Candida overgrowth is an increasing problem and can cause symptoms that mimic many other health conditions – fatigue, poor exercise recovery, brain fog and insomnia to name a few. Digestively, Candida overgrowth and other imbalances in gut flora (generally known as dysbiosis) can also cause a host of digestive complaints such as gas, bloating, constipation and diarrhea. In children, Candida overgrowth can lead to behavioral and cognitive impairments – I’ve seen kids diagnosed with autism-spectrum disorders improving a lot in terms of behavior, cognition and emotional regulation, once Candida was put back in balance. So today I’m sharing with you my five favorite remedies for Candida overgrowth. [Read more…]
Candida overgrowth can be a significant barrier to weight loss. Candida is a naturally occurring yeast in the intestinal tract, and is vital for healthy digestion. However, when Candida overgrowth occurs, it can create problems, both with digestive function (gas, bloating etc) and more systemically with fatigue, headaches, brain fog and so on. Candida overgrowth can prevent weight loss, mostly through setting us up for eating and drinking too much of the wrong things.
In looking at the association between Candida and weight gain, the first thing we need to examine is the fuel source for yeast (and subsequently Candida). Yeast feeds off sugar – that is its preferred fuel source. Subsequently an individual with a hefty yeast overgrowth is going to crave sugars and carbs, as that is what the yeast is craving.
Part of the dilemma is that the sugar/ carb phenomenon is a catch-22. Yeast feeds off sugar, so a diet high in sugars and carbs will perpetuate Candida overgrowth; and yet Candida overgrowth will set of cravings for more sugars and carbs. See how this might be a hard cycle to break?
Furthermore, yeast will crave not only sugar, but more yeast. What is alcohol? Sugar and yeast. And a bunch of empty calories. I know many individuals who crave wine or beer – not because they have a drinking problem – but because they have a yeast overgrowth and they’re predisposed to that because of it. High yeast foods can be a trigger also – vinegars, mushrooms, breads to name just a few.
Anti-fungal treatment can often help curb cravings for sugars, carbs and alcohol, and these are three things that will be very helpful in maintaining a healthy weight. Also, treating yeast overgrowth can help reduce intestinal bloating which makes one more feel more rotund, even if it’s not true body fat. Addressing yeast overgrowth will also boost energy levels making exercise a more viable and appealing proposition.
Candida overgrowth also compromises proper absorption of nutrients. It is associated with “leaky gut”, which means the gap between the intestinal cells widens. This then leads to nutrients not being well absorbed, as well as larger-than-normal food molecules escaping into the blood stream triggering immune reactions and inflammation.
Addressing Candida overgrowth can be done through diet, although even the most rigid anti-Candida diets are rarely enough to eradicate the problem. The more balanced option is moderate dietary modifications, coupled with anti-fungal remedies, which can range from herbal medicines all the way through to strong prescription medicines. Many people find that once yeast overgrowth is addressed, cravings for sugars and carbs are reduced and weight loss is much easier.
Molybdenum is a trace mineral that serves mainly as an essential cofactor of enzymes, and aids in the metabolism of fats and carbohydrates. It also helps facilitate the breakdown of certain amino acids in the body. But one of the best benefits of molybdenum is as detoxification helper, especially in the case of Candida overgrowth. [Read more…]
I had a patient come in to see me the other day who had had diarrhea for two years – yes, TWO YEARS! It started randomly, totally out of the blue, and she her whole life had suffered every since. She had to plan her social life around it – what social life she had left, that is; and she had lost a lot of weight. Not being into allopathic medicine, and not knowing a whole lot about natural medicine, it took her a while to figure out where to go and who to see. I love evaluating undiagnosed digestive issues – it’s like a mystery to solve, but more often than not there is an underlying cause that can be identified using functional testing.
In looking at a situation like this, there are a few key things that I would evaluate to try to find the root cause of what is going on. Very rarely do I run this panel of tests and look into these possibilities and not find out what’s going on. She was desperate for answers by this point, so she was happy to do all of these tests to try and find a solution to her problem:-
Cravings are tough. Whether for sugar, crunchy snacks, alcohol or wheat-based foods, cravings can certainly send your nutrition goals topsy-turvy. They’re uncomfortable, difficult to resist and can make you feel like a failure should you give in to them. To me it’s important to understand the possible mechanisms behind cravings, so that you can adopt tools and strategies that can help address the underlying cause. While not an exhaustive list, here are three causes of cravings and how you can overcome them.
Candida overgrowth is a very common problem, leading to symptoms such as gas, bloating, irritable bowel, constipation and/ or diarrhea, lethargy and fatigue, brain fog, neurological issues and many more. Candida is a yeast that occurs in our large intestine – it is supposed to be there, and serves a good function as part of our natural microbiome. However, if Candida becomes overgrown, which can happen secondary to antibiotic use, a high-sugar diet, or other irritants in the gut such as food allergens or intestinal parasites, problems can arise. So how do we know if Candida levels are too high? There are three ways to test for Candida that can help us to see whether it is an issue.
