Smorgasbord Health – The Digestive System – Candida Albicans an opportunistic pathogen.

Smorgasbord Health 2017

It is not possible to do a series on the digestive system without spending time covering our intestines and the delicate balance of bacteria that populate it. More and more research is showing that an imbalance has a profound effect on our overall physical and mental health. There are many diseases that have their root cause in the gut brain of our body.

It is not my intention to lay the blame for all diseases at the feet of Candida Albicans but it is I belief important to understand how an overgrowth of this pathogen can result in a lifetime of health issues. I will share how this impacted me later in the post.

Over the next few posts I will be repeating the Candida series and I hope that those who have already read two years ago will still find something of interest.

Recently I was asked about the difference between Probiotics and Prebiotics and will explain that now before we get into the issue of this rogue gut inhabitant.

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.

As far as Candida Albicans is concerned this balance in the intestinal flora is crucial and I will explain that as we mover through the upcoming posts.

I am 42, 330lbs/150kilo and with severe health problems in 1994

My acquaintance with Candida Albicans was back in the mid 90’s. I was determined to lose my additional 10 or 11 stone and so began studying nutrition and in the process I decided to create a timeline to identify events and activities in my life from childhood that might have triggered weight gain.

At age 10 I suffered a number of bouts of tonsillitis and was given penicillin at least five times before the tonsils were removed. Before these infections I was a normal size child – three months after the operation I was three stone overweight. Something had changed.

It took me a while once I began to study nutrition, but slowly over a period of about five years I began to join the dots and came to the conclusion that this first trigger and subsequent thrush and cystitis infections, crash dieting, sugar and bread cravings were linked in some way. Candida Albicans began to get more publicity and I compared my symptoms with those described and I experienced at least 80% of them.

My first book that I originally wrote as a journal,was published in 2001.Size Matters  was the story of my journey of my weight loss from 330lbs to 180lbs, and how this most common human fungal pathogen was largely responsible for my weight and health problems.

Before I cover the scary bit – because it is overwhelming to think that there is this predatory pathogen inside the majority of us (mainly living the western world and our high sugar diet!) There are steps we can all take to ensure that our diet and lifestyle support our immune system by keeping the intestines in balance with plenty of beneficial bacteria to maintain Candida in its proper proportions.

We are all familiar with the concerns about the rain forests and their devastation and long lasting consequences for our planet. Well our gut is an eco-system too – teeming with life that is as varied and as exotic as in any rain forest. And, like the many species that are at risk in the wider world, our bacteria that populate our gut and keep us alive are under threat too.

70% of humans contain Candida Albicans in small amounts in our gut and urinary tract. In those amounts it is harmless – however – advances in medical treatment and our modern diet have given this opportunistic pathogen all it needs to develop from harmless colonies to massive overgrowths. It is also referred to as Monilia, Thrush, Candidiasis and Yeast Infection. The most at risk are those with an already compromised immune system, but because of our high sugar, white carbohydrate and processed foods in our diets, most of us are now at risk. We also have been treated with broad spectrum antibiotics for the last 65 years as well as newer drugs that we take long term, that manipulate our hormonal balances. We as yet do not know the long term impact on our bodies of the modern drugs we take and it may be generations before we do. Which is why there is now great concern that the pathogens are becoming more and more resistant to drugs such as antibiotics.

The eco-system which is our gut.

Our intestinal tract, like our hearts, brains, livers, kidneys etc is a major organ. Some refer to it as the gut brain – How many times do you mention your gut feelings? Without it there would be no way to process the raw ingredients we eat to keep our immune system healthy enough to protect us from pathogens. The good bacteria or flora in the gut, two of which are, Bifidobacteria bifidum and Lactobaccillus acidophilus normally keep the Candida in balance.

In most cases antibiotics are broad spectrum, not specific, because, without a lab test it is difficult to tell the specific strain of bacteria responsible for an infection. The use of broad spectrum drugs usually guarantees that the bacteria in question will be killed off. Unfortunately, not only the bad bacteria are killed off but also the good bacteria in your gut. Candida remains unaffected because it is not bacteria it is a yeast and this is where it takes full advantage.

What happens to Candida to allow it to take over?

