Let’s Gut To The Point With Candida
I’ll be honest, before my journey into becoming a practicing Integrative Health Coach, I had no idea what the heck was going on with my body. I was feeling mighty awful. I had constant headaches, joint pain and stiffness, struggled with acid reflux and other unpleasant digestive disorders, not to mention my mood was in the toilet (pun intended). I knew that I needed to find solutions to help bring about the relief that my body was desperately seeking. It wasn’t until I researched “Candida” years ago that the wheels in my foggy brain began to turn.
Candida or “Candida albicans” is quite simply an opportunist yeast, that is considered a pathogen. It’s a common member of the human gut flora and actually has beneficial purposes inside the digestive tract, when it is within a healthy contained environment. It’s main purpose in life? Well, I don’t mean to sound morbid, but it’s a decomposing agent within our body that’s responsible for returning our body to the earth at the end of our journey. However, in the gut at healthy levels it can aid in digestion of our food. Unfortunately, sometimes this normally cooperative fungus surges completely out of control, traveling into the small intestine, blood and organs, where it digests ALL of our nutrients for its own survival, leaving the host filled with toxic waste, exhausted and susceptible to many ailments.
A few factors that can lead to Candida overgrowth are:
- Taking antibiotics
- Eating a diet high in sugar and refined carbs
- High alcohol intake
- A weakened immune system
- Taking oral contraceptives
- High stress levels
The most common ailments are:
- Chronic fatigue
- Difficulty concentrating, poor memory, lack of focus and/or brain fog
- Digestive issues including constipation, diarrhea, nausea, gas, cramps and bloating
- Recurring vaginal infections, urinary tract infections, rectal itching or vaginal itching
- Chronic sinus and allergy issues
- Food allergies/intolerances
- Fungal infections on the skin and nails
- Skin issues such as eczema, psoriasis, hives and rashes
- Irritability, mood swings, anxiety or depression
- Strong sugar and refined carbohydrate cravings
- Oral thrush
- Joint pain
- Loss of sex drive
I have affectionately referred to candida as the “yeast beasties” as they thrive mostly on sugar and the frustration of keeping them under control can be maddening. As someone that experienced this, trust me I know first-hand. So, what can we do to promote our healthy gut microbiome and keep these crazy jail birds from breaking out into our body causing “dysbiosis” or microbial imbalance? Well for starters, we need to weaken the yeast by not feeding it sugar, starches and excess carbs. We also need to strengthen our body by eating seasonally and locally. These are all habits I have adapted as a way to honor and heal my body so that it can continue to be a temple of wellness for many years to come.
The following is a list of tips that have helped me through my combating Candida journey:
- Avoid sugars – breads, cakes, pastas and even some fruit. Sticking to a gluten free lifestyle has been what really made a difference for me.
- Avoid chlorinated water as much as possible
- Recolonize your gut bacteria with a good solid probiotic and introduce fermented foods, once your bacteria levels are under control. Kefir, kimchi and sauerkraut are good choices.
- Use garlic in everything you cook (well…not everything, but most things). It’s an antifungal, so it keeps the yeast tamed! In addition, tumeric, ginger, paprika, rosemary, oregano, thyme and sage are all anti-yeast and anti-inflammatory, so there’s a double win when you use them!
- Gravitate to non-gluten grains such as quinoa and millet. Buckwheat is great too and contrary to its name, there is no “wheat” in it.
- Detox seasonally to help keep your gut balanced
- Exercise as much as you can and keep your body moving! This helps to strengthen the immune system!
- Start a daily apple cider vinegar routine. 8oz. of warm water with a ½ teaspoon of apple cider vinegar and ½ freshly squeezed lemon (you can add honey too!). The apple cider vinegar actually attacks yeast in the body and has very alkalizing properties.
- Add supplements that are helpful in aiding in the cleansing process and also strengthening of cells. Good choices are chlorella, spirulina and activated charcoal.
- Cultivate more wellness in your life by retreating to relaxation and meditation. The more you focus on the breath in your body, the more you can feel balanced and at peace.
Hopefully we’ve “gut” to the point with Candida and some of these tips have offered you a little insight into a better, balanced body. I know it’s made a world of difference for me! Here’s to a happy healthy New Year and New You!
Janine Fifield is a Certified Integrative Nutrition Health Coach with an office located at the Center for Balanced Living in Falmouth. She holds a degree in Behavior Health Sciences and is Reiki II Certified. She is the founder of the “Rock Your Inner Goddess” workshop series which helps to unleash confident, self-assured, healthy women to the world. For more information, visit: www.janinefifield.com.