Like I mentioned in the previous article, candida wears many masks and it is therefore so hard to diagnose. I’m sure you can find yourself in some of them:
- You put on a favorite dress or jeans to wear out, but don’t feel comfortable because you’re too bloated.
- While you’re brushing your hair, you suddenly get a surge of anxiety – you almost wish you didn’t have to go.
- When you arrive at the dinner or party, the smell of aftershave and perfume makes you feel instantly nauseous.
- As you kiss people hello you keep your mouth closed tight because you’re worried that your breath doesn’t smell good.
- After enjoying a few glasses of chardonnay or Shiraz with friends, your nose has become blocked which makes you feel like you’ve got hayfever.
- You try to eat as slowly as possible because often after eating you have to burp.
- When you slip into bed, some nights you can’t get comfortable because your ears are itchy or ringing or you have bad post-nasal drip.
- You regularly see vaginal discharge on your panties.
- Your tongue is white when you stick it out.
Candida has many faces. It can often present with a whole host of seemingly unrelated health symptoms that are frustrating and uncomfortable, but you don’t catch on that candida is the cause.
Let’s get one thing straight – candida may be tricky to address but it’s not impossible to treat. You CAN clear your system of candida overpopulation. Most often, using just one approach is not the answer. Particularly when it comes to candida-blitzing diet changes.
To beat candida you need a repertoire of strategies that you can mix and match. This allows you to come at candida from all different directions to beat it down and bring it back under control.
This was the key to healing my own candida issues – because my diet was not the problem, which I’ll explain more about in a minute.
To mount your own effective candida defense, try the following effective candida solutions:
- Steer Clear Of Sugars
Candida loves to gobble up sugar, which helps it thrive and multiply. It uses sugars to strengthen its cell walls and give it the energy to fight off your body’s natural defenses. That doesn’t mean you only need to avoid spooning sugar into your coffee or tea or onto breakfast cereal. Sugar comes in many different forms and it is important to avoid (or substantially reduce) them all.
- Choose carbs carefully: Carbs are made up of carbon, hydrogen and oxygen, which connect together to form sugars. But not all carbs are created equal. Processed carbs such as white bread, rice crackers, doughnuts and cookies (even when gluten free), only have one or two sugar atoms. So they are sometimes called ‘simple carbs’. As the fiber has largely or completely been removed from these foods they are digested quickly, causing a rush of sugars into your bloodstream and a huge spike in insulin too.
In contrast, foods like quinoa, buckwheat and sourdough rye (for those not gluten-sensitive) are complex carbs. They have bigger molecules because they still contain plenty of fiber and natural starches that are often encased in that fiber, which your body takes more time to digest.
The sugars in the fiber are not completely broken down until they reach your large bowel. This is why they keep you full for longer and provide longer-lasting energy.
- Read food labels: Where possible, bake food from scratch. When you do buy packaged foods, check the label to catch sugars masquerading under other names including: dextrose, fructose, glucose, high fructose corn syrup, malt, golden syrup, honey, maple syrup, maltose, lactose, brown sugar, caster sugar, palm sugar, raw sugar, sucrose, and some newer varieties including agave syrup and rice malt syrup.
- Cut back on fruit: In fact, for a few weeks or months some people find they need to cut out fruits altogether, to help get candida under control. Once you are feeling better you can slowly introduce low-sugar fruits such as organic blueberries, strawberries and passion fruit – but still give very sweet (and often mold-prone) fruits like watermelon and rock melon a miss.
- Avoid starchy vegetables: The carbs content can sometimes help feed candida, so for a few months, give foods like potatoes, sweet potato, corn, carrots and yams a miss.
- Reduce alcohol: If possible cut it out completely. Though most women don’t realize it, alcohol is sugar and is treated in your body like a poison. As it’s made of grapes, it has high sugar levels that your body treats just like the white sugar found in a sugar bowl.
- Avoid diary: This contains sugars in the form of lactose.
