Candida is yeast, which is essential to life – it is found in and on every human, both healthy and unhealthy. You can find Candida and other yeast in oral cavities, the digestive tract, and even on the skin. In fact, we are more bacteria than you are human! Our bodies are made up of roughly 90% bacteria.
This is one of the main myths that circulate around the Candida and other fungal infections – that it is harmful and the solution is to kill it. We can’t kill Candida completely anyway, and we wouldn’t even want to – we would die if we did!
In a healthy living individual, the presence of helpful bacteria keeps yeast in balance. The opportunistic yeast actually help eat up the waste in our body. They are like little garbage men. The problem is when the ratio of harmful bacteria and yeast (such as Candida) start to outnumber the good bacteria (probiotics) in our systems.
If you’ve ever taken a course of antibiotics and then experienced a yeast infection shortly afterward, then you are aware of how this works. Antibiotics kill off all the bacteria in our guts. But they cannot kill Candida, so what happens is the Candida start to overgrow because there are no good bugs to keep them in check. This gives us firsthand certainty that killing off yeast and bacteria is not the solution.
The Real Causes
Other than post-antibiotic yeast infections as a sudden onset acute infection being a well-known culprit, there are many other factors that may predispose us to chronic yeast overgrowth, or candidiasis.
- Medications – Aside from antibiotics – such as steroids, birth control, and other heavy prescriptions
- Diet – Any processed food being the main culprit.
- A weakened or compromised immune system
- Toxins and Chemicals in food, drink, and your environment
- Chlorine in tap water
- Metaphysical Causes – Feel very scattered in life, incredible frustration and anger. Demanding and untrusting. Being a taker.
At the bottom of the list are the metaphysical causes of Candida. For some this may seem outlandish or too esoteric. However, in my ten plus years in the health and wellness game I can tell you with certainty that at the root of every physical ailment is a non-physical cause.
Just consider the true reason why you are reading this article. It’s unlikely that someone physically forced you to read it. I’m sure no one is holding you captive in a room having you read PaleoHack articles while tied to a chair. No, you made an internal decision to read this. That, and all decisions, stem from our intentions, which are non-physical (metaphysical).
Just as we make a choice to read an article, we make daily choices – every moment – that are creating something physical in our lives. This isn’t spiritual babble but science. There is a clear cause and effect for everything in the universe that is set in place with inertia. If you wish to truly heal an issue like Candida — or any other physical imbalance — you must approach it from a holistic perspective.
I highly suggest taking the broadest view you can: mind, body and spirit. Wallace Wattles, Louis Hay, and Deepak Chopra share simple explanations of the science behind metaphysical healing. I suggest the books “The Science of Being Well,” “You Can Heal Your Life” by Louis Hay, and Deepak Chopra’s “Quantum Healing.” These books explain some rather profound information and make it simple enough for the common person to understand.
The journey doesn’t stop there, as I personally have found great mentors in the area of spiritual healing. However, these are great places to start, as they are where I started years ago.
The tricky thing about Candida is that you don’t have to have an active infection or breakout to have an imbalance. Yeast are very tricky in that over time, they develop into much worse (chronic) problems.
A yeast infection is usually just the first sign of an imbalance of yeast and bacteria. However, if not taken care of holistically, the yeast can turn into a fungus, which really does a number on the body. People with chronic yeast overgrowth present with multiple symptoms –
- Fatigue after eating
- Constipation, diarrhea, or other forms of bowel irregularities
- Feelings of anger, depression, aggression, or anxiety after eating
- Mood swings and brain fog
- Cravings for simple carbohydrates
- Anal itching
- Skin infections
- Memory loss
- Night sweats
- Food allergies
- Feeling “drunk” after a high simple carb meal
- Repeated fungal infections like jock itch or athlete’s foot
- Joint pain
- Sensitivity to extreme environments
- Chronic pain
- Acid reflux
Candida Albicans overgrowth that has developed into it’s fungal form (fungal hyphae) is a major player in a number of health conditions, such as irritable bowel syndrome, alcoholism, anxiety disorders, food allergies, multiple sclerosis, asthma, and a host of other autoimmune conditions.
In the most basic sense, Candida in its fungal form begins to eat holes through the intestinal lining, causing the commonly known problem of leaky gut. Once the intestinal tract is filled with holes, we develop all sorts of problems. Partially-digested food enters through the intestinal wall, triggering an immune response. Over time, with enough stress on the immune system, the body begins to attack itself – seeing the very food that was once nourishment as an invader.
Do You Have Yeast Overgrowth?
While you can go to a functional medicine practitioner for a yeast test, these tests do not always detect a problem. There is a simple, at-home test known as the “spit test” you can perform to determine whether yeast may be an issue for you. To do this at home:
First thing in the morning before eating, drinking or brushing your teeth, spit into a glass of room temperature filtered water.
Check the water after 15 minutes or so. If you have a potential yeast problem, you will notice one of several things:
- The saliva will have strings extending in the water,
- The saliva will remain as cloudy drops suspended in the water, and/or,
- Cloudy saliva will sink to the bottom of the glass.
If the saliva remains floating after a full hour with no strings, then candida is probably not a problem for you.
Balancing Candida: What Works and What Doesn’t
Like anything else, Candida is just a symptom of lifestyle choices. There is no imbalance that cannot be rebalanced.
One of the major factors in Candida is diet. The foods we eat play a significant role in yeast control, as some foods greatly suppress and weaken the immune system. As we discussed, at the root of Candida is a weak immune system.
