Do you get sick all the time and seem to never feel quite right? It might just be Candida? Candida is a yeast overgrowth that is really common and becoming quite a pest! A chronic candida infection can have a variety of symptoms including recurring thrush, skin rashes, itching (in the genital region), headaches, mucous build up, sinus infections and the list goes on! I find that many of my clients have underlying candida issues, as it can be difficult to get under control. It lives in and on the body, but when presented with the right conditions - e.g. antibiotic use, stress, high sugar diet and the contraceptive pill - it starts to take over and cause symptoms.
One of the reasons that is it becoming increasingly difficult to get under control is that it produces a Biofilm, which is basically a protective layer over the yeast. This prevents many of the usual anti fungals from getting through to the yeast and hence is sticks around.
If you think you have Candida a really simple test is the morning spit test. I have most of my clients do this. To do this at home simply get a glass of water first thing in the morning (before eating or drinking) and spit gently on top of the water. Then watch to see if you get any 'legs' if you do this is usually positive for Candida.
What to do if you get a positive result?
Firstly look at your diet - cut out the sugar (yeast feeds on it!), remove all yeast containing products - bread, beer, vegemite (yeast spreads) etc and, mould containing foods like mushrooms and blue cheese can be an issue. Processed foods are another food source for candida and artificial sugars.
There are herbs that can help get Candida under control such as Pau D'Arco, Garlic, Grape Seed Extract, Oregano Oil, Olive Leaf Extract, Black Walnut and Echinacea. Another good addition is coconut oil for the anti fungal Caprylic acid.
As for the biofilm, enzymes have been shown to breakdown it down, giving the anti fungal herbs a chance to work. The ones to look out for are cellulase, hemicellulase, glucoamylase, amylase, invertase, protease, and serrapeptase. N-Acetyl-cystine (NAC) is also being researched as a beneficial addition to a Candida program as it disrupts the antibiotic resistant biofilm. Thus these products are an essential tool for Candida control.
Probiotics are also important in maintaining great gut health, not just for Candida overgrowth. When choosing a probiotic look for one containing a few strains of probiotics such as Lactobacillus acidophillus, Lactobacillus rhamnosum, Bifidobacterium longum, Bifidobacterium bifidum, Saccharomyces thermopiles and in particular Saccharomyces boulardi. These strains have been researched, and shown to reduce Candida incidence, by crowding out the 'bad' bacteria and re-colonising the gut. Take them in the morning before having any of the 'gut' killers to ensure they maintain their potency.
Another important component to controlling candida (and general gut health) is including fermented foods into your daily diet. If you imagine your gut as a garden, fermented foods are the mulch. Keeping the environment in balance and growing a healthy garden. There are so many amazing probiotic fermented foods such as Kefir (water & dairy), sauerkraut, kimchi, beet kvass, pickles and the list can go on. Making your of fermented foods is easy once you get the hang of it - my husband is getting use to the various bottles bubbling away in the cupboards!
Healing from Candida overgrowth can take time, but with the right protocol and diet adjustments you can bring yourself back to health.
If you do feel that candida may be an issue for you contact me or your local Naturopath - they are sure to have plenty of advice.