Gluten Sensitivity, Sugar, Candida – From Suicidal to Better Again

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Gluten in bread

How I became sick, couldn’t find the cause, became suicidal and how I figured out the culprits were gluten sensitivity, sugar and Candida and got healthy again. It’s been years and I’m still trying to figure out how they’re all related but have found a way to feel normal again in the meantime.

RELATED: Read my “Ultimate Guide to Getting Healthy” which will help you get and stay healthy, detox from gluten and Candida, and help you feel your best.

Seasonal Allergies?

In the spring of 2016, I started feeling horrible. Run down. My forehead and forearms felt like they were burning up but I didn’t have a fever. Brain fog. A family member said it was probably seasonal allergies and to take an over-the-counter (OTC) medication. He gets seasonal allergies every year like clockwork. He pops a couple pills and feels much better.

I never had allergies before but I know our bodies change over the years and you can develop new issues. Popped Claritin and it cleared right up. I try not to take medication unless absolutely necessary but it was a God send. All the symptoms went away and I felt normal again. I thought I was now living with seasonal allergies. A new thing for me to live with but at least I had a “cure”.

That fall, the same thing happened. Felt like crap again, with the same symptoms. I popped my Claritin but I didn’t feel better. My family member said he has to try different allergy medicines each season to see what will work.

I tried Zyrtec this time and felt normal again almost immediately. That confirmed it for me at the time that it was seasonal allergies. I was a little concerned that I no longer had an easy “cure” but instead had to now find out medicine works each season. A little more convoluted but at least there was a way to end the suffering.

Seasonal Allergies

Figured Out It’s Not Seasonal Allergies

In the spring of 2017, like clock work, I felt horrible again. Same symptoms. I popped my Claritin. Didn’t work. Tried Zyrtec. Didn’t help either. Tried maybe one or two other brands. No effect.

It was horrible. I usual feel great but my symptoms were getting worse. Days led to weeks. Weeks waking up every day tired, no matter how much sleep I got. Completely fatigued. Naps didn’t help. Exercise didn’t help either. I’d feel the energy from the exercise on one level within me but underlying it I could still feel the fatigue.

The brain fog got worse and I started having other mental/emotional symptoms. Couldn’t concentrate at work. Cranky all the time. I had to tell my manager at work that I don’t know what’s wrong with me but that it’s affecting my work and to bear with me as I try to figure it out.

Suicidal Thoughts

My life became a complete hell. It’s my worse nightmare. Start feeling horrible, don’t know why, don’t know how to fix it and don’t have the physical or mental energy to be able to focus on fixing it. Just wanted to feel normal again.

I started having suicidal thoughts. I did’t actually intend to harm myself, but remember thinking I don’t know if I’d want to live feeling that way my entire life. The quality of life was that bad.

Environmental Allergies?

I went to my primary care physician. He couldn’t find anything wrong and referred me to an allergy doctor. He thought it was may be a different type of allergy instead of seasonal allergies.

I’m really good at researching things. All along, I was Googling the crap out of my symptoms, trying to figure out what could be wrong. I came across a lot online that was pointing to other types of allergies such as mold. I was hopeful that I was going to finally find the culprit.

There are only two allergy doctors in my town. They both had good reviews so I picked one and went to her. Young Indian doctor. Had just opened her own practice recently.

She thought it could be environmental allergies. She tested me for a lot of environmental allergies. It turns out I’m allergic to pollen, mold, dust mites, cats, dogs and a a slew of other ones. (“So, I’m allergic to, like, Earth?” I remember joking with her).

She focused on the dust mites. She had me clean my house to reduce the dust mite population. Cleaned and zipped up all our mattresses and pillows. Removed throw rugs. Didn’t store blankets on closet floors anymore. I felt slightly better but not by much. She didn’t have any other ideas. Still feeling horrible, I moved on from her.

Gluten Sensitivity

I made an appointment with the other allergy doctor in town. The evening before my appointment, I was still Googling for answers. Finally coming across the word gluten online opened the world to me. I had heard of gluten before but didn’t know what it was.

I started reading about gluten sensitivity and was amazed when I read the symptoms. Fatigue. Brain fog. Even depression and suicidal thoughts. There were many more symptoms listened that I didn’t have and that many other things could cause them. Irritable bowel. Achy joints. But I finally found something that fit my symptoms. Something that actually had a name.

I went into my doctor’s appointment, excited to tell him what I discovered. I told him that of course I want to hear what he thinks but that I wanted to get his opinion on gluten sensitivity.

“Gluten Sensitivity isn’t Real”

“Nope, gluten sensitivity isn’t real,” he said while looking over my chart and not making eye contact.

“Well, the medical community thought that for a long time but now acknowledge that there seems to be something going on with gluten in society, although there are still many questions surrounding it. It’s worth a look, right?”

“No”, he retorted, “There’s no test for it. If there’s no test, it’s not real. I can test you for celiac disease. And I can test you for a wheat allergy. But there’s no such thing as gluten sensitivity.”

Man, I knew his type. 300 year old doctor. A know-it-all with horrible bed-side manners. Old school thinking. Hasn’t kept up on latest medical research. Probably near retirement and so couldn’t care less. It was so disappointing he was so unplugged from trying to actually help me and at least hearing me out.

We agreed it wasn’t worth being tested for celiac because I felt horrible but not as acutely as I would have if I had celiac. The pin prick test he gave me for wheat allergy came back negative.

After running out of ideas and needing to move onto the next appointment, he said in a huff while leaving the room, “Fine, maybe it is gluten sensitivity. There’s no test but I read the only way to tell if you have it is to cut out gluten for thirty days and see if you feel better. Try that and let me know.”

