M.E. And The Ecology Of The Digestive System
The yeast Candida albicans and other yeasts are present in everyones gut and are normally kept in check by the bodys immune system and by the beneficial gut bacteria. Antibiotics kill these bacteria thus leading to yeast overgrowth. Sugar feeds and strengthens the yeasts. Under such circumstances, Candida and its toxins can cause a bewildering range of symptoms including headaches; speech impairment and confusion; sore throats; indigestion, bloating and flatulence; severe constipation; bladder infections; sleep disturbances; arthritic pains; pins and needles; paralysis; palpitations; craving for sweet foods and bread; intolerance of alcohol; allergic reactions to foods and chemicals; irritability, anxiety and depression.
Although many sufferers learn to manage their symptoms, ME can be a progressive illness with complete immune breakdown and Total Allergy Syndrome at the end of the line.
Early reversal of the gut dysbiosis and attention to its underlying causes is essential if health is to be restored. No single diet will effect this reversal. Patients need different protocols according to their symptoms, their lifestyle and their point on the continuum inherent in the progressive nature of the illness.
Patients must learn to sense changes in their own bodies and to take responsibility for their own healing. Family understanding and support are fundamental to recovery. Rest is also vital to the restorative process. Many sufferers spoil their progress by doing too much on days when they feel better. Meditation and other stress-reduction techniques can be beneficial.
If you have gut dysbiosis (eg Candida) you can expect to feel worse when you start the diet as the yeasts die off and their toxic products enter the bloodstream. It is vital to rest and to drink plenty of pure water at this time. Other detoxification techniques which may be helpful include dry skin-brushing before showering, deep breathing techniques as practised in Yoga, gentle massage, kinesiological balancing and attention to good bowel action. Herbal formulations may be used to assist the bowel. A warm water enema once or twice a week may be the preferred therapy for some sufferers.
It is very important that you understand and expect the worsening of symptoms, which may last up to six weeks. Many people give up the diet at an early stage because they think it is making them worse. If you persevere you can expect to feel substantially better in two months. Progress is usually slow. People experience the occasional better day at first and these become more frequent until, after a time, there are more good days than bad. When you have not eaten sugar and yeast for some time, reintroducing either of them can make you acutely ill and the effect may last for several days. The experience of this is enough to convince many people of the therapeutic value of sticking to the diet.
After you begin to stabilise, (ie feel better), you may decide to take a supplement with fungistatic properties. Do not take sugar at the same time. You can expect to feel worse again as die-off reactions return. It is wise to introduce any fungistat very cautiously at first so that the Herxheimer reaction (as the worsening is called) is kept within tolerable limits.
This diet totally avoids sugars and yeasts, which is necessary if gut dysbiosis is to be corrected. Hidden sugar is present in many processed foods, including many savoury items such as tinned and packet soups, baked beans and canned meats. Label-reading is vital. The following terms all indicate the presence of some form of sugar, therefore all are to be avoided.
glucose syrup (corn syrup)
concentrated fruit juice
date sugar (palm sugar)
lactose (milk sugar)
fructose (fruit sugar)
maltose (malt susucrose (sugar)
Foods containing sugar should also be avoided. These include: -baked beans (Weightwatcher beans are allowed), biscuits, cakes, candies and candied fruits, chocolate, cookies, desserts, dried fruits, fruit drinks and fruit juices (unless sugar-free), ice-creams and lollies, icings and toppings, milk and milk drinks (unsweetened Soya milk, rice milk, oat milk or nut milks are permitted), pastries, puddings, soft drinks, jam and marmalade, chutneys, sweet pickles, sweets and confectionery, toffee, tinned fruit. (Fruit tinned in its own juice is allowed when symptoms are diminishing). Fresh fruits and fruit juices must be avoided for the first month.
Apples, pears and bananas may then be taken in moderation. Avoid very sweet fruits.
