An overgrowth of detrimental bacteria/ yeasts is called Candida albicans. It is a serious health condition as Candida can proliferate throughout your digestive system weakening your immunity, digestion, liver and bowel function and can lead to skin rashes. Candida (intestinal dysbiosis) is caused by an opportunistic microflora which over proliferates in the body when the conditions are right, such as an acidic, damp and sugary environment. There are approximately 150 species of yeast in and on the human body. The most prevalent type is Candida albicans. This usually innocuous single-cell fungus is an inhabitant of the mouth, intestines and vagina.

This organism is usually kept under control by good bacteria that also make their home in the intestines, bowel and vagina. Lactobacillus acidophilus and Bifidobacteria bifidus are the predominant friendly flora that inhabit our bodies. Similar to the bacteria in yoghurt these bugs make acetic acid, lactic acid and bacteriocins to help regulate the intestinal pH, enhance immune system controls and help maintain gastrointestinal health. They are also known to inhibit overgrowth of Candida, help reduce food intolerance, provide important nutrients such as vitamins and lower cholesterol by preventing its absorption.

How do you test for Candida overgrowth?

A blood test for candida antibodies and immune complexes is available. This test measures the level of antibodies your immune system cells have made to fight candida.

What causes a yeast/ Candida overgrowth?

  • When people take a course of antibiotics the entire beneficial balancing flora in the bowels is destroyed and if we don’t replant these good bacteria then bloating and digestive symptoms become present
  • Constant emotional stress
  • Poor eating habits including excessive consumption of foods and beverages high in sugar
  • Long term use of the contraceptive pill
  • Incomplete digestion commonly due to rushing meals.
  • Overuse of certain medication like antibiotics, antacids, corticosteroids and hormone therapy (including the contraceptive pill) predispose individuals to yeast overgrowth or candidiasis
  • Excessive alcohol consumption
  • Over consumption of sweet foods and foods high in simple carbohydrates e.g. white flour products, cakes, biscuits, refined sugar, honey, cordials, soft drinks, fruit juice and certain fruits, particularly dried fruit, can provide fuel for Candida to overgrow in the intestines
  • Eating too fast

Why is an overgrowth of Candida bad for my health?

Over time a persistent intestinal overgrowth can result in Candida invading the mucous membranes lining the gastrointestinal tract, particularly in the lower intestines and colon. This process severely interferes with normal mucosal health and produces microscopic holes in the membranes allowing yeast, bacteria, undigested food particles, pollen, environmental pollutants and other material to enter the bloodstream. This condition is known as leaky gut syndrome.

If this complain is not addressed it may contribute to further complications such as:

  • Skin rashes
  • Fungal infections
  • Depressed immunity
  • Systemic candida which affects the lungs, liver, kidneys and brain.
  • Serious allergies, food sensitivities, asthma and sinusitis
  • Digestive complaints such as colitis, diarrhoea, constipation, cramps, bloated stomach, flatulence and bad breath
  • Genital thrush, prostatitis, pre-menstrual complaints (excessive bleeding and cramps) and low libido
  • Fatigue, anxiety, nervousness, inability to think (foggy thinking), decreased concentration, irritability, headaches and depression
  • Excessive sweet cravings, weight gain and hypoglycaemia (low blood sugar levels)
  • Chemical sensitivities

Diet tips for Candida

  • Increase water intake to flush the kidneys and bowels of wastes and acidity. Introduce herbal teas to increase your water intake and cleanse the digestion. Teas such as Peppermint, Ginger, Echinacea, Lemongrass and Fennel are ideal
  • Begin each day with a small glass of warm water with 1/2 lemon squeezed into it. Lemon cleanses the bowels, switches on the liver and also helps to alkalise the blood
  • Increase the amount of garlic in your diet as garlic and onions as they are antimicrobial due to the sulphur content. Also include ginger and chilli in the diet as these are beneficial to encourage digestion and cleansing and fight the infection
  • Have a vegetable juice each day such as carrot, celery, ginger and beetroot
  • Include more bitter foods in your diet such as lemon juice, radicchio, rocket, endive and beetroot leaves
  • Eliminate simple sugars from your diet such as sugar, honey, cakes, breads, chocolate, biscuits and bakery type foods
  • Eliminate fermented foods from your diet such as mushrooms, vinegar, apple cider vinegar, alcohol, wine, bread and yeasts
  • Yoghurt containing live probiotics such as acidophilus and bifidus is also a valuable addition to the diet
  • A diet free of yeast and sugar will help your body to fight Candida infection. Avoid bread, alcohol, mushrooms and yeast spreads, as well as sugar in any form. (Hint – when checking ingredient lists, words ending in -ose, such as maltose, lactose and glucose, generally refer to forms of sugar).

