This condition is essentially an overgrowth of a yeast bacteria called Candida albicans. Although it’s a pathogenic organism, it lives inside of us all the time, along with many other friendly bacteria in our gut to balance it out. There are a lot of factors that can cause over colonization of candida, and cause an array of uncomfortable internal and external symptoms. Candida symptoms are so broad that its diagnosis is referred to as Candida Related Complex (CDC) or candidiasis.
While friendly bacteria are needed for our immune system to protect us from illness, substances in our diet and environment can literally feed bad bacteria and help it grow. Kind of like a Gremlin. Just go with it. If we don’t have enough good bacteria to balance out our system, pathogens like candida take over. Sugar, refined carbohydrates, antibiotics, environmental triggers (like mold or chemical exposure) and stress can all lead to candida overgrowth. This condition in particular can be tricky, as Candida can mimic many other ailments. Symptoms range from gastrointestinal: bloating, gas, heartburn, bad breath, white patches in the throat (better known as thrush – do NOT google it, it is disgusting), urinary, an onset of new allergies or sensitivities, and even mental and emotional. Any rashes, itching or burning on the body, such as athlete’s foot or ringworm can indicate a link to Candida as the root cause. Nearly every ailment I can think of, from headaches, to fatigue to muscle aches, may be tied to Candida.
How do you know if you have it? There are a few in-depth questionnaires that focus on medical history, internal and external symptoms. (Here’s a good one.) There’s also a DIY saliva test that indicates your bacteria count. All you need is half a glass of water (just search for Candida Spit Test on YouTube). Since Candida is so sneaky (Gremlins also sneaky…) it’s really hard to officially diagnose. But by putting yourself on a diet that eliminates anything that would feed Candida albicans, like sugars that create yeast or mold, you can see if your Candida-related symptoms go away. The process of getting candida albican levels back to normal is truly trial and error and is different for everyone. Check out the lists and resources below for more info on a Candida diet.
Hot tip #1: Most herbs and spices are wildly beneficial for Candida, as they are often anti-fungal. Incorporating curry powder, cinnamon, garlic, ginger, dill, chives, bay leaves, cumin, oregano, rosemary, sage, tarragon, thyme, among others, is an excellent way to enhance a meal and get rid of Candida. One or two drops of an essential oil (like oregano or clove) in water or tea is another way to reap the benefits of herbs. Just make sure they are labeled as a dietary supplement before ingesting.
Hot tip #2: The most important part of getting rid of Candida albicans in particular is incorporating probiotics into the diet. A healthy gut is slightly alkaline and populated by hundreds of friendly bacteria. When our gut becomes more acidic, that’s when Candida takes over and thrives, killing all of those helpful, friendly bacteria. It’s imperative that we repopulate the good guys! Did you know that cultured foods contain probiotics that help improve digestion (they are pre-digested), can help control cravings, can help alleviate morning sickness in pregnant women, and are full of enzymes to eliminate toxins and rejuvenate our cells? Sauerkraut, kimchi, olives, and kefir are all examples of cultured foods helpful for those with Candida.
And now you know! Candida can be a little overwhelming, especially getting into the habit of which foods will exacerbate symptoms and which will heal them. This is where working with a Nutrition Consultant would come in really handy! ?
*P.S. – The foods in the photo are all excellent options for helping to heal Candida. Trader Joe’s just started Manuka Honey – add about a teaspoon to a cup of the Pau d’Arco tea. The Cocoyo is super tangy and really weird at first. You can find it at most specialty grocery stores. When I bought this from People’s in OB someone told me a lot of people return this because they think its gone bad!