Cook With Coconut Oil
Coconut may be a superfood when it comes to fighting candida. The magical ingredients? Healthy medium chain fatty acids called lauric acid, caprylic acid and capric acid, which boost the body’s immune defense against viruses and bacteria. This may be why some people swear by coconut for helping irritable bowel or tummy bugs while others say it is a potent skin healer.
Exciting new research at Tufts University in the US, found that when compared with beef tallow and soybean oil, coconut oil helped to control the overgrowth of candida albicans in mice:
The study found:
A coconut oil-rich diet reduced C. albicans in the gut compared to a beef tallow-or soybean oil-rich diet. Coconut oil alone, or the combination of coconut oil and beef tallow, reduced the amount of C. albicans in the gut by more than 90% compared to a beef tallow-rich diet.
“Coconut oil even reduced fungal colonization when mice were switched from beef tallow to coconut oil, or when mice were fed both beef tallow and coconut oil at the same time. These findings suggest that adding coconut oil to a patient’s existing diet might control the growth of C. albicans in the gut, and possibly decrease the risk of fungal infections caused by C. albicans,” said Kumamoto, Ph.D., a professor of molecular biology and microbiology at Tufts University School of Medicine and member of the molecular microbiology and genetics program faculties at the Sackler School of Graduate Biomedical Sciences.
And that’s not all. Research in 2012 from Ireland’s, Athlone Institute of Technology also suggests that coconut oil can help attack Streptococcus bacteria that causes tooth decay as well as fight the yeast candida albicans fungus.
- Keep coconut oil in your kitchen: Use it in muffins, to baste vegetables for roasting, and to oil the pan before cooking buckwheat pancakes or scrambled eggs. Or mulch some shredded coconut in your food processor, to make coconut butter.
- Enjoy a tablespoon: Have this with a meal to help absorb nutrients from your food – it will reduce bacteria in your mouth and digestive system.
Address Your Stress
It’s well documented that a weakened immune system allows candida to grow – this is why people who have cancer or HIV often constantly struggle with severe candida infections. Stress can also compromise your immunity. It triggers your fight or flight response which diverts your immune system. So instead of standing guard against infections, your body is mobilizing its resources to do things like clot your blood. That diverted attention can allow candida, which is a very opportunistic infection, to gain momentum. So even if you barely eat any sugar, this stress could be allowing your candida to thrive.
- Conduct a life audit: Write a list of your biggest stressors and address them. That might mean you stop living to work and start working to live, that you go for couples counseling with your partner or downscale to a smaller house if keeping up with your payments is wiping out your bank balance every month.
- Enjoy sun salutations: And downward facing dog and a series of other yoga postures every day. And make sure savor the soothing savasana relaxation at the end of your yoga session.
- Schedule time out: Many women complain that they barely get any down time. So quality ‘me’ time? Doesn’t even get a look-in. No matter how busy you are, that has to change. Block out at least half an hour every day for you and give yourself a longer window of time on the weekends. You are worth it, you deserve it and your immune system will benefit from it.
- Find your de-stressing technique: Learn what works best for you, whether it’s meditation or watching the sunset, and then do it regularly.
Starve The Yeast
Candida is a yeast infection that also feeds on yeasts, so some people find that yeasty foods can prompt flare-ups or worsen candida symptoms within hours of being eaten.
- Avoid yeasted breads: Some people with candida find they need to avoid all breads as well as brewer’s yeast. Or, you may find that you can eat sourdoughs made with proper starter cultures (not just vinegar flavors).
- Restrict other yeasty foods: These include many crispbreads and flavored savory snacks, foods like tamari, marmite and promite, matured cheese, commercial salad dressings and refined vinegars (apple cider vinegar is fine). Some practitioners believe you should steer clear of all mushrooms. Others believe that brown and white button mushrooms should be avoided but that Reishi mushrooms are good to eat because they boost immunity. Listen to your own body so you can decide what foods trigger candida for you.
- Avoid kombucha: This fizzy drink may feel like it’s populating your belly with plenty of good bacteria but along with it, you are also getting high doses of yeast, which your candida will love to feed on.
