This is the original version of this extremely popular article. It has since been updated by Bee and posted in Nourished Magazine. There are 49 comments on this article, if you have any questions for Bee, they may have already been answered here, otherwise feel free to ask again at the new version here.
What is Candida?
Candida is the short name used to describe yeast overgrowth in the body. The technical term is Candidiasis. It is a yeast that is a single cell fungi that belongs to the vegetable kingdom. Like their “cousins” the molds, they live all around us. One family “Candida Albicans” lives in all mucus membranes, i.e. intestines, eyes, ears, bladder, stomach, lungs, vagina, etc. It is one of the billions of other friendly organisms that serve a useful purpose in the body. One of its important functions is to recognize and destroy harmful bacteria.
However, Candida is not intended to overgrow and get out of control while the body is alive. This is only intended to happen when the body dies, when it’s function and characteristics change in order to break down the body.
How Candida Affects Us?
When Candida Albicans is under control it poses no problem, but when it gets out of control it begins to overgrow causing numerous symptoms and health problems from the top of the head to the tips of the toes, from migraines to nail fungus. It can result in symptoms inside (pain and malfunction of organs, even brain lesions) and outside (eczema and hives). It can also cause problems with the mind and emotions.
What Causes Candida to get out of control?
A healthy immune system keeps Candida in balance with the other micro organisms in the mucous membranes but under certain conditions it begins to overgrow and get out of control. The causes of immune system dysfunction are varied and complex, but antibiotics are the biggest culprits because they wipe out friendly micro organisms, in the digestive system. Because Candida is resistant to antibiotics the imbalance of micro organisms allows it to take over. It begins to change its shape and starts to overgrow; raising large families called colonies.
These colonies excrete toxins that circulate throughout the body further weakening the immune system and creating havoc throughout the body. The Candida produces very long root-like structures that penetrate intestinal walls leaving microscopic holes which allows toxins, undigested food particles, bacteria and yeast to enter the bloodstream. This condition is known as the “Leaky Gut Syndrome”, which causes food allergies and many health problems. These root-like structures also causes considerable damage to the walls of the intestines resulting in malabsorption of nutrients.
Adding to the problem of malabsorption are nutritional deficiencies that also weaken the immune system. Today’s standard diet lacks the necessary nutrients to maintain a healthy immune system. It is loaded with sugar, carbohydrates, hydrogenated oils and fats (trans-fats), white flour products, processed foods, food additives, preservatives, pesticides, and heavy metals. This, in addition to foods being irradiated (exposed to high levels of radiation to extend shelf life), and being grown in nutrient depleted soil, long storage and transportation time, and improper handling, cooking and microwaving that goes on in most homes, further depletes nutrients available. All of these factors contribute to a weakened immune system.
Candida causes many health problems and symptoms including allergies, fatigue, headaches, digestive disorders, vaginitis, arthritis, muscle weakness, joint pain, nasal congestion, pain or tightness in the chest, blurred vision, ear problems, hypoglycemia, multiple sclerosis, Crohn’s disease, foggy thinking, loss of memory and a host of other ailments.
The Candida Control Program
In order to get Candida overgrowth under control four things need to be done simultaneously:
- Eliminate foods that feed Candida
- Build up the immune system
- Kill off Candida overgrowth
- Plant good bacteria in the digestive tract
1. Eliminate foods that feed Candida
Candida overgrowth is mainly fuelled by:
- refined carbohydrates
- gluten grains
Candida’s main food supply is sugar and all forms of it, such as lactose contained in dairy products, honey, glucose, fructose, and sugar substitutes, i.e. Nutrasweet, aspartame, saccharin. Eliminating sugar is the most important part of the Candida Program. All fruit, except lemons, are also very high in sugar and should be extremely limited during the initial stages of the program, along with some vegetables that are very high in sugar, such as carrots, yams, sweet potatoes, parsnips and beets. Sugar also contained is most processed foods such as smoked luncheon meats, ketchup, cereal, and yogurt making it important to read labels carefully. Following is a partial list of the names for sugar and sweeteners.
Names for Sugar and Sweeteners
Aspartame, carob powder, corn starch, crystalline carbohydrate dextrin, dextrose, disaccharides, galactose, glucose, levulose, malts of any kind, maltitol, maltodextrin, maltose (malt sugar), manitol, mannitol, mono-saccharides, sucrose, Nutrasweet, polydextrose, polysaccharides, ribose, saccharin, sorghum, suamiel, succanat, xylitol.
