|Posted on July 17, 2015 at 11:05 PM|
The term ‘Candida’ refers to a collective group of yeast-like fungi that are naturally present in the human intestines, mouth, throat, skin and urinary system. Generally it is Candida Albicans that is implicated in states of chronic yeast infections.
Candida is normally present in the colon and is kept in check – along with other ‘bad bacteria’ – by the probiotics or, ‘good bacteria’. The over-consumption of sugars, breads, alcohol and yeast products – candida feeds on these – results in the bad guys getting all the food they need while the good guys become outnumbered. This is further exacerbated by the use of antibiotics and birth control pills, antibiotics in animal feed, environmental pollution and steroid drugs. When Candida is left unchecked it multiplies out of control. Once overgrown in the intestines, Candida forms spike-like structures called myceles or rhizoids. This enables the candida to burrow through the intestinal lining and enter the blood stream. This is commonly referred to as leaky gut or malabsorption syndrome.
Leaky gut cartoon
These holes now pave the way for other organisms to enter the blood stream as well as partly or undigested food particles which are a causative factor in food and environmental allergies. Allergies produce symptoms such as fatigue, depression, chronic dermatological infections, skin rashes, acne, abdominal bloating and gas, indigestion, constipation or diarrhea, chemical and food sensitivities, hypoglycemia, premenstrual tension, endometriosis, prostatitis, vaginitis, poor concentration, memory problems, mood swings, and rheumatoid arthritis. If you have any of these conditions it would be a good idea to get Candida testing done.
Once in the blood the candida can mutate into a form that is able to hide from the normal immune system. At this point the scenario develops into a low-grade (not easily detectable) infection that causes inflammation and immune system irregularities. Eventually it is able to pervade all tissues and organs. Disease will manifest at the weakest link along with associated symptoms. Once systemic it requires strict adherence to dietary measures and supplementation (discussed below). It is possible to have lifelong systemic Candidiasis without proper treatment.
Candidiasis will cause cravings for breads, yeast, sugars, wheat and starches. In a sense it is not you that is craving the food but the Candida. In addition, when a particular food stimulates an allergic response (inflammatory reaction) a certain amount of pain is produced. The brain detects this pain and produces endorphins which eliminate the pain. These are the bodies “painkillers”. If the food is consumed regularly the body will crave that food because it leads to the production of endorphins. As you can see, this creates a vicious cycle that feeds back into itself; seemingly with no resolution. Chronic Candidiasis can be extremely stubborn to treatment, especially if it has been around for along time. Dietary and supplemental measures need to be strictly adhered to if lasting results are desired.
Depending on the severity, a typical Candida program can be anywhere from 12 weeks to 9 months. Using supplements is essential on this program. I’ve met people who have been on Candida diets (ie. no supplements) for almost 10 years with some improvement. As soon as they go off the diet, the symptoms return. If you plan to go food-only, pack some lunch – you’re going to be doing it for a while. Let’s discuss food first and look at supplements after.
Key foods to avoid include the following:
Wheat-containing foods such as breads, pasta and bagels. Interestingly, wheat has a similar antigen marking to Candida. Some other names that wheat goes by include: wheat_allergy_basket
Durum, durum flour, durum wheat
Enriched, white and whole-wheat flour
Flour (all-purpose, cake, enriched, graham, high protein or high gluten, pastry)
All dairy products (milk, cheese, cottage cheese, yogurt, ice cream, butter).
Most grains but especially gluten and starchy grains (barley, rye, kamut, spelt, rice, wild rice, oats). NOTE: some highly sensitive individuals might want to omit ALL grains. I find this is ok for meat-eaters but very challenging for vegetarians.
Sugar: I usually recommend ALL forms of sugar although some resources class fruits as allowable. Err on the side of caution and if you’re going to go with fruits make sure they’re not high sugar or high Glycemic Index. Berries are your best bet here.sugar
Starchy vegetables such as parsnips, potatoes, sweet potatoes, corn, squash, beets, turnips and yams.