Go For Garlic
Garlic has many strings to its bow due to a powerful active ingredient called allicin, which makes it antiseptic, anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial and anti-fungal. Little wonder then that it also helps give your immune system a boost.
- Favor a garlic flavor: Enjoy chopped garlic in nutritious stews and soups or in salads and salsas. In particular, fresh garlic has been shown to help slow the growth of candida.
- Take a garlic supplement: Avoid the odorless varieties, as these may not be as potent. If you have FODMAP issues, you might find that you tolerate garlic supplements better than fresh garlic. Or you may have to avoid this candida solution, because it is not right for your body.
Harness Herbal Extracts and Plant Power
Nature has a great deal of herbal power that can be harnessed to boost immunity, beat candida, and bring the body back into balance. As candida is clever and very adaptive, it may be beneficial to use some of the following supplements in a rotated cycle for a few weeks on and a few weeks off – so your candida doesn’t learn to outsmart them.
- Take turmeric daily: Feel like a golden latte? Then enjoy. The curcumin in the turmeric has been shown to be more effective than anti-candida drugs like fluconazole.
- Sprinkle on some cinnamon: This does more than make your morning breakfast bowl taste great. Cinnamon oil has been shown to act like a terminator when applied to candida cells in the lab for one to two days. It caused irregular hollows to appear on the surface of the candida cells, destroyed some of the internal structures inside the cells and also led some of the cells to completely burst.
- Opt for olive leaf extract: Taken in capsules or a herbal tincture, this provides strong support for your immune system. The high levels of oleuropein can help your body fight yeast overpopulation. This may be because it helps destroy the strong biofilm that surrounds, shields and protects the candida and can thwart your body’s attempts to combat the candida. These anti-fungal effects or olive leaf extract have been confirmed in research.
- Use oil of oregano: This is a highly effective herb and best taken in the form of a supplement. My favorite brand is this one from Biotics Research A.D.P., which is available on Amazon.
- Sip on Paul D’Arco tea: Also known as taheebo tea, this is made from the strong South American tree, which is completely resistant to fungal problems – so when ingested it can help you resist candida too.
- Power up with peppermint: Take mint supplements or brew a cup of strong peppermint tea. Research has shown that the menthol oil actually helps to stop candida from being able to form its protective biofilm shield.
- Benefit of barberry: This shrub is high in natural alkaloids, including berberine, a powerful active ingredient which inhibits bacteria, helps kill microbes and parasites and has anti-inflammatory impacts which strengthen the immune system. Get it as a supplement.
- Take a tincture of black walnut: Rich in tannins, this can kill both parasites and reduce fungal overgrowth. One study has shown it may be as effective as some antifungal creams in slowing candida growth.
- Apply natural topical treatments. These include:
- Lavender oil: This has been used for centuries to help fight infections like candida on skin and nails.
- Boric acid: Suffering vaginal thrush? Try inserting one boric acid powder capsule into your vagina in the morning and before bed for a week or longer and it may help you knock candida on its head.
- Sunlight therapy: Candida does not like being exposed to light, shows research from Duke University Medical Center. The study found that ordinary sunlight could help to reduce candida skin and nail infections.
Feed Your Gut Flora With The Right Bacteria
Some women swear by topically applying yogurt to treat vaginal infections. The reason it works is that the good bacteria help your body mount a stronger candida defense. Now scientists are trying similar approaches. In a study at the University of Camerino in Italy, researchers tested five strains of lactobacilli for their antimicrobial potential against candida. Two of these strains, Lactobacillus rhamnosus and Lactobacillus paracasei, were very effective in getting candida under control through clever combat strategies like producing hydrogen peroxide to kill the yeast cells.
That doesn’t mean that all fermented foods help give candida a blast. While some integrative practitioners believe that candida can be helped by foods like sauerkraut, others say fermented foods should be avoided altogether.
My take? I’m for fermented foods as long as they are not sugar-containing ones like water kefirs (contain sugar), kombucha (very yeasty) or fermented sodas (which start with a sweet juice). I have found that most people with candida do well with fermented foods like sauerkraut, kimchi or miso.
