Although a reaction to Candida albicans on the Alcat test is not a diagnosis of yeast overgrowth, it is best to look at your reaction to Candida as a screening tool. Avoiding all forms of added sweeteners is the main dietary recommendation to help prevent further overgrowth in case it is an issue.
Easier said than done, right? Impossible? No. Inconvenient? Yes!
What is Candida?
Let’s back up a little and start with the basics, what is Candida? Candida albicans is a yeast that normally inhabits the gut in small amounts. It also inhabits other mucous membranes in the body such as the skin and mouth. Levels of Candida (as well as other resident fungi) are kept in check by the good or friendly bacteria in the gut, such as Lactobacilli and Bifidobacteria. However, if the growth of Candida is not kept under control, it can lead to an overgrowth known as candidiasis or Candida Related Complex. Common symptoms associated with Candida overgrowth tend to be food sensitivities, unexplained fatigue, GI troubles, UTIs, joint pain, depression, anxiety, poor concentration, headaches, sugar cravings, menstrual irregularities, rectal itching, and decreased libido.
What to Look Out For
Experts suggest that the goal of an anti-Candida plan is to starve the yeast by eliminating its main source of fuel – sugar. If you’re in the habit of reading your ingredient labels (and if you’re new to it- prepared to be shocked), you already know that essentially most of our packaged food supply is sweetened in some way, shape, or form- whether it be with un-preferred overly processed sugars or with organic, sustainable, raw forms of sweeteners. However, Candida does not discriminate! So, it will thrive on all sweeteners it is “fed.” The idea of removing added sugars, is to starve the yeast if the overgrowth is present. If further testing determines it is not present, your body would still benefit from keeping it out. Therefore it is best to choose plain unsweetened products to stay in compliance.
Fruit juice by itself, refined carbohydrates, and alcohol are also recommended to be avoided since these foods (just like sugar) tend to promote the growth of Candida. It may be best to limit fruit consumption as well to no more than 2 servings per day. Furthermore, it is also important to prevent constipation. When fecal matter stays in the colon too long, it becomes the perfect breeding ground for candida. Consuming non-reactive nutrient dense whole foods rich in fiber and drinking plenty of filtered water is what is recommended to help prevent constipation.
By now you may be wondering, how am I going to sweeten my morning coffee or tea? Or what about satisfying my sweet tooth? Fortunately, there are alternative sweeteners that can be considered that will not “feed” Candida the way sugar does. These include: xyltiol, erythritol, lo han, and stevia. Bear in mind, if you reacted to these on your Alcat test, it would be best to avoid them as well. Artificial sweeteners are not recommended.
Foods That Help
Now that you know what foods to avoid exacerbating yeast overgrowth, let’s focus on foods that promote yeast die-off. These include garlic, cinnamon, coconut, oregano, green tea, thyme, sage, and clove. These foods have natural anti-fungal properties so be sure to include them in your eating pattern (as long as they were not reactive on your Alcat test).
Additional Resources and Recipes
Candida Related Complex Tutorial
Easy Two Ingredient Pancakes
Banana Ice Cream
Banana Pumpkin Bread
If you suspect, Candida overgrowth is truly an issue for you, it is recommended to address this with your practitioner and undergo further testing. Keep in mind there are many different opinions and suggestions from practitioners on the best way to manage a Candida related complex. To ensure individual needs are met, it’s best to consult with a nutritionist, such as the nutrition experts at PreviMedica. Call us at 855-773-8463 or email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information on our services.
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Kumamoto CA. Inflammation and gastrointestinal Candida colonization. Curr Opin Microbiol. 2011 Aug;14(4):386-91. doi: 10.1016/j.mib.2011.07.015. Epub 2011 Jul 28. Review. PubMed PMID: 21802979; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC3163673. Web. 21 Sept. 2016. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3163673/
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Truss, Orian. “The Role of Candida Albicans in Human Illness.” ORTHOMOLECULAR PSYCHIATRY 10 (1981): 228-38. Web. 21 Sept. 2016. http://4fnfl92psu9e3d280z3z4m8q-wpengine.netdna-ssl.com/wp-content/uploads/research/1981-v10n04-p228.pdf .
Basilia Theofilou is a contributor on our blog as well as one of the nutrition advisors here at PreviMedica. You can read more about her here.