If Candida yeast is allowed to grow unchecked, it changes from its normal yeast fungal form to a mycelial fungal form that produces rhizoids. These long, root-like components are capable of piercing the walls of the digestive tract and breaking down the protective barriers between the intestines and the blood. This breakthrough allows many allergens to enter the blood stream causing allergic reactions. Mucus is also formed around major organs and in the lining of the stomach. This prevents your digestive system from functioning efficiently. The result is poorly digested food and wasted nutrients. Your body begins to suffer a deficiency of these nutrients and it leads to chronic fatigue, an impaired immune system and disease.

There would appear to be a strong link between this overgrowth of Candida Albicans to a huge list of symptoms and illness. Here is a snapshot.

  • People who are suffering from Chronic Fatigue Syndrome or ME usually test positive for Candida although there are also other issues involved in this complex condition.
  • Numbness, burning or tingling in fingers or hands.
  • Insomnia,
  • Abdominal pain,
  • Chronic constipation or diarrhoea,
  • Bloating,
  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome.
  • Thrush and Cystitis,
  • Sexual dysfunction and loss of sexual drive.
  • Endometriosis or infertility
  • PMS and heavy and painful periods.
  • Depression and panic attacks
  • Irritablity when hungry.
  • Unexplained muscle or joint pains often diagnosed with arthritis.
  • Headaches and mood swings.
  • Chronic rashes or hives
  • Food intolerance.
  • Liver function due to build up of toxins leading to  chronic fatigue, discomfort and depression.

The list is virtually endless – which just adds to the confusion at the time of diagnosis.

If you are experiencing any of these symptoms then you may have a varying degree of overgrowth.

©sallycronin 1998 – 2018

Next time I will be looking at ways to feed the body but starve the fungus…



Smorgasbord Health – A – Z of common conditions – Arthritis – Rheumatoid.

smorgasbord A - Z

I know that many of you who follow the blog will have seen the arthritis posts earlier in the year but it is now six months and for those new to Smorgasbord, I hope you find useful.

There is no doubt that for most people once they are into their 50’s they might experience pain associated with movement. We tend to think only in terms of two types of arthritis. Rheumatoid and Osteo- Arthritis but as you will see that is not the case.

To be specific there are nearly 200 different forms of arthritis but the most common that we suffer from, particularly as we get older are Rheumatoid, Osteo and gout. I will cover Osteo- Arthritis and Gout week. Although my main focus is on the foods to avoid and those to include in your diet I will in the next posts talk about some of the alternative therapies that may help this condition.

First let’s talk about the most common of the arthritis conditions.

Rheumatoid Arthritis is an auto immune disease in which the joints, usually those of the hands and feet are inflamed. (Arthritis comes from the Greek word ‘arthron’ which means joints). This results in swelling, pain and often the eventual destruction of the joints interior.

I am sure most of you have heard of James Coburn the actor. It was obvious; as he appeared in films as he got older, that he was suffering from the disease. His hands became very deformed and he suffered from the problem in most of the joints in his body.In fact in his case it was hereditary as his father suffered from the same condition.

Rheumatoid Arthritis is the most common inflammatory disease and is suffered world-wide and affects approximately 1% of adults. It is usually accompanied by extreme fatigue, weight loss and in many cases depression. People can suffer from it in a mild form for many years and never reach the crippling stage as in James Coburn’s case; but millions do have to put up with symptoms that can be anything from discomfort to extreme and constant pain.

This is where our normally healthy immune system seems to go into overdrive. For some reason it attacks the tissue that lines and cushions the joints (the technical term for this tissue is glycosaminoglycans)


With this form of arthritis it is not just the bone structure and joints that can be affected. Internally our major organs also affected by the inflammatory properties of the disease.

The Heart. Fluid collects around the heart (pericardial effusion) in some cases of rheumatoid arthritis. Symptoms are mild usually but can become severe over time leading to various heart related conditions. The heart muscle, valves and blood vessels can be affected and heart attacks are more common in people suffering from this form of arthritis. To help prevent this, a diet that maintains a healthy LDL/HDL cholesterol balance and regular check-ups is recommended. You will find the posts on cholesterol in the health directory. Smorgasbord Health Directory

Kidneys and Liver. These organs are more likely to be affected by the medication that is prescribed for the condition and along with the digestive system, need to be monitored.