- Take Probiotics: These live forms of healthy bacteria can help provide a healthier belly balance. Good choices include:
- Saccharomyces boulardii: This is a star player in your anti-candida armory. Yes, it is a kind of yeast, but this potent probiotic is benign non-pathogenic yeast and once it enters your digestive system it works like a probiotic. S Boulardii, which was originally found in Indochina, is extracted from the lychee and mangosteen fruits. It appears to bring many benefits to the microbiome by boosting the numbers of good bacteria, such as bifidobacteria while at the same time, reducing the numbers of disease causing bacteria and pathogens, like candida.
Research by the David Geffen School of Medicine has identified this probiotic’s mode of action, which includes: “Regulation of intestinal microbial homeostasis, interference with the ability of pathogens to colonize and infect the mucosa, modulation of local and systemic immune responses, stabilization of the gastrointestinal barrier function and induction of enzymatic activity favoring absorption and nutrition.”
That in itself makes this probiotic a powerful ally in fighting candida. Research from Wrocław University also found that this potent probiotic helped to stop candida from changing to a more damaging thread-like shape so that it is less able to burrow into tissues and move through the gut wall into the bloodstream, and less able to migrate all over the body.
Be mindful thought that probiotics can sometimes cause complications for those who are immuno-compromised, so if you have a chronic health condition, check with your GP before taking them. Also, though S. Boulardii is not the same as baker’s or brewer’s yeast, start with a small dose if you are sensitive to yeasts, to ensure you can tolerate it without issues.
- MegaSporeBiotic: This is one of the newer breed of spore-based probiotics and it contains 5 different bacillus spores including a carotenoid-rich strain called Bacillus Indicus. These beneficial spores, help recolonize the large bowel with good bacteria. I talk more about MegaSpore Biotic here.
- A broad spectrum probiotic supplement: Which carries a variety of different good bacteria strains such as:
- Bifodobacterium bifidum, breve, infantis and longum
- Lactobacillus acidophilus, plantarum, casei and rhamnosus
- Choose Savory Ferments: That means that you use salt in your starter culture instead of sugar.
Once it gets through harvesting, storage, packing and being transported, the food on supermarket shelves is often not fresh. During that lag time from paddock to plate, molds grow on skin surfaces. The same also happens when you store leftover foods in your fridge. These molds contain yeasts that can worsen your candida load.
- Shop small: Buy what you need for the next few days. Though it may take a little extra time out of your week to keep going back to buy foods, there will be big pay-offs. The food you eat will be fresh and therefore, contain my vitamins and minerals. It will also have less surface molds.
- Freeze leftovers: This ensures that they will not be sitting in your fridge growing different kinds of mold.
- Check use-by dates: And don’t eat foods if they are out of date. Remember, once you open something well before it’s use-by date, its shelf life may be shortened due to oxidation so it may not be good to eat even if the use-by date is still valid.
- Check your fridge temperature: Get a thermometer, available in some department stores. Cut off a piece of food, such as cheese, insert the probe and note the internal temperature. Food in the fridge should be three degrees Celsius and food in the freezer should be minus 18. If your fridge temperature is too high, you may need to turn it down or have it serviced.
- De-frost frozen food in the fridge: Learn which meats take 24 hours to thaw and which ones require 48 hours. To be this organized, it will help to write a weekly menu so you know what you are cooking tonight and tomorrow.
- Peel vegetables to remove the molds on the surface.
- Clean your fridge: This should be done regularly with warm water and a clean sponge to reduce build-up of molds which can grow inside fridges and can also be airborne settling on foods and multiplying.
Alkalize Your Body
All life on earth depends on the appropriate balance of pH (acid or alkalinity) levels. The scale of pH goes from 0 to 14. In order to survive, human life needs a rather tightly controlled pH level in the blood of between about 7.35 and 7.4. A reading below seven (the midway ‘neutral’ point) is considered more acidic, while above seven is considered more alkaline. However, the typical modern lifestyle and diet often produces an acidic environment in your body, which then makes it much easier for candida to get a foothold and grow.
