Most people have heard of Candida (Candida albicans), but many don’t realize that it is far more than something that causes female yeast infections – it is an underlying root cause of numerous ailments and health conditions among men and women of all ages, including babies, children, and the very elderly. General tiredness, brain fog, food sensitivities and/or cravings, stuffiness or sinus allergies, digestive upsets, and skin rashes are just a few of the ways different people may be affected when Candida is an underlying factor, even though symptoms are often vague or may be attributed to other things.
To begin with, our guts contain more than 400 different known species of bacteria – and there are 10 times as many of them as all the cells in the human body combined. This amounts to an astronomical number, more than 100 trillion altogether and in a healthy person, these bacteria exist in a ratio of about 85% good bacteria to 15% of bad bacteria. This balance is critical in either preventing or encouraging a variety of diseases. Candida albicans is just one of the trillions of bacteria that normally lives in the human gut, and is one of at least 20 or more Candida species known to infect humans, but it is the main one to cause problems, and for the purposes of this article, “Candida” will refer to Candida albicans. The good bacteria are critical to keeping all the body systems working properly and help to keep the bad bacteria under control. Unfortunately, it does not take much any more to upset this delicate balance, and when Candida gets out of control, it readily turns into a pathogenic species that is very difficult to eradicate. This condition is known as Candidiasis, or Systemic Yeast Infection, In fact, Candida might be likened to someone who has had a taste of wealth and is willing to do anything, resorting to all kinds of deception and atrocities to get more with absolutely no limits. Except what Candida wants is sugar. People are beginning to realize more and more that sugar is bad for you, and some of the ways it is hidden in a variety of foods – but for most, this dawning understanding is just the tip of the iceberg. A variety of things contribute to Candida overgrowth. Use of antibiotics, birth control, even common NSAIDs such as aspirin, as well as stress and too much sugar in the diet are all factors.
When Candida continues to grow out of control, it can frequently cause, among other things, insulin resistance, and resistance to the hormone leptin which signals our bodies when we are full so instead of storing fat, we are able to maintain a healthy balance of burning it off because we aren’t eating more than we need. Both insulin resistance and leptin resistance cause systemic inflammation and contribute directly to heart disease. Candida itself also contributes directly to heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and a host of other problems through inflammation and Leaky Gut Syndrome. When out of control Candida transform into a pathogenic state, they develop roots or “hyphae”, which are long filament-like threads whereby they can attach themselves to the soft tissues of the gut lining, causing permeability of the gut, or “Leaky Gut”, and allowing proteins, bad bacteria, undigested food particles, and sometimes toxic waste to leak into your bloodstream. You can imagine what kind of problems that might cause. This includes inflammation, sensitivities to food, and immune reactions. The yeast colonies may also spread through your body and attach to your internal organs. Symptoms such as a white coating on the tongue, chronic itching in the ears, rosacea, and a tendency to toenail and/or fingernail infections, or vaginal yeast, are most often linked to a deeper overgrowth of yeast in the gut. Sometimes these outer symptoms are persistent and/or recurring, or sometimes they may improve and seem to disappear with treatment. However, chances are the candida are still in your gut happily munching away on sugar. We hear frequently that we should avoid “refined” or “processed” foods. Diets such as “The Zone” or “The Atkins Diet” have increased our awareness of carbohydrates.
However, most people are still under the impression that whole grains are a healthy alternative, or maybe avoiding wheat and/or dairy products will help. The FDA Food Pyramid advises us to eat 6-11 servings of carbohydrates per day, another 3-5 servings of vegetables and 2-4 servings of fruit. Many vegetables, especially starchy ones such as potatoes and corn, as well as beans (such as Navy, Black, Red, and Pinto) are also very high in carbohydrates. Most fruits also have a significant amount of carbohydrates, as well as many being very high in fructose. This can be very misleading, especially as many popular diets promote the idea of colorful and enticing fruit smoothies, juicing, etc. The Food Pyramid does not differentiate any of this and the bottom line is that all carbohydrates turn into sugar when you eat them. While the USDA and FDA have gathered a variety of tables and resources providing information on dietary guidelines, keep in mind that the more they have continued to update and provide advice about these matters, America has grown increasingly fat, and heart disease, diabetes, and cancer have all increased dramatically. Research by Rice University suggests at least 70% of all people suffer from Candida overgrowth, although most may be unaware of it. Either the advice we are getting from the USDA and FDA is poor, they haven’t done a good job of getting the word out, people just aren’t listening, or most likely some combination of these factors. The bottom line is, it is really up to individuals who want to take control of their health to make an effort to educate themselves and look at a variety of resources for guidance. Considering Glycemic Index and Glycemic Load to help calculate how your blood sugar is affected can offer some additional insight, however, these tools can be misleading or unreliable. There are many different Glycemic charts out there which assign differing values. Some are based on using white bread as a reference guide (not good as values for white bread may vary considerably) and some are based on glucose, which is more consistent. The underlying message of all Glycemic charts is based on the faulty idea that foods which affect your blood sugar more slowly are ok to consume. But consider, for example, if your house catches on fire and burns up completely, it is still burnt up regardless whether the fire lasted 30 minutes or three hours. The same thing is true for eating sugar, or carbohydrates, which turn in to sugar. Complex carbohydrates turn into sugar too, even if it might take a little longer, and Candida will still feed on these and grow out of control if your overall carb intake is too high. Walk through the grocery store sometime with this in mind asking yourself the question what foods already are, or will turn into sugar and you will suddenly find the aisles are lined with predominantly sugar.