The Lungs Fluid collecting (pleural effusion) around one or both the lungs restricts breathing, not only uncomfortable but also can restrict the uptake of oxygen and the removal of waste products. Chest infections are more common in rheumatoid arthritis sufferers and again a regular check-up is important. Deep breathing exercises just for five minutes a day can help keep the lungs flexible and improve breathing but if you find yourself becoming breathless after mild exertion then do go and see your doctor as it could mean that there is fluid around either the heart or the lungs.


It is not always hereditary. About three times as many women suffer from rheumatoid arthritis as men and whilst there is a school of thought that considers that there may be a link to food intolerances my experience has been that there is a link between Candida Albicans and this form of arthritis. Again you can find all the Candida posts in the directory so that you can check the symptoms and triggers for this condition.Smorgasbord Health Directory

Apart from antibiotics that obviously both men and women take, there are other drugs and hormonal changes that only a woman would be exposed to. HRT and the Pill have been suggested as a link to the onset of Candida. If you look at a woman’s reproductive cycle and if she starts her periods at 12 – goes on the pill for a few years until she is ready to have children – has 4 babies in 10 years and then at age 50 goes on HRT for 10 years then you will see that hormonally she has been very active as well as exposed to artificial hormone replacement. To my mind this may be one of the reasons why women are more prone to Rheumatoid Arthritis.

This is an autoimmune disease where the immune system has lost its ability to tell the difference between friend and enemy hence it is attacking healthy cells in the body. These cells are the carbohydrate molecules in the tissue in the joints. If the patient already has a Candida overgrowth the immune system will be working overtime to protect the body from this parasitic invasion. It makes sense to me that any cells that might resemble this parasite in any form might also get included in the immune systems clean-up operation.

I do know that there has been a marked improvement in some of my clients’ arthritis symptoms when they have been treated for Candida. Another area that is not proven, but I have seen some examples of, are where people living outside of their genetic environment and eating a very different diet to their ancestral one, are suffering from rheumatoid arthritis; showing improvement when they revert back to their cultural diet.

I worked with two South American clients who had moved to Ireland in their 20’s. Once in their late 30’s, both of them developed arthritis. One of the sisters became so bad that she was on steroids and could barely walk down the road. I worked with her and established what sort of diet she would have had if she had been still living in her own country. After reverting back to the food that she ate until she reached the age of 24, in six weeks she was able to walk and eventually come off her medication. With the agreement of course of her doctor.

You have to remember that if you live in a particular environment and your ancestry is based in the environment for thousands of years your body will have adapted to a certain dietary and nutrient requirement based on what is available. If you were to take an Eskimo from his environment 20 years ago before fast food reached his home, and introduced him to a western diet he would have become malnourished and probably ill. His system would have been used to processing fat for most of his requirements – no sugar – no vegetables or fruit but he would have been supremely healthy. Give him what we consider to be a healthy diet and he would fall ill. So environment – changes in diet and stress could cause problems such as arthritis.

WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS OF RHEUMATOID ARTHRITIS? You might start to notice some stiffness in your finger and toe joints – perhaps just in one. It is common for small nodules to appear under the skin close to an affected joint and this might be one of the first indications of the disease externally. You will find that it is a symmetrical disease that affects the same joint on either side of the body.

You might also feel very tired – have skin rashes and some breathing problems as tissue internally becomes affected. As you will have read there are some dangers to your general health if the condition is not corrected. We tend to see the external joint disfiguration but not the internal damage to things like our lungs and heart. Do not regard as a normal sign of aging and dismiss. Go and get it checked out.

WHAT ARE SOME OF THE STEPS WE CAN TAKE TO IMPROVE THE CONDITION? Obviously if you are under medication from the doctor for arthritis you must not take yourself off these without consulting them first. Also if you decide that you are going to take some of the alternative treatments available then you must also check with them first to make sure that there will not be an adverse reaction. Most of the remedies that I have used personally have not had any side effects but everyone is different.

First rest is important. Do not try and overdo things, as you will feel tired. Having said that there is some benefit in doing gentle exercise, particularly walking and swimming as the stronger your muscles are the less strain on your joints. Moderate exercise will also help your breathing by keeping your lungs flexible and also your heart by exercising the muscle. Again, do check with your doctor before beginning any exercise programme if you are suffering from any disease.



