We’re continuing to learn how important gut health is to our overall physical and mental health. It comes as no surprise that improving gut health is the key to preventing and overcoming Candida overgrowth. Keeping our gut microbiome happy and balanced with various strategies, including a low-sugar diet and probiotics, will help to prevent and eliminate Candida symptoms including bloating, indigestion, fatigue and more. To give us an overview on Candida and help us understand Candida prevention and treatments, we connected with Lisa Richards, a Certified Nutrition Coach.
As a Nutritionist, Lisa Richards has been researching and writing about Candida overgrowth for over 20 years. With a team that includes naturopathic doctors and other professionals, she has developed a Candida Diet program and designed supplements (including probiotics, liver support and natural antifungals) to assist people in their journey towards better digestive health.
We chatted with Lisa about Candida overgrowth, how it differs for men and women, and what we can do to support our health if we are suffering from Candida overgrowth.
WEHL: What is Candida overgrowth and how does it occur?
LR: Candida overgrowth is a type of infection most often caused by the yeast Candida albicans. This yeast usually lives naturally in your mouth, gastrointestinal tract and genitals without causing any harm. It is kept in check by your body’s ‘friendly’ bacteria, which make up the bulk of your immune system. However, if your balance of friendly bacteria is changed for any reason – whether by illness, antibiotics or your diet – your body’s chemistry can change. This may allow the Candida yeast to thrive and cause unpleasant symptoms throughout your body.
WEHL: How does Candida overgrowth differ for men and women?
LR: Intestinal Candida overgrowth can happen to both men and women, but the symptoms tend to be worse in women as it is often associated with recurrent vaginal yeast infections. At least 75% of all women suffer from at least one vaginal yeast infection in their lifetime, and around half of those are likely to have at least one recurrence of the infection. Men can also suffer from Candida yeast overgrowth, but their symptoms are more commonly digestive upset and fatigue.
WEHL: What sorts of natural treatments and supplements can commonly help those who suffer from Candida overgrowth?
LR: Natural antifungal treatments are widely recommended to treat a Candida overgrowth. Many herbal remedies are also backed up by good scientific evidence. The most-researched treatments include caprylic acid, pau d’arco, garlic and wild oregano. These herbs work by not only inhibiting the growth of Candida albicans but also breaking down their biofilms, which are often resistant to many pharmaceutical antifungal drugs. If taken daily, these remedies can be a powerful preventative.
Probiotics are also extremely helpful in replenishing and rebalancing the gut flora. A healthy, balanced microbiome is your best defense against all kinds of pathogenic yeast and bacterial overgrowth.
WEHL: What lifestyle choices do you recommend to prevent Candida overgrowth from occurring or reoccurring?
LR: A low-sugar diet should be your first step in preventing Candida overgrowth and reducing your risk of a yeast infection reoccurring. Candida yeast relies on organic, carbon-based compounds as sources of energy. This includes glucose and sucrose. Candida uses this energy not only to grow but to build cell walls and convert to its more virulent fungal form.
Instead, eat a diet rich in whole foods while limiting your intake of sugar and simple carbohydrates.
You should also add in a quality probiotic supplement. Probiotics are special types of beneficial bacteria and yeasts that support the natural beneficial bacteria already in your gut. They help to ‘crowd out’ harmful bacteria and pathogenic yeast such as Candida.
WEHL: What are your top foods and worst foods for a Candida diet?
LR: The foods you should avoid on a Candida diet include anything with added sugars, dried fruit, and fruit juices.
Instead, your diet should contain plenty of whole, fresh foods. You can flavor many dishes with antifungal ingredients such as oregano, garlic and onions. Add in plenty of lean protein such as wild fish, grass-fed beef, free-range poultry and eggs, along with healthy fats such as avocado, coconut oil and nuts.
WEHL: When someone begins a Candida diet, how long does it typically take to recover from a Candida overgrowth?
LR: Everyone is different, so it’s impossible to say exactly how long it might take you to recover from a Candida overgrowth. Some people might get rid of their infection within a few weeks, while others may take months or even years.
While this may not be what you want to hear, don’t forget that perseverance pays off! The more you adhere to your Candida diet and probiotic regime, the more likely you will be to overcome your yeast infection. The most important thing to remember is that you’ll be improving your health all round – so you might as well put the effort in.
Connect with Lisa Richards and The Candida Diet:
- Web: TheCandidaDiet.com
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