Although, thankfully, I've always had pretty good health, something that I constantly have to stay on top of is my fungal sensitivity. It's the reason why I am more vulnerable to getting yeast infections. It's why I once got tinea versicolor on one of my feet. It's even how I end up with mild cases of eczema behind the back of both of my ears when either my immune system is worn out or I've been eating more sugar than I should. And you know what all of these things actually have in common at the end of the day? Candida.
While there is a lot that I could say when it comes to explaining all of what candida is, the most basic explanation I can probably offer is it's a kind of yeast that's considered to be a fungus. All of us have it. It lives both outside and inside of the body. And, when it's not off the chain, it's perfectly harmless. However, when one's immune system is low or compromised (or we've got too much sugar in our system), this fungus/bacteria can grow out of control and cause all kinds of health issues.
That's what we're gonna talk about today. Eight telling signs that candida could very well be overtaking your body and what you should do if that is indeed the case.
1. Yeast Infection
When it comes to the signs that you've got some sort of a candida overgrowth, a yeast infection is probably what tops the list. In fact, it's been reported that a whopping 3 out of 4 women will get at least one infection over the course of their lifetime. If you've never had one, first of all, lucky you. Yeast infections can be pure madness! Anyway, it's when a fungal infection takes over your genitals (and sometimes other places on your body; I've had one underneath my breasts before because yeast likes to grow in warm and damp areas) which leads to irritation, itching, burning and/or really thick discharge. Some yeast infections are mild in the sense that an over-the-counter medication can treat it. Other times, it's more complex (like if you're pregnant, you've got diabetes or you get more than four a year) and requires a prescription like Diflucan (also known as Fluconazole) to treat it.
Although yeast infections are relatively harmless, the itching can be so unbearable that you won't want to ignore it. So, if you do think that you've got one and you've never had a yeast infection before, make an appointment to see your doctor or even go to a local clinic to get it confirmed. The reason why this is an important step is because, if you self-diagnose and it's not a yeast infection, sometimes stuff like Monistat can make what you've really got a lot worse. On the other hand, if you have had a yeast infection before, you can usually treat it with an over-the-counter medication.
Just make sure that you also amp up on probiotics (so that "good bacteria" can take over the bad that has led to the infection). You might also want to eat more fresh garlic (it's a powerful antifungal food), soak in the tub with a cup of apple cider vinegar in it (it contains properties that kill yeast) and apply some organic coconut oil to the infected area; it actually fights C. albicans which is the specific kind of yeast that tends to be present in yeast infections. Oh, and since tea tree oil is a potent antifungal and anti-inflammatory essential oil, it can't hurt to add a drop or two of it to your coconut oil as well. If all goes well, you should start to feel noticeable results within 48 hours or so.
2. Sugar Cravings
Last fall, I wrote an article for the platform entitled, "Ever Wonder If You've Got A Low-Key Sugar Addiction?". I've actually read many articles that say the top addiction in this country is indeed the white sweet stuff. Anyway, one of the reasons why it's a sign that you could have some candida overgrowth going on is because something that candida thrives off of is sugar (and starch). The more that you eat, the greater the yeast becomes. It's actually kind of a vicious cycle. So, if you're out here constantly drinking soda, eating bread, and having a couple of servings of dessert, not only are you putting yourself on the path to becoming diabetic, you very well could have too much candida in your body.
One way to test this out is to go without sugary foods for a couple of weeks. Drink water. Consume more protein (it can help to curb cravings). When you do desire something sweet, go for a fresh piece of fruit. Take a multivitamin (it can balance out some nutrient deficiencies that you might have). De-stress (we oftentimes run to sugar as a way to cope with our triggers). Get some rest.
Sugar detoxing isn't easy yet once your system recalibrates a bit, you may notice that it's easy to go without some of the foods that you once longed for. You'll also start to feel better because candida isn't overtaking your body.
Here's the deal about this one. 80 percent of your immune system is in your gut and when there is an overgrowth of candida in that part of your body, it can slow down the production of serotonin in your system. When that happens, oftentimes the result is irritability, mood swings and even low-grade depression. So, if you've been in a foul mood, you can't fully pinpoint why and yet there are some French fries, ice cream or a glass of wine in your hand, even as you're reading this, you might want to do the same things I mentioned when it comes to sugar cravings. Because, while you could be moody due to some sort of circumstance, it might be that candida is wreaking havoc…without you even knowing it.