There are a number of foods that can cause a problem – Mainly the nightshade family such as raw tomatoes and peppers, aubergines and potatoes. However, I think it is important at this point to return to the Candida link and by association the consumption of refined sugars. I am convinced that this is one of the major causes of this disease and so following the anti-Candida regime is probably as healthy a diet you can have. Avoiding sugars including Alcohol on a consistent basis will make a difference. I am not suggesting that you give anything up for life but certainly for at least 6 weeks to two months while you are effectively detoxing your body, you need to remove processed foods and sugars from your diet.

Your body needs as much help as possible so this is where eating a diet comprising all fresh ingredients cooked from scratch is very important. The less industrially produced foods the better.


Anti-oxidants. Lots of fresh vegetables – Plenty of fluids particularly water to make sure that you are properly hydrated. A healthy fat diet rich in fish for the Omega 3 is excellent. Use olive oil for cooking and make sure that your diet is rich in vitamin C.

Lean protein and wholegrains provide you with the B-vitamins including B5 – Pantothenic Acid and if vegetarian then do make sure that you are including mushrooms which are an excellent source of most of them. NB. Many therapists will take you off all mushrooms but recent research has identified that despite being a fungus it is not the food of choice for the fungal Candida.. It prefers sugar!  Eating mushrooms should have no effect on your Candida levels and I eat them very regularly.

One of the Candida posts in the directory has a shopping list which is useful.  It does contain potatoes and tomatoes which may have an effect on arthritis but it is only likely if you are eating every day.. I suggest that you remove  potatoes, raw tomatoes (I have found less of a problem with cooked tomatoes), red peppers and aubergines for the first six weeks and then re-introduce one at a time over the next four weeks and monitor your symptoms. They are also a wonderful source of nutrients and I am very reluctant to lose them from a diet completely. Eaten once or twice a week, should not cause a problem.

 Hope you have found this useful and would be delighted for your feedback.

Thanks for dropping by Sally


Smorgasbord Health update – The Gut Brain – the link to obesity.

For those of you who followed the series on Sugars and Candida you might be interested in this research which is now linking the quality and type of bacteria in our gut to obesity.

Since I confirmed my suspicions that I was suffering from Candida Albicans 20 years ago and wrote about the link in my first book about weight loss, I have been following the various research programmes into the ‘gut brain’ as it is now referred to.

In my own experience with my weight and also having worked with morbidly obese men and women for the last 18 years I am convinced that the answer to being overweight is not only about the kinds of foods that we eat or do not eat but in the way that the food is processed by the body.

I am delighted that we are at last able to get some definitive answers about the individual roles of the millions of bacteria in the intestines and also what happens when there is a chronic imbalance.

If you have dieted and still found it very hard to lose weight then you might be interested in this article and other references to the research.

It does identify that the best diet is low refined sugar, cooked from scratch, varied with as many different ingredients as possible and taken with moderate exercise.

Professor Tim Spector used his own son of 22 for his experiments with junk foods and the results were compelling.  There was no doubt that after just 10 days of eating nothing but burgers, fizzy drinks and chicken nuggets that there were serious health issues. The before and after examination of the population of bacteria in his son’s gut identified why.

He also points out that our ancestors would routinely eat around 150 different food types as part of their regular diet but that we have become fixed into a routine of only including 20 or so which severely restricts the types and numbers of healthy bacteria in our gut. This will impact the way that food is processed and the nutrients extracted that we need to be healthy.

This results in inefficient immune system function and insufficient nutrients available for major organ health.

I do suggest that you read the following links.. same reports but slightly different information.  The book looks like a fascinating read.

The previous posts on sugars and Candida Albicans can be found here.




Smorgasbord Health – Irritable Bowel Syndrome – Part Two – Strategies

Yesterday I outlined the basics of Irritable Bowel Syndrome and today a look at some of the nutrients that your intestine needs to work efficiently and also some of the triggers for the condition.

For some people the discovery that their favourite food – bread, pasta etc. is causing their discomfort, will be upsetting. We are lucky that in most cases there are alternatives and for some there is a management solution, where the food can be eaten in small amounts very infrequently.

To identify which foods are triggers for an IBS episode you need to complete a six week programme or better still extended to 12 weeks following each stage for two weeks. Nutritionally that is not a problem – two weeks without grains may be difficult but provided you are obtaining carbohydrates from other sources you should find you have plenty of energy.

The key is to listen to your body and to keep notes each day on symptoms and how you feel in general – keep a food diary, as this will provide you with the blueprints for your new diet going forward.


