Gluten sensitivity/gluten intolerance (not to be confused with Celiac Disease) is an immensely popular buzz phrase right now. There is a great deal of controversy around whether or not it is a truly legitimate condition, and many speculate that going gluten free is a trend that will quickly pass for those who voluntarily chose it as a lifestyle. For people who are dealing with very real symptoms, it is a very real problem. In some instances, though, it is misdiagnosed either by the individual or a health care provider.
Gluten sensitivity has many of the same symptoms as a condition called Candida, or Candidiasis, which is caused by an overgrowth of a naturally occurring yeast (Candida albicans) in the body. Left untreated, Candida can lead to major health issues down the line.
I’m not saying this to start a panic, and I’m not trying to alarm anyone. The purpose of this article is to provide information. If you or someone you know is living with the symptoms below, we strongly encourage consultation with a health care professional for proper diagnosis and treatment. If you have Candidiasis, going gluten free may not be an effective enough solution.
Gluten Sensitivity and Candidiasis share many of the same chronic symptoms, including:
Depression/anxiety, especially after eating
Digestive distress (gas, bloating, constipation, diarrhea)
Muscle/joint aches and pains
Candida can lead to the following if untreated:
Adult-onset allergies to foods and airborn irritants. Left unchecked, the number of allergies can continue to grow to the point that some individuals essentially become shut-ins.
Chronic yeast infections
Chronic infections (cold, flu, tonsillitis, bronchitis, ear ache) due to weakened immune system
Rough bumps on the sides of arms
These are only partial lists. One of the reasons that Candida is often misdiagnosed is because it has so many symptoms (and so many shared symptoms with gluten sensitivity), and individuals do not always present with the same cluster of issues. If not properly treated, Candidiasis can linger for life, especially in individuals who frequently consume eggs, meats, and milk treated with antibiotics, or women on oral contraceptives.
Causes of Candida
Candida albicans is a naturally occurring yeast in our bodies. Diets heavy in refined flours and sugars trigger yeast growth and its related symptoms, which is one of the reasons that Candida is often misdiagnosed as gluten sensitivity. Corticosteriods, chemotherapy drugs, and prolonged or frequent broad spectrum antibiotic use kill the bacteria that keep candida albicans in check, allowing for the yeast to flourish. Additionally, individuals with long-term illnesses, excessive amounts of stress, and those who smoke, drink, or have inadequate exercise and diet programs, are vulnerable to Candida outbreaks.
Treatment of Candidiasis
Anti-yeast treatments and a modified diet help reduce the proliferation of Candida albicans in the body. Once the yeast levels are regulated, it is necessary to repair the damage done. Adding nutritional supplements, and acupuncture and/or naturopathy are also effective in treatment.
Candidiasis in Traditional Chinese Medicine
Traditional Chinese Medicine, or TCM, defines 6 Yang organs in the body. When one of the Yang organs is over or under-stimulated, it affects balance with Yin, and overall health. The Triple Burner is one of the Yang organs. The Upper Burner is the heart and lungs; Middle Burner regulates spleen and stomach; Lower Burner comprises the liver, intestines, bladder, and kidney. The spleen processes the foods we ingest into Chi and Blood, which nourish everything in the body. When Candidiasis affects the Spleen, it can spread and create Damp Heat in the Lower Burner and Heat and Fire in the Upper Burner, leading to a variety of the symptoms listed above.
Acupuncture needles placed along the body’s meridians regulate the Spleen, which can help clear waste, toxins, and phlegm from the body. Once the body is cleansed, it must be tonified to repair damage and restore balance.
While acupuncture and other forms of Traditional Chinese Medicine are highly effective in treating Candida, it requires more than one session. It took time for the body to get broken to the point people experience symptoms, and it takes time for the body to heal to the point symptoms are relieved.
