Yeasts are simple (single-celled) organisms, belonging to the vegetable kingdom. They are extremely common in our environment, living in soil, on fruits and vegetables, thriving wherever there is decay (mould is a type of yeast), and floating in the air we breathe.
One type of yeast is called Candida albicans and it lives in our bodies. All of us carry Candida at all times, especially in the digestive tract and the vagina, and most of the time it exists in harmony with the multitude of other bacteria and microbes that we also carry. Sometimes, though, Candida proliferates and disrupts the normal balance of microbes, setting the stage for a variety of health problems.
Factors Which Contribute to the Overgrowth of Candida:
An important factor in controlling the levels of Candida in the body is the presence of several different types of bacteria including Lactobacillus acidophilus. This bacteria utilizes the main food of Candida, glucose, and turns it into lactic acid, thus inhibiting overgrowth of the yeast. If you take antibiotics (especially broad spectrum) then you will kill off almost all the bacteria in your body, good and bad. This will permit the Candida to grow unchecked, and if you take repeat prescriptions of antibiotics then you can rapidly enter a state of Candida proliferation and health problems relating to this.
Candida in our bodies colonizes the ‘mucus membranes’ which line the digestive tract and vagina. These membranes produce a thick mucus which is both protective and lubricating. If the glucose content of the mucus is allowed to rise then the Candida will flourish. The major way that this comes about is through eating too much refined carbohydrates (white flour products, candies and soft drinks). These are very rapidly absorbed from the gut and find their way to the mucus to form food for the yeast. Other sugary foods that may aggravate the problem include fruits and alcohol.
Fluctuations in hormonal levels can affect the growth of Candida. Thus during pregnancy and with the use of the contraceptive pill a woman is more likely to suffer from Candida overgrowth. At certain times during the menstrual cycle (in the week or so just prior to menstruation) the hormonal picture is also favourable to Candida.
The use of douches as a means of personal hygiene may aggravate vaginal growth of Candida as the beneficial Lactobacillus are washed away. Especially you should avoid scented or perfumed products because they may be irritating.
An impaired immune system will predispose to Candida colonization. There are numerous ways in which this can be brought about:
- Prolonged or extreme stress
- Nutritional deficiencies
- Allergies to foods or environmental factors
- Prolonged use of cortico-steroid drugs
- Chronic illnesses
- Prolonged fatigue
- Use of alcohol and recreational drugs
The Symptoms of Candida Overgrowth:
Candida normally exists in the body in the form of spores. These cannot cross the barrier of the mucus membrane and thus will cause only local symptoms should they proliferate. But if Candida growth is unchecked then eventually they will develop into the mycelial form which essentially means that instead of being individual single cells, they begin to clump together and form long strands. These can penetrate the intestinal and vaginal walls and can enter the bloodstream to be disseminated throughout the body.
Initially, therefore, symptoms of Candida overgrowth are confined to the digestive system (usually the lower bowel) and the vagina in women or the urethra and prostate gland in men. Later, though, as the yeast proliferates and spreads through the body the symptoms may affect many different parts.
Some of the more common symptoms include (in no particular order):
- Recurrent vaginal infections (itching and discharge)
- Menstrual disruption (especially PMS)
- Abdominal pain and distention
- Heartburn and indigestion
- Muscle and joint pain
- Tingling and weakness of the limbs
- Blurred vision or spots in front of the eyes
- Loss of memory and/or concentration
- Urinary disorders
- Learning difficulties
- Respiratory disorders
- Skin rashes
- Fungal infections of the nails
- Constipation or diarrhoea
The Treatment of Candida Overgrowth:
The single most important factor in the treatment of Candida is dietary manipulation. The basis of this is that you remove the foods that Candida likes (essentially sugars) and therefore inhibit it’s growth.
The dietary program is divided into 2 parts:
To begin with a fast is recommended because it will remove all sugars from the diet and also provides a means of testing for the food allergies that often co-exist with Candida. Fasting also allows the body to detoxify and this will boost the functioning of the immune system.
For 2 days before fasting eat very lightly, sticking to clear soups and raw vegetables to prepare the body.
The fast itself is really a period of very controlled eating – a minimum of 3 days of vegetable juices. The best is a combination of carrot (1 part), celery, beet and parsley (1/3 part each) and water (1 part). You will need to borrow or buy a good juicer to make these. Drink this whole amount each day. While you are on this juice fast discontinue all supplements (wheat grass juice and barley essence are OK). If you are very hungry by evening time then you may eat a little of the same vegetables you have been juicing (eg. carrot sticks). Herbal teas such as Peppermint and Chamomile are OK to drink but don’t sweeten them.
