Anxious, annoyed and exhausted like, all of the time? Candida might be to blame. An overgrowth of the yeast that occurs naturally in our bodies has a way of getting in the way of basically everything – and can be dangerous to our health on deeper levels. Fortunately, it’s usually easy to clear once you know you need to. Functional medicine pro, Dr. Mark Hyman, is sharing everything you need to know about candida, including how to get rid of it for good. Make a few simple adjustments and get back to feeling incredible…
What’s The Deal With Candida?
Candida is a fungus, a type of yeast, in your mouth and intestines, and is normally benign. It’s beneficial in normal amounts, and guess what keeps it in check? Yep, your healthy gut flora.
But when bad bugs proliferate, candida runs rampant and creates all sorts of problems including leaky gut and candidiasis (or “candida gone wild”).
Like all things in moderation, these bad bugs are usually present in small numbers in the digestive system. But when the good bugs are hampered – killed by antibiotics, not fed with adequate fiber, the bad guys are fueled with too much sugar or the gut’s delicate ecosystem becomes damaged by too much stress – yeasts and other noxious agents take over.
What results include many chronic illnesses and symptoms including allergies, chronic inflammation, joint problems, mood and brain disorders and digestive symptoms.
Yeast overgrowth is quite common, but many people don’t know they have it and conventional doctors tend to ignore it. In medical school, we are taught that you either have a disease or you don’t. It’s black and white.
However, our bodies weren’t designed with an “on” or “off” switch for disease. All diseases occur in shades of gray, creating a continuum of imbalance along a spectrum of disease.
Sadly, many mainstream practitioners ignore patient complaints about subtle problems related to yeast overgrowth. Most assume if a subject isn’t taught in medical school, it doesn’t exist. Medical history proves this is a dangerous assumption.
Medical students learn about fungal and yeast problems, but only in a limited way. They know that AIDS patients have severe yeast and fungal infections and need long-term anti-fungal treatment. People with diabetes tend to grow yeast because yeast likes sugar. Babies get thrush and need anti-fungal treatment. Women get vaginal candida yeast infections.
All of these are well-accepted and treatable problems, yet more subtle problems related to yeast are usually ignored and not linked to a patient’s complaints. On the other hand, many alternative practitioners overdiagnose yeast problems. You can see why it can become so confusing.
At the same time, many people have yeast problems and most of them don’t know it.
Honestly, we don’t have enough research on this topic. But the collective intelligence of many doctors working in this field for decades with thousands of patients has helped us learn how to appropriately diagnose and treat this often misdiagnosed problem.
Where Does Candida Come From?
So what creates the problem? Besides antibiotics, yeast overgrowth can be triggered by a number of things including:
A high-sugar, high-fat, low-fiber diet
Use of other drugs like birth control pills, estrogen and steroids (like prednisone)
To complicate matters, many tests we use to diagnose yeast problems are neither definitive nor foolproof.
Blood antibody levels for yeasts, stool tests and organic acid urine tests for yeast metabolites can be helpful if they come out positive but don’t rule out yeast if they’re negative.
Here’s my approach. I often diagnose based a patient’s story, symptoms and physical findings on examination. The best method to diagnose yeast overgrowth is a good history of risk factors like antibiotic use and symptoms of chronic yeast problems.
Symptoms of yeast overgrowth vary from person to person and the response to treatments will vary. Some people may need aggressive treatment, while others need only simple changes to make a significant difference in their health.
What are those symptoms of yeast overgrowth? Well, again, it gets complicated because they are similar to those of many other conditions.
Some signs you might have a yeast problem include:
Loss of energy
Bloating and gas
Altered bowel function such as diarrhea or constipation
Frequent bladder infections
Interstitial cystitis (irritable bladder)
Menstrual irregularities like pain, bleeding, etc.
Inability to concentrate
Low immune function
Chronic antibiotic use for infections or acne
Sensitivity to foods, chemicals or other allergens
Irritable bowel syndrome
Craving for foods rich in carbohydrates or yeast
I know, that’s a long list. That’s why I take a systematic approach to yeast overgrowth and ultimately encourage you to work with a functional practitioner. At the same time, I’ve found the following steps can help overcome this common yet underdiagnosed ailment:
5 Ways To Clear Candida
Address predisposing factors. Don’t take antibiotics, steroids or hormones unless absolutely medically necessary.
Change your diet: Eat a diet that doesn’t feed yeast in the gut. This include foods low in sugar and refined carbohydrates, as well as avoiding foods that contain mold and yeast. For many, this might mean eating this way for a long period of time and sticking to a low-sugar diet indefinitely.
Repopulate. Use probiotics to repopulate the gut with healthy bacteria. Take anti-fungal herbs and medications when indicated. Worth repeating: I suggest working with a functional practitioner to implement the correct nutrient protocol.
Become aware of your environment. Identify potential environmental toxic fungi and molds in your home or workplace.
Reduce stress. Learn how to actively relax. To engage the powerful forces of the mind on the body, you must do something — you can’t just sit there watching television or drinking beer. Yoga, deep breathing, meditation and mindfulness are some of my favorite ways to reduce stress.
The Chalkboard Mag and its materials are not intended to treat, diagnose, cure or prevent any disease. All material on The Chalkboard Mag is provided for educational purposes only. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified healthcare provider for any questions you have regarding a medical condition, and before undertaking any diet, exercise or other health related program.