5 Steps to beat Candida overgrowth

What is Candida albicans?

Human Tongue with Candida after antibiotic use

Human Tongue with Candida after antibiotic use

Candida is a yeast that normally lives in our digestive and urinary tracts.  It is part of our normal healthy intestinal flora (microorganisms that live in our gut).  Candida helps prevent us from being infected by harmful bacteria.

Candida is kept in balance by having a healthy immune system and normal levels of good bacteria in our intestinal tract.  However, if given the opportunity from a weakened immune system or a decrease in good bacteria, for example following a dose of antibiotics, or given the proper environment, from eating a high sugar diet, Candida will shift from its yeast form to its infectious form called a mycelial fungus.  It is in this state that Candida can invade the body.

While in its fungal form, Candida produces finger like projections called rhizoids that can penetrate the intestinal wall and allow toxins, bacteria, and other things into the body that shouldn’t enter.  This will cause a large amount of inflammation and lead to a long list of symptoms like food allergies, auto-immune disorders, fibromyalgia, ADHD, muscle aches and pains, sore joints, recurrent urinary tract infections, fatigue, foggy brain, acne, anxiety, depression, adrenal fatigue, bad breath and many, many more.

How can you know if you have Candida?  In our office, Dr. Davis, our natural medicine expert and chiropractic physician, most commonly runs a simple urine test that will test for Candida overgrowth.  You can also have your stool or blood tested.  It is very important that you test for Candida.  If you make the assumption that you have an imbalance and reduce the Candida levels too far you could end up with a difficult condition to correct called small intestinal bowel over growth (SIBO).

Once we have identified that Candida overgrowth is the culprit of your symptoms we follow a few basic steps to support the body’s natural balance.

Step 1:  Eat a healthy, low glycemic index diet.  Carbohydrates like sugar can feed Candida and promote overgrowth.  Your diet should consist of 30-40% protein.  The basis of the rest of your caloric intake should be low glycemic index vegetables, healthy oils like coconut oil, which helps balance Candida levels, and no more than two serving of fruits per day.  Avoid things that negatively affect your gut flora like alcohol, herbacides and pesticides in our food i.e. eating non GMO products, and reducing other toxins like cigarette smoke.

Step 2: Supplement with the correct probiotics.  Not all probiotics are equally effective at balancing the gut flora.  Some are effective at reducing Candida levels and healing the gut and others are not. For example Saccharomyces Boulardii has been shown to reduce Candida overgrowth.

Step 3:  Support your immune system.  There are a number of great products that will help your immune system to reduce Candida levels.  A coconut oil extract that is high in caprylic acid is a good choice.  Just eating two tablespoons of coconut oil each day can also be effective.

Step 4: Digestive aids that reduce biofilms.  Candida overgrowth can weaken you body’s ability to properly digest food.  Taking proper digestive enzymes will help you to fully digest your food which facilitates better absorption.  Some enzymes will also reduce one of Candida’s protection mechanisms called a biofilm.  Biofilms surround and protect Candida from your immune system.  Digesting this away will help you body fight the overgrowth and create microbial balance.

Step 5: Regular exercise has been shown to influence improve your normal gastrointestinal flora.  Exercise will help you body to function more efficiently and will strengthen you immune system.  It will also help restore energy levels.

Written by Dr. Steven Davis, Chiropractic Physican

Image source: Human Tongue infected with oral candidiasis By James Heilman, MD (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)], via Wikimedia Commons

Natural Solution to Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)

What is I.B.S.?

Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) is a very common problem.  It affects 11% of the population globally.  It can also be a cause of other conditions such as adrenal fatigue, anxiety, depression, chronic fatigue, and more.

Clinical diagnosis is usually based on symptoms.  The Rome III criteria for diagnosing IBS are the following:

  • At least 3 days per month in the last 12 weeks of continuous or recurrent abdominal pain or discomfort.
  • With at least 2 of the following:
    • Relief with defecation
    • Altered stool frequency
    • altered stool form
    • onset of symptoms more than 6 months prior to diagnosis

Often times it is difficult to differentiate between irritable bowel syndrome and inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).  The FDA approved lab marker to differentiate between these two conditions is called calprotectin.  Calprotectin is a marker of inflammation found in the stool.  If someone meets the Rome criteria and have low levels of calprotectin then we can diagnose IBS if calprotectin is high then the diagnosis is IBD and should get a colonoscopy.

How can IBS be helped

From a natural medicine approach there are many things that can be done for people who suffer from IBS.  The first question that should be asked is "why are my bowels irritable?"  The most common answer to this question is a condition called small intestinal bowel over growth (SIBO).  SIBO is an overgrowth of the good bacteria in your small bowel.  Dr. Davis wrote a great article on SIBO that can be found here. Bacterial overgrowth  has been shown to be present in 84% of IBS cases and proper treatment leads to a 75% reduction of symptoms!  Treatment for IBS starts with a proper diagnosis of the cause.  Organic acid testing (a urine test)  and stool analysis will give the most comprehensive information as to why you may have IBS.  Once we know the cause then we can correct the underlying problem.  This usually is done by following one of three specific diets.  The specific carbohydrate diet, GAPS diet or a low FODMAPS diet.  They are all very similar in nature.  These diets will promote healing of the intestinal lining and balancing of the gut bacteria and yeast levels.  While on this diet your natural medicine doctor will prescribe some antimicrobial supplements to reduce the bacterial over growth and then promote proper healing of the gut with probiotics, fish oil, L-glutamine and digestive aids.  Over a few months time, the gut will heal and huge reduction in symptoms will follow.

If you suffer with IBS and would like to feel better, please give us a call at 801-798-2515.

Written by Dr. Steven Davis, D.C., chiropractic physician and natural medicine practitioner.