You may experience some discomfort while fasting as the yeast dies off and toxins are released into the bloodstream. Headaches, dizziness, bad breath and pimples are not unusual. Don’t worry about these, they will disappear as the yeast dies down. Try to schedule the 2nd and 3rd days of the fast over a weekend so that you don’t have to be energetic unless you feel up to it.
After 3 days on the vegetable juices you may move into the second phase of the program, or you may wish to continue fasting for longer. This is fine to do for up to a week or 10 days as long as you are not becoming weak.
When you break a fast it is important not to go straight back to eating heavy cooked foods as this is a shock to the body. Ideally you should take the same length of time to break a fast as the length of time fasted.
Reintroduce foods slowly, starting with a few days of raw food only, and then beginning to eat cooked foods.
Suggested Dietary Plan For 2 or 3 Days After Ending Juice Fast
(An * indicates that the recipe is given below)
Papaya, pineapple or pears (it is recommended that sufferers of Candida do not eat other fruits at all if possible); almond, cashew or sesame milk * . Herb tea.
Lunch and evening meal:
Large mixed salad dressed with olive oil, lemon juice and herbs. Do not use any cooked vegetables and avoid the starchy ones. You may add nuts and seeds if you wish. Herb tea.
Introducing Cooked Foods
Start out with light foods that are easy for your sensitive body to assimilate.
For 1 or 2 days follow the same basic outline as given above but add some brown rice, buckwheat, millet, oat cakes, rice cakes or rye crackers with olive or flax seed oil or tahini.
Little by little begin to introduce more and varied foods into the diet.
Suggested Dietary Plan for 1 Week After Beginning Cooked Foods
Papaya, pineapple or pear; or porridge* served with soya milk. Herb tea .
Potassium broth* sprinkled with ground nuts. 1 or 2 oatcakes, rice cakes or rye crackers (unsweetened) spread with tahini (sesame paste), or bean or tofu dip * . Mixed salad dressed with olive oil, lemon and herbs. Herb tea.
This is based around 4 or 5 vegetables which are lightly steamed (keep the water to add to your soups the next day). At least 2 of the vegies should be green leafy ones. A possible combination might include leeks, carrots, beet tops, cauliflower and broccoli. Sprinkle them with olive or flax seed oil or tahini and herbs or make simple sauces to pour over. If you wish to eat potatoes you should bake them in the oven and eat them with oil or tahini. This meal may be followed by a salad if desired.
Drink plenty of fluids at all times.
The diet outlined on this page is a guideline to the type of diet you should aim to maintain long term. It is high in vitamins, minerals and fibre, low in fats and protein and very low in sugars. Eating this way will promote and enhance your health enormously. On a diet like this you should feel strong and clear-headed with lots of energy and an overall feeling of well-being. If you can stick to this style of eating most of the time then it will boost your immunity so that you are better able to handle the times when you break the diet.
Use oat groats (scotch oats) not the commercial rolled oats which have lost many of their nutrients. Soak a handful overnight in water then cook gently for 5 – 10 minutes. Serve with nut milk.
Nut or seed milk
Soak a handful of the desired nut or seed in water overnight (sesame, cashews and almonds are recommended). In the morning blend it up with the water and use on cereal or as a drink or a base for sauces.
Saute an onion and some garlic in a little olive oil until soft. Add 2 chopped carrots, 1 sliced leek, 2 sliced ribs of celery and a small amount of dried seaweed. Add black pepper and herbs to taste. Stir in 1 pint of water and
simmer for 30 minutes.
Basic Principles of the Anti-Candida Diet
Do not eat:
- Sugar in any shape or form: fruit (fresh or dried), honey, molasses, maple syrup and any foods with sugar added to them.
- Refined carbohydrates: white bread, white pasta, cakes, cookies, pastry and sauces thickened with flour.
- Alcohol of any type.
- Dairy products: milk, cheese, butter and any foods containing milk or milk products (because they are digested into sugars that will feed the Candida). Note that plain, organic yoghurt is OK to eat because the sugars are pre-digested by bacteria.
- Peanuts and peanut butter (because they are usually contaminated with molds to which you may be allergic).
- Limit your intake (one or two servings per day) of:
- Unrefined carbohydrates: oats, rice, corn, barley, potatoes, yams, squash and brown flour products (bread, pasta).
Eat plenty of:
- Fresh vegetables (except those named above).
- Beans and pulses including tofu.
- Seeds, nuts in the shell (not peanuts) and sprouts.
- Plain natural ‘live’ yoghurt
- Bottled or filtered water, at least 1 litre a day.
- Herbal teas.
- Soda water.
Do not drink black tea, coffee, cereal coffee substitutes, cola, pop, fruit juice or sweetened soft drinks.
If you are not a vegetarian then you can also eat small amounts of fish and chicken but avoid ‘farmed’ meat as it is full of antibiotic residues which will be detrimental.
