In last week’s article we learnt about the common yeast infection known as Candida and its main causes and symptoms. We’re now going to explain how you can get rid of this distressing condition in three easy steps.
Why most Candida treatments offer only temporary relief
Fungal infections are estimated to affect over one billion people every year and evidence suggests that the rate of infection is increasing (source: Hsu 2011; Di Santo 2010; Brown 2012; Fungal Research Trust 2011). Candida is an unpleasant and persistent disorder that makes enjoying a healthy and energetic lifestyle extremely difficult. Although a Candida infection is typically treated with an antifungal agent such as an antifungal cream, shampoo or mouthwash, these only tackle the symptoms and not the underlying cause of Candida. Unfortunately, as soon as you stop taking such medication, the relentless Candida fungus begins to multiply once more, causing your ratio of ‘good’ and ‘bad’ bacteria to become out of balance and your symptoms to reappear.
How to get rid of Candida for good
In order to combat the underlying causes of Candida and eliminate it for good (as opposed to simply treating its localised proliferation), we must promote both a healthy digestive system and a robust immune defence. To do this we should examine our eating habits and then alter them accordingly, to make sure that they include essential nutrients and exclude foods known to trigger an attack.
Below are 3 Easy Steps to help you eradicate Candida forever.
1. Eliminate every form of sugar
Sugars are the most important food source for the Candida fungus – not only is fungal overgrowth encouraged by the availability of sugar (McGinnis MR et al 1996; Buddington RK et al 1996; Howard MD et al 1995), but laboratory studies (Rodaki 2009) have also revealed that excess glucose actually weakens our immune system’s response to Candida. The first step in treating Candida therefore, is to remove every form of sugar from your diet. This doesn’t just mean cutting out granulated sugar, cane sugar, brown sugar, honey, syrup, molasses, maple syrup, corn syrup, fructose, glucose, sucrose, dextrose, sucrose, maltose and lactose, but also any processed foods that contain one or more of these ingredients. Always check food labels carefully, because even if a product claims to have ‘no added sugar’, it may still contain syrup or honey. Mosts fruits contain natural sugars too, especially acidic fruits (except grapefruit). Avoiding eating fruits altogether or, if you find that too difficult, opt for fruits that are low in sugar such as rhubarb, raspberries, strawberries, blackberries or cranberries.
And don’t forget that carbohydrates and starch are converted into sugars in our body. It’s best to steer clear of any food products that are high in carbs including white bread, wholemeal bread and pasta or that contain a significant amount of starch, such as potatoes and root tubers.
Candida sufferers are also strongly advised to avoid alcohol consumption completely. Alcohol not only contains yeast, it also converts to sugar in our bodies. Additionally, alcohol kills the ‘good bacteria’ found naturally in our digestive system, resulting in an imbalance in our intestinal flora, which encourages Candida to grow.
2. Include plenty of vegetables and healthy fats
Vegetables starve Candida of the sugar and mould that it needs to survive and are highly efficient at absorbing fungal toxins and removing them from our body. Try incorporating as many fresh vegetables and seaweeds, such as chlorella and spirulina, into your daily diet as possible and preferably enjoy them raw. Include plenty of leaf vegetables such as cabbage, lettuce, kale and spinach, and inflorescence vegetables including artichokes, broccoli and cauliflower or stalk vegetables like chard, asparagus and celery. Bulb vegetables such as chives, leeks and garlic are also extremely effective in combatting pathogens like Candida. According to an article by the Huntington College of Health Sciences, ‘research has clearly shown that garlic has anticandidal activity, inhibiting both the growth and function of Candida Albicans’. Consuming garlic, which has powerful antifungal properties, also strengthens our immune system, increasing our body’s own ability to fight Candida.
As already discussed, strengthening our immune system is an excellent way to prevent and banish Candida forever, so it’s important to make sure that you’re eating sufficient quantities of healthy fats and proteins. Excellent sources of healthy fat are wild fish, organic chicken, organic eggs, avocado, olive oil, nuts and coconut oil, which is a particularly effective tool in combatting Candida. Coconut oil is rich in both lauric and capric acid, which boast antiviral, antimicrobial and antifungal properties. These target harmful bacteria without killing off the friendly ones, restoring balance to our intestinal flora. Research by the Institute of Biology at the University of Iceland found that ‘capric acid, a 10-carbon saturated fatty acid, causes the fastest and most effective killing of all three strains of C. albicans tested’. For optimum protection against Candida, aim to drink three tablespoons of coconut oil per day and use it as an alternative to your regular cooking oil.
3. Stimulate ‘good’ cultures with probiotics
To successfully fight Candida and prevent its reoccurrence, it’s essential to reinstate the balance of your intestinal flora. This means encouraging the correct ratio of ‘friendly’ bacteria, which you can do by specifically choosing probiotic foods. Probiotics are beneficial micro-organisms that normally live in the human body, the most common being lactobacillus and bifidobacterium. They help stimulate the natural digestive juices and enzymes that keep our digestive organs functioning correctly. Stefano Guandalini, MD, professor of paediatrics and gastroenterology at the University of Chicago Medical Center, states that ‘Probiotics can improve intestinal function and maintain the integrity of the lining of the intestines’. In addition to a range of useful probiotic supplements, there are a number of foods, which are natural hosts to live bacterium. These include yoghurt, micro-algae (e.g. spirulina and chlorella) and fermented foods such as kambucha. Kambucha is a fermented tea made from a culture of friendly bacteria and yeast. It not only strengthens our immune system and aids digestion, it also contains acetic acid, which kills bad bacteria and repopulates our digestive system with probiotic organisms. On their website, Columbia University recommends the addition of fermented foods to your regular diet, in order to increase probiotic consumption and help combat Candida infections.
Lastly, cutting out any foods containing yeast or fungi such as cheese (except for goats cheese), mushrooms and other fungi will help to avoid an overgrowth of bad cultures, allowing the good cultures to get on with their job of keeping you fit, healthy and Candida free.