What is Candida?

So not many people are aware of Candida Albicans and as a sufferer myself, I think it’s important more people learn about the illness and do something about it.

For a while I had been diagnosed with chronic fatigue, IBS, as anaemic.. and forever wondering WHY and HOW I could cure myself? It got to a stage where I had no energy and it was such a struggle to do anything that I decided to go and see an allergy tester/nutritionist. After a few tests she informed me I had Candida and that I needed to change my diet if I were to get any better.

Source: thecandidadiet.com

WHAT IS CANDIDA?

So many people go through life suffering from symptoms like fatigue, recurrent yeast infections, irritable bowel syndrome, itching and headaches. But as diverse as those symptoms sound, they often all have the same cause – an opportunistic fungus named Candida Albicans.

Candida Albicans is a pathogen that takes advantage of a disruption in the balance of microorganisms in your gut. This balance of ‘gut flora’ is a crucial part of your immune system and digestive health, but it can easily be lost during periods of stress or after a course of antibiotics. When this balance is lost, the colonies of Candida Albicans are able to expand rapidly until they control a large portion of your gut.

Candida Albicans releases up to 79 different byproducts, including uric acid and a powerful neurotoxin named acetaldehyde. Acetaldehyde causes chronic headaches and brain fog, and was recently classified as a potential carcinogen by theInternational Agency for Research on Cancer. Uric acid can cause joint pain and lead to gout if an excess builds up. Meanwhile, the change in your gut flora can lead to digestive problems, food intolerances, yeast infections and oral thrush.

A study by Rice University found that around 70% of us have Candida Albicans in our guts. That sounds like a lot! However, the fact is that most of the time Candida is completely harmless. It exists in small colonies and is kept under control by the other microorganisms in your gut. Candida only becomes a problem when we do something to change that balance.

THREE COMMON CAUSES OF CANDIDA

  1. A COURSE OF ANTIBIOTICS – antibiotics do exactly what they are designed to do – kill bacteria. But the problem is that not all the bacteria in your body are harmful. When antibiotics kill so many of these beneficial bacteria, there is one opportunistic fungus that is ready to take advantage. Because the colonies of Candida Albicans no longer face competition for the space and nutrients in your gut, they can quickly multiply and expand. And as they grow, the amount of toxic byproducts they release grows too. This is how those Candida symptoms like chronic headaches and fatigue begin to develop.
  2. EATING A HIGH SUGAR DIET – the sugary diet that most of us eat is exactly what Candida Albicans needs to thrive and grow.
  3. A LONG PERIOD OF STRESS – First, stress raises your blood sugar. This is the typical ‘fight or flight’ response – your body senses the stress and makes lots of energy available for whatever happens next. Of course stress rarely comes from physical danger these days (it’s more likely to be your boss shouting at you!), but effect of the elevated blood sugar is the same. And secondly, your immune system is weakened by stress as your body’s resources are diverted elsewhere, undermining your natural defenses against a Candida overgrowth.

 

THREE KEY ELEMENTS YOU NEED IN YOUR CANDIDA TREATMENT

  1. A LOW SUGAR DIET – because Candida grows with sugar it’s important that you reduce this in your diet, this includes natural (fructose and lactose) and artificial sugars. There are a few obvious foods that you should avoid – chocolate, soda, sugary snacks etc. But if you’re serious about fighting your Candida overgrowth you should also steer clear of fruit as well as starchy vegetables like potatoes and yams.
  2. PROBIOTICS – are great for fighting off a Candida overgrowth. First, they compete with the Candida yeast within your gut. There’s only so much space and nutrients to go around, so the more that is used by the ‘good bacteria’ the better. Second, they maintain the natural acidity in your stomach. This acidity prevents Candida from switching to its pathogenic, fungal form. And third, they boost your immune system. Probiotics usually come in supplement form but, as with antifungals, there are some natural alternatives too. I eat lots of natural yoghurt (make sure the label says the product includes live cultures) and I take an aloe vera supplement every morning, 20 minutes before I eat anything, called MPS Gold.
  3. ANTI-FUNGALS – Most antifungals, both natural and doctor-prescribed, work against Candida by disrupting its cell walls. While antifungals are unlikely to reverse a Candida overgrowth by themselves, using them in combination with a low sugar diet and some good probiotics will do just that. If you choose a natural antifungal, here are a few options for you to try. Caprylic acid is an antifungal found naturally in coconut oil, and has been the subject of numerous studies into its antifungal properties. Oregano oil is another option (a 2001 study found that oregano oil “is both fungistatic and fungicidal to Candida Albicans, the human pathogenic yeast”). Foods like garlic, rutabaga and olive oil all have antifungal properties too.

 

It is hard to know what you can or can’t eat on the diet but there is actually quite a large variety once you know what foods you should avoid. I will be posting more about the symptoms and what foods you can eat on the diet but in the mean time please follow my blog and instagram account @goodflaura for inspiration!

Please let me know if you have any questions! Laura x

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