The Candida Diet to Heal AutoImmunity
Candida diet strategies are all over the internet, yet many people do not get results with these. Yeast overgrowth, excess oxalates, and autoimmune disorders often go hand in hand and exacerbate one another. Many people struggling with brain fog, digestive issues, fatigue, and sugar cravings are actually struggling with these three things and they do not even know it! I discover many clients have all three of these issues based off of the Organic Acid Test results and an in depth one on one assessment conducted with the patient. Once these findings are discovered, the Candida diet protocol for healing all three of these issues at the same time can appear to be restrictive and potentially confusing. When a person first discovers this, the information can be overwhelming, discouraging and intimidating. However, I am here to tell you that this process can be done and this article will explain how to simplify the Candida diet protocol into a realistic lifestyle.
10 Common Candida Symptoms
- Seasonal Allergies or itchy ears and skin
- Low Energy, Fatigue & Malaise
- Digestive Problems such as bloating, constipation or diarrhea
- Auto-Immune diseases such as Rheumatoid arthritis, Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, Lupus, Psoriasis, Ulcerative Colitis, Crohn’s Disease, Multiple Sclerosis or Sleroderma
- Skin and nail fungal infections (such as athlete’s foot or toenail fungus)
- Skin problems such as psoriasis, eczema, hives and/or rashes
- Mood swings, anxiety, depression and irritability
- Vaginal infections, UTI’s, rectal or vaginal itching
- Brain fog, ADHD, concentration problems or poor memory
- Strong sugar and refined carbohydrate cravings
What is Candida Albicans
Candida Albicans is a fungal yeast that occurs naturally in the human body in places such as the intestinal tract, mouth, throat, and genitals. However, this species can overgrow and when this happens, it is able to burrow holes throughout the intestinal lining and enter into the blood stream (1, 2). This is when yeast becomes dangerous and releases over 70 different toxins into the body that are extremely toxic and damaging to the liver, nervous system and digestive system. Some of these toxins, such as gliotoxin, have even been associated with killing liver and immune cells and have also been found to be higher in autoimmune disorders, such as multiple sclerosis (3) Yeast overgrowth typically happens when someone’s diet has consisted of sugars, grains, starches, processed foods, and preservatives as all of these things tear down the intestinal lining and feed Candida yeast organisms. The Candida diet helps to heal the intestinal lining and reduce the levels of the yeast organism.
Impaired Intestinal Lining
This is where oxalates and autoimmunity come in to play. Once the intestinal lining has become impaired, also known as leaky gut, large particles are able to get through the intestinal lining that would normally be broken down further before entering into the blood stream. These large particles may include things such as protein particles in foods, oxalates, or pathogens. It is common for people with Candida overgrowth to have high oxalates because Candida produces oxalates (4). These oxalates can cause a number of different problems in the body that I describe below.
Autoimmunity occurs when these larger and undigested particles pass through the holes in the intestinal tract and into the blood stream prematurely. The immune system will tag some of these particles as foreign because they have not been broken down properly. Once something has been tagged, the immune system will continue to attack any particle that looks like the original “invader.” It will attack the substance even if found on the thyroid, in the joints, in the nervous system tissue, or anywhere else. This can result in chronic autoimmune conditions. We address this by following an elimination diet and removing foods that are likely triggering an immune response as well as sticking to an anti-inflammatory diet.
Oxalates are common compounds found in foods, especially healthy foods. Excess oxalates can result in joint pain, kidney stones, gall stones and autoimmune conditions. All of these can be extremely painful and debilitating. This is why it is important to be aware of what foods contain them and how they affect people suffering from leaky gut. Oxalates can be synthesized from various compounds such as excess vitamin C, fructose as well as yeast. Vitamin B-6 deficiency, magnesium and thiamine deficiency are also ideal circumstances for increased oxalate synthesis. (5, 6, 7) Foods such as beets, sweet potato, spinach, chard, brown rice, soy, nuts and chocolate should be avoided due to their high oxalate content.
