Symptoms and Strategies for Conquering Candida and Balancing Thyroid Function.
You just can’t escape yeast, especially during the summer when yeast-promoting foods–sweet treats, fruits, energy bars and liquid sugar beverages–abound. Candida albicans is in the air, in your throat and in your gut. That’s a fact of life. This yeast is everywhere, coexisting with all the other microorganisms that fill the microscopic spaces of the world. But when Candida grows out of control, you can end up with many seemingly disconnected symptoms, including intense fatigue, sinus pain, headaches, joint problems and urinary infections.
One in three adults, mostly women, experience the discomforts of Candidiasis overgrowth. That’s about 90 million of us on any given day! In my mind, that easily qualifies as an epidemic.
Yeast is like a super villain with a secret identity. When yeast cells are under control, these single, mild mannered elliptical cells reside on the mucous membranes of the gastrointestinal tract and peacefully coexist with the other denizens of the intestines.
But give them a chance to multiply and take a majority position, and their mild manners fade and they quickly overwhelm the body’s defensive mechanisms. In this attack mode, single cells of Candida join and work in unison to form long threads called hyphae. These root-like structures drill into the walls of the intestines and also bore into macrophages, the immune cells that normally kill Candida. This process funnels fungus, toxins and other debris (such as undigested fragments of protein) directly into blood vessels and other organs.
Yeast Overgrowth Symptoms
As yeast spreads, reproduces and distributes its toxic entourage, almost any part of your body may suffer symptoms. You may feel:
- Intense fatigue, headaches, insomnia, weight fluctuations (up and down), mood swings, pain, jittery feelings, appetite loss, agitation
- Bloating, flatulence, indigestion, constipation, diarrhea, stomach pain, stools filled with mucous
- Burning, frequent and/or urgent urination, recurring bladder infections, cystitis
- Cramps, irregular periods, depression, severe PMS symptoms
- Itching, burning, white vaginal discharge
- Dry mouth, rashes, sore and/or bleeding gums, white patches
- Nasal itching and sinus congestion
- Psoriasis, rashes, acne
- Burning sensations in the eyes, blurry vision, chronic inflammation, tearing, sudden changes in vision
- Loss of hearing, fluid in inner ear, recurring infections, ear pain
Yeast overgrowth is so prevalent, and its symptoms are so widespread, it’s often hard to zero in on the causes. Luckily, we know several risk factors which greatly increase your chances of encouraging Candida overgrowth. Once you are aware of these, you can begin to minimize their impact on your health.
Risk Factors for Yeast Overgrowth
Let’s consider some of the most common risk factors for yeast overgrowth:
Repeated antibiotics. Antibiotics kill off all bacteria including the beneficial probiotics that would otherwise block yeast from adhering to the intestinal walls.
Compromised immunity. Anything that weakens your immune system offers yeast an enhanced prospect for furthering its own interests at your expense.
Cool, rainy climates. Many of my clients with the toughest cases of Candidiasis live in and around San Francisco with its cool, perpetually damp weather.
Being female. Women are yeast’s favorite victims since their internal environment offers up the most tempting terrain for Candidiasis—frequent fluctuations of hormones decrease immune defenses, urinary tract infections, and the dark and moist environment inside the vagina.
Low-fat, high carb/good carb diets. As we all know by now, our misguided quest to cut the fat in our diets, and our resulting binge on carbohydrate-rich foods, did not help us drop pounds. Instead of losing weight, we’ve become way more vulnerable to yeast. Fungus needs food, and sweets and starches keep yeast happily well fed. Even if you eat whole grains, any meal with excess carbs is a feast for yeast. In fact, your body needs certain kinds of fat to fight yeast:
- Oleic acid – A type of monounsaturated fatty acid, when eaten, these become part of the structure of the body’s cellular membranes, helping limit the permeability of organs and tissues and shoring up the mucous membrane. Rich sources of oleic acid are oils such as olive and sesame.
- Medium chain fatty acids in coconut oil – These have potent antifungal properties and leave the good bacteria alone.