- Start the day with 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar in a glass of warm water before breakfast (you can have it with thyroid meds, it’s won’t interfere). Sufficient stomach acid will help alkalize your body.
- Eat five to ten servings of vegetables daily. Healthy, alkalizing options include avocado, beetroot, broccoli, celery, celeriac and cooked kale.
- Reduce intake of red meat, which can be very acid-forming.
- Eat slowly and chew food well – this may mean that sometimes you eat in silence to maximize calm and mindfulness and aid your digestion.
- Cut back on intake of dairy foods and grains like wheat, rice, barley and pasta, which can be acid-forming.
- Use healthy virgin and cold-pressed oils: including olive, flaxseed, hemp and coconut oil.
- Add a shot of wheat grass. Not the tastiest juice but a highly alkalizing one.
Boost Your Vitamin B3
In the same way that moisture and darkness are pivotal to the growth of mold in a cupboard, candida uses an enzyme called Hst3 to help it thrive and grow. But just as superman can be knocked off his feet by kryptonite, candida can be weakened nicotinamide, which is a form of Vitamin B3. Scientists at the Institute for Research in Immunology and Cancer at the University of Montreal, exposed mice with candida to vitamin B3 and found it not only strongly reduced the candida populations, it had this candida-blitzing effect on both normal and drug-resistant strains of candida.
- Take a vitamin B3 supplement for several months but don’t exceed the recommended dose. Taking too much B3 can lead to hot flashes and issues like tingling and itching of the skin.
- Eat foods rich in niacin (B3): These include:
- Turkey, chicken, pork and beef
- Sunflower seeds
- Kidney beans
- Tahini (sesame paste)
- Organ meats, such as liver.
Dealing With Candida Die-Off
You’re making all the right lifestyle changes to kick candida to the curb, but instead of feeling better, you’re feeling worse every day.
What’s going on?
You’re experiencing candida die-off. This occurs when the candida cells start to die and release toxins, including ethanol and acetaldehyde, which can make your brain feel foggy and make your body feel like you are very ill or coming down with a flu.
When die-off occurs, people often abandon their candida-combat strategies, presuming they are not working. In fact, the die-off symptoms indicate just the opposite – that they are working very well. If this happens to you, hang in there. Though it can take a week or more to come through candida die-off, remind yourself that this is a sign you are winning the candida war. Soon it will be under control and you will start to feel healthier than you have felt in months or years.
What If Your Candida Won’t Budge?
Then you really need to look at what other systemic issues your body might have that may be weakening your immune system’s ability to fight candida off. In cases of intractable candida, I have found the most common causes are:
- The presence of heavy metals
- Parasites (this was the root cause of my ongoing candida issue)
- A viral infection such as mononucleosis (also known as mono and glandular fever, caused by the Epstein Barr virus), Lyme disease (from a tick bite) or an underlying undiagnosed condition, such as diabetes, Type 1 or 2.
In my own case, despite avoiding all the problematic foods that feed candida, I spent weeks unable to get my own candida under control. As I showed no obvious signs of a parasite, I had no idea that in fact, something aside from diet was feeding my candida.
But once that Dientamoeba fragilis parasite was detected via a Doctor’s Data test (you can order these tests on your own via Direct Labs) that was my big turning point. Then I was able to take steps to clear the parasite. And for the first time in months my yeast overgrowth symptoms started to ease and then disappeared in 3 weeks.
As I finally conquered my candida I was reminded just how important it is to look at the big picture when it comes to your health. That way you can take a holistic approach to provide you body with many kinds of support so that it has all it needs to heal itself.
If you feel like more guidance to get started with a candida protocol, need recipes and meal plans etc, think about joining us for the “Cooking for Balance” program which covers candida as one of the protocols. You can either listen to the free workshop to decide if the program is for you, or get the full program here.
One of the things many women on the candida protocol struggle with are the occasional guilt-free desserts or snacks. To make it easier for you, we’ve created several delicious snack & dessert recipes for candida here.