What Is Candida?
Living in the digestive tract, and coexisting with other bacteria, Candida Albicans is a fungus or type of yeast. To function right your body relies on bacteria. And various types of microorganisms pack your gut, with Candida Albicans being the most common. To learn more about good and bad bacteria and the effect they have on gut health, click here.
A combination of factors, such as a round of antibiotics, a high-stress lifestyle or a diet high in the wrong types of carbohydrates, can lead to the Candida Albicans population growing out of control.
Candida Albicans helps out with digestion and nutrient absorption as its main role in the gut. However, when there’s an overgrowth of candida, known as yeast infection or candidiasis, it can wreak havoc on your digestive tract.
Once it starts to grow out of control candida quickly establishes colonies and biofilms and begins dominating your gut. However, the good news is there are ways of treating candida naturally and getting an overgrowth back under control.
7 Symptoms Of Candida Overgrowth?
Depending on where Candida Albicans spreads, you can experience a variety of different symptoms including:
- Skin and nail fungal infections (such as athlete’s foot or toenail fungus).
- Feelings of fatigue.
- Weight gain.
- Skin issues like eczema, psoriasis, rashes and hives.
- Feeling more irritable and suffering from prolonged mood swings, anxiety or depression.
- Seasonal allergies may be exacerbated as a result of the candida overgrowth.
- As it normally resides in the gut, digestive issues such as bloating, constipation and diarrhea.
These nasty symptoms are usually the first warning signs that you might be dealing with an excess of candida in your digestive tract.
Because yeast feeds on sugar, you may also experience strong, almost out of control, cravings for sugary foods and refined carbohydrates. Candida Albicans wants you to keep feeding it so that it can keep on growing. And of course as it grows it causes even more nasty symptoms and health issues.
How Candida Albicans Affects Your Digestive System
By spreading and building colonies in your gut candida can begin to affect your digestion, while weakening your immune system at the same time.
If left untreated, it can damage the intestinal wall and allow the toxic byproducts of candida to escape into the bloodstream and spread throughout the body. If this happens it can cause candidiasis in the eyes, heart, bones and more.
Acetaldehyde, the major waste product of the candida cell activity is a neurotoxin that promotes free radical activity in the body. Normally, acetaldehyde is broken down into acetic acid by a process occurring in the liver.
However, if too much acetaldehyde is released, for instance, due to a spurt in the number of Candida Albicans in the body, it can circulate through your bloodstream and result in headaches and nausea.
Bloating, gas and intestinal cramps can be the result of a candida overgrowth. Rectal and/or vaginal itching is another commonly recognized symptom of Candida Albicans. Constipation, alternating with severe diarrhea can also be experienced.
How To Find Out If You’ve Got It
If you suspect you might be suffering from candida overgrowth in your digestive system, first look at your diet. Sudden cravings for sweets and processed foods are usually a good indicator that you’re dealing with an overgrowth.
A useful first step to assess the likelihood of a yeast infection is by using an online candida questionnaire. Current symptoms and risk factors that may have caused the health issues will be reviewed. For example if you have recently completed a round of antibiotics.
However, many of the candidiasis symptoms overlap with other common health problems. The only way to know for sure if you have a candida overgrowth is having a series of tests carried out.
One of the most reliable ways to test for Candida Albicans is comprehensive stool testing. Specialty labs can analyze your stool for yeast overgrowth. Over the course of two days, stool samples are collected to ensure you have a representative sample. Once collected you place the samples in a bag provided by the testing facility and send them off to the lab for analysis.
An alternative Candida Albicans test is serum testing. A lab practitioner can test your blood for IgG, IgM, and IgA antibodies to Candida. This is usually faster and easier to collect but it lacks the high-reliability comprehensive stool analysis offers.
Lastly, you can have a Candida DNA test done – it’s performed by polymerase chain reaction (PCR) and can detect up to five different species of Candida in the bloodstream.
3 Tips For Successfully Treating Candida Naturally
Dealing with a candida overgrowth can be unpleasant and if left untreated, the condition can pose a real threat to your health. A 3 step approach is needed to successfully kill off the overgrowth in your gut and creating balance in your digestive system.