Therefore, the real solution to balancing yeast, fungal, and bacterial imbalances is to heal the immune system. Here are the three steps for healing the immune system and getting Candida under control:
1. Eliminate the Food Source
Yeast thrives on certain foods you eat, including sugar, vinegar (except for apple cider vinegar), alcohol, and simple carbohydrates. When you ingest foods containing these ingredients, the immune system goes out of whack, causing the yeast in your body to grow out of control. To help control Candida, eliminate the following foods:
- All forms of sugar, including honey and fructose (especially agave)
- Processed foods
- Conventional (GMO) produce
- Artificial ingredients and chemicals (including diet soda)
- Wheat, rye, farrow, and barley
- Simple carbohydrates like bread, white rice, and pasta which immediately break down to simple sugars in your body
- Dairy products, which contain both simple sugars and antibiotics from processing
- Alcoholic beverages
- Factory farmed animal products, which rely heavily on the use of antibiotics and poor diets which make the animals sick.
- Non-fermented soy, which can throw off your hormonal balance and lead to yeast overgrowth. Natto and Miso are the only acceptable sources of soy.
- Yeast-fermented foods, like wine and beer
2. Remove Other Immune Suppressors
Diet isn’t the only thing causing Candida at the source. It is important, as well, to minimize or eliminate major immune suppressors that lead to weak digestion and eventually Candida. The first things to do away with include:
- Any and all prescription medications
- Chlorinated water
- Birth control – Birth control pills contribute to hormonal imbalance that supports yeast overgrowth. Find alternative routes or switch to a non-hormonal form of birth control.
- Get your beauty sleep – Lack of good sleep is the fastest way to suppress the immune system. If you wake up and aren’t rested, then your body is in a state of stress all day long. The elevated cortisol will weaken your immune system. I suggest learning to hack your sleep. Check out articles on here to do so. Get to bed by 10 p.m., don’t use electronics 2 hours before bed, avoid caffeine after noon, sleep in a blacked-out room, and try avoiding waking to a nasty alarm. Instead, get to bed early enough.
- Balance your stress – I have written a thorough guide to balancing stress in your life you can find here. I suggest reading it.
- Find your happy place – Paul Chek suggest the only four doctors we ever need are Doctor Quiet, Doctor Diet, Doctor Movement and Doctor Happy. Not too many of us visit Doctor Happy (and we just discussed Doctor Quiet). Remove the guilt of just chilling with friends. I challenge you to incorporate a solid hour of guilt-free pure bliss to your life every day. Eventually, make “happy” your lifestyle. Happiness boosts the immune system by bringing the body into a state of homeostasis, which results in the release of “self-repair” hormones.
3. Build GOOD bacteria
The most effective way to keep yeast in check is by supporting growth of the beneficial bacteria in your intestines. As we learned, yeast is perfectly okay and natural in the body – it is the imbalance or outnumbering of bad yeast to good which is the problem. The best ways to support the growth of beneficial bacteria are as follows:
- Eat probiotic foods– The most beneficial foods are those which are naturally fermented and raw. I have written an entire article on fermented foods, their benefits, and how to make them yourself for pennies and dimes! Find your favorite fermented foods – there are many — and consume them with each meal. Some of my favorites are sauerkraut, coconut kefir, kefir cheeses, raw milk kefir, raw cultured butter, kvass and other fermented vegetables and juices. These contain trillions of cells of beneficial bacteria to repopulate your intestines. They are way more effective than any pill. If you don’t want to make the salad, you can purchase raw sauerkraut from the refrigerated section of your local health food store.
- Eat your veggies – One of the simplest ways to improve your healthy gut flora is to just eat as nature intended. Health is as simple as eating your veggies! I still laugh when I think about all the wild things I did to get healthy. Yet the healthiest I ever am is when I’m simply not eating non-foods and eating a diet of fresh, organic vegetables. Real food is the best medicine. Colorful vegetables contain polyphenols (antioxidants), which are food (prebiotics) for good gut bacteria. By eating a lot of fresh, colorful vegetables we will feed the good bugs and they will eventually thrive in our guts.
- Taking supplemental probiotics – Although you can have thriving gut bacteria by eating a diet rich in probiotic foods and vegetables, it may also be beneficial to take a probiotic supplement. However, consider shopping for live probiotics, which contain living organisms. Remember, probiotics are alive; if you get something in an encapsulated pill it’s likely not that alive anymore. Would you stay healthy stuffed into a capsule while sitting on a shelf for months after driving in a shipping truck for days? I strongly recommend liquid probiotic supplements such as Inner-Eco. I also recommend BodyEcology’s Liquids, Vitality SuperGreens, and Dr. Ohira’s probiotics, which contain 12 strains of bacteria, as well as prebiotic ingredients that remain in the intestines to support growth of beneficial bacteria strains.
In conclusion, yeast can wreak havoc on your health. However, in a normal, balanced, healthy body, yeast causes few problems. It is when you become out of balance due to underlying causes such as stress, negative emotions, or being generally unfulfilled in life, that lead to illness, poor diet choices, and reliance on medication.
I say the best kind of help is that which eliminates the need for help. I wrote this to empower you, not to leave you dependent on my help or anyone else’s. Therefore, the best way to control yeast is by becoming a strong decision maker – take your health into your hands by choosing a healthy, plant-based diet free of processed foods and chemicals.
Choose uplifting emotions, and decide today to live with purpose — even if for now that just means to live happily for no reason. I will leave you with some inspiration from Nietzsche, who said, “And those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music.”
What this means to me is that there is music within each of us. Regardless of circumstance, dance, my friends.