There is a ton of dietary advice out there on the net about the “correct” diet to get rid of an overgrowth of Candida, some of which is pretty drastic. Of course, you need to adjust your intake of certain foods because even if you are prescribed anti-fungal drugs the pathogen itself will always be present in your gut waiting for another opportunity to take over the body again.
Remember that Candida Albicans exists in all of us at normal levels in the intestines and it can just take a two day stomach upset, which causes an imbalance of healthy flora, to trigger an overgrowth. You also need to think twice before you decide to embark on a crash diet that is nutritionally depleted – this too will cause an imbalance of essential bacteria in the gut.
Preventing this overgrowth in the first place is the ideal. Unfortunately, it is not just antibiotics we take that can kill off good bacteria in the gut and allow the Candida to thrive unaffected. It is highly likely that long-term use of medication including the pill or HRT may also result in an overgrowth. Certainly, people 50+ who have been prescribed life-long medication for cholesterol, blood pressure etc may also be at risk of an overgrowth, and it may take generations to understand the impact on our intestinal bacteria.
If you do have to take antibiotics for a serious infection, then certainly taking a course of probiotics afterwards can be helpful – there are some on the market now that claim to be resistant to the antibiotics so that you can take simultaneously, but you do need to continue them for a period of time afterwards. Live yoghurts are fine for helping to maintain the healthy balance but they are not strong enough to kill an overgrowth, neither are they a magic bullet! You cannot expect to eat a rubbish diet and then have one small pot of yoghurt a day in the hopes it will make up for it! The other ingredient in many supermarket pots of yoghurt is the hidden sugar levels which of course is Candida’s favourite food.
Just a reminder here about the difference between probiotics and prebiotics if you missed the last post.
Probiotics are the bacteria and yeasts that are classified as ‘friendly’. They inhabit our digestive tract and are a vital part of the process of digesting food and turning it into something that the rest of the body into a form it can utilise. Without a healthy balance of these probiotics systems such as the immune functionn can be compromised as well as the health of other operating systems and the major organs. If you eat live dairy products including Kefir or fermented foods such as sauerkraut it will encourage the essential bacteria such as Lactobacilli and Bifidobacteria to flourish.
Prebiotics are processed from insoluble carbohydrates in most fruit and vegetables including Apples (skin on) bananas, beans, artichokes etc (which is why we need to eat several portions of vegetables and fruit daily) This survives the stomach acid and digestive process that some foods such as yogurts might not do, and reaches the gut where it acts like a fertiliser for the existing probiotics and maintains a healthy balance.
Whatever the reason for your overgrowth of Candida Albicans; you still need to adapt your diet. The main problem is the sugars in processed foods which is not just satisfy your sweet cravings but the candida’s too.
The first and most major adaptation is the removal of these prepared foods from the diet. This includes foods that are assumed to be savoury such as jars of pasta sauce (4 or 5 teaspoons of sugar), tomato ketchup etc. And of course certain breakfast cereals……Cooking everything from scratch and including prebiotic foods such as vegetable carbohydrates with their skins, can be more time consuming but if you cook double portions of meat, starch and other vegetables, and either eat two days in a row or freeze for later use, you need only cook three or four times a week.
Controlling the fungus without starving your body.
Over the years clients have arrived at their first appointment, tired, depressed, still suffering from skin problems, infections etc who have been following the most rigid diet possible to eradicate the overgrowth of candida. They are surviving on a narrow range of foods, greatly reduced nutritional variety and values, and are terrified of putting certain foods in their mouths.
The problem is balance – starving the fungus is essential. But, in the process you can also starve the body of the nutrients it requires to rebuild the immune system which you need to work on your behalf internally. The overgrowth is not restricted to the intestines, as I described in the last post – the symptoms are caused because it has got into the bloodstream and has free access to the entire body. You are going to need the immune system’s power to push back the fungus to the gut where it belongs at normal levels.
For example – I gave up yeast products back in the late 90’s despite my craving for bread which was almost as bad as my desire for sugars. However as a yeast Candida, it is the sugars it needs to sustain its rapid growth and to maintain its hold on the body. The first inclination is to strip the diet of anything containing those two ingredients, natural or otherwise. However recent research is indicating that not all yeast or fungal foods are a problem.
I experimented with mushrooms for example, whilst eliminating sugars except for fruit. I discovered that I did not appear to react to mushrooms which is great news as they are nutritionally dense. Agreed, you can get most of the vitamins and minerals from other sources but in my opinion the body needs its nutrients from a wide variety of foods and during a period of recovery when your body is weakened already by a fungal overgrowth you need all the help you can get.
Today however, the one staple that most of us find the hardest to give up. Our daily bread.
Industrialised bread, particularly the cheap, plastic wrapped, white flour variety with its abundance of additives including sugars is perfect fodder for Candida. I enjoy and include some white breads in my diet…occasionally. The supermarket in-house bakeries are producing terrific artisan breads and also imported varieties such as baguettes and Panini.. All without preservatives and additives so tend to go stale in 24 hours unless you freeze. I still cannot eat regularly which is why I make my own yeast and sugar free Irish Soda bread.
Luckily I was introduced to Irish Soda bread in the late 90’s which is yeast free and has little sugar, but today there is a wide range of yeast and sugar free breads available in health food shops and online as well as super recipes to make at home. These can be adapted to include additional nutritional essentials in the form of seeds and nuts. I made a couple of loaves yesterday, one for the week and one in the freezer – cost about £1 a loaf to make. There are also unleavened breads – corn and wholegrain tortillas etc that you can enjoy too.
Apart from being able to feel that you are at least including normal foods – bread does not stand alone – we put things on it – an egg cooked in a variety of ways is a great supper on toast and is good for you. Sandwiches made with your own bread for lunch with fresh salad filling and cooked chicken or tinned tuna etc are far better than buying already prepared and expensive varieties with unknown ingredient.
Here are some links to both prepared yeast free products and recipes to try at home.
This is just one adjustment to your daily diet that will feed your body but starve the fungus.
Next time some foods you should adapt or exclude and some foods that should be absolutely included to boost your immune system to combat this persistent parasite. I will also give you the link to a shopping list that includes most of the nutrients we need for a balanced diet.
The previous posts in the top to toe series including the first post in the Candida series can be found in this directory.
Please feel free to reblog if you think your own readers might be interested in the subject and of course please leave your commments or questions..