The Candida Diet
Foods to Avoid
Highly processed and refined foods
Foods high in sugar (including honey, agave, syrup, and molasses
Aged cheeses, especially blue cheese
Sweetened beverages – coffee, tea, energy drinks, fruit juice
Processed meats – bacon, packaged deli meat, sausages
Condiments/Dressings/Sauces – ketchup, tomato sauce, pickles containing sugar; vinegar based salad dressings (unless apple cider vinegar)
Free-range chicken and eggs
Nuts and seeds
Yogurt and kefir
Fermented foods (kimchi, pickles, sauerkraut)
Unsweetened coffee and tea (caffeine aggravates Candidiasis in some individuals)
Leafy greens – collards, mustard, spinach, kale, endive, Swiss chard
Fish – mackerel, shellfish, sardines, halibut, wild Alaskan salmon
Non-glutinous grains such as buckwheat, millet, amaranth, and quinoa
Butter and oils – olive, coconut, sesame, flax, sunflower
Radish, especially Daikon
Turnips (makes a great mash in lieu of potatoes; so does cauliflower)
Self-diagnosis is often mis-diagnosis. You may have noticed that your body responds negatively to certain foods, and positively when you limit those foods from your diet. That’s a great first step. The next step is to carefully examine how effective dietary restrictions have been. Did they reduce or eliminate all of your symptoms? Do you have new symptoms that didn’t appear before? Be mindful of your body, and thoughtful in how you treat it. Consult a health care provider if you suspect that you may be living with Candidiasis, or if eliminating gluten from your diet has not alleviated the symptoms often ascribed to gluten sensitivity.
Contact Affinity Acupuncture for Nashville Acupuncture treatments and techniques.
The leaves are starting to change in Nashville. Temperatures are cooling off, and people are transitioning to fall wardrobes. Pumpkins and squash are readily available, and Pinterest is full of seasonal recipes and crafts.
The transition to fall, while beautiful with its rich colors, isn’t always easy on the body. With kids back in school, germs are being spread quickly. Changes in the barometric pressure affect a lot of individuals with chronic headaches. Shorter daylight hours can impact energy levels. Autumn allergies strike, causing runny noses and itchy eyes.
Affinity Acupuncture offers a variety of treatments to help boost the immune system and decrease symptoms of colds, allergies, and fatigue. We offer nutritional counseling as well as acupuncture treatments and Traditional Chinese Medicine to help your body perform at its best. Did you go the whole summer without having a massage? We offer that as well, and yes, you deserve it. Call 615-939-2787 today, or book your appointments on-line.
When William and I welcomed our twins, we were amazed at the intense emotional connection that we felt with them. As much as we prepared, the experience was full of surprises – not all of them pleasant. One of the things that you can never fully prepare for is the physical demands that pregnancy, childbirth, and caring for a newborn takes on a body.
As hard as it is to have that little infant out of your sight (or even out of your arms) for a fraction of a second, it’s important that new moms remember to take care of themselves, too. Taking the time to rest, recover, and heal allows you to take even better care of the little one.
At Affinity Acupuncture, we offer prenatal and postnatal massage, which helps improve circulation, reduce pain and physical discomfort, and remove toxins from the system. Gazing down at the little one in your arms hour after hour causes a lot of strain on the neck!
Our acupuncture services are also very helpful for new moms. They can help regulate hormone levels (newborns aren’t the only ones experiencing random sob sessions), reduce stress & anxiety, and help support milk supply.
New moms, the most important thing that you have to do is take care of that little baby. Allow yourselves to take a break, though, and let us take care of you for a while. When you take care of yourself, you are in a much better position to take care of another. Call today, 615-939-2787 to set up your next appointment.
Is How You (Don’t) Sleep Making You Sick?
We all know that there are short term problems with not getting a good night’s sleep – a lack of mental sharpness, irritability, falling asleep at inopportune times, etc. Did you know there are potential long-term risks to your health also? For instance, people who sleep less than 6 hours per night are twice as likely to have a heart attack, and four times more likely to have a stroke than those who sleep more than 6 hours. They are also at greater risk of diabetes and obesity. Extreme fatigue increases appetite and decreases metabolism, and individuals who regularly get less than 4 hours of sleep 4 nights or more a week may easily be in a pre-diabetic state.
