Ugh! Candida Overgrowth (The Beasty Yeasty Condition)
Candida Albicans is the helpful yeast that lives in a healthy human gut assisting in the digestion and absorption nutrients. But, if this normally friendly fungus surges out of control, it can proliferate into the small intestine, organs and blood and begin digesting all of our nutrients for its own survival, leaving us exhausted, filled with toxic waste, and susceptible to many illnesses. (1)
Millions of Americans experience symptoms of candida overgrowth everyday don't even realize it; CFS (chronic fatigue syndrome), immune disorders, yeast infections, mood swings, brain fog, achy joints, bloating and/or excessive gas, vaginitis and prostatitis, allergies, digestive disorders (IBS, crohns, colitis), skin rashes (eczema, psoriasis), body odor, irritability, and bad breath. “Dr. Alan Levin, a prominent immunologist at the University of California, estimates that one out of three Americans suffer from health-related conditions as a result of candida a yeast.”(2)
How the heck do the helpful organisms living harmoniously in our gut, escape and go wilding in our system? Many reasons; the widespread abuse of antibiotics that compromise our intestinal flora, cortisone and other anti-inflammatory drugs, chlorinated water, and eating a diet consisting of mainly highly refined carbohydrates and sugar that creates mineral deficiencies.
Throughout my teen and young adult years, besides eating a vitamin and mineral deficient diet, I took numerous rounds of antibiotics for recurring throat infections. I also remember suffering from itchy, burning, uncomfortable yeast infection. My apologies to the fellas reading this but, guys get yeast overgrowth, too! That annoying little jock itch… yep… it is yeast overgrowth. Little did I know that my intestinal flora was being compromised with every dose of antibiotics… creating superbugs… very hungry little superbugs, that were feasting on me from the inside out.
Initially, I altered my nutrient deficient diet to help heal my thyroid condition, and the annoying yeast condition seemed to clear up. But, it wasn’t long-lived. Within a few years I was once again suffering, and couldn’t understand why I was plagued with so much yeast overgrowth while eating one of the “healthiest” diets in the world (macrobiotic/vegetarian). I was baffled! My physical condition was so bad at one point that if one little grape entered my digestive system it would cause an explosion of Candida related symptoms (eczema and other skin eruptions, yeast infections, brain fog, and irritability). Ugh! I was at my wits end.
I stumbled upon a couple of books by Dr. Jonn Matsen, N.D. called Eating Alive I and Eating Alive II. After reading about the process of digestion, my yeasty beasty condition started making sense. According to Dr. Matsen one of the reasons candida can escape and wreak havoc in the system is from eating too many foods rich in potassium (vegetables, fruits) without adequate protein (animal products) and salt, causing the ileocecal valve to weaken allowing bacteria and micro-organisms to migrate into other parts of the body. Ahhhh… at the time of my worst yeast explosions I was eating all vegetables, all the time with very little animal protein (fish once per week). I also remember my sister Erica urging me to eat stronger animal proteins including bone shanks and organ meats to help heal my condition, but I was horrified at the thought. An organ? A bone? Ewh! But, it turns out that Dr. Matsen and my sister were correct, and it wasn’t until I began eating heartier foods, (including bone marrow, stocks and meats) that my system began rebalancing and the rogue yeast was brought back under control. Since that time, quite a few years ago, I've been eating a fully balanced diet that includes all elements from the animal and vegetable kingdoms and the yeast condition never re-occured.
According to the Weston Price Foundation, “Certain fats have anti-microbial properties. People with digestive disorders often suffer from candida (yeast), fungi, parasites, viruses and other unfriendly microorganism invasions as a result of damaged digestive terrain. Anti-microbial saturated fats help to combat these; the two best sources are coconut oil and butter from grass-fed dairy cattle. Grass-fed, organic butter also contains anti-microbial fatty acids including butyric acid, which has strong anti-fungal effects. Coconut oil is anti-viral, and contains lauric, capric and caprylic acids--recommended to combat candida.“(3) For many years I shunned saturated fats, as many of the population does, but today I know incorporating these fats into the diet to help heal systemic candidiasis is a wise choice.
“Candidiasis is not a disease in itself; it is a condition indicating an internal imbalance. Its symptoms may mask, overshadow or accompany the presence of other diseases, such as AIDS and cancer. If your immune system is occupied in dealing with candidiasis, it does not have the strength to fight these other critical illnesses.”(4)
It takes time to heal from this debilitating condition and rebalance a beastly yeasty condition. Patience and persistence are the keys to dealing with this, or any other chronic illness. Below are some helpful tips I’ve learned about curing Candida:
1. Eliminate sugar (including most fruits) and refined carbohydrates (bread, pastries, cookies, cakes, candy) for three months to one year until yeast is under control
2. Use food combining (for a period of time) to ease burden on digestion:
• Eat protein with non-starchy vegetables and ocean vegetables
• Eat grains and starchy vegetables with non starchy vegetables and ocean vegetables
• Eat fruit alone (if the yeast condition is serious… NO fruit!)
3. Chew your food! Digestion begins in the mouth NOT in the stomach
4. Do NOT overeat – overeating makes this condition worse
5. Eat a mineral rich diet that includes bone stocks and organ meats (c’mon… a little chopped liver is good for you. Just ask Aunt Esther)
6. Eat non-gluten grains like quinoa, buckwheat and millet
7. Essential to protein digestion is traditionally cultured foods (sauerkraut and other pickled vegetables/fruits). These contain beneficial bacteria that re-colonize the intestines and assist in the breakdown and absorption of food
8. Eat good quality saturated fats to help heal the intestines
9. Enjoy these mineral rich recipes to help strengthen the body
Don’t bug out… just get the bugs out!
1) Eating Alive I, Prevention Through Good Digestion, Dr. Jonn Matsen, ND, Crompton Books 1987, 2004
4) The Body Ecology Diet, Donna Gates, BED Publications, 1196, 2007