A holistic approach to the prevention of Candida Albicans based on good nutrition and natural remedies.
Candida albicans is a yeast which occurs naturally in everyone from the age of about 6 months old. Ordinarily it lives in balance with other bacteria in the bowel, also known as bowel flora. About 4 to 5 lbs. of bowel flora are normally present in healthy humans. They make vitamins and assist with digestion and absorption in the intestine. They are also vital to the correct functioning of the immune system.
Candida albicans can become a problem when this natural balance becomes upset and an overgrowth of the yeast occurs in the body. This condition is referred to as Candidiasis.
An overgrowth of candida can be likened to weeds in a garden. The cultivated plants have no problem cohabiting with a few weeds, but when these plants are outnumbered and overrun by weeds they have difficulty in surviving or developing properly. When this happens the gardener takes corrective action. The candida sufferer is like the gardener and must strive to regain a healthy balance of bowel flora versus candida in the body.
The symptoms of Candidiasis are varied and can be very difficult to pinpoint or recognise. Symptoms may include any of the following: fatigue, depression, mood swings, anxiety, unnatural irritability, acne, migraine,athletes foot and other fungal infections, joint soreness and swelling, herpes, cystitis, thrush, nasal congestion and sore throats. One symptom of Candidiasis which is common to most sufferers is a craving for sweet foods.
There can also be digestive symptoms such as diarrhoea, constipation, flatulence, allergies, intolerance to alcohol, bloating and heartburn.
For women the symptoms can be more specific and therefore more readily identifiable. These include cystitis, thrush, vaginal infections, PMT and menstrual problems.
At worst a serious overgrowth of candida can lead to a feeling once referred to by a leading researcher as the sick-all-over syndrome.
Not all of the problems listed above are always due to candida infection. There may be other causes. When no other cause can be found then candida could be considered as a possible culprit.
Causes of Candidiasis
The root cause of Candidiasis is a generally weakened immune system. With a modern lifestyle there are many reasons why this may occur. Most common amongst these are diet and antibiotics.
Diet: Today many of the foods we eat have been highly processed. From growing to processing to cooking, our food is constantly interfered with, e.g. artificial fertilisers, pesticides, growth enhancers, additives, preservatives, heat treatment and microwaves, to mention just a few. All this interference depletes the natural goodness of our foodstuffs. Our diets also tend to be high in foods which actively encourage the growth of candida, such as refined sugars and carbohydrates.
Antibiotics: The single most widespread cause of Candidiasis is the indiscriminate administration of broad spectrum antibiotics. A side effect of antibiotics is to kill resident friendly flora in the bowel. This results in an imbalance occurring in the bowel flora. The excessive use of antibiotics can also deplete the immune system, compounding the problem.
Is there a cure?
Candida is present in everybody and this presence is normally in balance and harmony with other flora in the bowel. The aim of any sufferer is to regain this balance and to control the candida in the system. There are three key elements in achieving this:
- Strengthening the immune system
- Assisting the friendly bacteria in redressing this imbalance
Diet and Foods to eliminate
The most important factor in candida control is a diet which eliminates all foods known to encourage the growth of yeast.
Sugars: Yeast lives on sugar so it is vital that sugars are eliminated from the diet. This means sugar in all forms and guises. Many sufferers have a constant craving for sugar and therefore it takes a lot of will-power to attain a sugar-free diet. This is achieved by the elimination of all refined sugar and any foods which are naturally high in sugar, e.g. fructose, glucose, sorbitol, mannitol, honey, fruit juices, syrups, cakes, puddings, desserts, soft drinks, all dried fruits.
Yeasts, moulds and fungi: As candida albicans is a yeast, and yeasts and moulds are fungi, it is important for the elimination diet to include this group. This can prove much more difficult than first imagined. Many foods are included in this group, as yeast is often used as a flavour enhancer, in the process of fermentation and as a raising agent in baked goods. For this reason many convenience and highly processed foods contain yeast.
The list of foods in the yeasts, moulds and fungi group is endless but the following are some of the more common ones to be avoided: yeast breads, cakes, biscuits, mushrooms, soya sauce, cheese, all fermented beverages such as beer, spirits, wine and cider, vinegar, pickles and most convenience foods such as packet soups, refined breakfast cereals, instant foods and sauce mixes. Some fruit have a naturally occurring plume of mould on their skins and should be avoided. These include grapes and plums. Over-ripe fruit should also be avoided as should all dried fruit (they tend to be very high in both sugar and yeast). Melons are also better avoided as they can mould from the inside out.