Foods containing yeasts must be avoided. These include fruits such as grapes and melons, bread, rolls, pitta-bread, pizza, beer, wines and spirits, vinegar (organic cider vinegar is allowed in moderation), pickles, bottled sauces, bought mayonnaise and salad dressings.
Foods prepared with moulds or which encourage moulds are to be avoided. These include peanuts; veined cheeses or those with a mould coating; buttermilk; soured cream; sour milk; cheese snacks; food treated with antibiotics during the production processes (eg some eggs, chicken and meat, farmed salmon). Do not eat malted breakfast cereals or take malted drinks. Use the freezer rather than the refrigerator for storing left-overs. Eat food as fresh as possible and discard anything with any trace of mould. It may be necessary to avoid wheat, mushrooms and cottage cheese if these foods provoke symptoms, but some people can tolerate these. Plain live yoghurt (especially goats milk yoghurt) is excellent if tolerated.
Organically produced food is best but may be expensive and not always easy to find. If it is not possible to obtain organically produced food, avoid the skin of fruits and vegetables, which have the highest levels of pesticide residues. Avoid the fat of meat and poultry, as most of the toxic residues are stored in fat. Avoid tea and fish skin and bone all of which are high in fluoride. Do not eat any food, which contains raw egg white. Egg white contains avidin, which destroys the important vitamin biotin. Do not use cooking oils, which have been extracted with petroleum; choose only cold-pressed oils. Extra-virgin olive oil is recommended. Biotin and olive oil have both been shown to inhibit the growth of the Candida fungus. Corn oil or sunflower oil may be used for cooking.
Do not drink tea, coffee, chocolate or alcohol. Pure water is the best drink (2 litres per day). Bottled water such as Volvic, Evian or Ballygowan water is good but it is more economical to invest in a water filter. Remember to change filter-cartridges regularly or they may return residues to the water. A distillation machine costs more but provides the purest water.
Processed foods and processed snacks should not be eaten as they are likely to contain yeast derivatives and sugar. However the diet does not exclude all convenience foods. On some days you may not be well enough to cook so there must be easy options. Some of these are tinned or frozen items.
Frozen vegetables are allowed provided there is no added sugar. Frozen complete meals are not allowed. Frozen meat, fish and chicken is allowed provided there is no added sugar and it is not coated with breadcrumbs. Yorkshire pudding is OK provided you are not allergic to wheat. Stuffings based on breadcrumbs are not allowed. Fish and chips from the chip-shop are OK (occasionally), provided there is no yeast in the batter. Tinned vegetables are allowed if they contain no added sugar and do not induce symptoms. Tomatoes, spinach, sweet corn and Weightwatcher baked beans can be useful. Tinned beans, chick-peas, artichoke hearts etc can save cooking time and can form the basis of delicious pats or dips.
An adequate level of blood-sugar, homoeostatically maintained by the action of the hormones insulin and glucagon, is essential for heart and brain function. All carbohydrates are converted to sugars in the digestive system and are absorbed into the blood as simple sugars. When wholefoods or complex carbohydrates are eaten this is a gradual process and does not stimulate over-reaction of the insulin-producing cells of the pancreas as does refined sugar. Candida relies on sugars for its food and is not sustained by complex carbohydrates in the digestive system. For these and other reasons, wholegrains and pulses should be eaten in preference to refined foods. Sugar substitutes are best avoided.
Snacks are essential to keep up blood sugar between meals.
Raw or lightly cooked vegetables are excellent at providing vitamins and minerals. Drink the cooking water or use it in sauces or soups.
Nuts and seeds are the best source of magnesium, a mineral found to be deficient in many Candida sufferers.
Shellfish are a valuable source of zinc, a mineral used by many brain enzymes.
Original Ryvita, oatcakes, matzos or rice-cakes may be spread with vegan margarine, olive pat (from whole-food shop), tinned fish (eg sardines) or homemade pates or dips (eg hummus). Marmite and other yeast-derived spreads are not allowed.