- Omega-3s – Perhaps the best fat for fighting yeast, they fit best into the cell’s structural membrane and provide fortification from the get go. I encourage you to enjoy one to two tablespoons of Omega-3 fish oil or flaxseed oil daily.
Nutrient deficiencies. When you lack certain key minerals or your body isn’t using them efficiently, your internal defenses against yeast fall apart. For example, while copper is necessary for Candida control, a deficiency can make you more vulnerable to yeast. But, ironically many “copperheads” find themselves troubled by a simultaneous excess and shortage of copper. They have high levels of copper stored in their tissues, but the copper is not bound by the ceruloplasmin, the major copper-carrying protein in the blood, and therefore not bioavailable (the body isn’t able to access the copper and properly use it).
Optimal copper levels in blood and tissues are essential for both preventing and controlling the overgrowth of yeast. Many of my clients who had persistent yeast infections that didn’t respond well to medical treatment found that their yeast problems disappeared after they got rid of their copper overload. Other nutrients, such as zinc and biotin, also shore up immune defenses; shortages give Candida a greater chance to convert into more harmful forms.
Under-active thyroid. Yeast-producing toxins dial down thyroid function. Some of these yeasty toxins can actually attach to thyroid tissue receptors and interfere with thyroid hormone signaling. Yeast impacts the way that the inactive T4 transforms into the activated T3 hormone. By controlling yeast overgrowth, the 70% of American women suffering from thyroid problems would fare much better. You may want to have your thyroid tested, especially your T4, T3 and reverse T3. And for those combating Candida, iodine would be a perfect supplement because it has a strong antiseptic action against Candida as well as a variety of other organisms. Interestingly, iodine is also vital for the formation of thyroid hormones. The body can’t make thyroid hormone without the proper amount of iodine. Iodoral is my go-to supplement (1 to 4 tablets a day) and sea vegetables (like nori, kombu and hijiki) are major thyroid nourishers, primarly because of their iodine content.
Do You Have Excess Yeast?
Yeast overgrowth has so many diverse symptoms that self-diagnosis can be difficult and often incorrect. While this quiz doesn’t provide a definitive answer about the presence of Candida overgrowth, I have found it helpful in identifying Candida’s potential role in several health problems in adults.
Source: William Crook, MD, a Jackson, author of The Yeast Connection and Women’s Health
The only dependable method for a firm diagnosis is to review your medical history and symptoms with your practitioner and see if therapy helps alleviate your problems.
If your results from the quiz suggest you may have a problem with yeast, try these suggestions to help tip the balance in your favor. (Note: In my experience, one firm set of guidelines doesn’t fit all. You may have to tweak these suggestions to find exactly the right fit that benefits your body most effectively.)
Eliminate yeast, mold and non-probiotic fermentated foods, beverages, and condiments. Among the greatest offenders (and those you absolutely must avoid) are:
- Sugar and all sugar substitutes including sugar alcohols and artificial sweeteners.
- Brewer’s yeast
- Baked goods that use yeast in their preparation process, including bread, pastries, rolls, pretzels
- Alcoholic drinks that have been fermented, including beer, wine, brandy, whiskey, rum, cider and home-made alcoholic beverages with the exception of vodka and gin not more than once a week
- Vinegar and foods containing vinegar (with the exception of apple cider vinegar which is not yeast-producing) including most pickles, most commercial mayonnaise, mincemeat, horseradish, and ketchup,
- Certain condiments, including soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, steak sauce and chutneys
- Pickled and smoked meats
- Mushrooms, truffles
- Dairy products, including cheese, sour cream, buttermilk, cottage cheese, cream cheese
- Dried and candied fruits
- Fruit juice
- Excessive fruits
- Excessive canned tomatoes or tomato juice (homemade is OK)
- Any supplements that are yeast-based (check labels)
Take probiotic supplements. Daily probiotic supplementation is essential to support a healthy intestinal environment and fight off future yeast outbreaks. Flora-Key is the powdered intestinal flora formula I’ve recommended for years. With 10 billion CFUs per serving, it contains five strains of beneficial bacteria including acidophilus, bifidus, L. plantarum and L. reuteri, plus prebiotic inulin. It also doubles as a no-heat sweetener!