In the early days of Candida research much emphasis was placed on the need to avoid all yeasted and fermented foods. Recently, however, this has been discounted. The most current thinking suggests that for many people eating these foods will cause no problem because the Candida is a different strain of yeast to, for example, mushrooms and eating them will not affect the Candida. However, a significant number of people do have major allergic reactions to ingested or inhaled yeasts and for them eating mushrooms or other fungi/yeasts, or vinegar, miso or other fermented foods, or inhaling spores from a mouldy house can have drastic effects on their health. In these cases the Candida itself is not being affected by the other fungi but the allergic reactions can be very similar to the symptoms of Candida overgrowth, which is presumably why the confusion arose in the first place.
Supplements in Your Candida Regime:
- Vitamin A up to 50,000 iu. per day for 2 months followed by a one month rest before recommencing.
- Vitamin B complex (yeast free) supplying at least the following quantities of the individual items:
- B1 (Thiamine) 25mg.
- B2 (Riboflavin) 25mg.
- B6 (Pyridoxine) 50 mg.
- Niacinamide 75 mg.
- Pantothenic acid 125 mg.
- Folic acid 0.3 mg.
- Vitamin C 1 to 3 grams two or three times daily.
- Vitamin E 400 – 800 iu. per day.
- Biotin (a B vitamin) 350 micrograms three times daily with
- Lactobacillus acidophilus/bifidus/faecalis 2 grams of powder three times daily between meals.
- Arginine (an amino acid) 3 grams daily at night (for one month only).
- Olive oil (cold pressed organic) 1 teaspoon three times daily.
- Raw garlic 1 clove daily, chopped finely and swallowed with water at night.
- Homeopathic Candida 30x 5 drops four times daily
- Caprylic acid (brand names include Caprystatin, Caprycin and Candistat-300) dose depends on brand used.
- Citricidal (grapefruit seed extract) 10 drops or 1 tablet four times daily
Candida & Allergies
It is undoubtably true that many people with Candida problems have concurrent allergic problems. This is probably related to the ‘leaky gut’ syndrome and the fact that their immune systems are weakened by prolonged ‘battle’ with the Candida and by the stresses of living with this type of illness. But there is also something of the ‘chicken and egg’ conundrum in that exposure to allergens also will weaken the immune system and allow Candida to proliferate. But, whichever came first, the allergy or the Candida, they often exist side by side and it essential to direct any treatment protocol to both aspects. Fortunately the juice fast will do this. Fasting is not a treatment unto itself, it merely paves the way by cleaning the body of unwanted toxins which boosts the immune system.
As you reintroduce foods after a period of fasting you have the opportunity to test yourself for allergies. There are 2 ways in which this can be done.
1) Reintroduce one new food item into the diet each day and monitor your reactions. Begin by eating only a
small amount of the food being tested eg. if you have been on a vegetable juice fast for 5 days then on the 6th day eat a piece of another vegetable. If by day 7 you have noticed no unfavourable reactions (flare ups of old symptoms) then you can safely eat that vegetable and are ready to repeat the test with another food. Test out the vegetables first because anyway these are all you are going to be eating for a few days, then the beans and pulses, then nuts and seeds and so on until you have built up a repertoire of ‘safe’ foods.
2) The second method is similar to the first but quicker and, if done carefully, can be more accurate.
When you are ready to break your fast sit quietly for 20 minutes then take your pulse for a full minute. Do this 5 times over the course of a day until you have a clear idea of your normal pulse rate at rest. For most people this is between 60 and 80 beats per minute. After determining your normal resting pulse rate, to test for an allergic reaction to any food items simply check that the pulse rate is normal then eat a small amount of the suspect food and re-take the pulse 1,5,10 and 20 minutes after eating it. If you are sensitive to this food then your pulse rate will rise at least 5 beats per minute within 20 minutes of eating the allergen. Some authorities claim that if your pulse rises above 80 then that food is eliciting an allergic response.
Having determined the presence of any allergies you should completely avoid the offending items. It sometimes happens that if you do this for a lengthy period (eg. one year) then the allergy will spontaneously disappear.
The major drawbacks to self-testing for allergies is that it requires a certain amount of self control to go through the procedure properly, and that it is difficult to test for environmental allergens. Very many people are sensitive to chemicals, fumes and other air-borne items that you cannot adequately test at home because they are almost impossible to avoid for the required period of time. Where such allergies are suspected it is preferable that you attend a practitioner who is trained in one of the several methods of clinical allergy testing such as Vega or Kinesiology. Such a practitioner will also be able to help you in formulating a suitable diet to avoid your particular allergens and will often be able to give you remedies to desensitise you to your allergens.