A broad spectrum of nutrients is required to enable the body to function and it is important that you eat a wide variety of foods to provide them. This is particularly important when your intestines are not working efficiently and only partially processing the food you eat. There are blogs on some of the nutrients in the archive but here are some that you should make sure you are consuming in food rather in supplemental form, as the body is designed to extract what it needs from natural sources rather than pills.

Cook from scratch and avoid all processed foods including sauces, ketchups, mayonnaise etc. Even the savoury kinds are full of sugar and additives that can irritate a sensitive gut. You should be eating lots of vegetables, some sugar reduced fruits and lean protein. Try not to eat very large meals that require a great deal of processing. Smaller portions with a gap of around 2 hours minimum between eating.

Some specific nutrients and food elements that are helpful for your gut.

Calcium (helps control diarrhoea) sardines, dark leafy vegetables, sardines, tinned salmon, beans, fruit such as figs and oranges, nuts and dairy if not lactose intolerant – in which case use lactose free alternative.  Calcium needs Magnesium and Vitamin D to be absorbed efficiently.

Magnesium (helps relieve constipation) Pumpkin seeds, Halibut, beans, wholegrain rice, avocados spinach.

Vitamin D acts more like a hormone and is essential for a wide range of reactions in the body. The best source of the vitamin is direct contact on the skin for at least 45 minutes a day (not to burn) but also from specific foods such as egg yolks, fatty fish like salmon and liver.

Fibre, to slow down the digestive process and allow normal absorption of nutrients and fluids from food – all vegetables and fruit.

Iron (for energy and blood health) Green leafy vegetables, fish and meat, beans, nuts, bananas.

Also anti-bacterial agents such as green tea, garlic and onions to restrict Candida growth

Peppermint tea 60 minutes after meals to reduce the cramps, spasms and pain if you are not intolerant to peppermint. You can also use peppermint oil but it is very strong and just one drop in a large glass of water is more than enough.

Some foods that can be hidden.

There is a link, as I have already mentioned, between certain foods and strong contender is gluten.The clue is in the name and comes from the Latin word for Glue!  It is a protein present in wheat and some other grains such as barley and rye.  Although not inherently present in other grains such as oats, they can become contaminated if they are processed in a mill that also works with wheat and the other grains. Gluten gives that elastic feel to bread dough and it also helps it rise.

I have not experienced a problem with wholegrain rice but it can be harsh on the intestines if you are going through an episode of IBS.. I suggest that you only have one or two tablespoons I find if I mix wholegrain with Basmati rice that is a gentler mix.

Grains are not just in cereals and bread but in many processed products including hamburgers, soups, sausages, processed meats, crisps and ready meals.

Refined Sugars are a real problem for IBS sufferers, particularly with the strong link to Candida, and it is important that you avoid refined sugar completely and also your intake of processed foods. Even savoury foods contain high levels of sugar as do breakfast cereals, jams, biscuits etc.

Here is the posts for Candida and sugars that you should read if you have IBS symptoms.


Water is important to help hydrate the body, particularly after IBS symptoms such as diarrhoea, and also to flush toxins from the body. However – you don’t need to drink litres as this will only cause a flushing effect. It will push any food you eat rapidly through the system – drinking two litres a day in delayed bursts is fine as most of the fruit and vegetables have a high fluid content too. I use a 2litre mineral water bottle – with tap water and make sure I drink throughout the day at intervals before and after meals.

Drink a glass of water when you get up and then 45 minutes before each meal. Leave at least an hour after eating before drinking anything so that the gastric juices in your stomach have a chance to digest the food you have eaten. It is better to leave two hours if you can.


If you are naturally pressing juices yourself than that is fine – one glass per day. Try to stick to vegetable with a small amount of fruit to taste- I actually enjoy a carrot juice with a small amount of blueberries. Store bought tend to have additives but you can find juice bars that will press a selection for you.


I love a glass of wine or a shot of whisky but for this re-establishment of good bacteria in your intestinal system you need to give up for the six weeks. You can re-introduce in week six – just one glass and then limit intake and watch for any increase in symptoms.


Our body is a rich soup of bacteria and yeasts, many that are needed for all the processing that is taking place continuously. Probiotics are the good guys and are beneficial for your digestive system especially when it is struggling to maintain a healthy balance.

