SO, WHAT IS CANDIDA AND HOW DID I GET IT?
You might have heard the term candida or yeast overgrowth before. It is used when candida, a fungal organism present in our body usually in small amounts only, goes into overgrowth mode. This can occur due to medications (Antibiotics, Oral Contraceptive Pill etc.), a diet high in refined sugars, stress or toxin exposure.
It seems to be one of the most common infections we treat in clinic and one has to be very savvy to treat it effectively. Just like other organisms it can easily adapt to anti-fungal medications or herbal supplements and it can hide especially well in the nooks and crannies of the digestive tract but can also occur in many other organs e.g. lungs, skin, genitals, sinus or oral cavities.
Hot humid weather will often flare up symptoms like bloating, skin rashes, allergic symptoms, thrush etc.
This is due to the fungal organisms thriving in warm, moist environments.
BUT WHY CAN IT SOMETIMES BE SO HARD TO TREAT?
These organisms surround themselves by what’s called a biofilm. Biofilms are structures that are formed naturally by many bacteria and fungi. They can make conditions like urinary tract infections, ear infections, and Candida overgrowth much more difficult to treat.
A biofilm is a polysaccharide matrix that acts as a protective structure for the microorganism. In effect, the pathogen can hide within it. By producing a biofilm, the microorganism creates a shield to protect itself from whatever your doctor and immune system can throw at it.
Biofilms can exist both inside and outside the body. Sometimes they can even be useful (there are a number of industrial applications), but for the most part they are bad news. Much of the research has looked at Candida biofilms on items like prosthetic heart valves, intravenous catheters, and hip replacements. However, biofilms are also part of the development of many clinical infections that develop in our bodies.
Candida albicans is the most common fungal biofilm found in hospitals, but it is also extremely difficult to treat. One study looked at the effectiveness of a group of antifungals (including prescription antifungals like Nystatin and Diflucan) against Candida biofilms. Researchers found that the antifungals were initially effective against Candida, but as the biofilm developed they became less and less effective. After 72 hours of biofilm development, the “C. albicans cells were highly resistant,” leading them to conclude that “drug resistance develops over time, coincident with biofilm maturation.” Other studies refer to “a near-total resistance to antifungal agents by biofilm-associated Candida.”
DIET AND CANDIDA
What are these biofilms made of? Well, another study found Candida biofilms to be comprised of 32% glucose. So Candida needs sugar not just to grow and reproduce, but also to create the biofilm that protects it from your immune system.
Back in the 90’s everyone seemed to be on a Candida Diet (at least in Germany) but not many people found it completely resolved their symptoms. The issue with the Candida Diet, in my opinion, is that it focused only on what NOT to eat instead of WHAT to eat with candida overgrowth.
As a general rule, sugary foods are out (that includes most fruit, potatoes, grains and alcohol) and the focus lies on gut healing foods like stock/bone broth, grass-fed meats, small fish, pasture-fed eggs, lots of good fats (avocado, coconut oil, ghee, butter etc.) and lots of vegetables plus fermented foods.
A diet similar to the Anti-Inflammatory Diet with little or no fruit but with the addition of fermented foods including sauerkraut, kimchi, kefir, raw apple cider vinegar and kombucha (the long-fermented, sour version).
ADDITIONAL TREATMENT OPTIONS
When it comes to treatment, we find that most people respond well to a liquid herbal combination (Cand-ease), enzymes (to break down the biofilm) and a probiotic yeast called Saccharomyces Boulardii (SB).
Even though S. Boulardii is a yeast itself, it has been shown to be an effective probiotic with powerful anti-Candida properties.
S. boulardii works against Candida in a variety of different ways: it’s been shown to inhibit populations of Candida and prevent them from establishing in the digestive tract; to reduce the potential for Candida infestation and inflammation in inflammatory bowel disease; how S. boulardii can help prevent Candida yeasts from translocating from the digestive tract, and how it produces caprylic acid which has antifungal properties against Candida.
Caprylic acid is also found in coconut oil so I thought I could include one of our healthy snack recipes made with coconut oil. Our upcoming Realize Health Nutritionist Rebecca Baldry has made ‘Fat bombs’ many times and they are a really nice snack.
The key to getting on top of a yeast infections is definitely following a diet like the Anti-Inflammatory Diet, the rotation of different supplements alongside with some strategies to reduce stress levels and toxin exposure.
If you want to find out if Candida overgrowth is causing your symptoms or want to treat it effectively, please make an appointment with one of our practitioners.
This article is for information purposes only. Please refer to our Medical Disclaimer policy for more information. The opinions expressed here represents the author’s and not necessarily those of Realize Health. In addition, thoughts and opinions change from time to time due to updates in research and as a necessary consequence of having an open mind. Views expressed in out-of-date posts may not be the same to those we hold today.
- Ducluzeau, R. & Bensaada, M. (1982) Comparative effect of a single or continuous administration of Saccharomyces boulardii on the establishment of various strains of Candida in the digestive tract of gnotobiotic mice. Annales de microbiologie. (Inst. Pasteur). 133: pp: 491-501
- Jawhara, S. & Poulain, D. (2007) Saccharomyces boulardii decreases inflammation and intestinal colonisation by Candida albicans in a mouse model of chemically-induced colitis. Medical Mycology, Vol. 45. Issue 8. pp 691 – 700.
- Berg, R. et al. (1993) Inhibition of Candida albicans translocation from the gastrointestinal tract of mice by oral administration of Saccharomcyes boulardii. J Infect Dis. 1993,Nov;168(5):1314-8.
- Murzyn, et al. (2010) Capric Acid Secreted by S. boulardii Inhibits C. Albicans. August 2010, Plos One, Vol. 5. Issue 8.