Cut way back on carbs. Severely restrict sugar, refined grains and even whole grains that contain gluten, especially wheat, rye, and barley. Sugar is undoubtedly yeast’s favorite food but both refined and even whole gluten-containing grains can stimulate yeast overgrowth. Better choices on an anti-yeast regimen include rice, quinoa, buckwheat, millet, and amaranth.
Phase out pharmaceuticals that support yeast growth. Certain prescription drugs can encourage overgrowth of yeast, including steroids, birth control pills, and antibiotics. Consult with your doctor about possible alternatives and always consult with them before discontinuing medication.
Buttress your probiotic population during antibiotic treatments. If you must take antibiotics, then make sure to double up on your probiotics for at least three months. You can take probiotics two hours before or two hours after antibiotics. This is perhaps the most critical anti-yeast measure you can take.
Have some garlic every day. Research in India has shown that garlic paste can be as effective as prescription medicines in suppressing oral Candida infections. Allicin, the ingredient in garlic that provides its distinctive flavor, also acts as a natural fungicide. Eat 1 to 2 cloves of garlic daily. If you take a garlic supplement, make sure it contains allicin.
Try pau d’arco. An herbal tea also known as taheebo, pau d’arco is an anti-fungal. It can be purchased in bulk or bags in health food stores.
Use oil of oregano. Extracted from wild oregano, the strength of this oil as a potent germ killer is well documented. Research in the Journal of Applied Nutrition shows that it can kill Candida. Another study in the International Journal of Food Microbiology showed that oil of oregano is an effective germicide that can kill a wide spectrum of fungi and bacteria. Take 5 drops two to three times per day in water.
Compensate for yeast’s nutritional thievery. According to Leo Galland, MD, assistant clinical professor at the University of Connecticut Health Center, yeast infections influence the manner in which the body metabolizes certain vitamins and minerals. When yeast actively overgrows, nutrient deficiencies may occur simultaneously. For example, yeast has been shown to increase the level of magnesium your body excretes, but you can compensate by eating more green vegetables, nuts (with the exception of peanuts that are often contaminated with aflatoxin) and seafood, Vitamin B6 may suffer the same fate; compensate with avocados and gluten-free grains. Also, get more Biotin, a B vitamin that stops yeast from shifting into an aggressive stage. Good sources are egg yolks, legumes, and nuts. I personally recommend a biotin supplement like Biotin 5 mg. For all around daily nutritional support I have designed Female Multiple as the ideal copper-free all-in-one multivitamin to fulfill a woman’s special needs. Take 2 capsules three times per day with meals.
Try some additional Anti-Yeast Supplements. Supplements that support the body’s anti-yeast defenses are crucial for long term maintenance of an internal environment that resists Candida. These supplement are based upon formulations that I have used with my own clientele and have suggested to my readers for years:
- Y-C Cleanse – This homeopathic yeast formula is clinically shown to be safe and effective against Candida albicans and other yeast overgrowth that may cause allergies, bloating, fatigue, food cravings and other discomforts. Take one teaspoon in two ounces of water a half hour before eating breakfast.
- Formula SF 722 – This yeast fighter contains undecenoic acid, derived from castor bean oil. This has been a remarkably successful formula with many of my clients with hard-to-eradicate Candida. Take 1 capsule twice daily with or between meals.
- Molybdenum – A wonderful detoxifying and purifying Candida mineral, it specifically helps to eliminate aldehydes, by-products of yeast infestation. The mineral is also helpful in terms of eradicating a broad range of aches and pains including arthritis. It is beneficial for those with the CBS genetic mutation as molybdenum helps to metabolize sulfur-containing substances and sulfur-containing foods. The only caveat is that it helps to promote uric acid, so for those that have gout it would be contraindicated. If your uric acid is low, anywhere from 200 to 500 mcg of molybdenum per day would be ideal.
Have you been successful in overcoming your own Candida overgrowth? What solutions have worked for you?