Candida – Causes, Cures & Candy

by Rhianna on March 7, 2013

One of the most common “irritating complaints” I see on a regular basis, are people struggling with the symptoms of Candida overgrowth. Unfortunately, the medical profession doesn’t really give much guidance when it comes to this problem. Patients of mine have actually been told “Well, that’s what you get for not eating enough yoghurt”. Others have been told; “it is not related to diet AT ALL”, and some people “are just susceptible to it!”. As a naturopath, these statements horrify me! Let me explain to you my naturopathic understanding of Candida, and what you can do to treat yourself starting now!

Sweet

What Is Candida?

Candida albicans is a strain of yeast that occurs naturally in our body. Don’t worry, you haven’t caught Candida, it’s always there, existing as part of our microscopic ecology. Even if you never suffer from a flair up, such as a thrush infection, you will still have this yeast in your body at some level. When it grows out of control is when we see flair up symptoms. Candida is opportunistic, meaning if given the right environment it can grow out of balance and out of control. This yeast is very insidious; it can be difficult to bring back under control if it has had the chance to become imbedded in certain body tissues. Which is why we often see recurrent flair ups, or hard to treat infections. It can affect numerous parts of the body including the mouth, ears, nose, nails, gastrointestinal tract and vagina.

Because of this wide involvement, symptoms of a Candida infection can be varied. Some of these symptoms include constipation, headaches, memory loss, nasal and sinus congestion, fatigue, kidney and bladder infections, low mood, food allergies, hypothyroidism, adrenal problems and thrush. This is not to say that Candida is the only or primary cause of these complaints, but it has been shown to have an association. It has also been linked to cancer, a huge reason to get it under control as soon as possible!

Why Does it Overgrow?

Candida feeds on sugar. If there is an imbalance in our body’s friendly bacteria, sugars in our diet are not metabolized properly and Candida can flourish. This is where it can get difficult (and not very fun!). EVERYTHING we eat is broken down in our digestive tracts into glucose…. Yes that’s SUGAR! So does that mean we can’t eat anything? NO!!!!!!!!! What it does mean is that if we want to reduce the population of Candida in our bodies, we have to be very careful about the amount and availability of sugars in the foods we are eating. We need to cut out the simple sugars from our diet and reduce our carbohydrate intake to help starve the yeasts. If they don’t have easy access to food, they die!

Starving Candida

The traditional “anti-Candida diet” has been around for years! And the reason it has survived for so long is that it really does work! It is an invaluable tool in helping to control Candida outbreaks, and although it may be a “boring” way of eating, the pros will often outweigh the cons for may chronic Candida sufferers. An anti-Candida diet can be used for weeks, or months. Each person will have his or her own needs, based on their history, lifestyle and current health.

Sometimes it is best not to put a time limit on this way of eating, but rather use how you feel as your guide. Initially, strict adherence to this way of eating is needed to reduce high Candida numbers, but over time you may be able to relax the rules and bring in some of the initial foods you need to avoid. When we aim to starve Candida, we need to cut back its food source as discussed above. This means cutting out 100% of:

• Simple sugars- cane sugar, evaporated cane juice, rapadura, honey, maple syrup, coconut sugar, coconut nectar, agave syrup, fructose, rice syrup, malt syrup, beet syrup and carob syrup.
• Fruit- this includes all fresh fruit, all dry fruit and fruit juices.
• Some vegetables- corn, peas, pumpkin, potatoes, sweet potatoes, all vegetable juices.
• Simple carbohydrates- wheat products, processed white rice products, white rice, gluten-containing products, all refined products including pasta, bread, biscuits, cakes, slices, wraps, crackers etc.
• Alcohol- all alcohols.
• Dairy products- all animal milks, cheeses, butters, creams and yoghurts.
• Some condiments- vinegar (excluding apple cider), soy sauce, anything with gluten, sugar or dairy.

So What Can I Eat?