Many candida sufferers feel worse in mouldy, damp environments. It is especially important that sleeping quarters and bedding are dry and well aired. Antibiotics: With todays modern farming techniques, dairy products, eggs, poultry and meat often contain residues of antibiotics. For this reason it is important, wherever possible, to buy certified organic produce in these categories to ensure the elimination of your intake of antibiotics from these sources.
Foods to help win the battle
As there are foods which should be eliminated from the diet there are also some which should be included and eating habits which could be improved upon. A diet which is high in fibre and contains plenty of fresh vegetables is very important to a candida sufferer. Oat bran is a particularly suitable source of fibre and can be sprinkled over breakfast cereals, such as porridge. Vegetables can be eaten both raw or lightly cooked. Incorporating a large salad into the daily diet is highly recommended. A tasty and nutritious way of increasing the intake of vegetables is to make home-made vegetable soup. It is important that adequate protein be eaten daily. This can be from a safeanimal source (i.e. organic), or from the mixing of complementary vegetable proteins, e.g. cereals and pulses. Many individual foods have been found to be helpful in the control of candida. These include garlic, olive oil, natural yoghurt (preferably goats or sheeps), aloe vera juice and lactic-fermented vegetables, e.g. sauerkraut. It is advisable to have at least three meals a day. All food, especially carbohydrates, should be well chewed before swallowing. It is impossible for half-chewed carbohydrates to be digested properly, since the enzymes present in the saliva are essential in the breakdown of these foods. It is also important not to drink at meal times as this interferes with the digestive process.
Strengthening the Immune System
With an improved diet and the elimination of factors which encourage the growth of candida the immune system will begin to gain in strength. This process can be assisted by a a number of dietary supplements:
- Vitamin C: The primary nutrient in immune system enhancement. Combined with bioflavanoids, 1000mg. daily should prove helpful.
- B complex: Consult an IAHS store assistant about suitable dosage. Ensure it is yeast-free.
- Selenium: 50-100mcg. daily is usually adequate. Ensure it is yeast-free. Best combined with vitamins A, C and E.
- Zinc: 25mg. could be taken daily, preferably in a chelated form.
- Magnesium: 250-500mg. daily has been found useful.
- Vitamin E: 200i.u. daily as d-alpha tocopherol should be sufficient.
- Vitamin A: Take as beta carotene. Consult IAHS store assistant about dosage.
- Evening Primrose oil can be helpful in doses of 500mg twice daily.
- Echinacea is a valuable herb used for its immune- strengthening properties.
Supplements which help control Candida
There are also number of supplements which are known to be anti-candida:
Lactobacillus acidophilus and bifidobacteria are always recommended as they help to eliminate candida from the intestines and restore the balance in favour of the friendly bacteria. This process can be enhanced by the inclusion of biotin, garlic capsules and oleic acid (as virgin olive oil) in the list of supplements. Caprylic acid is an antifungal which has been found to effectively destroy candida. However, due to the discomfort experienced by some patients, it is recommended to be used on the advice of a practitioner.
Consult an IAHS store assistant about more supplements to help your condition.
Fighting Candidiasis can feel like an uphill battle. Sometimes, when you seem to be getting much better, you can suddenly feel worse. Take heart! This often results when candida are dying off at a great rate and the body has difficulty eliminating the waste products fast enough. At such a time it is important to be philosophical, stay on your programme, and drink plenty of water.
Candidiasis causes discomfort and misery for many people. An anti-candida programme is one of the best ways to find out if it is your problem. An anti-candida diet is generally a very healthy diet, so it can be of benefit even if candida is not the cause of the problem. Some people are successful on a do-it-yourself basis, while others may need the assistance of a sympathetic Candidapractitioner or doctor. It is most helpful to read and understand as much as possible about the condition in order to know what is happening to you.
- Candida Albicans Could yeast be your problem? by Leon Chaitow
- Guide to Candida and ME What the doctors dont tell you – published by Wallace.
- Candida published by The Green Library Offprint.
This fact sheet is for information only and is not meant to be used for self-diagnosis or as a substitute for consultation with a healthcare professional.