4. Joint Discomfort
OK, so say that you've had a yeast infection for a while that you've ignored because the itching has been tolerable. While it is true that yeast infections, for the most part, are harmless, one thing that you do need to keep in mind is sometimes, when they are left untreated, the infection can hit your bloodstream. When this happens, it can actually result in hospitalization. Or, you could end up feeling some level of joint discomfort. As a matter of fact, there is actually something that exists called candida arthritis that can result in pain and stiffness in your joints; it can even lead to bone infections.
While this is actually more common than people might think, once yeast has hit your bloodstream, it can be really difficult to get rid of. So, if your joints have been bothering you lately and you can't attribute it to anything specific, please see your doctor. Out of all of the things on this list, joint discomfort that's related to candida overgrowth isn't something that should be self-diagnosed or DIY treated. Not even a lil' bit.
5. Sinus Infections
Allergy season is definitely upon us. Well, when it comes to sinus infections, did you know that while many of them are due to some form of bacteria, there are some that are actually fungal infections that are triggered by the overgrowth of candida? And here's the real clincher—if you do have a candida-related sinus infection, the antibiotics that are given to treat a bacterial one won't even work; it could even make the infection worse.
So, what's a sign that you have a sinus infection that could be brought on by candida? If it happens to last for four weeks or more. Whew. I'm not sure how anyone is able to endure that but if that's you, you need to see your doctor. You might want to consider a homeopath as well so that you can get on a regimen that holistically cleanses you of candida, so that you're not constantly treating the symptoms without getting to a core cure.
6. Oral Thrush
Oral thrush is kind of like having a yeast infection in your mouth (because again, you can get a yeast infection in other parts of your body; for the record, men can get yeast infections too). The main symptom of oral thrush is your tongue will typically have a white coat and/or white bumps on the tongue, inner cheeks, tonsils and/or throat. While this kind of infection is most common in babies and seniors, it can still happen to anyone, so make sure to periodically check your mouth to see if anything looks (or feels) abnormal. (By the way, a healthy tongue is pale pink and has no sores or discomfort.)
If it looks like you could have a bout of oral thrush, it's important that you see your doctor, just to be sure. If they agree, they will usually prescribe some sort of antifungal medication. If you're someone who would prefer to see if you can treat oral thrush at home, first, get some fresh toothbrushes to brush your teeth (and throw them away once the infection is gone). Do sea saltwater rinses twice a day (yeast doesn't fare well with salt). Eat some sugar-free probiotic yogurt; the coolness of the yogurt will soothe your mouth and the good bacteria will help to health the infection. If there are no cuts or sores in your mouth, drink some fresh lemon juice. Lemons contain antiseptic and antifungal properties that kill this kind of fungus. Also, create an oral mix out of clove oil. Clove oil is one of the most potent antiseptics around when it comes to treating oral thrush and anything that ultimately leads to oral decay.
7. Skin/Nail Fungus
Remember how I said that I got a yeast infection underneath my breasts before? I am currently sitting at a 36H. Yep, these girls ain't playin'. And while I do lift them up to clean up under there, I don't always lift them all the way up to look around. Well, a couple of years back, the skin started to feel so raw underneath my left one that I did and chile—there was a purple damp semi-circle and it was indeed a yeast infection. Between the sweating from the summer weather and my breasts being held hostage in my big ass bras, candida had indeed taken over. That's why it's important to keep in mind that you can get a fungal infection in any spot that might be warm or moist (even your armpits, if you're not careful). The main reason this is able to happen so easily is because again, candida lives both outside and inside of the body. This is why it's so important to keep your skin clean and dry, so that you can avoid things like ringworm, athlete's foot or nail fungal infections.
