Candida – Self Help

Extracted from 500 of the Most Important Health Tips You’ll Ever Need by Hazel Courteney.
© Hazel Courteney 2012. No reproduction without permission from Cico Books.

Candida albicans is a yeast that is responsible for the condition known as thrush.  Common symptoms include itching in the vagina, anus or penis areas.  Although commonly found in the vagina, candida can also occur in the throat, mouth and gut.

Normally, relatively low levels of candida are present in the gut as they are balanced by large amounts of healthy bacteria, which helps to keep the yeast in check. Problems arise when the yeast begins to overgrow in the gut. This ultimately triggers a variety of symptoms including bloating, wind, constipation/and or diarrhoea, food cravings (especially for sugar and wheat-based foods), headaches, mental confusion, memory problems, impotence, inability to concentrate, spots in front of the eyes,  mood swings, skin rashes, persistent coughing, regular bouts of thrush, arthritis-type aching joints and chronic fatigue. Candida can change its form and burrow through and irritate the gut lining, which increases the risk of food sensitivities and an exacerbation of the above symptoms.

It is crucial to keep the candida under control by using herbs, supplements and, most importantly, dietary changes. One of the primary triggers for candida is overuse of antibiotics, eating too much refined sugar;  others are long-term use of the Pill, and steroids, chemotherapy, diabetes, HIV and pregnancy. Many women believe that you cannot have candida if you don’t have thrush, but the majority of women with candida do not have thrush. Men are also sufferers.  During my teens I was given dozens of antibiotics for my acne, thrush and ear infections. Every time the thrush returned, I would be given more antibiotics, which in the long run made the vicious cycle worse. I strongly advise that anyone testing positive via stool or saliva tests,  for high levels of candida should consult a doctor who is also a nutritionist.

Foods to Avoid

  • Initially remove all yeast and fermented food from the diet – this includes breads, all aged or mouldy cheeses including Stilton, Brie, Camembert and so on. Alcoholic drinks – especially beer and wine, ginger beer, vinegar and foods containing vinegar (ketchups, pickles, salad cream, baked beans), soya sauce, gravy mixes (many contain brewer’s yeast), miso, tempeh and mushrooms.
  • I know it’s hard, but try and avoid all white-flour products containing yeast / and or refined sugar for at least two weeks, including crackers, pizza and pasta.
  • Sugar feeds the yeast – so for a month avoid sugar in any form including honey, maltose, dextrose or sucrose and really sweet fruits such as grapes, peaches, kiwi and melon. Blueberries/ blackberries and strawberries can also harbour moulds. Avoid these fruits until the candida has been brought under control.
    I know it will be hard as sugar is highly addictive but you also need to avoid dried fruits, fruit juices and canned drinks for this period as they are high in sugar. Artificial sugars such as aspartame should also be eliminated. Sugar is the biggest problem with Candida and needs to be avoided.
  • Avoid malted products – found in some breakfast cereals, brown Ryvita and malted drinks like Ovaltine and Horlicks.
  • Avoid peanuts and peanut butter which tend to harbour moulds.
  • Avoid cow’s milk for 1 month.
  • If you have  severe candida, for the first two weeks also avoid courgettes, carrots, corn, and any of the squash family as they quickly convert to sugars in the gut.
  • Avoid any foods you know you are intolerant to.

Friendly Foods

  • Garlic has potent anti-fungal action; raw is best. If you’re worried about your breath, chew on some parsley.
  • Eat fresh fish and shellfish, chicken, turkey and lean meats, eggs, cooked tofu and pulses.
  • Research shows that a candida infection leads to inflammation – to help combat this eat more oily fish:  salmon, mackerel, herring, anchovies and sardines, along with nuts (unsalted and not peanuts) and lots of organic, unrefined seeds, which are also rich in essential fats.
  • Include more artichokes, asparagus, aubergine, avocado, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, celery, green beans, leeks, lettuce, garlic, onion, parsnips, spinach, tomatoes and watercress. These types of vegetables encourage healthy bacteria to proliferate.
  • Fruits that  are  OK are apples, pears (not over-ripe), a little pineapple and cherries. Papaya and pomegranate are OK if not too over-ripe.
  • Use organic rice, oat, coconut or almond milk instead of cow’s milk.
  • Eat live, plain unsweetened yoghurt, which contains the healthy bacteria acidophilus and bifidus. Yoghurt is fermented which means it’s easier to digest than milk.
  • Brown rice, lentils, corn, millet, buckwheat or rice pasta, oat cakes, soda bread, scones made with a little butter or organic raw walnut butter are all OK.
  • As a wheat substitute, try yeast-free rye bread.  It can take some getting used to but for a month it’s acceptable. Most supermarkets and health shops now offer wheat and/or yeast free breads.   Look for yeast and gluten free breads made from Buckwheat, Quinoa and Rice flour.
  • Coriander and Thyme are great herbs for helping control this infection, so use liberally in soups and stews.

