Last week I looked at Candida Albicans and how it can become overgrown in our gut for a number of reasons that include over use of antibiotics: https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/02/16/smorgasbord-health-column-size-matters-the-sequel-candida-albicans-sally-cronin/
This week the first part of eliminating the overgrowth and creating a balanced bacteria in your gut by eliminating sugars
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 contraceptive 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.
Please do not stop taking prescribed medication without consultation with your doctor.
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 yogurts 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 yogurt a day in the hopes it will make up for it! The other ingredient in many supermarket pots of yogurt 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 function 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.
Candida’s favourite food and ours, is sugar and the first step to reducing an overgrowth is removing sugar from your diet.
Whatever the reason for your overgrowth of Candida Albicans; you still need to adapt your diet. The main problem is the sugars in industrialised foods will not just satisfy your sweet cravings, but the candida’s too. You will be surprised at how much sugar is included in savoury products that you may buy, and it is important to check labels.
Sugar addiction is recognised as a real and extremely harmful craving mentally and physically.
I am a sugar addict………..along with millions of people around the world, most of whom have struggled with their weight and their health all their lives. Sugar is everywhere – there is no getting away from it. Not just sweets and chocolate, cakes, muffins, bread and cereals but hidden in pasta sauces and most of our savoury favourites. In every shop and in our own kitchen cupboards and fridge – always within reach and as enticing as anything in our lives.
What are sugars?
Sugars are a vital component of the fuel we require to function – unfortunately the modern diet is akin to a 24 hour petrol station and most of us slide effortlessly up to the supercharged pump and pay the very heavy price to fill our tank with it. We then tootle at 20 miles an hour or slower and instead of burning off the fuel we store it in our cells – as fat.
A quick look at the fuel itself. It belongs in the carbohydrate food group, our main source of energy. Carbohydrates are a group of nutrients that contain carbon atoms that have been hydrated by adding water molecules. Carbohydrates include sugars, starches and fibre. The sugar and the starches are metabolised by the body into the simple sugar, glucose.
Glucose molecules circulate in the bloodstream, supplying our cells with the fuel, as they need it. Any additional glucose is converted into glycogen, which is stored in the muscles of the liver. If that storehouse is already full then any excess glucose gets converted into fat.
There are two types of carbohydrate, simple and complex.
Simple carbohydrates contain one or two saccharides such as sucrose (glucose and fructose) which is table sugar and lactose (glucose and galactose) which is the sugar found in milk. This is called a disaccharide.
If the carbohydrate only has one saccharide, it is called monosaccharide such as fructose which is found in fruit and honey. The less saccharides the sweeter the taste so the sweetest is therefore fructose. Whilst moderate consumption of natural sources of simple sugars is absolutely fine including fruit and some honey it is the hidden simple sugars in industrialised foods that are causing the problem.
Complex carbohydrates are known as polysaccharides and they are made of long strings of simple sugars and there are many different kinds. These are the starches and are the most nutritious because they tend to be a component in a food that has other nutrients. The body also breaks down starches into glucose, but it takes longer to digest than the simple sugars which is why they do not cause the same blood sugar fluctuations.
Fibre is a very important carbohydrate because the intestinal tract does not have the enzymes necessary to break down the long chain into individual sugar molecules so it does not get absorbed into the bloodstream – also, fibre slows down the digestion and absorption of sugar, which extends and maintains the energy levels it provides. The source for this nutritious and useful form of complex sugars is found in green vegetables, whole grains, potatoes and other fibre rich foods.
Why use the term industrialised?
Earlier in the post I mentioned the addictive nature of sugars caused largely by the accessibility to those of us in developed countries to industrialised food. I use that term because it is more appropriate than just using the term processed. Natural foods can also go through a form of processing to get to our table, but as long as that process does not include the removal of essential elements or the addition of industrial ingredients, it is unlikely to be harmful.
This industrialisation of our foods is very recent in terms of our evolution. Less than 150 years. To put this into perspective in terms of our body’s genetic make-up.. It can take 10,000 years for a mutation to occur in our DNA to adapt to a new environment. Whilst we have much more access to natural foods all year around, (which would have not been the case 10,000 years ago), we have the disadvantage of now including artificial foods that our body simply cannot process effectively to provide essential nutrients to be healthy.
The body is a sophisticated and complex machine which requires a diverse range of ingredients to process and then pass into the bloodstream to provide the energy we need both on a daily basis and additional power when we need it. If the ingredients you are putting into your body, are not of the chemical make-up essential to make this fuel – you will not only be lacking in energy, but the corrosive nature of the poor ingredients will cause damage and wear on our organs, arterial system and long-time health.
The manufacturers are well aware of our addiction to sugar and manipulate us into eating more.
For some, high sugar/fat foods are a comfort, and the manufacturers are well aware of this.. Take a look at the chocolate adverts on the television and most feature women who turn to chocolate whilst they watch a sad or romantic movie, or because they are day dreaming of love or a sexy hunk dropping off some Black Magic…In this one the girl is wandering through a healthy field of sunflowers, giving the illusion that the flake is too.