Testing For Candida and High Oxalates
The test we use to determine Candida overgrowth and high oxalate levels is the Great Plains Laboratory Organic Acid test. This is a simple urine test that looks at physiological biomarkers and measures them against research based norms. This test is so valuable because it analyzes for B vitamin deficiencies, neurotransmitter deficiencies, microbial overgrowth, oxalate levels and mitochondrial dysfunctions. For more info on the Organic Acid Test go here
7 Steps to Reducing Yeast and Oxalate Levels
Here are some key action steps to overcome Candida and reduce your oxalate levels. You should always consult with your physician before stopping or changing medications or taking on new health strategies. Additionally, you should be working with a functional health practitioner to help guide you through these strategies. This is not an exhaustive list and there are other natural therapeutic strategies that I and functional health practitioners will utilize to help individuals with Candida and elevated oxalate levels.
1. Eat Healthy Fats:
Start by rethinking your food sources and ratios. Every single cell in our body is surrounded by a lipid membrane made of cholesterol, fatty acids, and protein transport channels. Low fat diets do not provide the nutrients we need to rebuild our cells. Typically they also consist of high carbohydrate diets that feed yeast and other unwanted organisms in our bodies. Focus on getting the majority of your caloric intake from healthy fats such as coconut oil, ghee, grass fed butter, and olive oil.
2. Eat an Antioxidant Rich Diet:
Candida yeast releases toxins that leaves the body very acidic and also increases the amounts of free radicals floating around. Free radicals accelerate the aging process and also promote degenerative diseases. Consuming large amounts of antioxidant rich vegetables and herbs reduce the amount of free radicals and reverse the growth of candida yeast and stress induced diseases. Be careful to avoid high oxalate foods. Use the following food guide shopping list to help make the right nutrition choices.
These substances are well known for tearing down the gut lining as well feeding organisms such as Candida. Common food additives to avoid include: soy, high fructose corn syrup, sugar, GMO ingredients, sucralose, aspartame, canola oil, and many more. All of these contribute to inflammatory disease processes. The Candida diet is a low-toxin diet that is also low in blood sugar stimulating compounds found in these foods. I highly encourage individuals on the Candida diet to choose organic produce and meats as much as possible to limit toxin exposure and help improve the healing process.
4. Remove Sugar, Grains and Starchy Foods From Your Diet:
These foods are common gut lining irritants that should be avoided, especially when trying to heal from yeast overgrowth, autoimmunity, and leaky gut. These foods also induce spikes in insulin and blood sugar that cause inflammation. It is important to be very aware of the foods you put into your body and how they impact you on the Candida diet. I recommend looking to adopt a GAPS (Gut and Psychology Syndrome) approach as described in the image below as you follow the Candida diet.
Vitamin D plays a large role in down regulating hyperactive immune systems and cancer cells. Most of the population is deficient in vitamin D, especially throughout winter and spring. It is recommended to take 5,000 IUs or get 30 minutes of sun exposure daily in order to maintain good vitamin D levels. On the Candida diet you may get a small amount of food based vitamin D if you eat organ meats like liver, but unless you are consuming this everyday or sunbathing on a regular basis, it is wise to consider Vitamin D3 supplementation.
GI Regulator is a supplement that we use and see great success with on our clients. It contains berberine—a plant alkaloid that influences the activities of microorganisms in the gastrointestinal tract, supports immune function, and may influence the natural inflammatory response. It also contains bayberry bark and grapefruit seed, which complement the actions of berberine to support healthy microbial activity, stimulate circulation, and promote mucous membrane health. Zinc is included in this formula for its immune-supportive effects. Another anti-microbial we use commonly with Candida overgrowth is our Candida Combat which has specific herbs such as Pau D’Arco, oregano and astragalus which are powerful anti-fungal agents. This also contains soil based probiotics and adrenal support compounds to help the body deal with the stress of killing yeast.
7. Use Activated Charcoal:
Activated charcoal is a great way to reduce both oxalates and yeast in your system. This is because charcoal binds to these substances and holds onto them while being carried out in the stool. Charcoal doesn’t disrupt the intestinal mucus lining but instead acts to breakdown yeast, parasite and pathogenic bacteria biofilms and cleanses the intestines. I recommend 1 gram of Activated coconut shell charcoal, 2 times daily, between meals for individuals with Candida overgrowth and high oxalates.
Supplements to Overcome Candida:
This is an advanced supplement protocol to help someone break through and kick out the Candida. This goes along with a nutrient dense, leaky gut nutrition planand healthy lifestyle habits. We need to utilize clinically proven anti-microbials to reduce the yeast load while we support the liver and microbiome so we can effectively eliminate the toxic debris that will be released. Additionally, we have to support the weakened digestive and immune systems in order to prevent the Candida from reinfecting the system and growing back stronger than ever.