By Karen Foster
Imbalanced gut flora creates perfect conditions for specific bacteria and fungi. Candida Albicans is a fungus, a kind of a yeast, and small amounts of it thrive in the oral cavity and the intestines.
Increased level of candida, or candida outgrowth, enables the yeast to break down the intestinal walls and enter the bloodstream. In this way the yeast releases toxic by-products into the body. Eventually, this leads to different health problems, ranging from digestion problems to depression, and in some cases even cancer.
What triggers the candida overgrowth?
The good bacteria in the intestines typically maintain normal candida levels. However, there are many factors that contribute to the candida overgrowth:
- Eating foods rich in refined carbohydrates and sugar (these feed the yeast)
- Excessive consumption of alcohol
- Oral contraceptives
- Stressful lifestyle
- Regular or increased consumption of antibiotics that kill beneficial bacteria
Symptoms Caused by Candida Overgrowth
Normal levels of Candida Albicans do not pose any problem, but when its level increases, the yeast starts overgrowing, and thus caus many symptoms and health problems, and affects the whole body – from the head to the toes, ranging from migraines to nail fungi.
The symptoms may appear inside the body, often manifested through pain and improper function of organs, and sometimes even brain lesions. Eczema and hives are typical symptoms that can be easily visible. Candida overgrowth affects both mind and emotions. are many of the symptoms caused by an overproduction of candida.
- Allergies, sensitivities and intolerances that worsen in damp, muggy or moldy places or weather that is damp, muggy, humid or rainy
- Hay fever and asthma
- Intolerance or allergies to perfumes, odors, fumes, fabric shop odors, grass, pets or other animals, tobacco smoke, chemicals, smog, molds, dust mites, dust, pollen, and a wide range of airborne substances
- Athletes’ foot
- Babies struggle with colic, diaper rash, thrush (coated white tongue), and cradle cap
- Easy bruising
- Tenderness and pain in the cheekbone or forehead
- Cold hands and feet, low body temperature
- Symptoms that indicate cold – mucus in the sinuses, nose, throat, bronchial tubes and lungs
- Cravings for sugar, bread, pasta, pastry and high carb foods; alcohol
- Abnormal formation of cysts in different body parts; these commonly appear around the neck, throat, and ovaries, in the bladder or scrotum
- Problems with the digestive system– diarrhea, constipation, abdominal distention, bloating or pain, gas, mucus in stools, hiatal hernia, ulcers, suffering from bacteria, including salmonella, Escherichia coli, Helicobacter pylori, and others
- -Ears –tinnitus (ringing in the ears), sounds in the ears, ear infections, dryness, itchiness, ear aches, discharges, fluid in ears, deafness, excessive wax buildups
- Eyes – erratic vision, eye floaters (spots in front of the eyes) and flashing lights; redness, dryness, itching, excessive tearing or inability to tear, and others
- Fatigue, chronic fatigue syndrome or Epstein Barr, loss of energy, lethargy, drowsiness
- Symptoms that indicate flu
- Swollen glands, decreases secretion of saliva (dryness in the mouth), improper function of the salivary glands, swollen lymph nodes
- Hair loss, scum, dandruff, itchy scalp, scalp sores and dryness
- Irregular heart beat and heart palpitations
- Headache, migraine, brain fog, dizziness
- Hemorrhoids, rectal itching, rash, irritation and redness
- Hypoglycemia (low blood sugar level); diabetes
- Hypothyroidism, Wilson’s Thyroid Syndrome, Hashimoto’s disease, hyperthyroidism, improper thyroid function
- Irritability, nervousness, jitteriness and panic attack
- Skin lesions, and lessions inside the body, i.e. brain lessions
- Male problems – jock itch, decreased libido, impotence, prostitis, penis infections, problems when urinating, frequent urination, painful intercourse, swollen scrotum
- Female problems – infertility, vaginitis, unpleasant odors, endometriosis (irregular or painful menstruation), cramps, irregular menstrual cycle, pre-menstrual syndrome (PMS), discharges, painful intercourse, decreased libido, redness or swelling in the area around the vulva, itching or thrush in the vagina, burning sensation or redness, persistent infections
- Fungal infections that affect the skin or nails, including ringworm, saborrheic dermatitis, dark and light patches on the skin (tinea versicolor)
- -Joint pain, stiffness or swollen joints (arthritis)
- Kidney and bladder – infections, cystitis (bladder inflammation and infection), frequent urination, low urine output, unpleasant smell of urine, difficulty urinating, burning sensation when urinating
- Appetite loss
- Mind and Mood – anxiety attacks, crying, memory loss, feeling of being spaced out, depression(including suicidal thoughts), manic feelings, concentrate problems, mood swings, irritability
- Mouth sores or blisters, canker sores, dryness, bad breath, white layer on the tongue (thrush) and improper function of the salivary glands
- Muscle pain, numbness, burning or tingling, loss of strength and coordination
- Nasal congestion, postnasal drip, itching, dryness
- Unpleasant odor of feet, hair or body; it does not relieve even by washing
- Respiratory problems – cough, bronchitis or pneumonia, pain or tightness in chest, wheezing, shortness of breath, asthma
- Feeling sick
- Sinusitis, swelling and infections in the sinuses
- Skin – dryness, dry red patches, acne, pimples, hives, rashes, itching skin, eczema, psoriasis, seborrhoea, ringworm, contact dermatitis, rosacea
- Stomach problems – Helicobacter pylori bacteria (ulcers), heartburn, indigestion, hiatal hernia, acid reflux, belching, vomiting, burning, stomach pains, stab-like pain, feeling a lump after consuming certain foods
- Sleep – insomnia, frequent waking up, nightmares, improper sleep
- Sore throat, hoarse voice, constant tickling in throat, laryngitis (loss of voice)
What makes Candida get out of control?
