Candida, we all have it and in many proportions. It is a microorganism that is naturally present in your gut, part of the balanced system that helps you to digest food, stay fit, and be well. However, some experts estimate that as much as 50-80% of the American population suffers from a mild to severe candida-related illness. If Candida is not kept in check, you could be facing a sweet environment you do not want to be a part of.
Candida Albicans is a fungus (form of yeast) that is present primarily in the mucous membranes of the mouth, intestinal tract, digestive tract and vagina. When people talk about Candidiasis the illness, they are really talking about the excess growth of Candida. It really becomes a real trouble maker when a change in your body leaves it vulnerable to overgrow. When it grows out of control, it proliferates in the gut, penetrates the intestinal wall and is carried by the circulatory system throughout the body. At this point, the candida becomes systemic: it infects organ and muscle tissues, compromising the entire immune system.
This can cause a wide range of unpleasant health symptoms such as; food allergies, yeast infections, sugar cravings, inability to concentrate, depression, fatigue, headaches, bad breath, bloating, flatulence, sinusitis, nervousness, anxiety, stress, cystitis and gastrointestinal hyper-permeability or ‘leaky gut’ and immune disorders. It’s important to be aware of why the body changes, and how to prevent such outbreaks. Many factors contribute to the overgrowth of Candida, let’s take a look at the 3 main culprits.
Candida loves a sweet environment, therefore, most sugars are bad. They enable the Candida yeast cells to switch to their more virulent, fungal form. Foods with added sugars are undoubtedly the worst culprits when it comes to causing Candida overgrowth. This is because refined carbohydrates are easiest for the Candida to metabolize. It is also faster-growing and much more likely to cause Candida symptoms. Most common foods that home these sugars are; cereal, yogurt, pasta sauce, sports drinks and salad dressings.
Prolonged use of antibiotics are known to play a major role in the development of Candidiasis. They are designed to kill any bacteria in their path, and unfortunately includes the friendly probiotic gut bacteria, who contrary to Candida, are not resistant. This leaves your body defenseless to harmful bacteria and fungi, such as the fast-growing Candida yeast that quickly dominates the small intestine and cause many health problems.
Stress affects your body in two ways, both of which can lead to excess Candida. One of the body’s first reactions to a stressful situation is to release Cortisol, a hormone that suppresses your immune system and raises blood sugar levels. The Candida yeast feeds on the extra sugar, while your weakened immune system is powerless to stop it.
Diet is your main defense against Candida, so the point is not to feed the Candida any sugars, period. Significantly reduce your sugar and refined carbohydrate consumption. By eliminating the bad sugars, it basically “starves” your body of sugar, and in turn, gives the excess yeast in your system a chance to die off. Make vegetables that are high in fiber and low in starch the basis of your diet. Vegetables such as broccoli, asparagus, cabbage and radishes prevent Candida overgrowth.
Be a little nicer to yourself and get plenty of rest to eliminate excess stress on your body. Learn how to deal with stress so that it does not have a negative impact on your immune system. Stress is one of the major ways that the immune system can weaken, making it vulnerable to Candida. Regular exercise will also keep you healthy, boost your immune system, and is a great way to reduce stress.
Three supplements to help you keep candida in check
Candex contains plant-based fiber digesting enzymes (cellulase and hemicellulase) that work by digesting the cell wall of the candida, which is comprised primarily of fiber. When the cell wall breaks down, the yeast dies.
Probiotics are the friendly bacteria that help us in a variety of ways, one of which is by crowding out candida. This is an article all by itself, but I like varying probiotics throughout the year. Stick to high quality products like Dr Ohhira’s, Florajen 3 and Theralac.
Saccharomyces Boulardii is actually a yeast, but a good one. Like bacterial probiotics, SB helps the gut and does it part to crowd out candida.
It’s not a matter of ridding our bodies of candida. Candida is here to stay and at normal levels, it’s harmless. The idea is to focus on having a healthy gut. Take care of your body and your body will take care of you.
Tom Hines is the Co-Founder of NutritionGeeks.com, a retired USAPL powerlifter, a volunteer youth wrestling coach, the father of 3 amazing boys, and interested in all things health.