There are drug store remedies for skin and nail fungal infections. You might want to also apply the coconut and tea tree oil combo that I mentioned earlier to where your skin is irritated. Or, if it's your nails that are giving you grief, some folks would do commercials for the effectiveness of soaking nails in Listerine (thanks to the high amount of menthol, thymol and eucalyptus that's in it). If an at-home treatment doesn't clear up in about a week, see your doctor. Sometimes, by the time the infection has set in, it needs medication that you can't get without a prescription.
One way that I know when candida is trying to overtake my system is when I feel constantly drained, no matter what I do. While some medical professionals do not believe that the two things are directly linked, what most can agree on is when there is too much of this fungus in the body, it can weaken one's immunity (which would make you tired) and it can result in some nutritional deficiencies such as B vitamins and magnesium (which can also make you tired).
As we close this article out, I'm pretty sure you can guess what you need to do to deal with candida overgrowth that is causing you to feel like you're gonna pass out all day long. Build up your immune system (check out "Ready To Try 10 Quick & Easy Immune-Boosting Hacks?"). Consider taking a B-complex and magnesium supplement (or eat B foods like poultry, eggs and dark leafy greens along with foods high in magnesium such as dark chocolate, avocados and nuts). Stay away from foods that feed candida such as sugar, fermented foods, dairy, alcohol and caffeine. Eat foods that actually starve candida such as coconut oil, ginger and salmon. And put your body on a sleep schedule so that you can see if the "candida diet" is actually working.
I wouldn't be surprised in the least if you read all of this and was like, "Damn. I just might have a candida infection." That's the bad news. The good news is now you know the steps to take to do something about it. Please make sure that you do.
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After being a regular contributor for about four years and being (eh hem) MIA in 2022, Shellie is back penning for the platform (did you miss her? LOL).
In some ways, nothing has changed and in others, everything has. For now, she'll just say that she's working on the 20th anniversary edition of her first book, she's in school to take life coaching to another level and she's putting together a platform that supports and encourages Black men because she loves them from head to toe.
Other than that, she still works with couples, she's still a doula, she's still not on social media and her email contact (firstname.lastname@example.org) still hasn't changed (neither has her request to contact her ONLY for personal reasons; pitch to the platform if you have story ideas).
Life is a funny thing but if you stay calm, moments can come full circle and this is one of them. No doubt about it.
Amber Riley Is In Her Element
Amber Riley has the type of laugh that sticks with you long after the raspy, rhythmic sounds have ceased. It punctuates her sentences sometimes, whether she’s giving a chuckle to denote the serious nature of something she just said or throwing her head back in rip-roarious laughter after a joke. She laughs as if she understands the fragility of each minute. She chooses laughter often with the understanding that future joy is not guaranteed.
Credit: Ally Green
The sound of her laughter is rivaled only by her singing voice, an emblem of the past and the future resilience of Black women stretched over a few octaves. On Fox’s Glee, her character Mercedes Jones was portrayed, perhaps unfairly, as the vocal duel to Rachel Berry (Lea Michele), offering rough, full-throated belts behind her co-star’s smooth, pristine vocals. Riley’s always been more than the singer who could deliver a finishing note, though.
Portraying Effie White, she displayed the dynamic emotions of a song such as “And I'm Telling You I'm Not Going” in Dreamgirls on London’s West End without buckling under the historic weight of her predecessors. With her instrument, John Mayer’s “Gravity” became a religious experience, a belted hymnal full of growls and churchy riffs. In her voice, Nicole Scherzinger once said she heard “the power of God.”
Credit: Ally Green
Riley’s voice has been a staple throughout pop culture for nearly 15 years now. Her tone has become so distinguishable that most viewers of Fox’s The Masked Singer recognized the multihyphenate even before it was revealed that she was Harp, the competition-winning, gold-masked figure with an actual harp strapped to her back.
Still, it wasn’t until recently that Riley began to feel like she’d found her voice. This sounds unbelievable. But she’s not referring to the one she uses on stage. She’s referencing the voice that speaks to who she is at her core. “Therapy kind of gave me the training to speak my mind,” the 37-year-old says. “It’s not something we’re taught, especially as Black women. I got so comfortable in [doing so], and I really want other people, especially Black women, to get more comfortable in that space.”
“Therapy kind of gave me the training to speak my mind. It’s not something we’re taught, especially as Black women."
