The gut has a very delicate balance of micro-organisms within it, including helpful bacteria and yeasts. Candida is one such yeast, and in a healthy digestive system it naturally lives in the large intestine and has positive benefits for the body.
However, problems arise when we upset the balance. The healthy bacteria must be in balance with the yeast, else the yeast takes over and spreads throughout the body. It can have a huge variety of manifestations and causes which we will outline below.
Many of the manifestations are not well defined because the fungus spreads and affects several systems in the body. Some of the most common symptoms of Candida excess are:
Sufferers often feel worse in damp or humid weather, as fungus LOVES these conditions (think of mushrooms!)
The Primary Causes of How We Get Candida Imbalance in the First Place
Although there are a multitude of minor causative factors that contribute to imbalanced digestive flora, they all come back to two main challenges inside your body, namely poor digestive function and poor immune function.
The most important point to understand is that most bacteria and fungus are not vicious invading organisms; rather they are opportunistic organisms that thrive because of an environment that is suited to them.
With this understanding, we can see that Candida imbalance is merely a symptom of a more systemic imbalance that is allowing Candida to thrive. This new awareness places more importance on the causes that imbalance the digestive and immune system, empowering you towards lifelong balance and vitality.
Below I have listed the main causes of digestive and immune system imbalance. Although there are many individual causes, no single one is guaranteed to cause imbalance; it may be combinations or a single factor:
1. Digestive Imbalance Causes:
2. Immune Imbalance Causes:
Full Blown Manifestation with Leaky Gut
If Candida yeasts become strong enough because of the above causative factors, they can transform into their branching form called mycelia sterilia with protrusions called hyphae. These protrusions bury into the gut wall, making a stronghold. It can create “holes” in the gut through which substances leak through that normally would not cross the gut wall. This condition is known as “leaky gut syndrome” and leads to the manifestation of food intolerances, allergies, and more serious health concerns.
The Healing Program
To heal Candida overgrowth we have to take three main steps of WEED - SEED- FEED:
Let us examine each step, one by one….
Weed #1: We must do our best to remove or reduce all of the above causes from our life.
Treating Candida without treating the causes of why it came about will only have short-term success. It is like killing off bacteria in a sewage pipe and then wondering why the bacteria came back again so quickly. We need to look upstream to find the true cause of the bacteria, and in the body we need to look at these causative factors, to find the reason we have created a fertile environment for Candida overgrowth.
Weed #2: We must eat a diet that encourages a return to balance in the gut.
Sugar and Fruit: Candida feeds off all sugars, whether natural or not. Therefore, this must be reduced or eliminated from the diet in the early kill off stages of a Candida program. These include:
Sugars that are required by the body for metabolism should be taken from slow-releasing foods, such as sweet potato, pumpkin, yam, whole grain brown rice chewed well, etc.
Stevia, a healthier sugar substitute.
The two strong sweet flavours that do not cause the growth of yeast are Stevia and Xylitol. Stevia, a sweet flavoured leaf, can be bought as a liquid or powder, but tiny doses should be used as it leaves a strong after-taste. Xylitol, an extract from tree sap, comes in a powder, but must be limited (see the packet for advice) as it can act as a laxative at high doses. If you cannot get used to these immediately, then mix a good-quality sugar (such as medicinal honey or unrefined sugar) with Stevia or Xylitol. This will at least allow you to reduce the amount of sweetness in your diet, without making life too bitter ;).
Molasses is an in-between sugar with a slower blood sugar release, making it more suitable than most sweeteners. Although it should not be used during the first few weeks of the kill off phase, in the long term plan it can be used in reasonable amounts. It can be bought as a syrup (for toast etc) or as a solid sugar (for sweetening tea or coffee, and for baking).
Using sweet digestive spices such as cinnamon, cloves, ginger, nutmeg and cardamom, can help in curbing the sweet tooth while also empowering the digestive secretions. Try mashed sweet potato with mixed spice, or molasses and cinnamon mixed into some cooked whole grain (ideally millet or brown rice if still experiencing Candida overgrowth).
OTHER DIETARY GUIDELINES
Bitter foods: can be used by those with “Excess” (overweight, hot, much mucus). Bitter foods reduce mucus in the body and draw away excess toxins, both of which Candida thrives in. Bitter foods include bitter gourd, endive lettuce, and bitter herbs (see step 2: killing the yeasts). Bitter foods should only be used in very small amounts by those that are underweight because of their strong reducing and detoxifying qualities.