Weed, seed and feed to eliminate Candida.

To address Candida successfully, you need to adhere to a number of steps simultaneously in order to make sure the candida has no way of surviving.

1.  Weed – Starving it: Avoid sugar, yeast, mushrooms, alcohol, vinegar, wheat, white flour products.  Sugar is the fuel source of the yeast, namely foods rich in sugar and refined carbohydrates including concentrated sugars, soft drinks, cordials, alcohol, sweets, most fruits (except pawpaw, pears and apples), dried fruits, white flour products and yeast-containing products. These burden the immune system which is overburdened and struggling to overcome the yeast infection, they also feed the bacteria.  Replace these with whole foods that are rich in complex carbohydrates and micronutrients including vegetables, well cooked legumes, whole nuts and seeds and protein such as deep-sea fish and antibiotic-free meats. Sweet feeds yeast and bitter is best are two catch phrases to remember when considering what to eat.

2.  Seed – Killing it:  Using anti-microbial herbs and foods such as garlic, onions, thyme, golden seal, wormwood, dandelion, andrographis, rhubarb and pau d’arco either in the diet or as a supplement.  Most of these herbs are anti-parasitic, anti-infective and protect the liver.

3.  Feed: Reintroducing beneficial gut flora such as taking an Acidophilius supplement such as the Ethical Nutrients Inner Health Plus.   Improve the immune system by eating large amounts of fresh fruit and vegetables, nuts, seeds, whole grains, fish, bitter foods, lemon juice, vegetable juices: supplements such as echinacea, olive Leaf, Vitamin C, garlic. Restore or Reinoculate normal bacterial flora by taking Lactobacillus acidophilus and Bifidobacteria bifidus (usually taken twice daily with meals). Restore or Repair normal gastrointestinal membrane integrity and heal leaky gut syndrome with glutamine rich foods such as pawpaw, celery, spinach, dandelion greens, lettuce, parsley, Brussels sprouts and carrots.

Lifestyle factors for Candida

  • Support liver, digestion and detoxification processes by eliminating tea, coffee, alcohol, sugar, wheat, dairy, carbonated drinks and cordial
  • Candida is more likely to develop in warm, moist environments. Try to wear cotton rather than nylon underwear
  • Don’t overeat, and even allow yourself to get a little hungry before eating
  • Chew very well, combine your foods properly, and be relaxed at meal times

Natural remedies for Candida

  • Probiotics help to reinocculate the gut with good bacteria and produce antifungal enzymes. Many conditions of Candida are directly contributed to the wrong bacteria being housed in the bowels, by taking an acidophilius supplement such as this it helps to recorrect this imbalance and reduce symptoms such as bloating, thrush and constipation
  • Spirulina or Chlorella supplement are blood cleansers and also help to alkalise the body and change the pH levels so the bacteria can not proliferate
  • Herbs which have a natural antibacterial, antifungal effect are Pau D’arco, Wormwood, Dandelion, Rhubarb, Black Cumin, Oregon Grape, Bitter Orange, Cloves, Garlic, Thuja, Gentian, Neem, Golden Seal, Rhubarb, Black Walnut, Olive leaf, Echinacea, Agrimony and Barberry
  • Improve digestion by increasing bitters such as Digestive enzymes and herbs such as Gentian, Meadowsweet, Dandelion, Piccorhiza, St Marys and Bupleurum