Candida and Its Impact on Your Health
Most people are unaware that they have a candida issue. Candida normally lives in harmony with other gut bacteria but if this balance gets disturbed this is when problems can occur and the candida yeast can proliferate. It normally resides in the intestinal tract, mouth, esophagus, and genitals. However, it can lead to leaky gut and then it will enter the blood stream and make its way to any organ in the body. Thus, every organ in your body is at risk of damage. To make matters worse, candida emits over 70 different toxins into the body.
Yeast prefers dark, warm places to grow and thrive such as in your nose, throat, mouth, and intestinal tract and genital area. It thrives on sugar for growth and development.
The body will always have some yeast but the goal is to rebalance the body and recolonize the good bacteria in our gut so that there is less of the candida yeast. At normal levels, candida is harmless.
How an Overgrowth of Yeast Can Lead to Problems
Candida can cause Leaky Gut Syndrome, impacting gut health. The overgrowth of yeast can take over, dominate the good bacteria in the gut and thus fungal dysbiosis occurs. This yeast can change into a more invasive form that will secrete enzymes that break down the cell membrane thus causing a leaky gut. To learn more about Leaky gut syndrome click http://trufoodsnutrition.com/5157-2/
Now that the gut is more permeable, toxins, can leak into the blood stream causing symptoms such as brain fog, fatigue and depression. In addition to this, partially digested food particles can now leak into the blood stream, creating inflammation and possibly food sensitivities. When the yeast crosses into the blood stream, an area that it does not belong in, the body can trigger the creation of antibodies by the immune system, leading to an autoimmune disease such as celiac disease or Hashimotos since these antibodies can cross react with the skin (psoriasis), joint tissue (rheumatoid arthritis) or even the brain (MS, Parkinson’s disease). While most people would never associate an overgrowth of yeast with an autoimmune disorder, it is something that does need to be taken into consideration.
While yeast may have been your original issue, now you are faced with a host of ailments, many which your health professional cannot figure out or just gives you a medication for.
Common Causes of Yeast Overgrowth
(for more information see my article on Candida and ADHD here )
- Standard American Diet. This refined, highly processed and high sugar diet contributes to yeast overgrowth
- Antibiotic usage. Even just one round of antibiotics can upset the balance in the gut. Don’t forget the added antibiotics from CAFO (confined animal factory operations) meat.
- Elevated hormone levels. This can be caused by medications such as prednisone, birth control pill, pregnancy and chronic stress.
- Acid Suppressing medications such as Prilosec and Prevacid.
- Alcohol: If you are a heavy drinker, you automatically consume too much sugar. While the alcohol excess is an issue in and of itself, the candida from the alcohol can make a bad situation worse.
Some of the More Common Candida Symptoms
Please note that many of these symptoms can also be symptoms due to other health issues. Always work with your holistic health professional to get to your root cause.
- Depression and other mood disorders
- Brain fog, forgetfulness
- Bloating, gas
- Diarrhea, constipation
- Urinary frequency
- Itchy bottom
- Sore throat
- Athletes foot
- White coating on tongue
- Cravings for sugar, refined high carb processed snacks
- Cravings for alcohol
- Painful cracks at corners of mouth
- Chronic sinus infections
Restoring Balance in the Gut
When addressing gut health and restoring balance, take into consideration other systems that have been affected due to the overgrowth of the candida. This includes (but not limited to) the adrenals, liver, blood sugar and immune system.
- Vitamin C: Add in foods rich in this vitamin as it is critical for the immune system. It also assists with the detox process. Foods to include would include broccoli, cabbage, watercress, and citrus fruits to name a few.
- Essential Fatty Acids (EFA’s): Essential fatty acids are used in every cell in the human body. Because candida overgrowth leads to leaky gut syndrome and systemic inflammation, it is important to add in foods that are rich in Omega 3’s since they have been shown to reduce inflammation. They can reduce the cause of the inflammation and reduce the inflammation that exists. Food sources include wild caught Alaskan Salmon, pasture raised eggs and grass- fed beef.
- Probiotics: These are the friendly bacteria that live in your gut and help to break down your food. They are vital for a strong immune system. There is constantly new research on the importance of various healthy strains that reside in our gut. Healthy bacteria strains have been associated with maintaining a healthy weight, reduces risk of allergies, asthma, depression, anxiety and much more. Thus, having a healthy gut is vital to all aspects of your health! Add fermented foods to your diet. These are rich in the good bacteria. Fermented foods include raw fermented sauerkraut and other vegetables, kimchee, miso, kombucha, kefir and raw unfiltered apple cider vinegar.