Low Dairy: dairy that is not organic must be avoided at all costs. Even organic dairy must be limited because of its tendency to create mucus. If there is a lot of mucus-discharge, such as a runny nose or vaginal discharge, then cut out all dairy until this has passed.
Organic Meat and Fish: any meat or fish must be 100% organic because otherwise, it contains antibiotics and hormones. Eating these chemicals will further destroy the friendly bacteria in your gut and imbalance the immune system.
Bread: All flour products including bread are high culprits for digestive imbalance. Most bread contains yeast, which of course exacerbates a yeast overgrowth! The worst ones are the mass-produced soft and fluffy loaves. If you really need bread then there are a lot of yeast-free bread becoming available even in supermarkets, or even better, try alternatives such as rice cakes and oatcakes. The absolute ideal is that we only eat freshly cooked whole grain without milling it to flour, such as brown rice, quinoa, millet, oats, etc.
Alcohol: all alcohol is a yeast feeder…beers and wines are made with yeast. A dry white wine is preferable to sweet wines or beers (beer is the worst choice for yeast). Clear spirits are the best of the bunch but must be taken with a sugar-free mixer or on ice.
In severe cases:
If digestion is very weak indeed, only easily-digestible cooked food may be taken because they will help to restore proper digestive function. The easiest is congee or kitchari: rice based soups cooked for a long time in broth (vegetable or meat broth) and digestive spices. Steamed vegetables and soups with well-cooked grains are also suitable. Millet is advised as it is alkaline forming and low in carbohydrate content. White basmati rice may be preferable even over brown in cases of extremely poor digestive ability.
Weed #3: We must kill off excessive candida organisms.
There are several natural antifungal agents that can be used. These should be used in combination to improve the efficacy of the program and decrease chances of side effects:
There are many Candida blends on the market. Yet, these two formulas are the ones that I’d recommend:
Weed #4: We need to protect the liver, as it becomes affected by the toxins that are abundant during the Candida die off.
If we do not protect the liver during a yeast-healing process, there may be a die-off reaction, in which the person feels a little under the weather. This is because the liver must process the excess toxins released by the dying Candida, causing the liver to be overloaded and the blood to become toxic. Taking herbs that support liver function can eliminate this effect and decrease the chance of side effects during the die off stage.
Seed #1: Increase the healthy bacteria that maintain long-term balance.
Taking a good probiotic formula is extremely beneficial and should be used for at least 2 months after the kill off stage. These contain a wide range of friendly bacteria that will help restore balance. If antibiotic use is a suspected cause then this step becomes even more important and should always be taken any time antibiotics may be needed in the future.
Feed #1: We must repair the gut wall from the damage created by Candida excess.
This step is very important in people who have suffered from yeast infections long-term, or those who have suffered from other inflammatory conditions inside the digestive tract. If repair of the gut wall is not done, then when you return to a normal diet, all forms of digestive by-products continue to leak into the bloodstream. Not only does this cause havoc for many bodily systems, it greatly increases the chances of reoccurrence and allows easy channels for the Candida to quickly spread throughout the body. These foods and herbs are great for repairing the gut wall:
If your Candida or digestive inflammation is an intense or long-term one, then these should be taken both during the full program and for some time after returning to a normal diet.
Feed #2: We must take note of the causative factors that lead to the imbalance in the first place and create a life plan that reduces these factors.
Without a doubt, this is the most important step for long-term health and vitality because it deals with the reasons the imbalance was created in the first place and treats you holistically. If you are doing this at home then take a good look at the causative factors listed in step one and create a long-term plan that decreases these as much as possible. I guarantee that you will not just eradicate Candida but also transform your health and vitality.
The Healing Path
It takes time and patience to heal a fungal overgrowth, from 3 – 6 months, depending on the severity of the imbalance.
Although the program is intense, try not to get too “serious” about it either….this can create problems of its own. Focus only lightly on the aspect of killing off the yeasts, and look more towards the positive aspects of inviting in light and life into your body. Follow the steps with the inspiration of clearing away the debris (excess yeasts) and making way for fresh life-force to enter.
If you would like to be rid of the Candida story and bring back that vitality, then I can help you wherever you are. To book an online consultation with me and discuss how we can create a home Candida program designed specifically for your situation then you can make a booking here.
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