Plain salted or unsalted crisps are a useful portable snack. Avoid flavoured versions and the ones with added vitamins and minerals (these may not be yeast-free). If you have high blood pressure use the salt-free ones; people with low blood pressure find a little salt beneficial. Large quantities of salt should never be taken. For added potassium, use Ruthmol or Lo-salt at table instead of ordinary salt. In very hot weather, or at times when perspiration is excessive, ordinary table salt should be used.
After the first month, fruit may be eaten as a snack. Ensure fruit is fresh and avoid melons, grapes and any fruit with traces of mould. Banana is an excellent source of phosphorus, necessary for the cells energy-releasing mechanisms. Some ME sufferers have been found to be deficient in phosphorus.
Avoid cooking in aluminium saucepans, or using foil or plastics in contact with food when cooking. Glass stainless steel and pottery vessels, unchipped enamelled saucepans and those made of stainless steel or iron are best. As far as possible avoid non-stick pans.
Avoid fluoride in water, toothpaste, tablets etc. Even if fluoride has a beneficial effect on the growing teeth of small children, (which is a controversial subject), it is damaging to the skeleton and to the immune system. Toothpastes without fluoride are difficult to find but Euthymol and Sensodyne Original Formula do not contain fluoride. Health-food shops sell toothpastes from homoeopathic suppliers such as Weleda or Nelsons. These may be gels rather than abrasive pastes and will be free from both fluoride and peppermint so that they are compatible with homoeopathic remedies. It pays to read labels as manufacturers sometimes change their formulations and some manufacturers (eg Toms and Kingfisher) produce two or more toothpastes, only some of which are fluoride-free. Do not use bicarbonate of soda toothpastes. They provide an alkaline environment in which Candida thrives. Toothbrushes may be disinfected with 2% hydrogen peroxide solution.
Rest as much as possible. Do not try to overcome tiredness and continue to work. Use muscles gently when possible to avoid their deconditioning. However do not attempt graded exercise programmes until you are well on the road to recovery. Exercise too soon can exacerbate symptoms and cause permanent damage.
Clear your house of damp and mould. 2% hydrogen peroxide solution can be useful to eliminate moulds from small areas such as the refrigerator door-seal or the washing-machine powder-drawer. (Apply the solution with a cloth and wear rubber gloves).
Houseplants and their compost can be a source of mould spores. Avoid woodland walks in Autumn when there are many fungal spores around. Spores can initiate symptoms.
Avoid, as far as possible, all sources of fumes and toxic chemicals eg smoking; smoky atmospheres; drugs; industrial air-pollution; petrol and diesel fumes; chemicals; Cleaning agents; dry-cleaning fluids; photocopying and printing fumes; paints and solvents; formaldehyde; fumes from out-gassing of modern furniture and carpets; Printed material with unacceptable odour; pesticides and wood-treatment products; synthetic perfumes; perfumed and petroleum-derived cosmetics and scented soaps.
These substances, along with Candida toxins, overload the bodys detoxification mechanisms in the liver. Liver enzymes cannot operate without a range of vitamins and minerals as co-factors. Toxic overload depletes vitamin and mineral reserves and if any of the vital micronutrients is unavailable, detoxification will cease until the supply is restored.
Build-up of toxins can then damage liver cells. Fortunately, if they are given a rest from toxins and supplied with the relevant nutrients, liver cells can regenerate.
Remember that all drugs are poisons first and medicines second. There are times when medical intervention is essential to save life. However most drugs have side effects and thousands of people are hospitalised every year as a result. Antibiotics are widely prescribed, even for viral infections on which they have no effect. Any such prescription destroys bacteria, including the bacteria of the gut microflora, which keep Candida in check.
Thus it has the potential to allow Candida to get out of hand. Many modern medicines and psychiatric drugs contain fluoride, which is also present in some anaesthetics.