Basically, you diet should consist of lots of vegetables, protein and complex carbohydrates like quinoa, brown rice, millet, buckwheat etc. Meals can take a little getting used to but they will fill you up and help starve the Candida. Don’t forget to take a supply of nuts and seeds with you everywhere in case you feel peckish. When eating out, you can usually order a salad and meat with a dressing of olive oil and lemon juice. You will have to get used to asking what is in your meal- EVERYTHING HAS SUGAR! You will be horrified by all the sugar hidden in your diet! Watch out for sauces, marinades, and dressings- sugar hides here! Most places are very accommodating so don’t be afraid to ask for a simple meal that suits your dietary needs. It’s not hard for most restaurants to grill some fish or meat with pepper and salt and lemon juice and provide you with steamed veggies or an undressed salad. Remember food allergies and intolerances are becoming more common in our society, so if you feel uncomfortable, just say you have food allergies!

Killing Candida:

There are many ways we can help eradicate Candida through food as medicine. When Candida dies, they release many toxins, which may cause us to feel worse initially. Common symptoms include bloating, headaches, tiredness, irritability, low immunity and nausea. These are good signs because we know the Candida is dying, but we do need to try and reduce these symptoms in the first week or two. Initial Candida die-off is a bit of a double-edged sword. But don’t worry; this won’t be a problem after about 2 weeks. Making sure the liver and bowels are functioning optimally is the best way to avoid the die off symptoms. The ways to kill and remove Candida are listed below.

Many Fresh Garlic Bulbs

1. Antifungal

Garlic is nature’s antimicrobial/antibiotic. It is one of the few things Candida does not get resistant to, and therefore can be taken for long periods. It is also high in glutathione, an antioxidant very active in slowing down aging in our body. Garlic should be eaten fresh or slightly cooked. Add crushed garlic into a dish after it comes off the stove, or chop it into pill like cubes and swallow it. 2-4 cloves a day is best. Take it at night to help avoid garlic breath.

Coconut Oil contains caprylic acid, which has been shown to liquefy Candida from the inside out! You can use it in cooking or add it to meals. 1-2 dessert spoons are needed per day.

Green Tea inhibits the adherence of the yeast cells onto the wall of the gut and can therefore be antifungal. 2 or 3 cups per day is enough. Do not drink this before bed, as the caffeine can be stimulating.

2. Protect and Repair

Fish oil can help repair the damage caused by yeasts and help prevent a further infestation. Making sure the diet is high is oily fish, sardines, nuts and seeds, olive oil, and flaxseed oil can increase the essential fatty acid levels in your body. You may need a good quality fish oil supplement to initially boost your EPA/DHA levels.

Glutamine can help heal the damage caused by Candida, and help heal up the gut to help prevent leaky gut which may cause Candida outbreaks.

Fibre, both soluble and insoluble can prevent future outbreaks through maintaining good bowel health. Preventing constipation is important because Candida can thrive in any matter staying in the bowel for long periods of time. Insoluble fibre like psyllium husks, chia seeds and vegetable fire acts as a broom and sweeps out wastes, while soluble fibre like slippery elm, and vegetable pectin’s provide nutrients for the good bowel flora to feed on.

Water, in 1-2 litres per day will help flush out toxins. Drinking Dandelion tea, Pau D’arco tea and other herbal detox teas can also be helpful. Make sure they are all caffeine free.

3. Killing Herbs

Phellodendron, this herb has replaced Pau D’arco in many naturopathic products aimed at Candida. Although Pau D’arco is still effective as an antifungal, it has been classed as endangered and therefore not used in preparations for sustainability reasons.

Thyme, usually used in oil form in naturopathic capsules, this immune boosting herb also kills fungus and bacteria due to its essential oil content.

Oregano, another oil used in the treatment of yeast infections. This very strong tasting oil can be very unpleasant on its own, and is best taken in capsule form under the care of your naturopath.

Horopito, this herb from New Zealand can help restore the balance of good and bad bacteria in the gastrointestinal tract while reducing Candida numbers. Discuss the use of this herb with your naturopath.

