Is Candida causing your health problems?
If you are suffering from all sorts of vague symptoms (fatigue, emotional problems, cravings for sweet food, allergies, bloating, skin problems, thrush, weight gain, muscle aches, fuzzy brain) then you might have Candida. This is an overgrowth of a yeast like fungus in your gastrointestinal tract.
As this can affect each person differently it is often very hard to find out the cause of these varied symptoms. Candida is sometimes misdiagnosed as IBS, Chronic Fatigue, Arthritis, Crohns disease or Gastroenteritis.
A staggering 75% of all women will experience a yeast infection in their lifetime.
Why does Candida cause so many problems?
Everyone has Candida as part of the microorganisms that are naturally present in your gut, part of the balanced system that helps you to digest food and stay fit and well.
But it is when the yeast numbers get out of control that it starts taking over your body!!
This imbalance in the intestines, also known as DYSBIOSIS, can lead to health ailments such as the common vaginitis, thrush, food allergies, weight gain, migraine, depression, and asthma. More importantly yeast has been implicated in the emergence of cancer.
Sugar Cravings and Weight Gain
Candida needs sugar to grow and reproduce and this comes from the foods we eat. A typical symptom of a Candida infestation is that you crave lots of sugar and carbs but still want more. In Candida sufferers, this is far more than just a psychological addiction to sugar. The Candida yeast is processing large amounts of sugar and sending your blood sugar levels lower, triggering signals from your brain that you need to eat more. This is one way that Candida can cause overeating.
What causes Candida?
Unfortunately it is the modern lifestyle that is causing so many problems:
- Antibiotics are great at killing harmful bacteria but they also destroy the beneficial and friendly bacteria that live in your gut. This leaves your body undefended against the fast-growing Candida yeast which quickly dominates the small intestine and causes problems.
- Modern Diet. As Candida is a yeast it thrives and multiplies on sugar. Refined carbohydrates like processed food made with white flour, other refined grains and alcohol are all saccarides or forms of sugar and so all contribute to Candida growth. Unfortunately that means the toast at breakfast, the biscuit at morning tea, the pasta and wine for dinner are all stimulants for candida overgrowth!
- The Pill. Because of the delicate balance of microflora and yeasts, the Pill changes the hormonal balance in a womens body. Increased estrogen promotes the overgrowth of yeast. Many women suffer from thrush or regular yeast infections whilst taking the Pill.
- Stress. Chronic stress leads to exhaustion of the adrenal glands (that control the ‘fight or flight’ response). That leads to a feeling of constant tiredness and the reason perhaps why so many people need coffee to get through the day. Because the immune system is drained it is unable to overcome the growth of Candida.
- Chlorine and Fluoride kill the beneficial bacteria in the gut and weaken your immune system
- Mercury in fillings also affects the good bacteria allowing Candida to take over
How do I know if I have Candida?
First try the Candida questionnaire on our Free Health quiz page.
Secondly you can try the saliva test. But note that this is not a definitive test.
Finally you can make an educated guess that Candida is taking a hold of your body. If you are feeling “run down”, are developing a craving for sugars and carbohydrates and/or have a white coating or thrush in the mouth or the genital area, then you probably have an overgrowth of yeast in your body.
Leaky Gut and Candida and Allergies
What’s the big deal about an overgrowth of Candida?
With this overgrowth of Candida, the yeast cells attach themselves to the intestinal walls, and then can burrow through the membranes into your bloodstream. In essence they create ‘holes’ and this increased permeability of the walls of the intestine is called Leaky Gut Syndrome.
The big problem is that when there are holes, partially digested food, toxins and bacteria pass through and enter the bloodstream.
When the Candida cells and food particles enter your circulatory system, they cause a strong immune response from the body and trigger an inflammation of the intestinal wall. Becaue these are foreign particles not belonging in your blood, your immune system reacts quickly to destroy them by sending specialized immune cells known as macrophages. Your immune system then creates antibodies ready for the next time it sees these cells, and so when you next eat this particular food, it triggers an immune response. This hypersensitivity of the immune system is how allergies start.
