Feeling tired, fatigued or have difficulty concentrating? Then don’t rule out candida, it is more common than you think! We asked Nutritional Advisor Chantelle Spriggs (founder of Hungry for Health, Jersey) (www.hungryforhealthjersey.co.uk) to give us an overview.
What is Candida?
No, it is not a sexually transmitted disease! Candida Albicans is a yeast that inhabits all humans (in the mouth, throat, intestine and genital/urinary tract) but usually only in small amounts.
Up to 33% of people in the Western world suffer from Candida over-growth, also known as Candidiasis. If the Candida yeast are allowed to over-grow, it changes from its normal yeast-fungal form to a mycelial-fungal form that produces ‘rhizoids’.
Rhizoids are long, root-like components that are able to pierce the walls of the digestive tract and break down the protective barriers between the intestines and the blood. This “breaking-through” of the barrier allows many allergens and foods to enter the blood, causing allergic/intolerant/sensitivity reactions. Most of my clients suffer with Candida over-growth, and in turn, a number of allergies, intolerances and sensitivities.
How do people get Candida overgrowth?
The good bacteria in your gut usually keep your Candida levels normalised. However, several factors can cause Candida to overgrow and get out of hand:
- Lack of good bacteria in the gut and too many bad bacteria
- Taking a course of antibiotics which killed too many good bacteria
- Eating a diet high in refined sugars and refined carbohydrates (which feed the yeast)
- Eating too much yeast e.g. in bread, mushrooms, marmite, sauces, flavoured crisps etc
- Consuming a lot of alcohol
- Taking oral contraceptives
- Living a high-stress lifestyle
What are the common symptoms of Candida?
Candida over-growth can show itself in different ways in different people, because we are all different! Here are some common symptoms:
- Unexplained tiredness and fatigue, or suffering from Chronic Fatigue or Fibromyalgia
- Digestive issues such as bloating, wind, constipation, diarrhoea and ‘IBS’
- Difficulty concentrating, poor memory, lack of focus, brain fog, ADD and ADHD
- Intense sugar cravings and refined carbohydrate cravings
- Skin conditions such as Eczema, Psoriasis, hives, and rashes
- Autoimmune diseases such as Chrons Disease, Rheumatoid Arthritis, Ulcerative Colitis,
Lupus, Psoriasis or Multiple Sclerosis
- Irritability, mood swings, anxiety, depression or generally feeling low
- Vaginal infections, thrush, cystitis, urinary tract infections, rectal itching or vaginal itching
- Thrush in the mouth, white tongue and constant mouth ulcers
- Skin and nail fungal infections
- Severe seasonal allergies such as hay fever, or itchy ears
How do you treat your clients with Candida over-growth?
Effectively treating Candida over-growth involves stopping the yeast overgrowth, restoring the good bacteria in the gut, and healing the gut walls so that allergens and foods can no longer enter the bloodstream.
Getting rid of the Candida over-growth primarily requires changes in diet. Sugar is what feeds yeast, so eliminating all refined sugars and refined carbohydrates (which turn to sugar when ingested) is essential, and keeping natural sugar intake low is important. For someone with severe Candida over-growth, all sugars (refined and natural) would need to be avoided.
Using diet alone can take 3 to 6 months or more before the Candida is back under control. Because of this I recommend that my clients take a supplement of Caprylic Acid and high-strength Probiotic to speed up the process. Caprylic Acid comes from coconut oil and basically “pokes holes” in the candida cell walls, causing them to die off. So eating lots of coconut oil is beneficial too! Probiotics restore and increase the good bacteria in the gut, which in turn kills off the bad bacteria. Most probiotics on the market are fairly useless because they only have small amounts of live bacteria e.g. 2 billion. The probiotic I use has 10 billion live bacteria per serving. I also often use L-Glutamine powder for more severe cases, which helps to heal the gut lining.