Smorgasbord Health Column – Project 101 – Resilience – The importance of a healthy gut (part two) #Candida by Sally Cronin


Project 101 – Resilience is aimed at developing a strong  immune system and a body that can fight off disease at any age. One of the key factors in achieving that level of robust health is being a healthy weight. There have been a number of risk factors identified that put certain groups of the population at a higher risk of a critical outcome from being infected with the virus or being unable to manage the severity of the resulting infection.

One of the cornerstones of our health is based in the lower half of our body in the intestines. Our gut health determines the efficiency of many of our operating systems, including our immune system. Although I have posted on Candida Albicans and the Digestive system in the past, I would like to being the two together to emphasize how important eating fresh food ‘cooked from scratch’ is to our health and resilience to not just Covid-19 but other diseases too. You can find Part One on a Healthy Gut Here.

Candida Albicans – Eliminating its Favourite food – Sugar

In this chapter I share the strategies for 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.
Prevention

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.

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.

ourbetterhealth.org

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 do I use the term industrialised?

Earlier 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.

Making a start on reducing sugar in your life.

  1. 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!
  2. 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.
  3. 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.

• Greek yogurt
• cottage cheese
• Avocados
• olives
• raspberries
• strawberries
• melon

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.

Artificial Sweeteners

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.
In summary

1. Strategy one in your battle with your Candida overgrowth, is to halve the amount of sugar in your diet in the first two weeks.
2. Reduce the amount again by half in the second two weeks.

Next week – Eating to fuel your good gut bacteria… and starving out the unhealthy overgrowth.

©Sally Cronin – Just Food for Health – 1998 – 2020

I am a qualified nutritional therapist with twenty-two years experience working with clients in Ireland and the UK as well as being a health consultant on radio in Spain. 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, based on my own weight loss of 154lbs. My first clinic was in Ireland, the Cronin Diet Advisory Centre and my second book, Just Food for Health was written as my client’s workbook. Since then I have written a men’s health manual, and anti-aging programme, articles for magazines and posts here on Smorgasbord.

If you would like to browse my health books and fiction you can find them here: My books and reviews 2020

Your feedback is always welcome and if you do find that following any of the programmes that I have shared are beneficial then it would be great to hear about it.. you can email me on sally.cronin@moyhill.com.

Smorgasbord Health Column – Project 101 – Resilience – The importance of a healthy gut (part one) by Sally Cronin


Project 101 – Resilience is aimed at developing a strong  immune system and a body that can fight off disease at any age. One of the key factors in achieving that level of robust health is being a healthy weight. There have been a number of risk factors identified that put certain groups of the population at a higher risk of a critical outcome from being infected with the virus or being unable to manage the severity of the resulting infection.

One of the cornerstones of our health is based in the lower half of our body in the intestines. Our gut health determines the efficiency of many of our operating systems, including our immune system. Although I have posted on Candida Albicans and the Digestive system in the past, I would like to being the two together to emphasize how important eating fresh food ‘cooked from scratch’ is to our health and resilience to not just Covid-19 but other diseases too.

My experience with Candida Albicans

Whilst I could pinpoint an hormonal imbalance from puberty, and a cycle of crash dieting as contributors to my eventual morbid obesity. It was the more important discovery that I had likely been suffering from Candida Albicans since the age of ten that set me on the road to recovery.

It is not just my health that was compromised, many millions of the population, particular in developed countries also have been put at risk, with an estimated 70% of us with a candida albicans overgrowth, seriously undermining our health.

Overweight people often look for a physical problem to blame for their condition, such as their glands, so it was a revelation to learn that there might indeed be a physical reason for my excessive weight gain.

Before I look at Candida in more detail… I am often asked the difference between probiotics and prebiotics. This difference is important as diet is the key element of keeping a healthy balance of bacteria in our gut, and our modern diet, that includes far more industrialised foods, does not provide the elements needed to maintain this balance.

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.

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

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.

All 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 have also 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
• Irritability 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.

Next week – the effect of sugars on your gut health… followed by the eating programme to re-establish a healthy gut flora.

©Sally Cronin – Just Food for Health – 1998 – 2020

I am a qualified nutritional therapist with twenty-two years experience working with clients in Ireland and the UK as well as being a health consultant on radio in Spain. 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, based on my own weight loss of 154lbs. My first clinic was in Ireland, the Cronin Diet Advisory Centre and my second book, Just Food for Health was written as my client’s workbook. Since then I have written a men’s health manual, and anti-aging programme, articles for magazines and posts here on Smorgasbord.

If you would like to browse my health books and fiction you can find them here: My books and reviews 2020

Your feedback is always welcome and if you do find that following any of the programmes that I have shared are beneficial then it would be great to hear about it.. you can email me on sally.cronin@moyhill.com.