Candida is a fungus, a form of yeast, naturally present in our digestive tract. It helps with our digestion and absorption of nutrients. However, in times of stress, poor diet, low immune functioning or high sugar intake the candida can grow out of control leading to digestive dysfunction as well as the production of toxins. This overgrowth results in many different health problems ranging from gas and bloating to migraines and fatigue.
The 10 most common symptoms of a candida overgrowth include:
- Digestive complaints such as gas and bloating
- Low energy, fatigue
- Headaches, migraines
- Constipation and/or diarrhea
- Sugar and carbohydrate cravings
- Skin and nail fungal infections (ie. athlete’s foot, toenail fungus, red blotches in skin folds)
- Low mood, irritability, depression
- Difficulty concentrating and getting started on tasks, poor memory
- Vaginal infections, rectal and vaginal itching
- Difficulty losing weight
How do you find out if you have a Candida overgrowth?
The most effective way to determine Candida is through the combination of signs, symptoms and lab testing. There are a few different lab tests you can have done to aid in the diagnosis of Candida overgrowth. These include blood and stool tests. Blood tests can detect if you have candida antibodies and stool samples check for abnormal amounts of Candida in the lower intestines. I find the stool test to be the most accurate.
How do you treat Candida Overgrowth?
The best Candida treatment is to change your diet. Candida grows exponentially in response to starchy carbohydrates, sugar and fermented foods. So, it’s important to eat a whole foods diet low in sugar, refined carbohydrates and sugary fruits and vegetables. This involves eating lots of leafy green vegetables, lean protein, herbal teas and water.
Increase in Diet:
- Leafy green vegetables, asparagus, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, brussels sprouts, green peppers, cucumber, celery, tomatoes, radishes
- Herbs and spices
- Lean protein such as chicken, fish, turkey, eggs and seeds
- Water and caffeine free herbal teas
Decrease in Diet:
- High carbohydrate vegetables such as squash, potatoes, beans and legumes
- Grains including rice, quinoa, breads, pastas
- Yoghurt and other dairy products
- Sugar and sugar containing foods such as honey, maple syrup, agave etc.
- Any food hat comes in a package or box
- Breads, pastries and baked goods
- Alcohol and coffee
- Fermented foods
- Tropical fruits such as banana, papaya, mango, pineapple, melons
- Fruit juices and sodas
By following the above diet guidelines the Candida will stop growing and eventually die off. This process usually takes up to 6 months if done alone so I always add in some additional anti-candida supplements to decrease this time. There are many different supplements out there but some of the more commonly used ones are caprylic acid, oregano oil, grapefruit seed extract as well as probiotics. The tricky thing with Candida is that it can become resistant to the supplements rendering them ineffective, so it’s best to alternate between a couple different ones to prevent this from happening. The best Candida treatment will be an individualized plan customized by a health professional knowledgeable in Candida.
For a more individual program I recommend consulting a Naturopathic Doctor knowledgeable in Candida overgrowth so you can get the appropriate testing, diagnosis and support.
Dr. Kristy Vermeulen, ND
You are unique and your healthcare should be too. Naturopathic Doctors and Acupuncturists at Radiant Health SF believe in a customized integrative approach to help you achieve optimal wellness for a healthy and enjoyable life.