I had a couple of questions about candida after my post about starting a cleanse so thought I would share what I have discovered over the years here. My disclaimer is that I am definitely not a doctor, this is just what I’ve tried based on a lot of reading and advice from holistic practitioners. It is what has worked for me.
Candida Albicans is a fungus that is always found in the genital and intestinal tracts. When good bacteria, like those found in yogurt with live cultures, is removed, often after a course or repeated courses of antibiotics, the candida can grow to a disproportionate level and cause a variety of different aliments. For me it is usually headaches and often migraines, fuzzy head, fatigue, sore throats, and mood swings. Candida can also cause thrush in babies and some types of diaper rash, it can manifest as athlete’s foot or as a yeast infection. Candida feeds on sugar.
In my experience holistic doctors are much more in tune with candida infections than mainstream doctors. I went from doctor to doctor for years and couldn’t figure out what was causing my symptoms, however, I was diagnosed with candida by the first holistic doctor I saw and the diet plan, although not easy to stick with, worked. When I completed the program I felt amazing. Better than I could ever remember feeling in my life. When I started acupuncture treatments for infertility, my acupuncturist also picked up on the candida even though by that point I had it pretty much under control.
As a kid I had chronic ear infections and was on numerous courses of antibiotics. I believe that is when the candida overgrowth first took root, but I’ll bet my high sugar, refined carb, and beer as a food group diet in college also contributed. I always had a sore stomach as a kid and, although I didn’t realize it until much later, I always had a fuzzy head. The feeling of having a clear head was so amazing after completing the anti-candida program that even though I veer off track often, I always come back to the diet because I just feel so good when I have the candida under control.
After being diagnoised, I read everything I could about candida and its treatment. Unfortunately every program seems to be slightly different. What is allowed on one program is completely forbidden on another. This can be confusing when you are trying to figure out which program is best for you. The book I read that made the most sense to me is, It Could be Allergy and It Can be Cured, Phillip Alexander. It’s not an easy program to follow but I was willing to try anything and it worked! I haven’t tried it but I have heard good things about The Yeast Connection, and The Candida Diet website has tons of information and a candida diet that I think looks very good. If you think you have candida, my recommendation is to pick a program that makes sense to you and stick with it. Trying to figure out why one program allows one thing and not another can drive you nuts. Here are the basics of the program I follow when I’m trying to get rid of candida, most are based on the book It Could Be Allergy and It Can Be Cured:
Important natural supplements:
- Garlic: I take a heavy dose of odorless garlic tablets three times a day. Garlic kills off the candida.
- Probiotics: I take them first thing in the morning and last thing before bed. Probiotics line your digestive track with helpful bacteria leaving less space for the candida to latch on.
- Essential Fatty Acids: A combination of fish oil and either flaxseed oil or evening primrose oil is best. They aid in healing but you want to be sure you use a fish oil that is free of toxins.
- A Good Multivitamin: one that is yeast-free and includes zinc and iron. This is important for your immune system, especially because the anti-candida diet is so restrictive.
(The first time I went on this diet I also took a prescription medication called Nystatin, now I just use high doses of garlic.)
What to eliminate from your diet:
- All sugar (including honey, maple syrup, and fruits as well as veggies with a high sugar content like peas & carrots)
- All artificial sweeteners (stevia is ok)
- All white flour
- All yeast
- All fungus (like mushrooms)
- Anything that could encourage mold (like cheeses and other dairy products)
- All processed foods
- All MSG
- All alcohol
- All caffeine
If you have candida and you follow a program strictly you will most likely feel like crap for a week or two while the candida is dying off (this is a good sign that the diet is working). Then you will suddenly start feeling really well. If you’re feeling really good after 4 weeks you can add back fruit in very small quantities but no dried fruit, grapes, bananas or melon for the whole program.
After six weeks you can add milk back into your diet and after 90 days you should be rid of the candida infection but if you go back to a high sugar/high refined carb diet it will come back. It’s best to eat mostly whole grains and very little sugar even after you finish the 90 days.
It Could be Allergy and It Can be Cured also recommends going on what they call the “Metabolism-Balancing Diet” for six to eight weeks before starting the program. This is a healthy balanced diet that is aimed at building you up before you go on the more restrictive diet. As the title suggests, the book also spends a lot of time discussing allergies and their link to candida. If you suffer from allergy symptoms and think you might have a candida infection it is definitely worth a read. One of the reasons I chose this diet over others is because it is not a low carb diet, you can still eat potatoes and whole grains. I’ve outlined the very basics here but the book has tons more information including how chemicals in your environment can impact your health and specifically allergies and candida. It gives a lot of ideas for reducing your chemical load. I left my copy in the States the last time we were there and I feel lost without it.