Written by Sharon Aaron, Nutritionist
Candida Albicans is a member of a class in the fungi kingdom, a yeast that lives intimately and peacefully, most of the time, in the inner folds of our digestive tract, and the vaginal tract in females. A key factor about candida that is often overlooked, is that it is an opportunistic fungi – this means that it can live harmoniously without causing any ailments, unless an opportunity arises that allows it to become extremely active in the body. This is more likely to occur when your immune system is compromised or depleted.
Many women contract candidiasis of the vagina during their lifetime and symptoms may vary in severity from mild asymptomatic to severe symptoms in patients who have extremely low immunity. (1,2)
Predisposing criteria, that may put you at risk for a yeast overgrowth.
- Poor diet (very high sugar, white refined carbohydrates, processed foods)
- Impaired immunity
- Nutrient deficiency
- Prolonged antibiotic use
- Underlying diseases
- Altered bowel flora (1)
These are questions one should consider when suspecting a candida overgrowth
Am I getting enough sleep? Do I wake up refreshed or exhausted?
Am I eating lots of white refined carbohydrates and sugar?
Do I eat fresh fruit and vegetables regularly, twice a day?
Is my diet packed with nutrients or is it devoid of nutrients?
Is most of my food coming out of packages?
What are my stress levels like?
Am I exercising regularly? Daily?
Have I recently been unwell? Do I get infections often? Do I recover quickly?
Do I take antibiotics regularly for long periods of time?
Am I menopausal? Peri menopausal? Or do I just feel like my hormones are out of balance?
All of these factors may play a role in how your body copes with Candida….
As a practising Nutritionist I focus mainly on diet, lifestyle and my favourite natural remedies in the prevention and treatment of mild candida symptoms. Please remember that if left untreated these symptoms may worsen, prevention is always preferable. Adopting some of these lifestyle and diet related principles early on allows you to build your immune system which in turn will help keep candida in check and your body in its most naturally balanced state.
From a diet perspective there is a lot we can do to prevent and treat a yeast overgrowth. Many experts believe that a high intake of sugar, milk and foods containing yeast or mould (alcohol, vinegar, certain cheeses, dried fruit, mushrooms, peanuts) appear to promote a yeast overgrowth and should therefore be avoided particularly in an acute outbreak.
Candida Albicans loves sugar – it is its “chief nutrient”. It’s recommended that sugar is avoided during the treatment of candida. “Most patients do really well by simply avoiding all refined sugar, including honey, maple syrup and fruit juice”. (1)
In a study of 100 women with candida induced vaginitis it was shown that when excessive use of sugar was avoided “dramatic reductions in incidence and severity of the illness” occurred. (3)
Remember a highly restrictive diet is not forever, it’s to get candida back under control and it’s to develop a mindfulness around how your body responds and copes with factors that predispose it to a yeast overgrowth. For some people going off sugar and other foods containing yeast for a few weeks helps them bring candida back in balance.
It’s important to build immunity when faced with a yeast overgrowth. Recurrent candida may be a sign of a repressed immune system and it’s worth a visit to your GP to get it checked out.
So…once again – go back to basics.
Make sure your diet is clean with:
- Healthy, fresh, organic produce, good quality protein, healthy fats
- Cut out white refined carbohydrates, all processed foods and of course sugar
- Avoid alcohol
And don’t forget…
- Exercise, moderation and balance
- Meditation, deep breathing exercises, time for yourself!
One of my favourite natural remedies for candida is coconut oil.
What’s so great about coconut oil?
Virgin coconut oil is a potent “non-drug” or “natural yeast fighter”. It contains 3 fatty acids all of which have been shown to have antifungal effects against Candida Albicans and other fungi. Interestingly in a study in 2004, natural virgin coconut oil was examined as an antifungal treatment for candida. It was compared in effectiveness with fluconazole (one of the well-established drugs used in the treatment of Candida infections); it was well concluded in this study that virgin coconut oil was indeed active in killing Candida Albicans. (4) In another study investigating the relationship between candidiasis and virgin coconut oil enriched with zinc, thirty women were grouped into three separate groups over a period of two months. It was concluded that one tablespoon of virgin coconut oil enriched with zinc had a positive effect on the infection. (5)
Take home message:
Candida is a freeloader, it’s opportunistic, it will take hold when you are at your most vulnerable – so stay healthy. GO BACK TO BASICS.
SLEEP, RELAX, FOOD.
- Murray M & Pizzorno J,2012, The Encyclopedia of Natural Medicine, third edition, Atria, New York, pages 376 -389
- Chaitow L, revised edition, 2016 Candida Albicans, Natural Remedies for yeast infection, a 10-point plan, Healing arts press
- Horowitz, B, S. W Edelstein and L Lippman “sugar chromatography studies in recurrent Candida vulvovagnitis” Journal of Reproductive Medicine, 29, no 5 (2002): 452-57
- Ogbolu DO et al, 2007, In Vitro antimicrobial properties of coconut oil on Candida species in Ibadan, Nigeria, Journal of Med Food
- Winarski H, Hernayanti, Purwanto A, 2008, Virgin Coconut oil(VCO) enriched with Zn as Immunostimulator for vaginal Candidiasis patient, Journal of Biosciences, p 135-139