I have spoken in previous blog posts about how important it is to maintain a healthy gut, like I alluded to in my “Leaky Gut” blog post . Your gut is your gateway to health; it is your body’s first line of defense, in many ways, so you need to treat it with care. One issue that I am seeing with increasing frequency that affects not only gut health, but systemic health is candida.
What is Candida?
It is a type of yeast in the form of fungus that is normally occurring in the body and is found in the mouth, vagina, intestines, skin and mucous membranes. There are over 20 different strains of candida, but the one that is most common is Candida albicans. Overgrowth of candida can cause a wide range of symptoms depending on where it is overgrown.
Risk factors for developing an imbalance in candida include, but are not limited to:
- Autoimmune disorders like: Hashimoto’s thyroiditis; lupus, MS, psoriasis, IBD
- Excessive use of antibiotics
- Alcohol Use
- Use of oral contraceptives
- Weakened immune states, such as during cancer treatment or being on immune suppressing medications, like Prednisone for long-term use
Candida and Your Gut
In most people, candida resides in the gut for their entire life without creating any significant issues. It actually helps with digestion and absorption of nutrients. However, if it is out of balance it will adversely impact the villi of the small intestine by allowing large particles of undigested food to enter the blood stream. This contributes to inflammation and damage, which will lead to leaky gut, food sensitivities and an overall compromised immune system.
This loss of integrity to the lining of the small intestine makes it more difficult to defend the body against pathogens, like bacteria, viruses, and parasites and even make one prone to developing food sensitivities.
Symptoms of Candida
- Bloating, cramps gas
- Diarrhea or constipation
- Brain fog, irritability, headaches
- Significant sugar cravings
- Lack of concentration
- Skin issues-eczema, psoriasis, hives or rashes
How do we determine if there’s overgrowth in the gut?
The easiest way to determine a candida overgrowth is with stool testing. This is a quick and fairly inexpensive means of assessing for an imbalance. I use GI-MAP with my clients, as well as a food sensitivity test, like the MRT-mediator release test. This test helps identify offending foods so that you can remove the foods that are creating inflammation and focus on healing the intestinal lining and improving the imbalance of candida.
How to treat an overgrowth of candida?
Nutrition is key to managing an overgrowth of candida, especially since dietary choices are often the precipitor of the infection. These protocols need to be followed closely for a minimum of 8-12 weeks depending on the severity of the overgrowth.
- ½ cup of starch daily and 1 piece of fruit (8-10 weeks)
- add prebiotic rich foods, sweet potatoes, green tea, onion, tiger-nuts
- HCL-hydrochloric acid
- Biliary support
- Digestive enzymes
- Caprylic acid
- Aromatic herbs like :oregano, rosemary, turmeric, cayenne, ginger
- Coconut oil-contains lauric acid
- Garlic-contains allicin
- Fish oil
It is very important to watch for die-off reactions, which is when your body reacts to the treatment to rid your body of the pathogenic candida. I encourage clients to increase hydration, stick to a regular eating schedule and do supportive therapies, such as infrared sauna, engage in regular massages, tai-chi, meditation, yoga and any other modality that supports detoxification.
A candida infection can be frustrating, but helping to determine the root cause of the infection is helpful in supporting the body and determining the most effective course of treatment for you. I’m determined to help all my clients find the root cause of their symptoms and, as always, bio-individuality is key.
Please ask any questions that you might have in the comments below!