Our bodies are home to thousands of different micro-organisms, bacteria, fungi and yeasts that all must co-exist and work together to keep us at our healthiest. Outside factors and stressors make it difficult for our bodies to maintain a positive balance – homeostasis – between all of these “moving parts.” Whether we are conscious of it or not, our bodies are continuously working toward that balanced state. It is through diet and lifestyle choices, and our interactions with the natural world, that we can aid our bodies in reaching that goal of balance.
Homeostasis is not an easy goal to reach. We are challenged every day by two of the biggest factors and detractors to our overall health: diet and stress. During the holiday season self-care takes a back seat to the preparation, planning and busyness. Combined with an attitude of enjoyment and indulgence (which is only natural) during this holiday season, it’s no wonder that maintaining a state of balance both physically and mentally is so hard to do. Maybe that’s why with the New Year we are all ready to make resolutions, change our ways and get back on track with our health.
Candida Albicans is one of those micro-organisms constantly in flux. It is a common type of yeast naturally occurring in our gut, which can easily get overgrown and be thrown out of balance with the poor diets and high stressors that too often accompany the holidays. In proper levels within the body, Candida aids the body with nutrient absorption and digestion. However, Candida is opportunistic and will overgrow and mutate to a fungal form if allowed by the overuse of antibiotics, oral contraceptives, cortisone, and poor diets rich in refined sugars and processed foods. The overgrowth of Candida often appears as what most refer to as yeast infections. The most common displays of these infections are found on the skin, mouth (also known as thrush). A chronic overgrowth of Candida can lead to more serious health issues, and the displaying of other symptoms. If left unchecked, candida overgrowth can lead to “leaky gut syndrome,” a condition in which the overgrowth of candida has caused damage and wear to the protective mucous lining of the small intestine. That allows the toxic fungi, along with undigested food particles to enter into your bloodstream sending toxins throughout your body, causing a wide range of health issues such as: chronic fatigue, depression and anxiety, weight gain, reproductive issues, migraines, bladder infections, etc. So much of our health is connected to the health of our digestive tract and unknown to most, Candida is key in maintaining this health.
Through dietary changes one can overcome or avoid a Candida overgrowth. By boosting the immune system, bringing back a healthy balance of gut flora, and avoiding sugars you can improve your overall health while changing the environment of your gut to one in which candida simply won’t survive.
- The first step in creating a more neutral environment in your gut is taking a probiotic. Introducing more good bacteria to your gut will help to crowd out and kill off the excess candida. However, even good bacteria loves sugars, so avoiding refined sugars and limiting naturally occurring sugars is a huge factor in restoring optimal gut health.
- The second step in eliminating candida is cutting out sugars. Stick to a mostly liquid diet rich in vegetable broths and soups. Avoid grains and vegetables that are simple carbohydrates that will only break down into sugars, such as rice or pasta and white potatoes. Stick to your leafy greens and dark colored vegetables for their nutritional benefits and naturally cleansing properties, such as kale, dandelion leaves, cilantro, onions and garlic. Steamed veggies and fresh salads are both great options as well while trying to cleanse your body of excess Candida. Add some flavor to these with a little coconut oil, lemon juice or apple cider vinegar. All three of those act as a basic once inside your body, helping your body restore a more balanced pH level. Candida and other bacteria love when your body is too acidic.
As with any diet and food regimen changes you must listen and pay attention to your own body. What works for some, may not work for you. Although you may be faced with a serious candida overgrowth, make small, gradual changes to your diet to help ensure your success. Changing too much at once will prove to be overwhelming and make it that much easier for you to “cheat” and go back to your old ways. If you are in fact dealing with a candida overgrowth, you may experience some candida “die-off” symptoms as your body cleanses all the impurities, toxins and extra bacteria out of your system. You may notice an increase in headaches, fatigue, brain fog, sinus infections, and skin breakouts to name a few. You may feel worse before you get better, but you will be on your way to a better overall health and state of wellbeing while crafting healthy habits that will keep you feeling great long after you get your candida under control.