Next up in our Candida Stories series is Kiersten Duerr of Candida Free Kitchen! I love this series so much because it gives insight into the MANY ways that our lives can be affected by candida, and also the different ways that people can overcome their issues and live happy, healthy and thriving lives. I’m always so inspired when I hear these stories. I hope you are too!
Can you tell me a bit about your health journey and the symptoms you experienced?
Although I didn’t know it at the time, my battle with Candida overgrowth began when I was 18 years old. It was my second semester of college, and suddenly my back became itchy and it would welt up where I had scratched it. The dermatologist prescribed a cream, but it didn’t work. Itchy and welting skin became the norm, and I ended up taking an over-the-counter antihistamine for 10 years to treat the symptoms.
I saw another specialist during that time, a urologist. I had been experiencing recurrent bladder infections since I was 16 years old. The cystoscopy revealed nothing abnormal. This was 1994, I had no idea that taking antibiotics incorrectly, and persistently, could lead to dysbiosis in the digestive system. This created a perfect breeding ground for Candida overgrowth.
Throughout the 1990s my symptoms increased, but I didn’t understand their interconnectedness. I had brain fog, trouble focusing, insomnia, depression and anxiety. I was diagnosed with ADD, at age 27, before returning to grad school. I continued to believe that western medicine could help. I began taking more medications that would allow me to maintain a successful career as a Special Education teacher for the next 15 years. Prescriptions were prescribed for ADD and other treatments were prescribed for depression and anxiety. As my list of symptoms continued to grow, I began to connect my skin reaction to the food that I was eating.
Antibiotics (for bladder infections) stopped working in 2003 & I became determined to find more natural treatments. I had some success with extreme diets, such as the Body Ecology Diet, and Cranberry supplements. At least I was not getting worse. However, my symptoms would return without fail, and I would feel defeated.
I stopped taking all medication when I became pregnant, and for the next 8 years I realized how sick I had become, as my symptoms became increasingly worse. Without medication I was extremely fatigued, depressed, and anxious. I experienced severe nerve pain in my hands and feet that prevented me from playing my beloved guitar. I also had to quit running.
Juggling parenthood and a stressful career was overwhelming, especially without my outlets of running and playing music. For many years, I cried everyday, and barely slept at night. I was mentally and emotionally exhausted. I became detached from my community because I didn’t have the energy to reach out for help. My marriage was suffering too. I felt alone and broken.
During this time, and still today, I find solace in God. I learned to trust that He will guide me and help me to heal. My declining health brought me to Him, which helps me see the purpose in my experience. God guides me through dark times, but my role is to understand and apply the nutritional science that is moving me towards full recovery. Next fall, I will begin classes to become a Holistic Health Coach to increase my ability to help others with their nutrition related health problems.
What was your personal catalyst for change?
The catalyst for change was my pregnancy. I realized that I could not function normally without medication. Realizing that my health was quickly spiraling downward, I had to change my approach, or I was risking more than just my health. I was risking the emotional health of my family. I was experiencing extreme fatigue, brain fog, memory issues, nerve pain, anxiety and depression.
Through a series of divine interventions I was able to leave my career as a teacher and focus on recovering my health. I am beyond grateful to my husband for supporting me in this decision. In September I began The Whole Journey program, called Kick Candida for Good, that is specifically designed to treat Candida overgrowth through the use of 4 different antifungals and a strict diet. It was a very expensive 11 week program. I worked with a clinical and holistic dietician throughout this program. My husband did it with me, bless his heart.
I experienced extreme die-off symptoms, which meant almost constant headaches and brain fog. The headaches continued after the 11 weeks, and my dietician began to suspect heavy metal toxicity. She suspected that my body wouldn’t detox properly. It is impossible to balance the Candida without being able to properly detox.
It became clear that I needed medical testing to address the question: Why can’t my body detox properly?
How did you eventually heal? Or where are you in your healing journey today?
My Naturopathic doctor ordered blood work to check for thyroid issues, a DMSA heavy metals test, and a 23 & Me DNA Test Kit to determine if I have a genetic mutation which does not allow my body to detox properly. I am anxiously awaiting the results of the DNA testing. The good news is, I do not have heavy metal toxicity, and my thyroid is a bit dysfunctional, but I do not have a thyroid disorder. Hallelujah! However, my blood work revealed that my kidneys (organs critical to the detox process) are damaged probably due to the chronic bladder infections.
With this powerful information in hand I am reminded that my faith in science and in God, will in time, reveal a successful detox protocol. Once my body can detox properly, I am confident that I have the knowledge and skills to finally balance the Candida overgrowth once and for all!
How are you helping to encourage healing in others now?
My goal is to help others by making meal plans designed to bring Candida into balance without spending a fortune, or spending too much time in the kitchen. My inexpensive meal plans are designed to be used in conjunction with your practitioner/doctor’s recommended supplements/medications. I provide meal plans, prep plans, grocery lists, and recipes. All recipes are approved by a nutritionist.
The best part…I only cook 2 days per week! I love teaching people how to batch cook for the week. With the Candida Free Kitchen Weekly Cleanses you are able to cleanse while meeting work expectations. You will have time for self-care, as well as a social life which are also necessary healing components.
How can someone learn more about you and your story?
I hope to launch my website and meal plans in 2020. Find me on Instagram @CandidaFreeKitchen. Direct message me if you would like sample recipes. Let’s heal together…iron sharpens iron!