own water kefir, which is amazing and I drink the commercial stuff all the time. However, after a couple days of the home brew, I began itching. Much like you described in your post.

    This lead me to reflection. I have a couple autoimmune diseases, so I wondered if that could be at fault. But, that didn't make sense since I've drank the commercial water kefir before. I remembered that I had severe heart burn and indigestion when I ate my homemade sourdough bread too. And, the only thing in common would be the wild yeast. I think I am sensitive to wild yeast. The itching bothers me so bad, I can't imagine going 10 days like this. No thank you.

  12. The major die off from drinking so much at once can occur when you are suffering from serious internal gut dysbiosis. You can sometimes feel you're getting better from just cutting things out alone, but usually it is just making the candida and or parasites go into a dormant mode with little to feed on, and this then reduces symptoms that they are the root cause of. Fermented foods can help more often than they would not... but if you are having far too much and not building up your tolerance, and or your colon and organs aren't functioning you will get backed up and the toxins caused from the die off of the candida will recirculate in your system hence feeling terrible and having so many other irritations. The best way to tackle dis-ease is to cleanse the colon and liver, and maintain a healthy if not raw vegan diet which includes plenty of fermented foods until health is regained. But the main factor is the cleansing! Psyllium and Bentonite clay shakes for colon cleansing and or a parasite cleanse such as Humaworm followed by fortnightly liver flushes using olive oil and grapefruit juice is the abosolute key. Internal congestion composed of mucoid plaque and gallblader / liver stones / hardened biliary sludge is the absolute ideal breeding ground for candida and parasites. Upping your overall immunity by evacuation congested toxic waste and detoxing metals and plastics will in time allow the organs to actually become strong again and rebalance any internal issues.

  13. Once you go on the Candida diet you will feel flu like symptoms up to 10 days while the body detoxes. This is normal. If you hang in there, it is all over (at the max) 10 days,depending how bad the candida was. I've been threw it and now reaping the rewards. You can eat anything you want, then you decide to get healthy without repercussions. Have to take the bad, to get the good. There are no shortcuts.

    1. My fingers got ahead of my brain in typing. The one sentence should read:can't eat anything you want, then decide you want to get healthy, without there being repercussions.
      I do not see an edit button or delete button where I can fix this. Sorry y'all.

      1. There's no edit button b/c otherwise readers could edit things. I don't see how technically you could edit your own w/o having the power to edit others'. Thanks for clarifying!

        1. Most websites and webpages have the edit and the delete post button. You must sign in first to do that. That protects the webpage you created and you will only be able to correct or delete your own not others. But I am not a web designer so I do not know how they achieve this. Sorry.

          1. Hmmm...I have never seen that. If you know of one please let me know. I could send it to my IT guy to figure it out. Thanks!

  14. My body won't tolerate fermented foods of any kind. I've always been sensitive to medications that most people don't have problems with, too. Honey gives me severe nasal congestion and a sore throat. It is often used to treat sore throats. Benadryl is used to treat hives, but it used to give me hives.

    1. Benadryl also has been linked to Alzheimers and brain shrinkage so be very careful!! I heard you can use liver support and certain probiotics to help w/ histamine issues.

      1. I added sauerkraut to my very strict AIP diet, after 3-4 servings of a tablespoon or so I started intensely itching, all over. After several attempts at calming this with oatmeal baths and coconut oil I went on Antihistamines. 3 weeks later (came off antihistamines after one week, for a week but it was miserable so went back on them) I am still "itchy, tingly, skin irritated, red streaks." I am baffled as to why I am still reacting... would love your input. Is it normal to still be flared up for 3 weeks? Is it maybe a lymphatic issue? You suggested Liver support, would that be Milk Thistle? Thanks so much!

        1. Hi Kendal. Wow. First of all, I am not a doctor. I don't know but I have heard about people having long reactions to things. However 3 weeks sounds like a very long time. I don't know much about the lymphatic system. I am active in this group which might be of help: https://www.facebook.com/groups/TPACommunity/

          I personally have heard that Thorne's support is great but we have tried a variety including plain ground organic milk thistle. This post has tons of liver info: https://wholenewmom.com/health-concerns/toxins-liver-detox-liver-cleanse-liver-health/

          Hope that helps!

  15. Probiotics such as fermented foods will elicit DETOX SYMPTOMS..your issue will get worse because the fungus is or toxins are being pushed out which results in DETOX symptoms..caprylic acid also helps and garlic oil..Bragg acv, too