You can find in foods which is obviously the best way for your body to utilise the bacteria. And whilst I would caution the use of some commericial live yogurts that can contain too much sugar and additives you can make your own at home.

I sometimes take Kefir which is a fermented dairy combination of goat’s milk and fermented kefir grains. High in lactobacilli and bifidus bacteria and antioxidants you will find in better supermarkets and also in your local health store.

Fermented foods are your other option including pickles,Sauerkraut, pickled red cabbage etc.  Also Japanese Miso soup which anyone who is familiar with macrobiotic cooking will be familiar with. It is again fermented and made from rye, beans and usually rice or barley.

Supplemental probiotics

I do take certain specific supplements when needed and one of these is a high quality probiotic. Whilst food should always be the first source of the nutrients that we need on a daily basis, there are times, such as during the recovery from an illness, when additional support is needed.

I take one probiotic capsule a day for maintenance and two when I feel I need extra help. You must keep in the fridge when opened and it needs to be of adequate strength. The one I use has 3billion active cultures and ask advice in the pharmacy or the health shop to find the most effective one for your specific needs.

If you are taking broad spectrum antibiotics, you either should wait until you have finished since they are designed to kill off all bacteria including any you might take in supplementation form, or you can get specific probiotics that are effective when taken in conjunction with antibiotics.

Tomorrow’s post The six week programme.

The aim of this programme is to reduce the symptoms that you are currently experiencing and to repopulate your intestines with the healthy bacteria needed for your body to function.

You only know if something is working if you keep a record. So to start you should write down all your symptoms and over the six weeks keep a journal – were there days when you noticed an increase or decrease in symptoms– what did you eat in the last 24 hours. Did you re-introduce a grain or dairy etc?

This will also help you in the future when you perhaps relapse and you can look back and perhaps identify a food or habit that might have crept back in.

I will also give you foods you can eat and when to reintroduce suspected triggers for symptoms.

Here is yesterday’s part one on IBS

Candida Albicans – Alcohol and Sugars – Your liver’s health comes first.

Today a brief summary of the sugars in our diet and the similarity between sugar’s effect on the body, and that of ethanol, the active ingredient in alcohol beverages. Candida is a yeast and thrives on sugars – but the worst offenders are not natural sugars but those contained within our processed foods. To understand the role of these sugars you need to become aware of the impact of every mouthful you ingest on one of the most important organs of the body including the liver which is the guardian of our health.

I have mentioned the liver before in relation to cholesterol but it is very important that you develop an understanding of the vital role it plays in maintaining your health and learn to respect it.

We tend to eat and drink mindlessly – it is all about the taste and the immediate gratification or even high. When we are young we rarely think of long-term consequences of our actions. However, our over consumption of sugars in our daily diet and the current binge drinking culture in some of our countries, is going to manifest in a great many health problems. Not just those in middle to old age, but for a younger and younger generation.

I am talking about 10 and 11 year olds who regularly consume 16oz or 24oz fizzy drinks showing signs of liver disease, normally associated with alcoholics. Young people buying cheap spirits to drink before heading out for a night out resulting in high levels of hospital admissions for serious liver disease. Add in the rapid rise in obesity, heart disease, dementia and other related lifestyle related health issues, and we have the potential for a perfect storm.

Liver in Torso

Why is your liver so important?

The liver is the largest and heaviest gland in the body weighing around 1.5kg. It is a multitasking organ that is capable of around 500 functions. It is also the only organ in the body capable of regenerating itself provided it has been taken care of.

However, since we live in a modern age with a diet full of preservatives in our food, toxins in the food chain, excess sugar, alcohol and lousy fats, keeping our liver functioning well requires attention to both diet and lifestyle.

Without this firewall in your body you would die very quickly. Here are just a few of its many tasks that it carries out every single moment of the day.

  • It stores extra blood in case you need it in an emergency.
  • Stores Vitamins, minerals and sugars that are timed released.
  • It maintains the electrolyte balance in your blood so that minerals, such as calcium and potassium, maintain a healthy heart beat.
  • It processes fat soluble vitamins such as A, D, E.
  • Helps maintain a healthy hormone balance. Too much sugar causes a sex hormone binding globulin to shut down causing an imbalance leading to skin problems, infertility, impotence and heart disease.
  • The liver is part of the bile management system that helps break down fats that your consume.
  • Waste removal from the body is crucial otherwise toxins accumulate in the system leading to disease and death.
  • If you liver is not functioning you will be more prone to infections and recovery time will be impaired.