If you ask Riley’s manager, Myisha Brooks, she’ll tell you the foundation of who the multihyphenate is hasn’t changed much since she was a kid growing up in Compton. “She is who she is from when I met her back when she was singing in the front of the church to back when she landed major roles in film and TV,” Brooks says. Time has allowed Riley to grow more comfortable, giving fans a more intimate glimpse into her life, including her mental health journey and the ins and outs of show business.
The actress/singer has been in therapy since 2019, although she suffered from depression and anxiety way before that. In a recent interview with Jason Lee, she recalls having suicidal ideation as a kid. By the time she started seeing a psychologist and taking antidepressants in her thirties, her body had become jittery, a physical reminder of the trauma stacked high inside her. “I was shaking in [my therapist’s] office,” she tells xoNecole. “My fight or flight was on such a high level. I was constantly in survival mode. My heart was beating fast all the time. All I did was sweat.”
There wasn’t just childhood trauma to account for. After auditioning for American Idol and being turned away by producers, Riley began working for Ikea and nearly missed her Glee audition because her car broke down on the highway while en route. Thankfully, Riley had been cast to play Mercedes Jones. American Idol had temporarily convinced her she wasn’t cut out for the entertainment industry, but this was validation that she was right where she belonged. Glee launched in 2009 with the promise of becoming Riley’s big break.
In some ways, it was. The show introduced Riley to millions of fans and catapulted her into major Hollywood circles. But in other ways, it became a reminder of the types of roles Black women, especially those who are plus-sized, are relegated to. Behind the scenes, Riley says she fought for her character "to have a voice" but eventually realized her efforts were useless. "It finally got to a point where I was like, this is not my moment. I'm not who they're choosing, and this is just going to have to be a job for me for now," she says. "And, that's okay because it pays my bills, I still get to be on television, I'm doing more than any other Black plus-sized women that I'm seeing right now on screen."
The actress can recognize now that she was navigating issues associated with trauma and low self-esteem at the time. She now knows that she's long had anxiety and depression and can recognize the ways in which she was triggered by how the cult-like following of the show conflicted with her individual, isolated experiences behind the scenes. But she was in her early '20s back then. She didn't yet have the language or the tools to process how she was feeling.
Riley says she eventually sought out medical intervention. "When you're in Hollywood, and you go to a doctor, they give you pills," she says, sharing a part of her story that she'd never revealed publicly before now. "[I was] on medication and developing a habit of medicating to numb, not understanding I was developing an addiction to something that's not fixing my problem. If anything, it's making it worse."
“[I was] on medication and developing a habit of medicating to numb, not understanding I was developing an addiction to something that’s not fixing my problem. If anything it’s making it worse.”
Credit: Ally Green
At one point, while in her dressing room on set, she rested her arm on a curling iron without realizing it. It wasn't until her makeup artist alerted her that she even realized her skin was burning. Once she noticed, she says she was "so zonked out on pills" that she barely reacted. Speaking today, she holds up her arm and motions towards a scar that remains from the incident. She sought help for her reliance on the pills, but it would still be years before she finally attended therapy.
This stress was only compounded by the trauma of growing up in poverty and the realities of being a "contract worker." "Imagine going from literally one week having to borrow a car to get to set to the next week being on a private jet to New York City," she says. After Glee ended, so did the rides on private planes. The fury of opportunities she expected to follow her appearance on the show failed to materialize. She wasn't even 30 yet, and she was already forced to consider if she'd hit her career peak.
. . .
We’re only four minutes into our Zoom call before Riley delivers her new adage to me. “My new mantra is ‘humility does not serve me.’ Humility does not serve Black women. The world works so hard to humble us anyway,” she says.
On this Thursday afternoon in April, the LA-based entertainer is seated inside her closet/dressing room wearing a cerulean blue tank top with matching shorts and eating hot wings. This current phase of healing hinges on balance. It’s about having discipline and consistency, but not at the risk of inflexibility. She was planning to head to the gym, for instance, but she’s still tired from the “exhausting” day before. Instead, she’s spent her day receiving a massage, eating some chicken wings, and planning to spend quality time with friends. “I’m not going to beat myself up for it. I’m not going to talk down to myself. I’m going to eat my chicken wings, and then tomorrow I’m [back] in the gym,” she says.