4. Getting the Good Guys!

Probiotics, you may need to take a multi-strain course of probiotics, after your initial killing phase to help top up your good bacteria levels and help prevent further outbreaks.

Saccharomyces boulardii is a non-colonising yeast that can help reduce the Candida colonies in the gastrointestinal tract. It may not be suitable in severely immune compromised patients, so please discuss this option with your naturopath.

Fermented Foods can be a great way to feed the good guys and keep their colonies high. Use sauerkraut, kim chi, and kefir after you have improved.

Candida is a complex problem, especially when it becomes chronic. There are many aspects of this condition that have not been touched on, such as the emotional, parasitic and hormonal involvement in this complaint. Working hand in hand with your naturopath will give you the best chance to get Candida under control and keep it there! You may wish to get a Comprehensive Digestive Stool Analysis test to discover the health of your good bacteria, and the level of Candida you have in your digestive tract. Candida IS treatable, it is not something you just have to put up with. You can take the first steps towards conquering Candida now!

Rhianna

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16 commentsAdd comment

Jen March 7, 2013 at 2:16 am

I’ve been getting outbreaks before my period for years. My doctor said it was normal and somthing I just needed to treat with Canesten creams- is that right?

Thanks :)

Gary March 7, 2013 at 2:18 am

I’ve had a fungal nail infection for a long time that I can’t get rid of. Is that the same thing? I also get tinnea on my feet and use anti fungal cream. Are they related?

Pam March 7, 2013 at 2:31 am

I just wanted to say what a great article this is – I had chronic candida after taking many courses of antibiotics and couldn’t get help from my doctor. I ended up seeing a naturopath and even though the diet was strict, I didn’t actually need to be on it that long, and the bonus was that I lost quite a bit of weight too! It is worth the effort, thanks, pam

Rhianna March 7, 2013 at 2:48 am

Hi Jen: candida outbreaks before your period can be related to hormonal imbalances, or being on the oral contraceptive pill. I’d recommend that you explore this area further, as it may be a simple fix, such as changing your form of contraception, or using herbal medicine to balance your hormones. Your definitely don’t have to just put up with it! :)

Hi Gary: yes fungal infections caused by candida can affect the nails and skin. I’d recommend you talk to some one about your diet and maybe do some investigation into your digestive health. There are natural anti-fungal treatments available to put on the skin and nails, but if this is an ongoing complaint I’d suggest you look deeper with the help of a naturaopth to find the underlying cause.

Hi Pam, yes you are right! One of the “side effects” of the anti-candida diet is that you may lose weight! You can also find you have more energy, sleep better and feel clearer in the head. I’m so glad you had such great results!

<3 Rhi

Margaret March 8, 2013 at 4:41 am

Great article, very informative and interesting. I have a friend who has constant outbreaks and hasn’t had much joy with treatments so far, so I will be passing this info on to her. Many thanks!

Jen S March 15, 2013 at 4:16 pm

Candida used to be an easy problem to treat 10-15 years ago but this infection can now often prove to be resistant against the conventional pharmaceutical treatment methods out there. looking at new solutions, especially natural ones, seems to me the way to go – and probiotics are definitely looking very promising in this regard.

Airbourne March 20, 2013 at 4:34 am

This is a very helpful post for those who are suffering from candida overgrowth and not getting the right treatment protocols. I think that natural treatment methods provide a better advantage than conventional medicine. It is also good to shop for organic or fresh herbs that are extremely potent to kill resistant infections.

michelle March 24, 2013 at 9:30 am

I have read a few articles and books that allow most fresh fruits with the exception of grapes, watermelon and oranges. What do you think of this theory? The 80 10 10 diet says fats are the problem not fresh fruit?? I have also heard to keep away from all grains???

Look froward to your reply..Many thanks

Jessica Miller March 25, 2013 at 6:41 am

Hi, thank you for that great post. Garlic has so many good properties against many illnesses. I eat it even when I get cold.

