Candida overgrowth; what is it? Symptoms you may have it. What is causes it? What to do about it. AND why stress is a major factor!
Sounds sexy doesn’t it?!
In last week’s Journal I talked about the bacterium that makes up 90% of what we call our bodies. In continuing with this theme and finding the balance of good and evil I am going to address a common complaint of candida overgrowth. As many as 1 in 4 people have this condition and most are not aware.
Candida is yeast/ fungi that live within all of us, preferring to live in warm, dark and moist environment such as vagina, damp toes and even our intestines. When an overgrowth occurs, symptoms such as thrush and athletes foot occur but lesser known are the issues that occur on an internal level. When the candida spreads throughout our body and penetrate the lining of the intestines and bowels, it can result in “leaky gut “and the toxic byproducts of candida can enter the bloodstream.
Indication of Candida Overgrowth can be hard to pin point and often dismissed as a normal part of life, getting old or just endured as it’s always been that way. It doesn’t have to be that way. An appointment with a Naturopath with live blood screening can help diagnose and assess.
· Skin Problems; eczema, psoriasis, tinea, fungal infection- thrush/jock itch, body odour · Immunity; allergies, sensitivities and intolerance to foods that are normally ok · Mental: brain fog- feeling “spaced out” or flat, poor memory and concentration, mood swings, lethargy, unexplained depressive and anxious feelings. · Respiratory: hay fever, sinus issues, breathlessness and wheezing (non-asthmatic) · Nervous system: Numbness i.e tongue, tingling, tinnitus – ringing in the ears, muscular aches and weakness (not associated with exercise), fatigue · Gastrointestinal; bad breath, diarrhea/constipation, bloating, excessive wind, abdominal pain, oral thrush · Reproductive System; Vaginal thrush, jock itch, PMS and menstrual problems- heavy or light flow, UTI’s
What causes it?
STRESS is a major contributing factor as it affects the immune system by creating an imbalance of good/bad bacterium (see last week’s journal), allowing the Candida infection to flourish. Other causes:
· Anti-biotics; pre-dispose you to candida infections as they wipe out good bacterium along with the bad. As candida is yeast it survives the dose of anti-biotics and thrives on the change to microflora in the digestive tract and throughout the body. This includes those anti-biotics passed along the food chain- think cow’s milk, eggs, and meats. · Diet: a diet containing processed foods such as breads, cakes and snacks, sugar and excessive alcohol all promote an imbalance to gut microbiome and promote a yeast overgrowth. · Diabetics; A this is a condition that directly effects the blood sugar levels and candida thrives on sugar, diabetics are pre-disposed. · Other medication: the oral contraceptive pill and hormone replacement therapy can alter the pH levels within the vagina and make some women more susceptible to thrush. Anti-inflammatory such as cortisone can suppress the immune system and affect the ability to fight yeast such as candida.
What can you do? Foremost, book in to see a Naturopath with live blood screening. Or your GP and ask for blood test. They will be able to diagnose and assist with a plan of attack for treating a Candida Overgrowth. Treating requires you to starve the Candida overgrowth, re-introducing good probiotic bacteria, essentially restoring balance to microflora and maintaining a strong immune system. Diet is essential to treating the problem as with avoiding sugar, alcohol and processed foods high in carbohydrates, as this is what fuels the Candida. As your Naturopath and or dieticians should advise the initial 4 weeks is important to avoid certain foods as to promote “die off”.
What to avoid · Sugar including any added to food such as; cakes, biscuits, soft drinks, fruit juice, honey etc · Fruit; grapes, melons, watermelon, papaya- high in natural sugar (re-introduce later) · Yeast containing foods; breads and pizza and vegemite · Alcohol; beer, wine, sparkling, liqueurs · Soft cheeses; Camembert, brie, blue cheese
What to eat
Foods high in pre and probiotic will feed the good bacterium within our gut and assist in eradicating the overgrowth. · Vegetables, green particularly as they balance the PH levels within our bodies · Legumes/ pulses · Fruit- expect those mentioned above. Limit to 2 per day · Grains; rice, corn, quinoa. Ensure no added yeast · Coconut oil is high in caprylic acid which is antifungal · White cheese; feta, ricotta, cottage · Probiotic/fermented foods; miso, kimchi/kraut, yoghurt (natural and no added sugar or fruit concentrate), · Meat, chicken fish and eggs- ensure that these are anti-biotic free and free-range · Alcohol- Try to avoid alcohol for 4 weeks however spirits are ok. Such as vodka, gin and whisky. If mixing ensure that water or soda not juice or soft drink · Garlic, turmeric, olive leaf extract, Echinacea are a natural anti-fungal and provide a boost to the immune system.
To reduce stress, try the following;
Add tea tree (anti-microbial) and lavender essential oils to a bath and soak. Dim the lights and light a few candles, close your eyes and relax. Take a book and find a space in Nature surrounded by tree’s, relax and breathe in the anti-oxidants the trees omit and relax. Alternatively try the following;
Find your feelings in Nature · When you are surrounded by trees, notice your emotional response to being there. · Start by closing your eyes. See if you can feel which way you want to walk- use your intuition · Notice all the sensual pleasures; what do you hear? Feel? Smell? See? Birdsong from the trees? The smell of the tall pines? The ruffle of the dried leaves between your fingers? The height of the tall trees or the water through the trees of the reserviour/ beach etc · Let time drop away, with it the stresses you carry What do you feel now?