Some people know when Candida is flaring up for them by their digestive symptoms, or by seeing a thick white coating on their tongue. I have known parents of kids on the autistic spectrum who know when their child’s yeast issues are flaring up because of the dramatic changes in their behavior. Most of the time, though, we do want to run some laboratory tests to see what is going on. Here are the three tests that I will look to – I have my favorite one (which I’ll talk about first), but in a perfect world we’d do at least two of the three:-
- Microbial organic acid test – this is a urine test that I run through The Great Plains Laboratory. It measures a number of markers associated with yeast, but to me the most useful one is called arabinose – this is a metabolite of Candida that shows up in the urine. I like this test because it is easy for parents to collect the sample at home – just a single morning urine. There are pediatric collection bags available for kids who are not potty trained, that go inside their diaper. I also like it because it really quantifies the problem. If the level is supposed to be less than 29, and it comes back at 35, then we know we have a slight problem, but not a massive problem. If the level comes back at 140, we know we have our work cut out for us! It’s also a great marker to check throughout treatment to make sure it’s going down in response to anti-fungal therapy.
- Comprehensive stool analysis – the comprehensive stool analysis checks for many things, not just Candida. It is not my favorite for Candida itself, the microbial organic acid test is; but what is nice about the comprehensive stool analysis is that it can give us some clues as to what else is going on: Are there parasites in the gut? Is the bacterial overgrowth? Are there any pathogenic bacteria showing up at high levels? How are secretory IgA levels? That gives a window into the immune health of the gut itself. Are there elevated levels of inflammatory markers? The comprehensive stool test can show if there are moderate or abundant levels of yeast in the stool; but I haven’t found it to be as reliable over time as the urine test for that specific thing. In a perfect world, we would have both of those tests run (Great Plains also offers the comprehensive stool analysis).
- Blood antibody markers for Candida – IgG, IgA, IgM. Immunoglobulins are immune cells that will show elevated on a lab test in the presence of a certain pathogen. This is often how infectious diseases are diagnosed, through immunoglobulin levels. For instance, if you have acute mono, you will likely show IgM antibodies for the Epstein-Barr virus, indicating active infection. If you had mono five years ago, you are still likely to show IgG antibodies, as protective/ memory cells to the infection. I have found Candida antibodies to be less sensitive than the other tests in trying to establish whether there are yeast issues in the gut. I have seen cases with high arabinose and other yeast-sensitive markers on the urine test, but no elevations in the blood immunoglobulins. The Candida problem needs to be quite systemic before blood immunoglobulins are going to rise, where I think the urine and stool tests are more sensitive to intestinal overgrowth itself. Also, this test requires a blood draw which may not be a favorite thing for our kiddos. The pluses are that any lab can run these tests, and insurance is more likely to pay for them.
These are the three tests that I run for assessing Candida overgrowth, listed in order of my most favorite to my least favorite. I have done tons of the microbial organic acid tests and continue to find that one the most helpful, cost effective and easy to implement. If there are major gastrointestinal issues I’ll also want to see a comprehensive stool analysis and an IgG food sensitivity test to try to get a complete picture of what is going on.
Candida overgrowth is getting to be a more and more prolific problem. Our diets are getting higher and higher in sugar – I am staggered how many people I see ordering a venti, caramel Frappuccino as their regular daily drink at Starbucks!! Even a soy chai latte (seemingly “healthy” right?!) contains a whopping 48 grams of sugar for a grande size at Starbucks.
The single most important factor in maintaining a healthy gut environment and preventing Candida overgrowth using nutrition is minimizing the sugar in your diet.
You hear me talk about Candida overgrowth a lot – it’s a big problem for many people these days, especially women. There are various ways to address Candida, such as adopting a low sugar/ low carb diet, using natural anti-fungals such as pau d’arco and garlic, and even using anti-fungal medications such as nystatin and diflucan. Another way is by using binders to overcome Candida. A patient the other day told me of a mix she uses and loves, so I thought I’d share it with you.
Happy Fertile Friday! A quick update first: it’s a time of transition for us as we nervously embark on the next stage of our journey. On Monday I’ll have my first ultrasound and start the FolliStim injections, and go from there. We’ll have ultrasounds every few days to see how the follicles are developing, then I think they do an HCG injection just prior to ovulation. It’s all brand new to me, so I’ll update as we go.
Today I thought I’d talk about fertility and Candida. Candida is a kind of yeast that everyone has in their gut – it is naturally occurring and totally normal to have. The problem is when it becomes overgrown, then it can have far-reaching effects in the body, including impacting fertility. [Read more…]