Hamish March 27, 2013 at 6:15 am

Thanks for replying to Gary’s post above. I’m starting to get a bit of nail fungus. I’ll be sure to take on that advice. Thanks.

Rhianna April 11, 2013 at 2:02 am

Hi Michelle,

In response to your post, there are a number of variations of the traditional anti-candida diet out there. It can be a matter of trying a few until you find the one that suits your body.

If you are doing a 100% strict diet you should avoid all fruit and all grains.

Grapes, oranges and watermelon are higher in sugars, but all fruit still contains sugar- as does some veggies like pumpkin, sweet potato and corn, which is why they are also avoided on a strict anti-candida diet.

I have read the theory of the fats being the problem, not the sugars and have tried this in one or two cases with no successful results. This doesn’t mean it doesn’t work, it just hasn’t worked for the few I have tried it with. If you want to give this a go, try a green smoothie fast for 1 week. Just fruit, veggies and water in each smoothie. I found that to be the easiest way to stick to the no fat rule.

It really is up to the individual and their practitioner. It depends on your personal history, symptoms, current diet and lifestyle.

I hope this helps Michelle!

Warm wishes,

Rhi :)

Rhianna April 23, 2013 at 2:34 am

Hi Tegan,

Candida outbreaks while pregnant or breast feeding can be very frustrating! It can be hormonally related so if you do make some diet changes and there is limited response don’t despair. Improvement can come once hormone levels return to normal. You can still help the condition through some diet changes.

Lowering the sugar content in your diet is certainly safe when breast feeding. Avoiding all refined, processed and highly sugared foods will help reduce the amount of available food candida has to feed off. I wouldn’t suggest an anticandida diet for breast feeding Mums, but lowering your sugar in take and making sure you are having complex carbohydrates and lower GI fruits can still help. We need to give you and the baby nourishment without encouraging candida over growth.

Coconut oil is perfectly safe, but garlic may change the taste of your milk, and possibly give the baby reflux if you have too much so just be careful with this. Green tea contains caffeine so may stimulate the baby if you have more than 1 cup per day.

The fibre, water and fish oil are all perfectly safe, as are the Saccharomyces boulardii and the probiotics.

None of the killing herbs should be used while breast feeding.

I would suggest seeing your local naturopath to discuss other treatments that may help such as douching or natural pessaries.

I hope this helps!

Warm wishes,

Rhi :)

Julia April 25, 2013 at 8:31 am

My Candida outbreak was definitely linked to hormone changes during the menopause. I found keeping off the sugar and sugary drinks plus eating lots of fresh fruit and veggies (a lot raw) worked well.worked well

Franko June 11, 2013 at 1:54 pm

This is one of the most complete and informative pieces I’ve read on candida. Thanks for the great information, as I’m sure lots of folks out there will find it educational and enlightening. I will say that I have found that good probiotics, sugar avoidance, oil of oregano, and garlic supplements have been very helpful for me personally in dealing with candida. After a few months of these dietary changes, I hardly notice any ill-effects from the candida. Different things work for different people, but I’ve found that this is my “magic formula” for my gut.

Rhianna July 31, 2013 at 4:23 am

Thank you Julia and Franko for sharing your experiences! It’s great to see people who have been there, done that so to speak!

Keep up the great work guys :)

christinamom7 August 18, 2014 at 3:44 pm

I’ve been suffering with candida and yeast imbalance for some time and have tried a number of remedies recommended by my Naturopath. I was keen to the Lady Soma Candida Cleanse, because it is an all in one candida cleanse, containing anti-fungals, enzymes and probiotics, so I only need to take one product, instead of a whole series of different formulations. I took the full dose to begin with, and was pleased with the results, which started to kick in within about a week. Now I just take 1 capsule per day of the Lady Soma pill as a maintenance dose and that seems to be keeping things under control for me. For the first time, I feel like I have found a simple long term solution to keeping my candida at bay.

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