If your liver develops scarring resulting from cirrhosis a common outcome of heavy drinking, all of the above functions with be severely compromised and you are likely to suffer from an earlier death than you had hoped. One of the devastating effects is on the brain, plaque in the blood vessels resulting in vascular dementia.

What happens to the liver when you consume either ethanol or sugar?

Studies have shown that the liver reacts in a very similar way to Ethanol (Alcohol consumption) and Fructose (sugars)

A major role of the liver is to keep blood sugar stable. Without the liver you could suffer from Diabetes. Even one fizzy drink a day can raise your risk of developing diabetes by 1%.

Sugar is composed of two molecules … glucose and fructose.

Glucose can be metabolized by all the cells of the body but the only organ that can process fructose is the liver. It turns any excess into glycogen which is stored until needed.

Unfortunately today with the high level of sugars we are consuming most of our livers are full of glycogen and unless you are extremely active and are utilising the stores, any fructose will be turned into fat – hence our epidemic obesity rates.

The fat that is released into the blood stream is in the form of triglycerides – but some remains in the organ contributing to non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. This results in inflammation within the organ and if not reversed by changes in diet and lifestyle can lead to fibrosis causing early signs of scarring. Further into the cycle and you will develop full blown cirrhosis with excess scarring and the real danger of liver failure. The liver cannot regenerate scarred tissue at that point and even changes in diet and lifestyle will not be effective.

At some point if not reversed your liver will also become insulin resistant – levels of insulin rise all over your body resulting in the pancreas failing to secrete enough insulin to drive blood glucose into the cells, causing high blood sugar levels and diabetes.

Should you eat fruit and drink alcohol if you have an overgrowth of Candida?

There is little evidence to suggest that natural fructose in the form of fruit, eaten as part of a balanced diet is going to cause you problems with your liver.

However, if you have a Candida overgrowth, I do suggest that you limit your intake of fruit to two pieces a day of the lowest fructose content. This way you will obtain all the benefits for your immune system without giving too much to the fungus. Increase your vegetable intake instead, particularly of dark green varieties such as broccoli and spinach.

Certain fruits have lower fructose content and here are some suggestions:-

lemons and limesLime and Lemons (great with hot water first thing in the morning) – cranberries (on your cereal) – Slice of Cantaloupe melon – raspberries, blackberries, kiwi, strawberries, grapefruit.

I firmly believe that even the higher fructose fruits must play a part in our recovery from a severe overgrowth but I tend to recommend that you introduce a couple of bananas a week by week three and also some citrus in the form of mandarins or a medium orange.

If you are not taking in any other sugars in processed foods in the form of cakes, sweets, chocolate and biscuits, please do not exclude fruit from your diet.

When you have reduced your levels of the overgrowth then maintaining that level is important – eating the occasional piece of dark chocolate and enjoying all fruits is healthy.

As to alcohol – if you have a severe overgrowth, I do recommend that you give up drinking for at least six weeks to give your liver a chance to recuperate and, if not under daily pressure, it will regenerate areas that are not scarred.

If and when you start drinking again – it is better to have one glass of good quality wine, spirit or beer (Guinness for example) per day rather than save it all up for the weekend and consume a bottle or several. That will simply overwhelm your liver and result in several days of feeling hung over and open to infections.

If you feel that your alcohol consumption is currently more than two glasses every day then you might think about the serious impact not just on your liver, but your long term health. If you feel that you cannot reduce your intake on your own then talk to your doctor as there are some counselling services that will work with you.

I have seen the devastation to body and mind that excess alcohol can deliver, including vascular dementia a subject for another day, and also the increasing pervasive nature of refined sugar in our processed diet. Please ask for help if you need it.

If you are the person who is shopping and cooking for others, then please take a long hard look at your shopping trolley and estimate the levels of processed sugars you are about to give them. Children in particular, will eat anything put in front of them and the younger you can re-educate their palate away from excess sugars the better.

The previous posts in the sugars and Candida series can be found here.

If you have any questions please put into the comments section or if you prefer you can contact me privately via the email in ‘about me’ – I do not charge fees and am more than happy to help in any way that I can if you have a health issue that is related.