Improper function of the immune system is caused by a wide range of factors, but antibiotics are the main culprits, because they destroy beneficial micro-organisms in the digestive system. Candida is resistant to antibiotics, and the occurring imbalance of micro-organisms contributes to its overgrowth.
The yeast changes the shape and overgrows, creating large families referred as colonies. In addition to malabsorption, the deficiency of important nutrients also affects the immune system. Modern diet lacks essential nutrients, and it is packed with refined sugar, carbohydrates, hydrogenated oil and fat, or trans-fat, white flour products, processed food, additives, preservatives, pesticides, and heavy toxic metals.
The nutrients are further depleted due to food irradiation, or exposing food to high level of radiation in order to provide a longer shelf life, growing food in nutrient depleted soils, long storing time, long transportation time, improper handling, unhealthy cooking methods, and microwaving foods. These factors largely affect the immune system and its function.
Testing for Candida at Home
Holistic practitioners will sure offer conclusive means of candida testing, but you can make a simpe home test for that purpose. In the morning, right after you wake up, and eat or drink anything, take a glass of water with filtered room temperature water.
Spit into the glass. Do not worry if you there is not much saliva. Check the water in 15 minutes for up to an hour.
Strings, or fibers, that go down from the saliva on the surface of the water, any cloudy specks, or even cloudy saliva that falls to the bottom indicate that you are dealing with increased level of candida.
The Candida Control Program
You need to take care of the following five aspects simultaneously in order to control the Candida overgrowth:
1. Eliminate foods that feed Candida
Sugar, refined carbohydrates and gluten feed Candida. Let’s discuss each of these separately so you can easily distinguish what to avoid.
The main fuel of Candida is sugar and its forms, including lactose found in dairy products, honey, glucose, fructose, and all kinds of sugar substitutes, like Nutrasweet, aspartame, saccharin.
Cutting off sugar is the first and most essential part of the Candida Program. All fruits, except for lemons, are packed with large amounts of sugar and you should limit the consumption of fruits in the initial stages of the program, along with vegetables that are packed with sugar, like sweet potatoes, parsnips and beets.
Large amounts of sugar are found in most processed foods like smoked meat, ketchup, cereal, and yoghurt, meaning you should pay more attention to the labels and read them carefully.
People who struggle with Candida are gluten intolerant. Gluten is actually an elastic, gluey protein contained in wheat, rye, barley, oats, spelt, kamut, triticale and it is also hidden in great number of processed foods.
Triticale is a modern hybrid grain – it has the properties of wheat and rye. Spelt and kamut are wheat variants high in gluten and they can cause the same problems as other wheat varieties do. Today, gluten-packed grains are used extensively in the production of bread and other baked goods, thanks to their “glutinous” consistency that sticks everything together.
Gluten- containing grains feed Candida because of their high glycemic index, just like sugar. these grains develop insulin resistance in the cells which later leads to hypoglycemia or diabetes.
The cells become insulin-resistant in their effort to protect themselves from the toxic effect of large amounts of insulin which occur as a result of the excessive consumption of sugar and simple carbohydrates.
Once the cells become insulin-resistant, the pancreas secretes more insulin, and this creates a never-ending cycle. Eventually, the whole process exhausts the pancreas, and leads to its breakdown, which results in diabetes.
Grains packed with gluten contain a protein that is difficult to process. This affects the mineral absorption and leads to intestinal damage. The intestines cannot absorb nutrients like proteins, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins, minerals, and sometimes even water.