It has been known for many years that sugar greatly depresses the immune system. In the 70s Linus Pauling knew that white blood cells needed a high dose of vitamin C. That was when he came up with his theory that high doses of vitamin C were needed to combat the common cold. But Vitamin C and glucose have similar chemical structures and they compete for one another upon entering the cells. If there is more glucose around less vitamin C will be allowed into the cell, and interestingly taking Vitamin C also helps curb sugar cravings.
These are a few of the negative effects sugar has on health:
- Sugar contributes to the reduction in defense against bacterial infection
- Sugar upsets mineral relationships in the body
- Sugar interferes with absorption of calcium and magnesium
- Sugar can interfere with the absorption of protein
- Sugar can change the structure of protein
- Sugar can increase the body’s fluid retention
- Sugar can cause hormonal imbalances
- Sugar is an addictive substance and can be intoxicating, similar to alcohol
Candida also feeds on high carbohydrate foods such as starches and grains, i.e. breads, pasta, pizza, cereals, baked goods and potatoes. Vegetables high in carbohydrates include beans, beets, squash, zucchini, corn, peas, parsnips and carrots. Grain foods (wheat, rice, corn, oats, etc.) store their energy as complex strands of sugar molecules, a starch. Starch breaks down into individual sugar molecules (glucose, or blood sugar) during digestion. All carbohydrates eaten turn into glucose (blood sugar), but only 58% of the protein and about 10% of the fat eaten are converted to glucose.
Most Candida sufferers are gluten intolerant. Gluten is an elastic and gluey protein found in wheat, rye, barley, oats, spelt, kamut, triticale and it is hidden in an endless variety of processed foods. Triticale is a new hybrid grain with the properties of wheat and rye, while spelt and kamut are gluten-containing wheat variants and are likely to cause problems similar to other wheat varieties. Gluten-containing grains have come to be used extensively in breads and other baked goods because of their “glutinous,” sticky consistency.
Gluten grains feed Candida because they have a high glycemic index just like sugar, and like sugar, creates insulin resistance within the cells which leads to blood sugar problems like hypoglycemia and diabetes. The cells become resistant to insulin as they try to protect themselves from the toxic effective of high doses of insulin caused by high intake of sugar and simple carbohydrates. As the cells become insulin resistant, the pancreas produces more insulin which creates a vicious cycle. This exhausts the pancreas eventually leading to its breakdown resulting in diabetes.
Gluten grains contain a protein that is difficult to digest and interferes with mineral absorption and causes intestinal damage. This damage makes the intestines incapable of absorbing nutrients such as proteins, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins, minerals, and even water in some cases.
Our grain food supply also contains mycotoxins (a toxin produced by a fungus), especially found in corn and wheat. Mycotoxins can suppress our normal immune function. See the section on Yeast, Mold and Fungus for more information.
2. Build up the immune system
Building up the immune system requires:
- Eating the right foods
- Taking essential supplements
- Avoiding yeast, mold and fungus
Eating the right foods
If the wrong diet is constantly consumed, or if yeast overgrowth damage is never reversed from previous drug and antibiotic use, a cure can almost never be achieved. Eating the right foods is the most important aspect of getting Candida under control and building up the immune system.
The “Candida Control Diet” is high in protein and good saturated fats and oils, and low in carbohydrates, and contains no sugars, grains or processed foods. All foods must be as fresh and natural as possible, and free of additives, pesticides, heavy metals, irradiation, mycotoxins, etc.:
Meats and fats should be from organic grass-fed free-range animals and from good oils such as coconut, palm and fish. Fish should be from non-farmed sources and as free of mercury and other pollutants as possible. Vegetables should be from reliable certified organic sources.
Protein - It is important that Candida sufferers eat a high protein diet from a selection of high quality protein foods, i.e., dairy products, eggs and meat. Proteins are found in all types of food, but only meat, eggs and cheese contain complete proteins, providing the eight essential amino acids your body cannot produce on its own. Incomplete proteins are contained in vegetables, fruits and grains. Amino acids provide the structure of all living things and in the human body they make up the muscles, ligaments, tendons, organs, glands, nails, hair and body fluids (except bile and urine). Enzymes, hormones and genes are also made up of various amino acids.
Protein in the diet slows the breakdown of carbohydrates, which decreases the need for insulin secretion by the pancreas. It also stimulates glucagon release, that hormone that unlocks our stored fuel.