One of the easiest ways to find out if Candida could be contributing to some of your health issues or vague symptoms that have been bothersome, is to simply make a serious effort to eliminate all sugars and as much carbohydrate from your diet as you can for about five days and see if you feel better. Then experiment with adding things back in. If symptoms return or get worse again, you may benefit from a longer Candida control plan. Here is a sample of a plan to try for five days:
1) First, avoid the following: all sweets, including honey, maple syrup, or agave nectar no starchy vegetables such as potatoes, beans, or corn, and minimal breads, cereals and fruits, especially dried fruits or juices, which are both high in fructose.
2) Second, instead of counting calories, try to fill up instead on 50 – 60 g protein/day from sources such as fish, lean meats from preferably organic, grass-fed sources with no growth hormones, raw nuts (brazil nuts, almonds, or walnuts – no peanuts), organic cottage cheese, Kefir, and quality low carb alkalizing whey protein shakes, (Avoid soy protein) or Chia seeds. Avoid Tofu, which is also a processed food. Tempeh or Miso are better choices.
3) Third, add low carb alkalizing vegetables such as green beans, broccoli, cauliflower, asparagus, spinach, garlic, onions, radishes, and lettuce
4)Limit fruits to no more than 1-2 servings of 4 oz a day and focus on low glycemic alkalizing choices such as unsweetened grapefruit, rhubarb, cantaloupe, watermelon, and berries such as blackberries, strawberries, and raspberries. Avoid bananas, apples, pears, grapes, and all dried fruits and juices except pure unsweetened aloe vera juice (read labels, many are not pure or have sugar added).
5) Add healthy fats such as olive oil, coconut oil, and avocados.
6) Try to limit total carb intake during these five days to 20-60 g of carbs per day, and try to get at least 35 – 40g of fiber per day along with drinking plenty of water. Take a psyllium or other quality natural organic fiber supplement one or more times per day to boost this as needed.
7)Spread food intake into 4-6 small meals/snacks per day, control portion sizes, measuring if needed, and try to listen to your body’s signals to eat when you are hungry, and stop eating when you start to feel satiated. Most of us have become too conditioned to eat to satisfy our tastebuds and continue eating more well past when we have had enough, just because it tastes good. Have your last meal or snack at least 3 hours before bedtime.
8)Take a high quality probiotic supplement – one that offers several strains and at least 25 – 50 billion CFU per capsule, or better still, consume at least one serving of quality organic Kefir per day. Important supplements include getting at least 400 mg Magnesium and 200 mcg of Vitamin K2 through diet and/or added supplements, and at least 10g/day (2 tsp) of a quality L-glutamine powder supplement (capsule forms usually do not have a high enough dose).
9) To promote healing of the intestinal lining, drink one serving Kefir per day, 1-4 oz pure unsweetened aloe vera juice, and take a quality bentonite clay supplement such as Redmond Clay, preferably first thing in the morning on an empty stomach and 1 hour before eating or taking other supplements.
10)Some pure therapeutic grade essential oils may also be helpful by supporting intestinal health, and the immune, circulatory, and lymph systems. These include Young Living brands of : Lemongrass,(Cymbopogon flexuosus), Thyme, (Thymus vulgaris, CT thymol), Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia), Bergamot (Citrus bergamia), Eucalyptus (Eucalyptus globulus), Peppermint (Mentha piperita), and Tea Tree (Melaleuca alternifolia) All of these may be rubbed on the bottoms of the feet, and/or taken internally by putting them in clear vegetable capsules with olive oil. When taken internally, these oils can be blended together and rotated, taking once or twice a day by adding 2-3 drops each of any two oils from this list to a clear vegetable capsule and topping off with olive oil, and then switching to a couple different oils the next time.
There are different theories on Anti-Candida diets, but most are so strict and difficult to follow that people tend to struggle with them. It’s important to remember that you can’t and don’t want to kill all the Candida in your system, you are just trying to get things back in balance. Trying the 5 day plan should help and after the first couple days, cravings should decrease a lot. Its a good idea to keep some kind of journal and take notes through this process and this will be extremely useful later on to see what foods may trigger symptoms and what things help. After the first five days you can try adding things back to your diet while trying to maintain a reasonable healthy balance. While a high protein diet is not really necessary, many people don’t get adequate amounts of protein , which is one of the reasons they fall into the trap of eating too many carbohydrates and processed foods in the first place. Making sure you have enough fiber in your diet is also important, as well as adequate amounts of healthy fats. Try to maintain 50 – 60g of protein per day and 35-40g of fiber. Healthy dietary guidelines suggest 20 -35% of dietary calories should be from healthy fats, which would be 44-78g on a 2000 calorie per day diet. Regular use of critical supplements magnesium, Vitamin K2, and pure therapeutic grade essential oils will also help. While certainly not a license to eat sugar, if you do occasionally overindulge or have an especially rich dessert or sweet treat, make sure your fiber intake for the day is adequate and using Redmond Clay will help carry toxins out of your system. It makes sense that there will be some variation in what works best for different individuals, but it also makes sense that excess sugar, foods that are processed, genetically modified, and/or have chemical additives, are bound to have negative impacts, especially consumed on a regular and frequent basis. If these general principles are followed, it will be easier to maintain balance, restore insulin and leptin sensitivity, and keep Candida under control.
To learn more about different therapeutic grade essential oils and how they may help support a healthy lifestyle, please visit The Oil Well
For more information on the leading essential oil companies, their history, testing, and quality standards, check out the 45 page Young Living/DoTerra report.
If this information has been helpful, you may click the donate button to contribute a small amount towards the cost of research. Thank you!These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA, and this information is for educational purposes only and not intended to diagnose, treat, or cure any disease.