All alcoholic beverages, coffee, caffeine, tea and carbonated drinks. These are acidic which is what yeast prefers.
All fermented and fungal type foods (vinegar’s – use lemon juice instead, soy sauce – Bragg’s amino’s instead, ciders, pickles, mushrooms)
Peanuts, pistachios, cashews, bean sprouts and popcorn.
Yikes! That’s alot of stuff to cut out! Let’s take a look at what you CAN eat. The simpler the better.
Allowed Foods: meat and veg
Fresh non-starchy vegetables: (asparagus , avocado, brussels sprouts, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, celery, cucumbers, eggplant, garlic, kale, lettuce, onions, parsley, pumpkin, spinach, squash, string beans, tomato, watercress, wax beans). A wide variety and organic, if possible. Raw, juiced, steamed, make soups & salads.
Protein: good quality meat is best. Ideal is grass-fed beef, fish, chicken, eggs and wild meats. Try your best to go for organic. Beans are a little too starchy but you can include some in the diet, especially if you’re vegetarian. Avoid processed meats like hot dogs, pre-made hamburger patties and dried/cured meats.
Nuts & Seeds: raw not roasted
Grains: quinoa, millet, amaranth. Keep grains to a minimum and focus more on eating vegetables and protein.
Beans and legumes: red & green lentils, mung beans and adzuki beans in moderation
Coconut oil has many health benefits and mild anti-fungal properties.
Supplements are an essential component to this program. It will be a long and challenging journey without them. I am all about effective supplementation and, when it comes to Candida, go big or go home is the motto of the day. Let’s check them out.
Digestive enzymes: one of the most critical supplements to include. They help break down food and some also break down the wall of the Candida itself! Essential!
Anti-fungals: oregano oil, berberine, grapefruit seed extract, olive leaf extract and pau d’Arco (taheebo). Look for a formula or use them as individual items. These guys wipe out the Candida
Binders: Bentonite and activated charcoal bind what’s called Candida die-off (think “clay mask” and you get the picture). When you start killing Candida they release aldehydes which are a type of alcohol. This is the stuff that really makes you feel sick on the cleanse. By adding these binders, you minimize the die-off reaction and thing tend to run a little smoother.
Fiber: Fiber ensures that the bowels keep moving and that the Candida actually gets out of the body. Meat-eaters who are on a meat/veg program might want to increase the amount of fiber as a supplement as meat has no fiber at all.
Probiotics: These are the ‘good bacteria’ and they help crowd out the bad guys (Candida). A key component to this (and almost any other!) program. Look for high potency and high organisms (how many billions).
A high-potency multi-vitamin. Look for one that supports the liver and the adrenal glands.
There are some good homeopathics that are specifically formulated for Candida. A favourite trade-secret of mine that many practitioners do not include. Directs things and helps re-train the immune system.
Vegetarians might want to consider a protein shake 1-2 a day. We are trying to starve the Candida, not the person.
A Little Goes a Long Way
While this might seem very overwhelming, remember this: in the grand scheme of things, a small time investment pays off in the long run. Candida is an underlying issue for many disease states and heavily under-diagnosed, so a little ground work goes a long way. The supplements here are exactly that, a “supplement” to a good diet. Meat and veg works great but really focus on the veg part. Meats are acidifying so ratio’s are important. Shoot for 75% vegetables and 25% protein. You want to get as alkaline as possible (Candida do not like this!) so vegetable juices, salads, etc are the order of the day here.
This is one of the most complete programs I know of and works well. The trick is to stick with it. If you fall off the wagon don’t throw in the towel. Take it for what it is, get back on the horse and keep moving forward. Good luck!
NOTE: This is not intended to diagnose any disease. This is also not intended to replace the services of a competent and licensed health practitioner – it is intended as a guide to get you going in the right direction.