The best protein sources are meats that aren’t mass-produced, such as lamb, buffalo, bison, ostrich, venison or other wild game, or naturally-raised meat including poultry, eggs, beef, and pork.
To obtain enough protein 3-6 ounces of meat per meal is required, depending on exercise levels.
Good Fats & Oils - Good fats and oils are equally important to protein in the diet and they are essential to getting Candida under control. They not only increase the body’s ability to absorb nutrients from the foods eaten but also provide the most efficient source of energy. They also provide the building blocks for cell membranes and a variety of hormones and hormone-like substances.
Good fats act as carriers for important fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K and for the conversion of carotene to vitamin A, for mineral absorption and for a host of other processes. The kinds of fats consumed greatly influence the assimilation and utilization of vitamin D.
Cholesterol is the body’s version of fat, and contrary to popular belief cholesterol, is your best friend. Cholesterol’s job is to repair and protect, and it is essential for nourishing the brain and nervous system. The brain is 70% cholesterol and it could not function properly without it. Hormones like estrogen and testosterone are made from cholesterol. Bile salts (for digestion) are made from cholesterol. Cholesterol is also a powerful antioxidant.
Cholesterol is a substance vital to the cells of all mammals. There are no such things as good or bad cholesterol, in fact your body produces three to four times more cholesterol than you eat. The eminent American physician and scientist George Mann called the cholesterol theory “the greatest scientific deception of this century, perhaps of any century.”
Essential Fatty Acids - There are also two types of essential fatty acids that must be obtained from the diet and these are omega-3s and omega-6s. They are called essential because we have to get them from food because our bodies can’t manufacture them from other fats. Most people’s diets contain an excessive amount of omega 6 fats, therefore it is important to ensure the diet contains more omega 3 rich foods to offset this imbalance.
Good sources of omega 3s are animal meats and eggs. Grass-fed meats are a good source of omega-3s and 6s, however the best type of omega-3 fats are found in fish. That is because the omega-3 in fish is high in two fatty acids crucial to human health, DHA and EPA. These two fatty acids are essential in preventing heart disease, cancer, and many other diseases. Because of the high mercury content of fresh fish the best way to obtain these important fatty acids is to take fish oils in their purest form.
Avoid all newfangled fats and oils (trans fats) - Candida sufferers cannot afford to jeopardize their health by consuming toxic oils and fats and must avoid all of the newfangled polyunsaturated fats and hydrogenated vegetable oils (margarine, Canola oil, safflower oil, etc.), called trans fats. These newfangled fats and oils are not only toxic and increase the body’s need for vitamin E and other antioxidants, but also depress the immune system. All trans fats, found in margarine and shortenings used in most commercial baked goods and most processed food, should always be avoided even by healthy people.
All of these fats and oils are extracted by a process called hydrogenation. This process employs: 1) High heat, 2) A metal catalyst such as nickel, zinc, copper, or other reactive metals and 3) Hydrogen gas. This is a volatile combination that results in an extremely toxic product that the body reacts to like plastic.
Even when refrigerated, hydrogenated oils stay liquid and go rancid very easily. Vegetable oils should never be heated or used in cooking, except for extra virgin olive oil, which must be handled with care.
The most common newfangled trans fats on the market to avoid are derived from plants such as canola (from rape seed), soy, safflower, corn, and flaxseed. These plants have evolved a variety of toxins designed to protect themselves from “predators,” such as grazing animals. These toxins block digestive enzymes that break down protein in the stomach. They seem to be specifically designed to effect mammalian enzymes that are are necessary for digestion, production of thyroid hormones, clot removal, immunity and general adaptability of cells. Therefore using such plants to produce oils and fats is unnatural.
The more appropriate kind of fat for health is saturated fat, in spite of what we’ve been led to believe, which plays many important roles in body chemistry. But saturated fats have been given a bad name by the oil and food manufacturing industry with the sole purpose of selling their products. This is also true for drug companies who perpetuate the cholesterol myth and low-fat diets in order to sell drugs.
The truth is, natural fats and oils have components found only in them, which are health-promoting, and the newfangled trans fats are now known to be disease-causing. These health-giving saturated fats are stable and do not become rancid easily and they do not draw upon the body’s reserves of antioxidants nor do they initiate cancer or irritate the artery walls.
Healthy saturated fats are an important part of any healthy meal. It draws nutrients out of foods and slows digestion so that natural enzymes and the assimilation process can take place. Healthy saturated fats include butter, tallow, lard, and fish, palm and coconut oils.