“My new mantra is ‘humility does not serve me.’ Humility does not serve Black women. The world works so hard to humble us anyway."
This is the balance with which she's been approaching much of her life these days. It's why she's worried less about whether or not people see her as someone who is humble. She'd rather be respected. "I think you should be a person that's easy to work with, but in the moments where I have to ruffle feathers and make waves, I'm not shying away from that anymore. You can do it in love, you don't have to be nasty about it, but I had to finally be comfortable with the fact that setting boundaries around my life – in whatever aspect, whether that's personal or business – people are not going to like it. Some people are not going to have nice things to say about you, and you gotta be okay with it," she says.
When Amber talks about the constant humbling of Black women in Hollywood, I think of the entertainers before her who have suffered from this. The brilliant, consistent, overqualified Black women who have spoken of having to fight for opportunities and fair pay. Aretha Franklin. Viola Davis. Tracee Ellis Ross. There's a long list of stars whose success hasn't mirrored their experiences behind the scenes.
Credit: Ally Green
If Black women outside of Hollywood are struggling to decrease the pay gap, so, too, are their wealthier, more famous peers.
Riley says there’s been progress in recent years, but only in small ways and for a limited group of people. “This business is exhausting. The goalpost is constantly moving, and sometimes it’s unfair,” she says. But, I have to say it’s the love that keeps you going.”
“There’s no way you can continue to be in this business and not love it, especially being a plus-sized Black woman,” she continues. “We’re still niche. We’re still not main characters.”
"There’s no way you can continue to be in this business and not love it, especially being a plus-sized Black woman. We’re still niche. We’re still not main characters.”
Last year, Riley starred alongside Raven Goodwin in the Lifetime thriller Single Black Female (a modern, diversified take on 1992’s Single White Female). It was more than a leading role for the actress, it also served as proof that someone who looks like her can front a successful project without it hinging on her identity. It showcased that the characters she portrays don’t “have to be about being a big girl. It can just be a regular story.”
Riley sees her work in music as an extension of her efforts to push past the rigid stereotypes in entertainment. Take her appearance on The Masked Singer, for instance. Riley said she decided to perform Mayer’s “Gravity” after being told she couldn’t sing it years earlier. “I wanted to do ‘Gravity’ on Glee. [I] was told no, because that’s not a song that Mercedes would do,” she says. “That was a full circle moment for me, doing that on that show and to hear what it is they had to say.”
As Scherzinger praised the “anointed” performance, a masked Riley began to cry, her chest heaving as she stood on stage, her eyes shielded from view. “You have to understand, I have really big names – casting directors, producers, show creators – that constantly tell me ‘I’m such a big fan. Your talent is unmatched.’ Hire me, then,” she says, reflecting on the moment.
Recently, she’s been in the studio working on original music, the follow-up to her independently-released debut EP, 2020’s Riley. The sequel to songs such as the anthemic “Big Girl Energy” and the reflective ballad “A Moment” on Riley, this new project hones in on the singer’s R&B roots with sensual grooves such as the tentatively titled “All Night.” “You said I wasn’t shit, turns out that I’m the shit. Then you called me a bitch, turns out that I’m that bitch. You said no one would want me, well you should call your homies,” she sings on the tentatively titled “Lately,” a cut about reflecting on a past relationship. From the forthcoming project, xoNecole received five potential tracks. Fans likely already know the strengths and contours of Riley’s vocals, but these new songs are her strongest, most confident offerings as an artist.
“I am so much more comfortable as a writer, and I know who I am as an artist now. I’m evolving as a human being, in general, so I’m way more vulnerable in my music. I’m way more willing to talk about whatever is on my mind. I don’t stop myself from saying what it is I want to say,” she says.
Credit: Ally Green
“Every era and alliteration of Amber, the baseline is ‘Big Girl Energy.’ That’s the name of her company,” her manager Brooks says, referencing the imprint through which Riley releases her music after getting out of a label deal several years ago. “It’s just what she stands for. She’s not just talking about size, it’s in all things. Whether it’s putting your big girl pants on and having to face a boardroom full of executives or sell yourself in front of a casting agent. It’s her trying to achieve the things she wants to do in life.”