It is true that at certain times of the month a woman’s hormone fluctuations can increase that desire for sweet foods.. We tend to misinterpret this as a craving for chocolate, but in fact it is more likely to do with the body wanting to prepare for conception by ingesting high energy foods and changes in blood sugar levels. But the body is looking to receive that fuel from nutritious complex carbohydrates and fruit rather than a Toblerone! (Trust me)
The amount of sugar that we ingest is not just in response to a possible addiction… It is more likely to be habit.
This habit was formed when we were fed as a child. In our house for example we always had a dessert after our main meal and my father was the master of the steamed treacle pudding with lots of sweet custard. He had two teaspoons of sugar in his tea and he had done so since the first cup his mother gave him as a child. It never occurred to him to reduce it to one or none at all. He had a very sweet tooth.
How many biscuits do you automatically reach for when you open a tin or packet? I bet like me it will be at least two…one piece of toast with butter and jam seems a bit lonely too.. A couple is a round number.
Anyway..One of the key indicators that you are eating too much of this high octane fuel, turbo-charged with too much sugar is a candida overgrowth.
Apart from an overgrowth of candida, eating too much sugar puts you at risk of morbid obesity, cancer, diabetes, heart disease, varicose veins, high blood pressure, eye disease, depression and liver and kidney problems.
Sugar intake guidelines for a healthy balanced diet.
First and foremost – these can vary, but for the sake of having some form of measurement to use – men should not consume more than 37.5 gms or 9 teaspoons a day of additional dietary sugar a day. For women it is less around 25grams or 6 teaspoons. That is not really a great deal – to be honest by the time you have had a frosted cereal for breakfast with a couple of spoons of sugar you have had it for the day!!
There are plenty of lists out there with the sugar content of everyday foods. However, the manufacturers can be very clever when hiding the actual level of sugar in their product, one of which is splitting the sugar content into different types and who has time to stand in the aisle of a supermarket and add up the small (very small print) on every item you buy? Food manufacturers are well aware for our new found love for sweet foods and have no problem exploiting it!
A quick guideline – keep to foods that have a total sugar content of 5gms or less per 100gms…and do not buy anything that has syrup at the end of it, or sweetener or cane…..and remember that to your body whatever its name or origins it is all just simply sugar and it will be treated as such.
Low fat foods can be the biggest culprits and certainly fizzy drinks should only be drunk very occasionally. Canned fruits in syrup may seem a low fat option but even the light syrup options have 18grams of sugar! Pasta sauces and certainly most Chinese sauces are high in sugar and if you cannot live without your sweet and sour chicken three times a week, you have a sugar addiction! Your daily bread has sugars and certainly the body will treat the white flour products, white rice and pasta that you eat as sugar.
If you are diabetic then you do need to monitor what you are eating with regard to carbohydrates and sugars and that will be explained to you by your medical advisor.
To be successful you need to move your body away from its addiction to sugars over a period of about four weeks as going cold turkey can end badly!
First keep a food diary for a week and circle everything that contains sugar which includes pasta sauces, cereals, soups, ketchup, jams, biscuits, cakes in fact suspect everything!! And don’t forget the soft drinks that you include regularly.
Begin the process though by halving the amount that you eat immediately.
As most of the sugars will be in foods that are snacks, you will find you can reduce the sugar content by substituting with these natural foods.
Rather than eating sweet biscuits, substitute with high quality oatcakes (check label but typically 45% lower in sugar than other biscuits). Eat with some low fat cottage cheese, sliced avocado or even some thin sliced cheddar.
I am not keen on artificial sweeteners, even those as touted as ‘natural’ including Stevia, which after all has been manufactured to achieve the powdery substance. Whilst some may be deemed safe to use by the authorities, if you have a sugar craving, you are not reducing that by offering it a substitute to refined sugars, as you are still feeding the habit. Your body and Candida, will react to artificial sweeteners in the same way as they do to real sugar.
- Strategy one in your battle with your Candida overgrowth, is to halve the amount of sugar in your diet in the first two weeks.
- Reduce the amount again by half in the second two weeks.
©Sally Cronin – Just Food for Health 1998 – 2019
A little bit about me nutritionally.
A little about me from a nutritional perspective. Although I write a lot of fiction, I actually wrote my first two books on health, the first one, Size Matters, a weight loss programme 20 years ago. I qualified as a nutritional therapist and practiced in Ireland and the UK as well as being a consultant for radio. My first centre was in Ireland, the Cronin Diet Advisory Centre and my second book, Just Food for Health was written as my client’s workbook.
You can find out more about my books and their recent reviews: https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/my-books-and-reviews-2019/
You can find the previous chapters in this series: https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/size-matters-the-sequel/
Next week – Starve the Fungus and Feed the Body – Specific foods and a shopping list for Candida.