He never charged me for the visit. That’s saying a lot.

Thirty Day Gluten Detox

Emboldened by what I found online and how my experience went with the doctor, I started a thirty day gluten detox.

First I had to learn what foods had gluten in them vs. not. Gluten is a naturally occurring protein in wheat, barley and rye. The easiest way to tell if food has gluten in it is to look at its label.

Along with the nutrition label, they also list things that could cause allergies like eggs, nuts, etc. It also lists wheat because of wheat allergies. So if I see “contains wheat” I know it’s not gluten free. Many foods were starting to put “gluten free” right on the packaging too which was nice.

I learned other things other than food could have gluten in it too such as shampoo. I researched which are gluten free and bought a bottle. But maybe it wasn’t necessary.

Cutting out gluten for thirty days is hard! I needed to change my entire diet and fire up my will power. But I did it.

I didn’t feel any better for the first couple days. But after 2-3 days, I noticed a slight improvement. Then for the next couple weeks, I started feeling WAY better. My energy skyrocketed. My brain fog lifted.

Had a lot of energy after figuring out my gluten sensitivity

Feeling 1,000x Better

By the end of the detox, I didn’t just feel better, but felt the best I ever had in a LONG time. I remember thinking I hadn’t felt that good since being a little kid.

Energy was threw the roof. My mind wasn’t just not cloudy anymore but sharp and focused. I also dropped about ten pounds, getting me to a healthy weight for my height. Gluten is wheat and wheat is in things that make you fat – pasta, pizza, cookies. Cutting all of that out dropped the weight.

A New Normal

Going into 2018, I felt amazing. I figured out gluten sensitivity was what was wrong with me the whole time. Looking back, feeling bad in the spring and fall seems to just have been a red herring. It wasn’t seasonal allergies at all.

But maybe I was eating more or less gluten over time and once my body had enough, it hit a tipping point and I felt terrible again, and that just so happened to be in spring and fall. No way to tell for sure.

All I knew was that if I avoid gluten, I kept feeling amazing. Until that wasn’t true anymore.

Feeling Horrible Again but Without Eating Gluten

I started feeling like I was having gluten attacks again in 2017. But I wasn’t eating gluten. It went on for a while. Long enough to where I started to panic. This was my worse fear – to start feeling horrible again and not knowing why or how to stop it. It’s such a hopeless feeling.

I started Googling again. I discovered Candida. Candida is a naturally occurring bacteria that makes up a part of our gut flora. Candida lives on sugar. It craves it. It actually makes us crave sugar so that it can get more and more of it. Which is pretty crazy and scary if you think about it.

What are the symptoms of having too much Candida in your gut? There are multiple but I was hit with fatigue. Which is also one of the main symptoms of gluten sensitivity.

Now I Have to Deal with Candida?

I started researching Candida, it’s causes and treatments. Too much sugar can cause it. And I was pounding down the sugar. After cutting out gluten, I inadvertently gravitated towards sugar. Eating a lot of fruit. Drinking a lot of sugary tea.

The treatment was to cut out the sugar, kill the Candida overgrowth (I started taking this candida killer) and take a probiotic which is good bacteria for your gut (I took this one).

Did my Gluten Sensitivity Cause the Candida or Visa-Versa?

But what I discovered in my research is than Candida overgrowth can actually cause gluten sensitivity!

This is because when candida latches onto the lining of your intestines, your immune system responds and starts attacking it. But it also starts attacking a certain protein that is on the surface of the Candida. This protein is extremely similar to that of gluten. Thus, as your immune system is attacking the Candida, it develops a sensitivity to gluten.

This blew my mind. So, my gluten sensitivity had an underlying cause – a Candida imbalance. Or not, it’s hard to tell and I’ll probably never know which came first.

All I knew is that I had to treat the Candida imbalance. I cut the sugar and took the Candida killer and probiotic. I felt much better again.

2019-2020

My body was a battle ground since I first felt sick in 2016. But there has been relative peace for the last couple years. I usually feel amazing, as long as I stick to not eating gluten and sugar. But it’s easy for both to creep into my diet.

At the beginning of 2020, I started feeling the old symptoms again. I knew I had to detox. I detoxed I’m currently feeling good.

Is Gluten Sensitivity Real?

I have no idea. All I know is if I eat a little bit of it, I feel like crap within 30 minutes – feel hot without a fever. And If I keep eating it there’s a compound effect and I start feeling more and more run down.

Maybe there’s an underlying cause or maybe it’s something else that is in the food instead of gluten that’s causing it and the gluten is just a red herring. I don’t know and don’t really care. I just want to stay healthy and feel great and have learned I can do that by avoiding (or at least significantly minimizing) gluten and sugar.

Conclusion

This whole illness has been weird. When you get sick, you just want to get better.

But I’ve learned there’s still a lot about our bodies that medicine hasn’t figure out yet and many times, doctors can rule things out but not figure out what’s wrong with you. This was one of those times and I had to take my health into my own hands.

I wanted to share my experience in this article to help others that may develop these physical and mental symptoms. To let them know that they’re not crazy and not alone. I don’t want to be that guy that blames everything on gluten but it can definitely be the culprit in some cases.

So, if you’re feeling symptoms that may be related to gluten or a Candida imbalance, cut out the gluten and sugar for thirty days and see how you feel. If you want, only cut out one at a time. But I understand sometimes you just want to feel better as fast as possible and cut it all out even if it makes it harder to pinpoint the culprit.

In any event, know that you can get to the bottom of your illness, there’s hope and that you’re not alone. Be sure to talk to your doctor for guidance and your loved ones for support. To your health!

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Jason Howe

Jason Howe is the founder of Man the Ship.

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