Riley says she has big dreams beyond releasing this new music, too. She’d love to star in a rom-com with Winston Duke. She hasn't starred in a biopic yet, but she’d revel in the opportunity to portray Rosetta Tharpe on screen. She’s determined that her previous setbacks won’t stop her from dreaming big.
“I think one of my superpowers is resilience because, at the end of the day, I’m going to kick, scream, cry, cuss, be mad and disappointed, but I’m going to get up and risk having to deal with it all again. It’s worth it for the happy moments,” she says.
If Riley seems more comfortable and confident professionally, it’s because of the work she’s been doing in her personal life.
She’d previously spoken to xoNecole about becoming engaged to a man she discovered in a post on the site, but she called things off last year. For Valentine’s Day, she revealed her new boyfriend publicly. “I decided to post him on Valentine’s Day, partially because I was in the dog house. I got in trouble with him,” she says, half-joking before turning serious. “The breakup was never going to stop me from finding love. Or at least trying. I don’t owe anybody a happily ever after. People break up. It happens. When it was good, it was good. When it was bad, it was terrible, hunny. I had to get the fuck up out of there. You find happiness, and you enjoy it and work through it.”
Credit: Ally Green
"I don’t owe anybody a happily ever after. People break up. It happens. When it was good, it was good. When it was bad, it was terrible, hunny. I had to get the fuck up out of there. You find happiness and you enjoy it and work through it.”
With her ex, Riley was pretty outspoken about her relationship, even appearing in content for Netflix with him. This time around is different. She’s not hiding her boyfriend of eight months, but she’s more protective of him, especially because he’s a father and isn’t interested in becoming a public figure.
She’s traveling more, too. It’s a deliberate effort on her part to enjoy her money and reject the trauma she’s developed after experiencing poverty in her childhood. “I live in constant fear of being broke. I don’t think you ever don’t remember that trauma or move past that. Now I travel and I’m like, listen, if it goes, it goes. I’m not saying [to] be reckless, but I deserve to enjoy my hard work.”
After everything she’s been through, she certainly deserves to finally let loose a bit. “I have to have a life to live,” she says. “I’ve got to have a life worth fighting for.”
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Queen Latifah On Her Journey To Self-Acceptance: 'I've Been Trying To Maintain My Freedom To Be Me'
Actress and rapper Dana "Queen Latifah" Owens is defying societal standards by refusing to be confined in a box regarding her personal and professional life.
Owens, who has been a part of the entertainment industry for over three decades, is widely recognized for her empowering songs and the variety of acting roles she has obtained throughout her career, among other things. The list includes Living Single, Set It Off, Chicago --with which she earned an Oscar nomination-- Just Wright, Girls Trip, and most recently, The Equalizer series on CBS.
Owens is also very tight-lipped about her personal life. However, in 2021, The Last Holiday actress showed appreciation to Eboni Nichols, who is reportedly her partner, and their son Rebel after receiving a Lifetime Achievement Award.Since then, Owens has revealed why she doesn't want to be defined as anything but herself and how she maintains her sense of freedom. In a resurfaced video from theGrio Awards, Owens opened up about those topics when she accepted the Television Icon Award for her past contributions
In a clip uploaded on theGrio's Instagram account last week, Owens explained that she often had to fight to be herself because "the world" kept trying to put her in a box based on what society thought a woman should be.
"My whole life, I feel like I've been trying to maintain my freedom to be me. And the world is trying to put these things on me to stop me from being who I am," she said.
Further into the speech, Owens explained that although many would have their own opinion about her from what the media spews out, she would continue to be herself by wearing "beautiful gowns and dresses," playing in the dirt, participating in basketball games with men and loving who she loves because that's what makes her happy.
The Beauty Shop star also added that despite her celebrity status, she would continue to show respect for others because that's who she is as a person and how she was raised.
"So I wear these beautiful gowns and dresses because I want to because that's part of me. I play in the dirt. I play basketball with the boys because that's me,” she stated. "I love who I love because that's me. I love all of you who have supported me. I give you your respect. I don't have to be above you because that's me. I know me."
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