The grains we eat also contain mycotoxins (a toxin created by fungi), and it is especially found in corn and wheat. Mycotoxins suppress the immune system. Check the the section on Yeast, Mold and Fungus for further information.
If you keep consuming wrong foods, or if the damage induced by yeast overgrowth has never reversed from the previous use of drugs and antibiotics, the chances of improvement cure are pretty low. Consuming healthy foods is the most important step when it comes to controlling Candida and building up the immune system.
The “Candida Control Diet” is rich in protein and good saturated fat and oil. It is low in carbohydrates, and does not contain any sugars, grains or processed foods. You should eat fresh and natural foods, free of additives, pesticides, heavy metals, irradiation, mycotoxins, and other harming factors.
Good fats and oils are as important as protein, and they play important role when it comes to getting Candida under control. They increase the ability of the body to absorb potent nutrients from the food you eat, and provide the most powerful source of energy.
Healthy fats and oils also provide building blocks for the cell membranes and a wide range of hormones and hormone-like substances. Good fats carry essential fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K and turn carotene into vitamin A, participate in the mineral absorption and many other processes. Consume these fats to provide a proper assimilation and utilization of vitamin D.
ou need to consume two types of essential fatty acids – omega-3s and omega-6s. They are called “essential” because our bodies cannot produce them from other fats, and we have to get them through the food we eat. Our daily menu mostly contains an excessive amount of omega-6 fatty acids, but it is important to ensure the you get enough omega-3 rich foods, in order to offset the imbalance.
Do not consume all newfangled fats and oils (trans fats) – If you struggle with Candida, you cannot afford to jeopardize your health by eating toxic oils and fats.
You must also avoid the newfangled polyunsaturated fats and hydrogenated vegetable oils, called trans fats, like margarine, Canola oil, safflower oil, and others. These are extremely toxic, increase the need for vitamin E and other antioxidants, and also affect the immune system. Healthy people should also avoid trans fats found in margarine and shortenings added in commercial baked goods and processed delicacies.
Coconut oil is another healthy saturated fat and it is packed with potent anti-bacterial, anti-viral and anti-fungal properties, beneficial to people who struggle with Candida. It also stops Candida overgrowth. Coconut oil boosts immunity, provides essential nutrients necessary for the overall health and boosts both digestion and nutrient absorption.
Our bodies can easily digest and absorb the fat contained in coconut oil, unlike the trans fats. It does not take much for the digestive system to process this fat, and it provides an instant source of energy that promotes healing. Coconut oil is absorbed from the intestines into the portal vein and and it is later sent directly to the liver. Other fats cannot be processed without the assistance of pancreatic enzymes that break them into smaller units.
Avoid Soybean and Soy-based foods because they are packed with natural toxins or “anti-nutrients,” including dangerous enzyme inhibitors that may affect the function of the enzymes necessary for the digestion of protein.
Ordinary cooking cannot deactivate these inhibitors completely and they can cause serious gastric distress, improper protein digestion and chronic deficiencies in the amino acid (proteins) uptake.
In laboratory animals, foods packed with enzyme inhibitors enlarged the pancreas and caused other pathological conditions, improper thyroid function and other diseases, even cancer. Soybeans contain haemagglutinin, a substance that causes blood clotting and makes red blood cells clump together.
Soy is in the top foods high in pesticides, and it is 99% genetically modified. Soybeans contain phytic acid, found in the bran or hulls of all seeds. It affects the uptake of essential minerals – calcium, magnesium, copper, iron and especially zinc – in the intestine. People who deal with Candida must avoid soy and all soy products in order to improve their condition.
Taking essential supplements
People who struggle with Candida should strengthen the immune system by consuming supplementing with essential yeast-free and sugar-free vitamins and minerals, including:
-Chlorella is a whole-food that is packed with a lot of vitamins, minerals and enzymes. It builds the immune system, eliminates heavy metals and other pesticides in the body, stimulates digestion, boosts energy and regulates blood sugar and blood pressure. It is necessary to take two capsules three times a day;
Yeast-free vitamin B Complex, 50 mgs. twice a day;
Vitamin C with bioflavonoids, 1,000 mgs. twice a day;
Vitamin D (with vitamin A) – 1 teaspoon per 50 lbs. of body weight per day of a high-quality cod liver oil or fish oil;
Vitamin E, rich with natural alpha tocopherol, (d-alpha tocopherol is synthetic), never from a soy source, 400 IU twice a day;
Calcium/Magnesium Citrate, enriched with “elemental amounts,” 800-1,200 mgs. of calcium and an equal ratio of magnesium.
