by Kimberly Allen, RN
Candida albicans is a type of yeast that is found normally in the human body. Just like the “normal” bacteria that live in our bodies. These normal flora live in a delicate balance in your body so anything that upsets that balance can lead to problems. For some people, especially those on long term antibiotic therapy or transplant patients that are taking powerful immunosuppressant medications to prevent rejection, that usually means an overgrowth of yeast or Candida.
Although it’s not possible to get rid of all the yeast in your body you can bring it back under control and maintain it at a level that is with in normal limits and doesn’t cause problems. Probably the single most important thing you can do to treat an overgrowth of Candida is change your diet. There are a variety of versions of the Candida diet, however, they all have certain things in common. First, avoid sugar, candida loves sugar and thrives on it. That means avoiding or significantly reducing your consumption of products that contain white or brown sugar as well as malts, molasses, and syrups even artificial sweeteners. Some experts also say you should significantly reduce the fruits including dried fruits as well as sweet potatoes and yams in your diet also. It’s also important to avoid any foods that contain yeast including breads and breweres yeast as well as yeast pates and spreads. Avoid foods like blue cheese that have mold on them.
Sugar is candida’s number one weakness so if you make only one change in your diet avoiding sugar needs to be the one. I understand it’s not easy, not only is sugar everywhere and in pretty much everything almost everyone has a ‘sweet tooth’ and then you add to that the fact that an overgrowth of Candida increases your craving for sweets and you can feel pretty helpless. Certain foods like beet roots, carrots and parsnips have been shown to reduce the cravings for sugar. Cinnamon contains a mineral known as GTF chromium that has been beneficial when the cravings are strong. Taking 1Tbls a day can significantly reduce your cravings, however, it’s best to use organic cinnamon in order to avoid any pesticides or chemical treatments. Another herb known as stevia helps with that ‘sweet’ craving. It can be used in drinks like tea as well as recipies. It’s hard to stay away from fruits for any amount of time so there are some fruits that you can eat including avacadoes and berries like blueberries and blackberries as well as cranberries and strawberries. Other fruits that are lower in sugar that you can eat including lemons and limes as well as apples and rhubarb. Again if you didn’t pick them yourself then be sure to buy organic as it’s important to avoid pesticides and chemical treatments.
While it’s immportant to avoid certain foods it’s just as important to include certain foods in your diet. According to the University of Maryland Medical Center frequent candida infections are associated with calcium deficiencies. So you need to increase the calcium in your diet by eating a variety of foods high in calcium like tuna and salmon as well as dairy products including milk, yogurt and cheese. Experts also recommend increasing the vitamin C in your diet by eating more red and green bell peppers, citrus fruits and berries, green leafy vegetables, broccoli, and Brussels sprouts as well as cabbage. And don’t forget the omega-3 fatty acids. The omega 3’s are not only needed but are beneficial in many ways. Sources high in omega-3’s include fatty fish like salmon and lake trout as well as certain nuts and oils. There are also certain grains that help stop the overgrowth of Candida including roasted buckwheat, barley, rye and oats. If you have a sensitivity to gluten avoid rye and barley. Aanother good source of omega-3’s is organic meat. Avoid any processed meats like spam, bologna and bacon as these are loaded with a variety of sugars, nitrates and sulfates.
In addition to dietary changes it’s important to limit medications like antibiotics to only when necessary. Also, as alcohol is a fermented product it should be avoided. Women that take a birth control pill tend to be more susceptible to Candida and may need to consider an alternative method of birth control. Most people also experience more severe symptoms of Candida overgrowth when they are stressed, so learning relaxation techniques and stress management can improve you Candida symptoms.
Kimberly Allen is a registered nurse with an AND in nursing. She has worked in ACF, LCF and psychiatric facilities, although she spent most of her career as a home health expert. She is now a regular contributor to HealthAndFitnessTalk.com, dispensing advice and knowledge about medical issues and questions. You can reach her with any comments or questions at firstname.lastname@example.org.