Butter - Butter and cream from raw milk produced by organic grass-fed cows are tasty, important saturated fats in the diet. Butter added to vegetables and meats, and cream added to soups and sauces ensures proper assimilation of the minerals and water-soluble vitamins in foods.
Many trace minerals are also contained in butterfat, including manganese, zinc, chromium and iodine. In areas far from the sea, iodine in butter protects against goiter (enlarged thyroid). Butter is also extremely rich in selenium, a trace mineral with antioxidant properties.
Coconut Oil - Coconut oil is another healthy saturated fat that contains many properties that are beneficial to Candida sufferers which are anti-bacterial, anti-viral and anti-fungal. It also kills off yeast overgrowth. Coconut oil supports immune system function, supplies important nutrients necessary for good health and improves digestion and nutrient absorption.
The fat in coconut oil is easily digested and absorbed, unlike the newfangled trans fats that act like plastic in the body. It puts little strain on the digestive system and provides a quick source of energy necessary to promote healing. Coconut oil is absorbed directly from the intestines into the portal vein and sent straight to the liver, whereas other fats require pancreatic enzymes to break them into smaller units.
Look for unrefined coconut oil, since most commercial coconut oils are refined, bleached, and deodorized. It is highly resistant to spoilage and has a long shelf life (up to 2 years at room temperature). Coconut oil has a high burning point and is a perfect oil for cooking. Coconut oil can be taken by the tablespoonfuls with meals to aid digestion. A good therapeutic dose is 1 to 2 tablespoons with fat containing meals.
Fish oils - Fish, unlike mammals, birds and reptiles, do not respond to sunlight and rely on vitamin D found in phytoplankton and other fish. They must feed on phytoplankton and other fish in order to obtain and store significant vitamin D in their fat, flesh, skin, and organs.
Unfortunately, eating most fresh fish, whether from the ocean, lakes and streams, or farm-raised, is no longer recommended because of their dangerously high mercury levels. Unless reliable sources can be found it is strongly recommended to avoid eating all fish since their high levels of mercury dramatically compromises health.
The only safe sources of fish are those that have been tested and shown not to contain detectable levels of mercury and other toxins. Since fish are the best source of Vitamin D, and essential fatty acids (EFAs) are so essential to health, they must be obtained without eating fish.
The best sources of vitamin D are cod liver oil and halibut liver oil, and EFAs are found in all fish oils. Look for oils that are free of chemical modification and processing, purified to the highest standards, routinely tested and free from detectable levels of mercury, cadmium, lead, PCBs and other contaminants.
A good therapeutic daily dose of cod liver oil or plain fish oil liquid is one teaspoon for every 50 pounds of body weight per day. If you weigh 150 pounds that would be about one tablespoon (three teaspoons) per day.
Essential Fatty Acids (EFAs) - There are also two types of essential fatty acids that must be obtained from the diet and these are omega-3s and omega-6s. They are called essential because we have to get them from food because our bodies can’t manufacture them from other fats. Most people’s diets contain an excessive amount of omega 6 fats, therefore it is important to ensure the diet contains more omega 3 rich foods to offset this imbalance.
Good sources of omega 3s are animal meats and eggs. But there is an important difference in the ratio of omega-6s to 3s according to how the animals are fed and raised. For example, grain-fed beef can have ratios that exceed 20:1, but grass-fed beef is down around 3:1. Similar ratios are found in all grain-fed versus grass-fed livestock products. Grass-fed livestock are rich in all the fats that are health-enhancing and provide the body with goods fats for the production of cholesterol. Similarly free-range fed chickens produce eggs with an omega 6:3 ratio of 1.5 to one, whereas the “supermarket egg” has a ratio of 20 to one.
Grass-fed meats are a good source of omega-3s and 6s, however the best type of omega-3 fats are found in fish. That is because the omega-3 in fish is high in two fatty acids crucial to human health, DHA and EPA. Because of the high mercury content of fresh fish the best way to obtain these important fatty acids is to take fish oils in their purest form as mentioned above.
Carbohydrates - Low carbohydrate consumption is an important aspect of the Candida Control Diet since high carbohydrate foods feed the Candida. Carbohydrate foods are any foods that are not protein or fat, including all vegetables, grains and fruits. Since grains and most fruit, except lemons, are eliminated on the Candida Control Diet this leaves a wide variety of vegetables that are healthy to consume. Vegetables with the lowest carbohydrate index are green beans, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, turnips, spinach, asparagus, celery, peppers, kale, mustard greens, and Chinese cabbage. Some vegetables also inhibit the growth of Candida such as raw garlic, onions, horseradish, cabbage, broccoli, turnip, and kale.
