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A Candida overgrowth can be an annoying, depressing and sometimes debilitating infection. What makes it worse is that it often keeps coming back after treatment. This quick guide gives you the real advice on how to treat it properly and prevent recurrence.
What it is
Candida is a yeast (type of fungus) that resides normally in the intestines and other parts of the body. Candidiasis is the infection that results when it grows out of control.
You have probably heard of it in relation to vaginal (or penile) thrush, or oral thrush. However, it can also cause infections in many other parts of the body, including in hair follicles, the skin, nail bed and gut.
If you have oral, vaginal or penile thrush, you can be almost certain that you have an overgrowth in the gut too.
The usual symptoms of Candida overgrowth in the gut include:
Brain fog/lack of concentration
White discharge from vagina or penis
For people that are immunocompromised, for example those who have cancer or AIDS, Candida infections can take hold throughout the body and become potentially life threatening.
The most common type of candidiasis is caused by Candida albicans but there are other yeasts in the gut and rest of the body that can cause the infection.
A good quality comprehensive stool test can help you determine whether you have an overgrowth and what type of yeast is causing it. The lab running the test will specifically test these yeasts against different antifungals to tell you what the most effective treatment is.
You can order these tests through me and I can talk you through the results and create a targeted, effective plan of action if you have an infection.
Getting rid of Candida for good
Treating Candida properly using a holistic approach is the key to preventing relapse. You can use over-the-counter treatments but often this isn’t enough to keep the infection at bay. Candida resistance to these drugs is also an increasing problem, so you ideally want to minimise their use, by working on preventing candidiasis recurrences.
An effective holistic protocol should include:
Tackling the overgrowth itself
Building a healthy gut microbiome
Repairing and maintaining integrity of the gut lining
Improving overall immunity
Modifying your diet is also a crucial part of your plan. See below for my recommendations on what to eat and what to avoid.
1. Fight the fungus
Sometimes antifungal treatment can be a simple matter of killing the yeast and bringing levels back to normal. However, in some cases, Candida can form biofilms. These are colonies of micro-organisms that surround themselves with a protective sticky film, making it harder for antifungals to reach them and for your own immune system to attack them.
One of the reasons natural herbs are so effective is that they often double-up as powerful biofilm busters as well as antifungals. Studies have also shown that using natural herbs in combination with conventional antifungal medications will augment the action of these drugs.
Among the best natural antifungals are as follows. Those underlined also act as biofilm busters:
Resveratrol (Japanese Knotweed)
These are the products that I often recommend for Candida treatment:
These supplements are available on this website. If you wish to order practitioner-only products, you will need a prescription from a practitioner, or you can book a free consultation with me. Book here.
2. Build a healthy microbial population
Beneficial gut bacteria and yeasts interact with each other, and certain of these bacteria will suppress the growth of Candida and keep levels within healthy limits.
There are also specific probiotics that are known to help prevent and treat Candida overgrowths. The main one is Saccharomyces boulardii, which is, in fact, a yeast itself, but which does not colonise the bowel and is not related to Candida yeast.
S boulardii also breaks down biofilms, and helps boost the efficacy of the antifungal drugs, fluconazole and amphotericin.
Flordis Ther-Biotic Bio Daily and Rochway SB Ultra Forte are both good choices as they have the highest doses of S boulardii of 10 billion and 15 billion, respectively. Herbs of Gold Probiotic plus SB is another good choice with other relevant probiotics added.
3. Maintain a healthy gut lining
Maintaining the integrity of the gut lining is key to beating Candida for good. The permeability of the gut lining is controlled by ‘tight junctions’, which effectively act as border control, regulating the passage of nutrients and other molecules into cells and barring pathogens (bacterial toxins and viruses) from the rest of the body.
Stressors such as mental stress, illness, poor diet and excessive exercise dysregulates tight junction activity, increasing permeability and allowing unwanted particles to enter the bloodstream. A Candida overgrowth in itself will also cause increased intestinal permeability.
This so-called leaky gut creates inflammation and significantly disturbs microbial balance.