Half of adults 55+ have at least 1 symptom of insomnia at least 3 times per week including:
– Trouble falling asleep
– Waking during the night
– Waking to early and being unable to fall back to sleep
– Not feeling refreshed upon waking
Women suffer from insomnia more than men due to pregnancy, menstruation, and menopause.
Twenty million Americans take prescription sleep pills regularly. Over $100 million is spent in the US on over the counter sleep aids per year, and that number does not include prescriptions. Drug oriented OTCs have been studied and found no more effective than a placebo. Medications alter sleeping cycles, and suppress REM sleep. This can lead to light, restless sleep with nightmares once medications end, or “REM Withdrawl Sleep.” Many individuals often return to these sleep aids, even the ones advertised as “non-habit forming,” and the cycle continues. Medications can cause long-term harm to your body. Additionally, they are expensive, and only treat the symptom of an underlying problem.
Traditional Chinese Medicine believes that the symptoms of insomnia are the branches of a disease. An imbalance in the body, usually Chi, blood, Yin, Yan, Jing, or Shen, or a major organ system (lung, liver, heart, spleen, kidney, or liver) causes the imbalance or dysfunction, and acupuncture treatments help realign the body’s systems and help you find balance once more. Additional methods in Traditional Chinese Medicine, such as herbs, may also help your body better process energy and achieve restful sleep.
The following may lead to a lack of restful sleep:
Overeating, especially protein
Irregular sleeping hours
Lack of physical exercise
Hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism
Sleep apnea (Associated with high blood pressure, increased risk of heart disease and stroke, emotional disturbances and even psychoses.)
Emotional or mental stress
Overstimulation to the nervous system
TV/video game excess
Lack of adequate ventilation; oxygen debt
Allergies – an increased heart rate follows exposure.
Lights left on at night (disrupts the pineal gland producing melatonin, a sleep hormone)
Temperature extremes in bed
Restless Sleepers may have excessive amounts of the following in their diets:
Heavy metals (such as mercury found in high fructose corn syrup, tuna, swordfish, and mackerel
Salt, which increases blood volume, heart output, and blood pressure.
Food additives, preservatives, and colorings
Refined carbohydrates, sugar, soda, ice cream or other sweets
They may be deficient in:
Lycopene (found in red and orange foods such as tomatoes, bell peppers)
Selenium (found in nuts, mushrooms, meat, and shellfish). Selenium helps with inflammation.
Lutein (found in green, leafy vegetables)
Iron or copper (found in shellfish, clams, lentils, nuts, and whole-grain foods). Deficiency may make it take longer to fall asleep, and sleep may be less refreshing.
The body converts tryptophan into seratonin, which is then converted into melatonin. Both make you feel relaxed and sleepy. Foods with tryptophan include bananas yogurt, dates, figs, warm milk, dairy, and turkey. These foods are metabolized best in combination with starches, which make the body release insulin. This pushes the amino acids except for tryptophan into the muscle cells, leaving the tryptophan alone in the blood stream and ready to go to the brain. Niacin, a B-vitamin, makes tryptophan work more effectively, and is found in lean meats such as canned tuna. Melatonin naturally exists in oats, sweet corn, rice, ginger, bananas, and barley.
Magnesium rich foods can also help you relax and have restful sleep. Low magnesium levels will stimulate brain-activation neurotransmitters, which leads to overstimulation of the brain. This is especially common in the elderly taking meds that may block magnesium absorption. Dried beans such as pinto and navy beans, green leafy vegetables, soybeans, pumpkin seeds, wheat germ, and almonds are all rich in magnesium.
Folic acid in spinach, especially if muscle cramping or restless leg syndrome keeps you awake, are good additions to your diet. Inosytol enhances REM sleep
Avoid red meat, chocolate, ham, bacon, sausages, cheese, tomatoes, which contain the CNS stimulant tyramine.
Alcohol does not, in fact, help you get a good night’s sleep. You may fall asleep easily, because alcohol turns off the hypocretin neurons which keep you awake, but it has a rebound effect and can wake you quickly.