The the truth about candida

June 22, 2015 0 Comments

 

I think I speak for all well trained Naturopath’s when I say that one of the biggest “face palm” moments is when a client walks through the door convinced that they are suffering from candida. Full stop. A simple Google search of ‘candida’ and you will find blog post after blog post claiming that candida is the cause of all your health woes. *face palm*. Don’t get me wrong; if you have an imbalance of flora in your gut, your health will be worse for it – much worse. But it’s not always “candida’s fault”. There’s a lot more to it than that. The ‘symptoms of candida’ can also be the symptoms of many other things.

My hope with this article is that you feel better for reading it, and not stressed that the ‘only way you can cure yourself’ is by adhering to a very strict and stringent diet - Because ironically, stress is one component that may make your gut health a lot worse (I’ll talk about this a little more later on).
So let’s look at the facts…

Is candida a thing?
Yes! Candida, also known as Candida albicans, is yeast within your gastrointestinal tract, mouth, rectum, and vagina. Everyone has it in some amounts. Everyone.

Is candida a bad thing?
No! Candida is not the devil. In a healthy body, the good bacteria and immune cells keep candida under control. Candida becomes harmful when it overgrows and you have an imbalance in the good and bad bacteria.

What causes an imbalance (or the overgrowth of Candida)?
Poor digestion, lowered immune function, poor diet (high sugar, too much carbohydrate), antibiotic use, age, or stress.

So what’s the real problem here?
If you have an imbalance in the ratio of good and bad bacteria that favors the bad (dysbiosis) you will likely experience unwanted and uncomfortable digestive upset. As a result, you may experience other symptoms such as headaches, fatigue, lethargy, low libido, and mental fog (to name a few). Long standing dysbiosis can be detrimental as the health of your gut can be linked to other aspects of your health (e.g. your mental health).

What can you do?
If you are concerned that you might have a bit of dysbiosis (imbalance in your gut flora) there are many dietary and lifestyle changes you can implement to rectify this imbalance.

  1. Quit the white stuff - sugar feeds the harmful bacteria in your gut. They love the stuff! The obvious culprits are soft drinks, sweet treats, and processed foods but be wary of sauces, cereals (especially mueslis), fruit juice, snack bars, and too much fruit (1-2 pieces a day is plenty).
  2. Reduce and/or cease drinking alcohol - alcohol feeds the harmful bacteria and can be a source of yeast itself.
  3. Drink plenty of water – keep yourself hydrated and flush the system out!
  4. Eat probiotic rich foods - such as yoghurt (plain, full fat, and preferably organic), kefir, sauerkraut, and kimchi.  This will help to feed the good bacteria in your gut!
  5. Eat more fibrous, non-starchy vegetables. Vegetables provide a wide array of essential vitamins and minerals so they will help your body to heal itself and boost immune function. Think broccoli, cauliflower, zucchini, spinach, kale, asparagus, capsicum, cucumber, and yellow squash.
  6. Don’t overdo the starchy veggies (aka potato, sweet potato, carrot, corn, peas, and pumpkin). A lot of the ‘anti-candida diets’ call for complete cessation of all starchy veggies but completely limiting carbohydrate consumption is not healthy either – especially for those that are stressed and leading busy lives. Instead of avoiding these vegetables, just reduce the quantity and don’t make them the mainstay of your meal (About ¼ of your meal portion).
  7. Be mindful of antibiotics and medications. NOTE! I AM NOT SUGGESTING YOU STOP YOUR MEDICATION. That is not the answer. But be mindful that some medications and especially antibiotics alter the balance of gut flora. Be sure to speak to your Doctor about a good probiotic supplement that you can take to minimize this damage.
  8. Reduce stress - there is now research that demonstrates the bidirectional link between the gut and brain. We call it the gut-brain-axis. One of the ways stress can be detrimental to gut health is by the disruption of gut flora, reducing the amounts of beneficial bacteria. Reducing stress can be tricky in this day and age as it often seems you can’t get away from your ‘duties’. If I could give one piece of advice for helping to reduce stress it would be this: give yourself a break. Be kind to yourself.  You’re doing the best that you can. Take a load off. Smile. Giggle. Be goofy. Give love and let yourself be loved.

If you are still concerned that something is ‘not quite right’ don’t hesitate to contact a qualified healthcare practitioner. Be mindful that the symptoms of candida can correlate to many other ailments so it’s best not to jump to conclusions but seek the guidance and treatment of a trained health professional.

Image: fitsugar.com






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