Candida takes advantage and starts to proliferate. Leaky gut will also increase the chance of candidiasis becoming systemic i.e affecting the whole body. However, this type of infection generally only happens when you are very immunocompromised.
Using nutrients that heal the intestinal lining and help to reinstate normal gut permeability is essential for Candida control as well as preventing a range of diseases, including inflammatory bowel diseases.
The main nutrients you can use include:
Omega 3 fish oils
I recommend the following products that include some or all of these nutrients and which do a great job of ensuring a healthy gut:
Orthoplex Gut Rx (practitioner-only)
4. It’s all about immunity
Image by Bru-nO from Pixabay
Candidiasis is an immune issue, and, if you’re suffering recurring infections it’s a sign that your immunity needs strengthening.
Once a Candida infection occurs, the yeast is treated as a pathogen and white blood cells mount an attack and kill it.
Any nutrients and herbs that boost general immunity are good for mobilising these white blood cells and preventing candidiasis. These include:
Vitamins A, C and D
Medicinal mushrooms, especially cordyceps, reishi, coriolus and shiitake
Among the best immune-boosting supplements are:
BioPractica ImmunePro Plus (practitioner-only)
Orthoplex Gut Rx (practitioner-only)
One key antibody for gut immunity and keeping Candida under control is secretory IgA (SIgA). Supplementing with vitamin A, vitamin D and the probiotic,
S boulardii, is one of the best ways of increasing levels of this important immune protein. You can also use an seaweed-based nutrient called fucoidin, included in the supplement, Integra Nutritionals Gemmune IB Immunebiotic.
I recommend the following supplements to effectively raise SIgA:
Orthoplex Gut Rx (practitioner-only)
NPM Immunity Mushroom Blend (practitioner-only)
You can assess the strength of gut immunity by measuring SIgA, using a stool test. Contact me if you are interested in investigating further.
5. Pay attention to stresshttps://www.flourishmindandbody.com/product-page/herbs-of-gold-55-billion-60-caps
Stress depletes your gut flora population and suppresses your immune system, and you may have noticed that Candida infections pop up whenever you are going through challenging times.
Adopting healthy daily stress management practices can really make the difference in overcoming recurrent Candida infections.
What to eat
I will be creating an anti-Candida meal plan shortly, so watch this space. In the meantime, here are some general pointers of what to eat and what not to eat:
1. Include in your basic core diet meat, fish, poultry, eggs, some legumes and plenty of vegetables.
2. Minimise grains (bread, pasta, rice, noodles) and sugar foods as much as possible.
3. Substitute sweet potatoes for white potatoes where you can as these have less impact on blood sugar.
4. Fruit is OK but limit this to two pieces per day.
5. Use cold-pressed coconut oil wherever you can as this is a natural antifungal.
6. Include raw garlic in your diet as much as possible e.g in homemade hummus and guacamole.
7. Try to stick to 3 meals a day without snacking.
There is not a lot of evidence backing up the link between a high-sugar diet and prevalence of candidiasis. However, I have found anecdotally that a low sugar, low-carb diet does help recovery from the infection. This is likely to be due to the dysregulating effect of sugar and other carbohydrates on blood glucose levels, which can suppress your immune system.
As well as immunity, stress, gut health and diet, you might also want to consider hormonal imbalances as a factor if you have recurrent infections.
Oestrogen dominance, where there is too much circulating oestrogen relative to progesterone levels, can create Candida overgrowths. This can happen during perimenopause i.e the years in the run-up to menopause, and also when taking a contraceptive pill that contains oestradiol.
You’re also more likely to suffer candidiasis during and after menopause because of changes in the environment in the vagina.
Diabetes will increase your chances of candidiasis, because of the immune suppressing effect of higher than normal blood sugar, as we have mentioned before. A good supplement that helps you manage blood sugar plus a low-carb diet will help. Book an appointment with me if you would like further guidance.
Candidiasis is strongly associated with overuse of antibiotics as these will disrupt your gut flora balance. If this is the case, consider using high-strength probiotics and a good prebiotic to rebalance your microbial population.