Wednesday, 10 February 2016

Day 52 of the Candida Diet: Is Low Carbohydrate Diet Causing Hypothyroid Symptoms?

In a food experiment to see if candida albicans can be treated by diet, I have cut grains, sugar and junk food. In place, I have gone for a low carbohydrate diet. I have eaten nuts and seeds instead of chocolates and biscuits, cut all grains except for a morning bowl of porridge. Read more about why I began the candida diet on my other post.

I have introduced a green smoothie four times per week, cut milk and black tea, going for fruit teas with nut milks, plenty of protein, healthy fats and fibre. I have also taken antifungals and probiotics. I was pleased to find my hair growing back where there were bald patches before. I have also lost about half a stone in two months and my skin looks clearer than before.

But some of my symptoms persisted. My skin continues to itch at night, my eyes and scalp remain dry and I am plagued by fatigue.

Low Carbohydrate Diet and Low Basal Body Temperature

Cutting Carbs
Suspecting something was missing, I purchased a digital thermometer on day 50 to check the status of my hormones. A lot can be deduced by your basal body temperature (your lowest body temperature in a 24 hour period) which happens early morning before rising.

Incidentally, the normal body temperature falls between 37°C to 37.5°C in the day, but may drop to around 36.6°C at night. This variation might not sound much, but to the body, every tenth of a degree is crucial. A basal body temperature of 36.5°C or below could indicate hypothyroidism.

Low Body Temperature Causes

I was shocked to find that my basal body temperature was well below average. For two nights in a row, it fell to 36.1°C and 36.0°C respectively. For around 7 hours (between 12 midnight and 7am), my body temperature did not rise above 36.4°C.

On the following night (last night), it remained below 36.4°C between midnight and 4am. On both days, my body temperature rarely touched the normal 37°C, averaging around 36.6°C to 36.8°C. My feet are always cold, even in a warm room.

Small wonder I felt awful the next day after such low body temperature at night. My under-performing liver must be feeling cranky after doing a lot of detoxing.

For two days, I had a muzzy migraine and got slightly worse towards evening. I felt dizzy, slightly nauseous and my eyes looked bleary and tired.

My hair is growing back, but the consistency tends to be a little wiry and my scalp constantly needs nourishing with a little coconut oil. My oral thrush has come back (but not as bad as on day 1 of my diet).

All this despite eating nuts, plenty of greens, proteins and very little grains.

But still, I feel I have turned a corner. My digital thermometer has taught me something. My battle is not just about the candida, but also about my lower than average basal body temperature. The candida likes the lower body temperature, but the good gut flora doesn’t.

The only way forward is to eat foods that increase my body temperature. I don’t have hypothyroidism (all blood tests are negative), but suspect I do have estrogen dominance and adrenal exhaustion. Read about these on my other post.

So I must introduce foods that will bring heat.

After some research into how to increase body temperature I have learned that:

  • Drinking too much water can rob your core body temperature of heat. Over-hydration often leads to over-peeing anyway.
  • Restricting the diet, particularly of carbohydrates can cause the metabolism to slow down to compensate. The trouble with a low carb diet is, the body is forced to break down other sources of energy from fats or protein to burn fuel. This is not so easy as burning carbs. So going on a low carb diet can cause the body temperature to fall.
  • Saturated fats are a better source of fuel than unsaturated fats. This means full fat dairy and meat over nuts and seeds.
  • Don’t overdo the exercise, particularly cardiovascular. Apparently even when you are feeling hot afterwards, the body temperature actually drops.
  • Get plenty of good quality sleep.
  • Easier said than done, but de-stressing will help lower cortisol levels in the body. Progesterone (a heat giving hormone) drops when cortisol is high during times of stress. This can contribute to estrogen dominance.
  • Introduce iodine foods, eg, sea vegetables into the diet to provide essential minerals and salts, needed for metabolism and to support the thyroid.

My New Dietary Plan: Eat for Heat

I will continue to eat healthily as before, snacking on nuts and seeds and drinking nut milk when I fancy. I will also continue to have 4 green smoothies per week. Sweets, biscuits, refined carbs and junk food are still to be avoided.

But my new diet will be to:

Introduce a little more saturated fats in my diet, in the form of full fat plain Greek yoghurt instead of the semi-skimmed variety. Include also coconut milk, butter and oil in my food. (Coconut is a great source of saturated fat). Include evaporated milk or full fat milk instead of semi skimmed milk. Include full fat butter and cheese. (Some people will have to observe milk allergies. Filtered or allergy friendly milk might be the answer).

I will continue to restrict grains in my diet, as they are estrogen-producing. Those included will be high fibre grains: gluten free whole oats, quinoa, buckwheat ricebran or oatbran.

Introduce high fibre low GI fruits (apples, pears, kiwi, berries and under-ripe bananas). Even when relaxing on the carbs, it’s not good to go for high GI, as this will feed the candida.

Introduce sea vegetables into the diet. Seaweed such as wakame and nori contain lots of essential minerals, iodine and salts that support the thyroid, which in turns supports metabolism. At the moment, I am taking a kelp supplement.

Spices can Rise Body Temperature
Take heat-producing spices, such as ginger, turmeric and cayenne pepper.

The general consensus seems to be to overeat. No way. Instead, I will eat until comfortably full. But will snack between meals when peckish. Don’t go for too long without food or there will be little fuel to burn.

Finally, avoid intensive exercise such as jogging or lifting weights, particularly for long periods for this could cause the body temperature to drop afterwards. Putting the body under such stress will use up adrenaline and the body cannot keep up with demands.

Instead, go for short spells of exercise until out of breath 3 to 4 times per day is supposed to help maintain body heat. I have a two -minute program of stretches and running on the spot which might fit the bill. (Short spells of high intensity training (HIT) is worth checking out).

A long period of relaxed exercise such as walking is also beneficial a few times per week for de-stressing. (Time to get my Ipod out).

Continue to take my supplements: probiotics, vitamin D and a general vitamin supplement. I have completed my 30 day oregano oil course (anti candida treatment) which cannot be effective against low body temperature, as the candida will just return. Evening primrose is good but, again, in the face of low body temperature, it cannot cure dry skin and coarse hair.

Finally, to give the gut a 12 hour break from food per day (say, between 7am and 7pm).

So you could say after an awful few days of below average body temperature, this is day 1 of my new diet to eat for heat.

For now, here are the stats for today’s body temperature, which at the moment, remains below par. Still, it is an improvement to the past two days.

1.40 am 36.3°C
4.30 am 36.6°C
7.30 am (before rising) 36.7°C
7.45am (after rising) 36.8°C
9.10 (10 minutes after breakfast – feet feeling warmed) 37.0°C
9.25 am fell to 36.8°C (feet feeling cooler)
10.20am after a short burst of exercise 36.7°C

12 noon (20 minutes) after lunch 36.8°C
1 pm 36.8°C