Feeling great? That’s good news – the bacteria and fungi in your gut are probably working in harmony. Feeling foggy and generally off-colour? That happy balance may have been disturbed, and your levels of the usually friendly yeast Candida albicans are soaring. How does candida get the upper hand? And what can you do about it?
The candida uprising
In general, there is a carefully controlled balance of yeasts (single-cell fungi) and bacteria in your skin, gastrointestinal tract and vagina. In your intestines alone, some 500 different species of bacteria and fungi help maintain gut health. These small organisms produce their own antibiotics, fighting off any bacteria or fungus that tries to dominate.
When, for some reason, your level of ‘good’ bacteria drops, the yeast Candida albicans morphs into an invasive species. It sends out long stringy hyphae or ‘roots’ that can get into the tissues of your body.
And that’s bad news for your immune system. Doctors at The Reach Approach, a private UK-based holistic health practice, explain: ‘It is from your intestines that your white blood cells move to other parts of the body. So any fungal overgrowth in the intestines can affect this process, causing the immune system to react to substances such as food.’ The walls of your intestines may even become thin enough to allow undigested food molecules to enter into the bloodstream and set off allergic reactions. This condition is called candidiasis.
What causes candidiasis?
Several factors may affect your gut bacteria, but the main culprits that allow to candida to multiply seem to be:
- Steroidal medications and antibiotics, which can damage the ‘good’ bacteria (which is why they’re usually prescribed with a ‘probiotic’).
- Oral contraceptives, which bring about hormonal changes that can increase candida levels.
- Diets high in sugars and refined, simple carbohydrates such as white bread. They’re a feast for yeast.
- Illness or treatments such as chemotherapy can affect the immune system, making it unable to prevent candida flourishing.
- Endocrine imbalances such as low thyroid and adrenal function, perhaps as a result of stress and blood sugar imbalances.
Symptoms of candidiasis
The symptoms vary and are so broad that it can be difficult to diagnose a candida infection. But look out for:
- Oral or vaginal thrush.
- Heavy bloating and flatulence.
- Rectal itching.
- Depression and mood swings.
- Fatigue and foggy-headedness.
- Skin complaints.
- Food allergies and intolerances.
- Fungal nail infections and athlete’s foot.
- Weight problems.
Because candida presents such a motley array of symptoms, you should consult your healthcare specialist for an accurate diagnosis.
The traditional anti-candida diet eliminates sugars, carbohydrates and a host of other foodstuffs. It’s really difficult to sustain in the long run. As candida feeds on sugar and carbs, eliminating these foods from the diet will certainly help to reduce the number of cells. However, in many cases it will not stop candida’s ability to cling to the intestinal walls. It will simply retreat into its cyst form and use its fungal ability to stay dormant, sometimes for years. But when its favourite food sources are re-introduced, the yeast spores will start to replicate once again.
So it may be far better to maintain the candida in a weakened, growing form rather than force it to lay dormant, as this will enable anti-microbial therapies to work to their full potential.
Dietary do’s and don’ts
- Avoid sugar, foods containing sugar and anything that converts to sugar, such as refined carbohydrates made with white flour and other refined grains.
- Avoid mouldy foods and those containing yeast – check the labels. Milk also contains lactose, a sugar that tends to helps yeast grow.
- Consume good quality protein foods such as poultry, eggs, pulses, fish, nuts, seeds and hard cheese. No red meat.
- Eat lots of low carbohydrate foods: all green vegetables, cauliflower, radishes, aubergine, artichoke, carrots, peppers, olives, tomatoes, cucumber, onions, leeks and peas.
- Include three servings of low- to moderate-glycaemic load fruits such as apples, berries, cherries, lemons, oranges, pears, plums, apricots, grapefruit, nectarines and pomegranates to ‘raise the metabolic rate of the yeast, making it easier to kill with anti-fungal treatments’, the Reach doctors explain.
- Combine proteins with carbohydrates to slow the release of sugar and balance blood sugar levels.
- Reintroduce good bugs to your gut to help crowd out the bad ones. Probiotics will help to encourage proper bowel movements, as will flaxseeds, psyllium and chia seeds. Fermented foods such as kimchi, sauerkraut, kefir, yoghurt and coconut water are good to help replace good bacteria.
- Drink 1.5–2 litres of water daily to help flush out toxins.
- Alcohol is generally not recommended, although theoretically, modest amounts of dry wine or spirits may be tolerated.
Studies show that various herbs and their oils have anti-fungal properties: oreganum, rosemary, ginger, cinnamon, coconut oil (fatty acids in coconut oil have antibacterial, antiviral and immune system-stimulating effects), garlic and pau d’arco.
Vitamins B, C, D and E support the immune system.
Try Flora Force Candida Formula™ to support your immune system and help fight the symptoms of fungal infections. Get it online from Faithful to Nature , and get 10% off your purchase!
Our healthcare specialists also recommend Flora Force Liver Flush™ capsules to help your liver clear waste matter and restore the candida balance.
Keep in mind that candida cannot be cleared overnight. Instead, you’ll gradually notice an improvement in your symptoms and general health. Find further info about treating candida infections in our earlier blog ‘Treat candida, the natural way’.
We’re with you in good health, always.
Acknowledgements & Photo credits
Article compiled for Flora Force by Judy Beyer.
- Landman, J. Candida solutions: the science behind the cure. March 2017. Natural News. http://www.naturalnews.com/2017-03-01-candida-solutions-the-science-behind-the-cure.html
- The science of Candida Albicans. The Reach Approach. 2017. http://www.thereachapproach.co.uk/research/the-science-of-candida-albicans/
- Treat candida, the natural way. April 2016. Flora Force. http://floraforce.co.za/treat-candida-infection-the-natural-way//056131_hypertension_blood_pressure_epidemic.html
- Photo courtesy of Rodrigo Galindo / Pixabay.com