Avoid Soybean and Soy-based foods - Soybeans contains large quantities of natural toxins or “anti-nutrients,” including potent enzyme inhibitors that block the action of enzymes needed for protein digestion. These inhibitors are not completely deactivated during ordinary cooking and can produce serious gastric distress, reduced protein digestion and chronic deficiencies in amino acid (proteins) uptake. In test animals, diets high in enzyme inhibitors cause enlargement and pathological conditions of the pancreas, thyroid malfunction and other diseases including cancer. Soybeans also contain haemagglutinin, a clot-promoting substance that causes red blood cells to clump together.
Soy also contains one of the highest percentages of pesticides of any of our foods and is 99% genetically modified. Soybeans are also high in phytic acid, present in the bran or hulls of all seeds, which blocks the uptake of essential minerals - calcium, magnesium, copper, iron and especially zinc - in the intestinal tract. Candida sufferers must avoid soy and all soy products in order to get well.
Salt & Spices - Salt is a very important part of a balanced diet, along with other beneficial spices. It plays an important part in the primary processes of digestion and absorption. Salt activates the first enzyme in the mouth, salivary amylase, and sodium chloride (salt) is used to make hydrochloric acid, a secretion needed for digestion. It is also important in keeping the proper balance of salt to potassium.
Salt has gotten a bad name just like the conspiracy against saturated fat. But most salt consumed today is not good for health since it highly-processed and is loaded with heavy metals and other harmful substances.
The best salt to consume is a good ocean sea salt that is hand-harvested, unprocessed, certified, and contains a natural balance of minerals. One such salt is Celtic Sea Salt which contains over 90 minerals and is very similar to the chemical make-up of our own blood. Taking this salt is the best way to obtain trace minerals. An excellent electrolyte drink is simply pure water with about 1/4 teaspoon of Celtic Sea Salt for every 6 ounces.
Taking essential supplements
Candida sufferers need to build up their immune system by supplementing with certain essential vitamins and minerals, that are yeast-free and sugar-free, including:
Calcium/Magnesium Citrate, with “elemental amounts” containing 800-1,200 mgs. of calcium with an equal ratio of magnesium.
Chlorella is a whole-food that contains a wide array of vitamins, minerals and enzymes. It helps build the immune system, detoxifies heavy metals and other pesticides in the body, improves the digestive system, improves energy levels and normalize blood sugar and blood pressure. Take two capsules three times a day.
Vitamin B Complex (non-yeast), 50 mgs. twice a day.
Vitamin C with bioflavonoids, 1,000 mgs. twice a day.
Vitamin D (with vitamin A) - take 1 teaspoon per 50 lbs. of body weight per day of a high quality cod liver oil or fish oil
Vitamin E, containing natural alpha tocopherol, (d-alpha tocopherol is synthetic), that is not from a soy source, 400 IU twice a day.
Bee Wilder has a wealth of knowledge and experience both as a former sufferer of candida and convenor of the candida support group. Since the 1980s when Bee could eat only a few types of foods and was so sensitive to yeasts she had to adminster herself an allergy shot every day, she has not only fully recovered but now is more robust than ever. Bee lives in Calgary, Alberta, Canada and continues to research natural health and nutrition. She is available for advice via email.
In part 2 of this discussion Bee offers her proven methods to ridding the body of unwanted Candida spore.
To explore this topic further we recommend…
The Yeast Connection : A Medical Breakthrough
Candida Albican Yeast-Free Cookbook, The : How Good Nutrition Can Help Fight the Epidemic of Yeast-Related Diseases
Complete Candida Yeast Guidebook, Revised 2nd Edition : Everything You Need to Know About Prevention, Treatment & Diet
Nourishing Traditions: The Cookbook that Challenges Politically Correct Nutrition and the Diet Dictocrats
About the Author...
Bee Wilder has a wealth of knowledge and experience both as a former sufferer of candida and convenor of the candida support group. Since the 1980s when Bee could eat only a few types of foods and was so sensitive to yeasts she had to adminster herself an allergy shot every day, she has not only fully recovered but now is more robust than ever. Bee lives in Calgary, Alberta, Canada and continues to research natural health and nutrition. You can find more articles and support at her website: Healing Naturally by Bee