Even more concerning, these allergic responses put pressure on your adrenal glands and immune system, the very parts of your body that you need to fight off the Candida. So unless you get your Leaky Gut Syndrome under control, it can actually end up making your Candida overgrowth even more severe.
Treating the underlying Leaky Gut Syndrome
You need to stop the yeast overgrowth, build up the friendly bacteria, and heal your gut so that candida can no longer enter your bloodstream.
This Involves a 3 step system.
- First you need to look at your diet and do a good CLEANSE because yeast multiplies so quickly
Restrict not only sugar and refined carbs in your diet which feeds yeast but also all yeast-and mould-containing foods, including:
- Vinegar (and vinegar-containing foods like mustard and salad dressing)
- Carrots, potatoes and beets (high-sugar veggies)
- Avoid starchy vegetables such as sweet potatoes, potatoes, yams, corn, all winter squash, beets, peas, parsnips and all beans except green beans.
- Fruits are important to avoid if you have this problem as the sugar in the fruit typically worsens those who are suffering with yeast infections. Fruit can be resumed once the yeast is under control.
- Peanuts and corn (which often contain mould)
- Mushrooms (fungus)
- Aged cheeses
2. Eat a DETOXING diet rich in raw salads and steamed vegetables, eggs, seeds and nuts and healthy oils (free range and organic).
Vegetables starve the Candida of the sugar and mould that feed it. They also absorb fungal poisons and carry them out of your body.
You should buy your vegetables fresh and eat them raw, steamed or grilled. Add a little garlic and onions for flavour as they are especially helpful with Candida.
3. Add probiotics or fermented foods to increase the ‘good’ bacteria and crowd out the candida yeast. They keep the vagina and gastrointestinal tract healthy.
The fermented foods include probiotic yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, kimchi or kombucha.
Kim Chi is made of fermented vegetables such as cabbage, onion, cucumber, peppers, garlic, radish. The probiotic bacteria in Kimchi will help kill off the candida in your intestine. Raw sauerkraut works in the same way.
Coping with Candida die-off
There is another really important fact to know.
A strict Candida elimination diet is no easy task to begin with, but it can be made even harder by something called Candida Die-Off. The point when the die-off symptoms kick in is the time when many people prematurely abandon their Candida diet, so it’s important to be prepared.
When yeast cells are rapidly killed, a die-off (or Herxheimer reaction) occurs and metabolic by-products are released into the body. The Candida yeast cells actually release 79 different toxins when they die, including ethanol and acetaldehyde.
Acetaldehyde is the worst and has a whole host of detrimental effects on your health and wellbeing. It affects your endocrine, immune and respiratory systems and it also damages the membranes of your red blood cells, reducing their ability to carry oxygen round the body. Again this directly affects your brain, so you can see how acetaldehyde is linked to Candida symptoms like brain fog and fatigue. These by-products also cause allergic reactions and inflammation that lead to an array of undesirable symptoms.
Candida Die-Off symptoms will vary from person to person, as each will have different degrees of infestation. If you are having severe Die-Off symptoms, slow down your treatment and reduce your dosage of probiotics and antifungals. The liver is your main pathway for eliminating toxins, and the Die-Off symptoms mean that it is being overwhelmed.
Here is a list of some of the symptoms you might experience during a die-off (otherwise known as a Herxheimer reaction).
- Headache, fatigue, dizziness
- Swollen glands
- Bloating, gas, constipation or diarrhea
- Increased joint or muscle pain
- Elevated heart rate
- Chills, cold feeling in your extremities
- Body itchiness, hives or rashes
- Skin breakouts
- Recurring vaginal, prostate and sinus infections
This is a deep seated long term condition that is going to take time and effort to get under control. Be faithful to the diet and make it a life long way of eating and change and you will lose all those aches and pains and brain fog and find a new energy.