Candida albicans is the name of species of yeast that we all share our bodies with. It is a member of the many normal flora that inhabit our bodies and normally we share a nicely symbiotic relationship with it. However, when Candida grows out of control, a condition known as Candidiasis, it can wreak havoc with many systems of our body resulting in a wide variety of symptoms and health challenges.
Unfortunately most medical doctors haven’t recognized the connection that Candida overgrowth can have with such a wide variety of symptoms and regretfully, many patients are turned away without proper treatment. Worse yet, when unable to put a finger on the cause for their patient’s symptoms, some doctors resort to telling the patient, “It’s all in your head”. This can leave a patient feeling hopeless and, yes, a little crazy. After all, they don’t feel right, but their doctor tells them there is nothing wrong with them.
The Candida yeast is a part of the gut flora, a group of microorganisms that live in your mouth and intestine. The Candida population is supposed to be kept under control by the friendly bacteria (the normal flora) in our gut. Remember when I said that we all have it? It’s when the immune system has been overburdened that the Candida can get out of control. It’s what’s known as an “opportunistic infection”.
When the Candida population starts getting out of control it weakens the intestinal wall, penetrating through into the bloodstream and spreading throughout the body. As it spreads it produces toxic by-products that cause damage to your body tissues and organs, wreaking havoc on your immune system. The major waste product of yeast cell activity is Acetaldehyde, a poisonous toxin that promotes free radical activity in the body. Acetaldehyde is also converted by the liver into ethanol (drinking alcohol). Some people even report feeling a drunk or hung-over feeling along with debilitating fatigue from the high amounts of ethanol is their system.
So what are some of the symptoms associated with Candidiasis? The most common symptoms I have seen in my office include migraine headaches, chronic gastrointestinal disorders, chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia, unexplained joint pain, “brain fog”, depression, recurring vaginal, urinary or prostate infections and skin rashes. Oral thrush in infants is a sure sign that both mother and infant have a yeast overgrowth problem.
The occurrence of Candidiasis has actually been increasing rapidly over the last few decades. Our modern diet of processed food and sweets is partly to blame, but so are the increased prevalence of obesity and diabetes, plus the much more frequent use of antibiotics.
Below you will find a questionnaire that will allow you to assess your particular health situation in order to determine if an overgrowth of Candida may play a role. Keep count of the number of questions you answer yes to:
- Have you taken antibiotics in the last 12 months or for a long period of time?
- Have you been bothered by recurrent vaginal, prostate or urinary tract infections?
- Do you feel “sick all over”, yet in spite of visits to many physicians, the causes haven’t been found?
- Are you bothered by hormone disturbances including PMS, menstrual irregularities, sexual dysfunction or low body temperature?
- Are you sensitive to scents including perfumes, colognes, tobacco smoke and other chemical odors?
- Are you bothered with memory and concentration problems?
- Have you taken prolonged courses of prednisone or other steroids, or used hormonal birth control for more than 3 years?
- Do you crave sugar (chocolate, ice cream cookies, etc.) or carbohydrates (breads, pastas, etc.)?
- Do you experience constipation, diarrhea, bloating, gas or abdominal pain?
- Does you skin itch, tingle or burn, or is it unusually dry, or are you bothered by rashes?
- Do you often feel fatigued or drained?
- Do you suffer from unexplained muscle and joint pain or swelling?
Women: If you answered yes to 3 or more questions, your health problems are “probably” connected to an overgrowth of Candida. If you answered yes to 5 or more, your health problems are “almost certainly” connected.
Men: If you answered yes to 2 or more, your health challenges are “probably” connected. If you answered yes to 4 or more, your health problems are “almost certainly” connected.
What do I do if my score was too high and I think I may have Candida overgrowth? Well, the good news is that Candida can be overcome and that the symptoms associated with it can be completely reversed. Here’s how to begin:
Stage 1: Detox – you must clean up your diet as well as your body!
Foods to avoid:
- Fruit – the high sugar content in fruit feeds Candida.
- Aged Cheese – cheeses aged for 6 months or more.
- Additives and Preservatives – Citric acid is derived from yeasts. If you can’t pronounce it, you shouldn’t consume it when you are doing a cleanse.
- Alcohol – it’s sugar, it feeds yeast and compromises the immune system.
- Other beverages – coffee, black and green tea, diet and regular soda, energy drinks, sports drinks, malted drinks and fruit juice. Caffeine, sugar and sweeteners all kick start Candida, as well as Taurine which is found in most energy drinks.
- Grains and gluten containing foods – many Candida sufferers have high sensitivity to gluten, give your immune system a break to focus on the Candida.
- Nuts – cashews, peanuts and pistachios all have high levels of fungal toxins which can inflame Candida
- Mushrooms/Molds – Candida loves to feed on molds and fungi.
- Condiments – ketchup, mayonnaise, mustard, relish, horseradish, soy sauce, salad dressing – they are all high in hidden sugar
- Vinegar – it’s made in yeast culture and can also cause inflammation in the gut. (One exception is unfiltered apple cider vinegar which can be helpful in combating yeast.)
- Fats and Oils – Peanut, cottonseed, corn and canola oils are all contaminated with mold. Margarine and shortening contain toxic Trans fats.
Foods to consume more of:
- Coconut oil – potent Candida killer and provides immune support
- Garlic – high antifungal properties and boost good bacteria as well as stimulating liver and colon for detoxifying benefits.
- Onions – strong antifungal, antibacterial and anti-parasitic properties.
- Seaweed – a nutrient dense super food rich in iodine it also flushes toxic pollutants and heavy metals from the body.
- Almonds – the nut that’s OK, a healthy, portable snack that can be used to counter temptation when you are on the go.
- Ginger – highly detoxifying, increases circulation and cleanses the liver. Also soothes the lining of the gut which can be irritated by the Candida.
- Olive oil – has antifungal properties and stimulates the immune system.
- Lemon and lime juice – promote a more alkaline pH level in the body which tends to suppress Candida growth. Also stimulates peristaltic action of the colon which increases digestive efficiency.
- Pumpkin seeds – high in Omega-3 fatty acids which anti-fungal, anti-viral and anti-parasitic properties. Omega-3’s also combat depression and inflammation of skin conditions and that associated with pain.
- Cayenne pepper – natural support to your digestive and immune systems. It helps to digest food and reduce constipation by cleansing the bowel of Candida and other toxins. It also helps to reduce one of the most common symptoms of Candida infection – fatigue.
Stage 2: Elimination – kill the Candida!
In my office I use a product called Candisol. It’s a combination of digestive enzymes which are utilized to actually break down the cell wall of the Candida cells. It must be taken on an empty stomach and taken twice a day.
Stage 3: Repopulation – fill the gut with probiotics to help combat the bad guys!
In my office I use a product from Nature’s Sunshine called Probiotic 11. It contains an effective combination of 11 essential, beneficial bacteria which will re-inhabit the colon to create a stable environment effectively keeping the Candida in check.
As I said earlier, Candida can be overcome. First it has to be properly identified as a contributing factor to your health challenges. Then, follow the 3 stages to complete elimination. The process can up from 30 and up to 90 days to complete. Thereafter, a healthy diet, reduction of exposure to toxic burdens and stress and, finally, maintaining the optimal health of the host through chiropractic care. You too can live Candida free. Here’s to your health!