Many people go through life suffering from symptoms like fatigue, recurrent yeast infections, irritable bowel syndrome, itching and headaches. These symptoms sound very distinct from one another, but they all have the same root cause which is an opportunistic fungus named Candida albicans, mainlt know as Candida.
What Is Candida?
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 and digestive system, but it can easily be lost during long periods of stress or after a course of antibiotics. When this balance is lost, the colonies of Candida albicans are able to spread rapidly until they control a large portion of your gut.
Candida albicans releases up to 79 different wasteproducts, 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 the International 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 intolerance, yeast infections, and oral thrush (candida accumulates inside the mouth).
Common Causes Of Candida Overgrowth
A course of antibiotics:
Antibiotics are the most common cause of Candida overgrowth. Antibiotics can be really useful at times, but they also come with serious side-effects, that should not be ignored. 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. In fact, a typical healthy adult carries around 500 strains of bacteria and as many as 100 trillion individual bacteria. Many of these bacteria play important roles in digesting your food and maintaining a healthy immune system.
When antibiotics kill so many of these beneficial bacteria, Candida takes advantage of that. 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 waste products they release grows too. This is how those Candida symptoms like chronic headaches and fatigue begin to develop.
Eating a high-sugar diet:
Can diet alone lead to a Candida overgrowth? Yes it can, especially if an unhealthy high-sugar diet is eaten for a long period of time. Processed meats, tortillas, pasta sauce, salad dressings, cakes, pastries, candies and cereals are all surprising sources of added sugar. And the sugary diet that most of us eat is exactly what Candida albicans needs for growth.
Of course it’s important to note that it takes a long term, high-sugar diet to cause a Candida overgrowth. If you have a healthy diet already, eating a candy bar once a week won’t lead to a Candida overgrowth.
A long period of stress:
Anyone who has taken a lot of stress in a certain period, knows that stress can effect the body physically. There are a couple of different ways in which stress can affect your digestive system and contribute to a Candida growth.
First of all, stress elevates your blood sugar, which results in a "fight or flight" response, which further causes the body to create a lot of energy to prepare for a certain situation. 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.
While going over some of the solutions to inhibit the growth of Candida, these were the following methods I found that could be helpful in attacking the fungus in all directions:
1. A Low Sugar Diet:
Candida is dependent on organic, carbon-based compounds to build its cell walls, reproduce and switch from yeast form to its more viral fungal form. This means it needs sugars, so that’s exactly what you should cut out of your diet. A proper Candida diet involves cutting out as many sources of sugar as possible, whether they are natural or added.
The foods that should be avoided include; chocolate, soda, sugary snacks, starchy vegetables like potatoes and yams. Reading food labels is key because so many foods have added sugars these days.
If you don’t already know about these ‘good bacteria’ that live in your gut, they are just great for fighting off a Candida overgrowth. First, they compete with the Candida yeast within your gut. There are a lot of nutrients in your gut, so the more that are used by the ‘good bacteria’ the better. Second, they maintain the natural acidity in your gut. This acidity prevents Candida from switching to its pathogenic, fungal form. And third, they boost your immune system.
Fermented foods like kefir, sauerkraut, and kimchi all contains lots of ‘good bacteria’. Be careful what you buy though – make sure you get one that says "live cultures’' on the label. Alternatively, you can make your own probiotic foods at home.
Most antifungals, both natural and doctor-prescribed, work against Candida by destroying 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 work. By using moderation, taking two or three natural antifungals at the same time is more effective, but you should definitely not rotate them as this simply allows the Candida to become resistant.
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 study by the Journal of Complementary and Alternative Medicine showed that Grapefruit Seed Extract is effective against “over 800 bacterial and viral strains, 100 strains of fungus, and a large number of single and multi-celled parasites”.
Antifungal foods like garlic, coconut oil and olive oil all have Candida-fighting properties. Adding them to your diet can make a Candida treatment plan even more effective. In addition to those natural antifungals, you might want to consider taking some systemic enzymes. The best example of these is a group of enzymes named lumbrokinase. They help to break down the barrier that Candida builds to protect itself from your immune system.
After your symptoms have subsided and you have completed the cleanse and the diet, you should continue eating a diet that is high in protein and high-fiber vegetables, and limit grains, fruits, sugar and high-starch vegetables like white potatoes. Continue to consume fermented vegetables and kefir to help your body stay in balance and keep the candida as far away as possible.