Useful Remedies

I realise I have suggested numerous supplements here – there is certainly no need to take them all, I am simply giving you plenty of choices!

  • Pre-biotics  are certain foods that encourage healthy bacteria in the gut  to multiply, thereby enhancing immune function. I have found a great one based on the agave plant called  Agave Digestive-Immune Support, which I take every morning  in my breakfast whiz. Or just dissolve one scoop of this powder in water. Really helps keep you regular! See www.lef.org
  • Probiotics are the actual healthy bacteria which helps keep the candida under control. Jarro-dophilus  EPS made by Jarrow, will help replenish gut flora; take one daily after food. Enteric coated which means it can pass through stomach lining and  no need to keep in fridge. a/v  from the Nutri  Centre. To order call 0845 6027197.
  • Take 1 yeast-free B complex or Liquid B vitamins which are easier to absorb. Made by Bio care
  • Take a  multi-vitamin and mineral for your age and gender.
  • AD 206, containing ginseng and pantothenic acid,  supports adrenal function, which is often exhausted in candida patients. Bio care
  • To help cleanse the liver, take 1 HEP 194 and 1 gram of vitamin C. Bio care
  • Take a good digestive enzyme. Such as Polyzyme Forte with main meals. Bio care
  • Floraguard is a duo-pill that combines anti-fungals such as oil of oregano which is effective against many yeasts and parasites. Do not use this formula if you suffer from active stomach ulcers. Bio care
  • Take 1 ‘Pau D’arco Plus’ a potent anti fungal formula made specially to help eliminate the fungus.
  • Otherwise try a formula containing  black walnut, pau d’arco and calendula tincture, 2–4ml twice a day.
  • Glutamine is great for healing and calming an irritated and inflamed gut. Take up to 5 grams twice a day half an hour before food.

Helpful Hints

  • Follow the yeast/ sugar free diet for 2–4 weeks before you add in any anti-fungal supplements or you may kill off the candida quicker than your body can dispose of it – this could lead to a general feeling of malaise. Should this happen at any time drink more fluids, up your vitamin C and reduce your anti-fungals for a day or two.
  • If indigestion and bloating are a problem and digestive enzymes do not help, you may still be low in stomach acid. See under Low Stomach Acid.
  • As candida is usually linked to multiple food intolerances (especially to wheat, sugar and dairy) consider a food intolerance test. Contact Genova Diagnostics. Tel. 020 8336 7750; or check outwww.gdx.uk.net
  • A comprehensive stool test and parasitology can also check for evidence of candida (plus other yeasts) in your body in addition to parasites and your levels of good bacteria. Check outwww.smartnutrition.co.uk. Tel: 01273 775480 for details about the test.
  • Many women who suffer candida are very stressed and exhausted – the best thing you can do to help boost immune function is to go away for at least a week. Get more sleep. Identify and deal with stress (see under Stress).
  • Avoid compost heaps, cut grass and staying too long in moist, humid atmospheres where moulds can thrive.
  • Women who wear nylon underwear are twice as likely to suffer with thrush as those who wear cotton underwear.
  • Any types of perfumed bubble bath products  can aggravate thrush so are best avoided. A better choice is to add a few drops of tea tree essential oil to your bathwater. It has powerful anti-fungal and antiseptic properties. NB: do not use neat directly onto areas of delicate skin such as the vagina or penis.
  • For further help contact the National Candida Society, PO Box 151, Orpington, Kent BR5 1UJ. Tel: 01689 813039. Website: www.candida-society.org.uk – full of heaps of information. Email:info@candida-society.org. Membership is £15 annually, and includes a helpline on Thursdays along with lots of extra support.
  • Recent research indicates that people who have persistent and chronic candida may have intestinal parasites. Herbal combinations containing wormwood, tincture of black walnut hull and cloves, plus the amino acids ornithine and arginine help eliminate parasites. For details of candida cleansing formulas call G&G Food Supplies on 01342 312811. Email: sales@gandgvitamins.com. Website:www.gandgvitamins.com
  • Read Erica White’s Beat Candida Cookbook which has more than 250 recipes, many of these are quick and easy to prepare.