If there’s one word that strikes fear the most in my clients it’s the “dreaded C-word”: candida.It’s probably because it’s so common; most of us have a friend or colleague who has been put on a six-month incredibly restrictive candida cleanse. You know the type: you’re constantly in the kitchen preparing food and you feel like you’ll never eat anything truly enjoyable ever again. It’s a very hard six-month sentence. I’ve also dealt with a very stubborn candida problem myself for many years (the horror). Fortunately, I’ve gotten it under control without the restrictive cleanse. So, stick with me, I can help you out with this.
Candida is just one type of yeast that can overgrow in your gut.You can also have an overgrowth of other bacteria or parasites, so I don’t like using the word candida. I like to call it what it is—a gut bacteria imbalance.
However, candida isn’t always bad.It’s usually a very harmless yeast that can be a part of a healthy gut bacteria balance (otherwise known as your microbiome). The problems start when the good bacteria in your gut gets wiped out and there’s more space for candida to grow. Once the colony begins to grow unchecked, it changes form and becomes a much more harmful invader. Whether you have a candida overgrowth or just an imbalance in your gut bacteria, the solution is the same. The only difference is candida can be much more stubborn so you might need to work at it a bit harder.
Symptoms of a gut bacteria/yeast imbalance
- Bloating and smelly gas
- Ringworm (a yeast overgrowth on your skin)
- Athlete’s foot
- Yeast infection or bacterial vaginosis
- Nail infections (thick, yellowed nails)
- Brain fog
- Intense sugar cravings
The truth is gut bacteria imbalances are very common.Two rounds of antibiotics in your life, certain medications (like the birth control pill), and/or a diet that contains refined sugar and flour is all you need. For me, I had many years of all three… so I can’t be surprised that I had a stubborn colony of sugar-loving yeast to deal with.
Four easy steps to rebalance your gut bacteria
Kill off the yeast, the “bad guys”For 2-4 weeks, use an anti-microbial like oregano oil, colloidal silver, or raw garlic. Repeat if necessary, 2 weeks on/2 weeks off.
Seed your gut with great bacteriaAdding lots of good quality bacteria to your gut will help to grow a great new colony. Flora’s Super 8 Probiotic is specifically formulated to help with gut bacteria imbalances, including yeast.
Feed your gut bacteria with plant-based fiberThe #1 best way to create a strong and balanced ecosystem in your gut is to feed it with a variety of plant-based fibers from fruits, veggies, nuts, seeds, and beans.
Kick it up a notch with fermented foodsThese foods are like a magic fertilizer for your gut bacteria. My struggles ended once I added fermented food to my diet daily. All you need is 1 tablespoon of unpasteurized sauerkraut, 1 cup of organic kefir, or a scoop of fermented greens powder!
In the past, many candida diets had fermented foods on the big NO list, but I completely disagree.Properly fermented foods are a key ingredient to a happy gut microbiome. It’s commercially-made “fermented” foods, like pasteurized sauerkraut that use vinegar (not bacteria) for the tangy taste, that are a problem with candida. Stick to unpasteurized fermented veggies that only use salt. For some, kombucha can be an issue for candida. It’s best to avoid this beautifully fermented drink while you’re trying to banish yeast.
A real life anti-candida dietRemoving your bad bacteria/candida’s favorite foods can be very helpful. It can speed up the process and help you get rid of the overgrowth even faster. If this type of dietary change isn’t possible for you right now – that’s okay. Just do the steps above and your body will slowly get back into balance.
A word on sugar cravingsThese types of cleansing diets are notorious for mega sugar cravings. My trick is to start with the steps above for at least a week. That will kill off a lot of the bad guys and make your cravings much less. You won’t have to deal with a bad bacteria temper tantrum when you take away their favorite foods. Foods to avoid -Refined sugar, refined flour, dairy, gluten, vinegar (except apple cider), beans (if they cause gas), and alcohol Foods to enjoy -Lots of veggies, berries, fruits (limit to 2 per day), chicken/fish/turkey, unpasteurized fermented foods, gluten-free whole grains, and honey (1 tsp at a time max). As well as any foods that are whole and healthy (except those on the list above). Once your gut bacteria is back into balance and candida is back to its role as a harmless yeast, you’ll notice your energy rebound and your brain fog lift. Freedom from all those symptoms is just a few steps away! Lisa Kilgour is a Registered Holistic Nutritionist (RHN), founder ofLisaKilgour.com, and a faculty member at the Canadian School of Natural Nutrition.