- Prebiotics: Think of these as the food for your probiotics. For your probiotics to thrive in the gut, they too need their healthy food! This comes from foods that contain resistant starch. Resistant starches go through the stomach and the small intestine undigested and reach the colon where it feeds the friendly bacteria in your gut. Think of resistant starches as food for your gut to keep it healthy. Resistant starches, also called prebiotics, can come from foods such as raw garlic, raw onion, leeks and chicory root. You can also supplement with products such as FOS or inulin. These can cause stomach upset, gas and bloating for some. Another option is to purchase acacia gum which is the resin from the acacia tree. It comes in a powder. This is a powerful prebiotic source and one that typically does not cause any digestive complaints.
- Caprylic Acid: This is a very effective antifungal. It is one of three fatty acids that are found in coconut oil. It can kill candida cells and can restore stomach acidity to normal levels. It is best to combine Caprylic acid with other antifungals during your candida cleanse. Add in unrefined organic coconut oil into your diet.
- Antifungal Herbs: Herbs that have antifungal properties include olive leaf, oregano, Pau D’Arco, allicin from garlic, and grape fruit seed extract. You can start off by adding in raw garlic to your diet. Chop your garlic and let it sit for several minutes to activate the allicin. Then use it raw such as in your salad dressing.
- Enzymes: Once candida enters the blood stream and reaches into other parts of the body, such as your sinus cavity, or worse your brain, it can be difficult to eradicate. The candida has a sticky biofilm to protect it from antifungal herbs and medications. Because of the biofilm, the candida can continue to grow and flourish and the biofilm protects the candida from your immune system. There are enzymes that can break down the cell wall, degrading the biofilm. These enzymes include cellulase and hemicellulase. Thus, the body can now activate an immune response against the candida overgrowth.
- Foods to Avoid: the white stuff-think stuff made with flour and sugar. High simple carb foods convert to sugar in the blood stream, so not only do you need to remove the donuts and cookies but the pasta and the bread too. While beans and legumes and non- gluten grains are a healthy addition to the diet, it is best to avoid them early on when eliminating candida. They are high in carbs and should kept to a minimum at the very least. Avoid and limit foods and meals such as beans and rice, quinoa bowls and non- gluten pastas and breads too. Keep dairy and gluten out of the candida diet
- Foods to Add in: Think whole foods! Add in more vegetables and proteins and fats. Limit starchy carbs such as potatoes and squash. Meals could look like chicken, beef or salmon with a large salad with avocado slices with roasted asparagus or sautéed broccoli or steamed carrots with grass fed butter or ghee with a spoonful of fermented sauerkraut.
Add in nutritional yeast to make cheesy recipes. Add in lemons and limes for more flavor. Use spices and herbs. Try nuts and seeds in recipes and use them as a great snack.
If you need to sweeten things up a bit, try stevia or pure monk fruit (read label as many monk fruit products are mixed with other ingredients)
Bottom Line: If you think you have candida, a health professional can order tests, use assessment and questionnaires and do a thorough health intake to determine if candida is causing your symptoms. You don’t need to suffer with candida. It does take some time to eradicate, so be patient! Hopefully within a few months you will start to see improvements.
Bauman, E., & Friedlander, J. (2014) Therapeutic Nutrition. CA: Bauman College
Hoffman, D. (2003) Medical Herbalism. The Science and Practice of Herbal Medicine. VT: Healing
Levin, W & Gare, F. (2013) Beyond the Yeast Connection. CA: Basic Health Pub., Inc.
Mars, B. (2007) The Desktop Guide to Herbal Medicine. CA: Basic Health Pub., Inc
Murray, M, Pizzorno, J, & Pizzorno, L. (2005) The Encyclopedia of Healing Foods. NY: Atria Books.
Nichols, T. & Faas, N. (2005) Optimal Digestive Health. VT: Healing Arts Press.
If you are sick and tired of feeling sick, tired, fatigued, depressed, anxious and more and have given up hope then Karen’s simple, effective, individualized and sustainable approach may be what you need.
Karen Brennan, MSW, CNC, Board Certified in Holistic Nutrition and Herbalist is the author of Tru Foods Depression Free Nutrition Guide; How Food Supplements and herbs can be used to lift your mood and If Life is So Good, Then Why AM I Still Depressed? Discover the root cause for your depression and learn what to do to feel better and owner of Tru Foods Nutrition Services, LLC.
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As a nutrition professional, Karen does not treat, cure nor diagnose. This information is for educational purposes only.