Step 1. Starve Your Candida
To treat it, first, you need to stop the yeast overgrowth. Switch to a low-carbohydrate diet and avoid processed foods and refined sugars, including candy, desserts and soft drinks. You should also cut out alcohol, fruit, dairy and all grains and grain products.
If you have been eating a standard western diet what this means is no more pasta, pastries, chips, cereal, starchy high sugar vegetables like potatoes and corn, ice cream, cookies etc.
You need to starve the yeast of any form of sugar that it feeds on to grow. Fruit is considered a healthy food, but consider this, just one cup of mango has a whopping 23 grams of sugar. Even low sugar fruits normally considered healthy such as berries should be avoided while treating your candida.
An anti candida diet is quite tough, particularly if you have been eating an unhealthy diet to start with. But, try to visualize yourself starving the candida organisms with every good healthy food choice you make.
If you can be strict with your diet you will get quicker results in killing off the overgrowth. Each ‘cheat’ food provides food for the candida to keep growing.
The foods to eliminate form a pretty big list and you might look at it with dismay realizing that it cuts out all of the food you normally eat.
So let’s focus on all of the healthy food you CAN eat that are not only heaps healthier generally and will support your body, but importantly won’t feed your candida.
Foods you can eat on the candida diet are meat, eggs, fish, green non starchy vegetables, raw nuts and seeds (avoid peanuts), healthy fresh pressed green juices and unsweetened coconut products.
Step 2. Kill Off The Overgrowth
Once you have your eating under control and you have stopped feeding your candida overgrowth, the next step is to hit the candida with effective natural antifungals. Some of the best natural antifungals for eliminating candida are :
- Pau d’arco,
- Black walnut,
- Olive leaf extract,
- Grapefruit seed extract
- Oregano oil.
- Caprylic Acid
Start by choosing three from the list above and rotate them to make sure the candida doesn’t become resistant. Try a 3 day rotation of each antifungal.
You should also include a supplement that can break down the biofilms. Biofilms are structures that are formed by many bacteria and fungi and can make the successful elimination of candida difficult to treat. By including a biofilm disrupting supplement, the candida microorganism can be eradicated.
A study found that biofilms are made up of around 30% glucose. This finding means that candida needs sugar to grow as well as make the biofilm that protects it. Another important reason to cut out all types of sugar from your diet.
The biofilm acts as a protective structure for the candida which hides inside it. By producing a biofilm, the microorganism creates a shield to protect itself from your immune system or the natural antifungal you are using to kill it off.
Step 3. Rebuild Your Gut
Once you have deprived the Candida Albicans of its food source and started reducing the overgrowth with some natural anti fungals and a biofilm disruptor, you can start re-building the friendly bacteria in your gut. In effect you want to rebalance the good and bad bacteria again in your gut.
As well as eating probiotic foods such as kimchi, fermented vegetables, and kombucha to supply your gut with friendly bacteria you may also want to add probiotic supplements.
Which Probiotics Are Most Effective?
Usually, candidiasis flares up after a round of antibiotics since they don’t discriminate between the ‘good’ and ‘bad’ bacteria in your gut flora.
Aim to take anywhere between 25-100 billion units of probiotics on a regular basis. Doing this will build the colonies of friendly bacteria that normally keeps the Candida Albicans population under control.
Research shows that some particular species of Lactobacillus strains are more effective than others in overcoming candida overgrowth and helping prevent formation of biofilms.
I have used L rhamnosus 5.2 as part of my treatment as it also helps with food sensitivities. However, L paracasei 28.4 and L fermentum 20.4 where also found useful.
As a final step, pay attention to your gut. Candida Albicans can have a severe impact on the digestive tract so make sure you eliminate any inflammatory foods that can harm it.
Yeast infection can be a complex health issue and one that often goes undiagnosed or neglected. The overgrowth of Candida Albicans as a result of poor diet or a combination of factors can lead to general feelings of fatigue and a myriad of digestive problems.
More often than not, once the overgrowth clears, you will experience not only relief from the symptoms but a great increase in your general health, energy and well-being.
Putting It All Together
Carry out testing to determine if you have Candida Albicans overgrowth. Adjust your diet to starve it and rotate natural anti fungals to knock out the overgrowth. Add in a biofilm disruptor and flood your digestive tract with probiotics to get your gut back in balance.
If you have any questions or would like to leave a comment, please feel free.