3. Kill off Candida overgrowth
Raw garlic, apple cider vinegar, olive leaf extract and Pau d’arco are some of the most powerful anti-fungal agents that will help you control Candida overgrowth.
Garlic is high in sulphur containing compounds that provide potent anti-fungal properties. Allicin, alliin, alliinase and S-allylcysteine are the most thoroughly studied compounds.
Fresh garlic is more potent against Candida Albicans than its other forms like tablets, oils and pills. Raw garlic is a great alternative to medications for severe systemic yeast infections in patients with poor immunity. Add fresh garlic to your meals (raw and crushed), or crush and swallow a raw clove – this is the cheapest and most powerful anti-fungal treatment. Garlic boosts immunity, improves circulation, decreases high blood pressure, destroys intestinal parasites. It is also a powerful antioxidant and antibiotic.
For optimal results always buy organic garlic from trusted sources and crush it. By crushing you break the cell membranes and garlic releases its beneficial compounds. Take 4-5 average-sized cloves per day to control the Candida overgrowth. You can add the cloves to your meals or combine them with other foods. Drink 3-4 cups of garlic tea per day if you do not like eating raw garlic.
Candida does not like raw apple cider vinegar that much. Stir a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar into a glass of water and drink it before your meals. The apple cider vinegar fights off intestinal Candida overgrowth by literally killing the yeast and creating a die off reaction. Raw and unfiltered apple cider vinegar creates unfriendly conditions for the yeast, and creates a good environment for beneficial gut flora.
Olive leaf extract kills invading fungi rather than just affecting its growth. This extract contains oleuropein, a phenolic compound, with strong antiviral, anti-fungal, antiprotozoal, and antibacterial properties. Follow the instructions on the product label.
Pau d’arco is the bark of a rainforest tree also known as Taheebo or Lepacho tea. It has strong anti-fungal properties, and you can take it in a capsule or a tea. Drink 3 cups of tea per day or follow the instructions on the label if you go for the capsule.
4. Plant beneficial bacteria in the digestive tract
Once the anti-fungal agents kill off the yeast overgrowth, it is important to consume great amount of probiotics. These are actually the ‘friendly’ or ‘good’ bacteria, or micro organisms, that live in the digestive tract. Destroyed yeast colonies provide more free space available for the friendly bacteria. The most numerous bacteria that live in the small intestines are species of Lactobacilli. Bifidobacteria live in the colon.
Cabbage Rejuvelac is the easiest and cheapest way to plant beneficial bacteria in the digestive tract. Probiotic supplements can also plant friendly bacteria in the digestive tract.
Unfortunately, you cannot just buy the first supplement and hope it will do the job. It is not that simple. The most efficient probiotic supplements contain specific strains of bacteria that have been tested and verified as effective. The specific strain is identified on the bottle as a series of letters or numbers after the name of the bacteria.
Lactobacillus acidophilus DDS-1 and Lactobacillus GG are the most studied strains. The supplements should be at least 500 billion organisms per gram, packed in dark bottles in order to avoid deterioration by heat and light. They are always kept refrigerated, even in the store. Follow the instructions on the bottle.
5. Deal with the healing crisis
The Healing Crisis is the phase when the body is overcrowded with waste and toxic byproducts. Cells and tissues throw off the waste and transport it from the bloodstream to the organs responsible for its elimination, including the bowels, kidneys, lungs, skin, nasal passages, ears, throat, and genital organs.
These organs are then congested and irritated, followed by symptoms such as cold, boils, kidney and bladder infections, headache, open sores, diarrhea and fever.
The die-off symptoms occur as a result of the yeast that has been killed off and has released a high number of toxins into the organism. In medicine this condition is known as the Herxheimer’s reaction, or yeast die-off phenomenon. Die-off symptoms are actually flu-like symptoms and and can be very unpleasant and uncomfortable. Check these tips to alleviate the die-off symptoms:
-Take 1,000 mgs of Vitamin C (use powdered form and dissolve it in filtered water) several times a day or whenever you need it;
-Enjoy Epsom salt baths; These draw toxins out through the skin and minimize the die-off symptoms (add 500 grams of Epsom salt to your warm bath water)
Remember, you should never go to extremes when it comes to introducing changes changes to your dietary habits or lifestyle choices. This is the best advice you can get. Gradually introduce the changes, one at a time, and allow your body to adjust itself. There are three key-steps of successfully overcoming Candida: 1) stick to the Candida Control Program, 2) be patient, and 3) be persistent.
Karen Foster is a holistic nutritionist, avid blogger, with five kids and an active lifestyle that keeps her in pursuit of the healthiest path towards a life of balance.