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.
But no posts about:
- homemade sauerkraut
- water kefir
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.
- nutritional yeast
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.
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 some time 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 tsp 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.
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?