Why Is Gut Microbiota Important for Health?

Most of the nutrients and energy that your body needs are obtained from the food that you eat. So, it should go without saying that your digestive system, and especially your gut health or more specifically your gut microbiota, is incredibly important. Your gut plays a crucial role in maintaining your entire body’s health, from digesting your food to distributing the nutrients to making you feel happy.

Your gut is full of microbes, which are essential to the body’s immune, metabolic, and neurobehavioral functions. The collective community of microorganisms in the gut is called microbiota.

When gut microbes are in balance, that is, existing in proper ratios to one another, they are the good guys, helping you with digestion, immunity, and removing toxins from your system.

However, too much of any of them and you are going to be sick.

Gut microbiota starts to develop at birth and evolves throughout your entire life. Each person has a unique gut microbiota, which determines how their system fights infections and diseases, digests food, and even feels emotions or acts a certain way. It is affected by several factors, particularly diet and drugs.

Photo of a microscope over a photo of the gut. Looks at gut microbiota.

Gut Microbiota

Here are the essential functions of gut microbes:

+ Gut microbiota helps you break down food and absorb nutrients.

Have you ever wondered how your stomach digests food? Well, that’s thanks to the bacteria present in your intestines. Gut microbiota affects your metabolism, helping you break down complex molecular compositions from the meat and vegetables that you eat.

+ It affects your immune functions.

You first get microbes from your mother’s cervix during birth, which is the initial point that your body learns to respond to microbes and potentially disease-causing organisms. It is called adaptive immunity. When microbe ingestion is disrupted early on, it can be linked to allergies and autoimmune conditions.

+ Gut microbiota impacts your psychological functions.

Would you believe that your gut health can affect your mood and behavior? Gut microbiota is actually called the “second brain.” As your gut microbiota breaks down molecules from the food you eat, it triggers nerve functions, the release of hormones, and cognitive function. An imbalance can lead to bad moods, anxiety, poor quality of sleep, and depression, among others.

+ It can help you fight disease.

One of the most important functions of your gut microbiota is helping you prevent and fight diseases. With a balanced composition of bacteria, you are protected against infections and illnesses. However, when the harmony is disturbed, it can lead to various gut conditions, such as inflammatory bowel diseases, ulcerative colitis, indigestion, and metabolic syndrome.

What Makes Gut Microbiota Get Out Of Balance?

Gut microbiota can be disturbed by different factors, such as poor diet, stress, antibiotics, lack of sleep, drinking too much alcohol, and some drugs. Processed and unhealthy foods can affect your gut health, which is why it is important to be aware of the consequences of what you eat and drink.

Repeated use of antibiotics can kill some of the good bacteria in your gut, causing an imbalance that impacts other body functions, such as metabolism.

Studies have confirmed the link between gut health and diseases and conditions. Some of these are diabetes, obesity, malnutrition, eczema, cancer, heart disease, and multiple sclerosis, among others.

What Can You Do To Keep Your Gut Healthy?

Given the important role that gut microbiota plays in your overall well-being, it is crucial to keep it healthy.

There are many ways you can do so, and the first and foremost is being mindful of what you eat. If you are regularly indulging in sweets and processed foods, a far healthier option is to swap them for whole and fiber-rich foods. Adding prebiotic-rich foods and probiotics to your diet will also be helpful to your gut health.

Aside from the food that you put into your stomach, it is also essential to engage in regular exercise, get enough sleep, and reduce your stress, or learn to manage it better. Given the uniqueness of each person’s gut microbiota, your nutritional needs may vary, and your optimal diet may have to be tailored to your gut microbiota. For instance, you may be allergic or intolerant to some foods, such as dairy, grains, or gluten.

There’s more to your digestive system than breaking down the foods that you eat to give your body the energy it needs to function. It is important to keep your gut healthy to maintain and improve your overall well-being.

For more tips that impact your digestive system, read How To Improve Gut Health.

11 More Candida Diet Approved Snack Ideas and Recipes (that are easy & delicious!)

Finding snacks that are healthy and comply with the Candida diet can be tricky.

If you are feeling hunger pangs between meals, need to eat more, or are losing weight on the Candida diet then snacking is a must.

Here are some more recipes and snack ideas that I hope will help you while on a Candida diet or if you’re just wanting to eat healthier snacks.

The popularity of my other post with 20 snack ideas nudged me to make this post since so many of you are searching for ideas.

My favorite snack is the Crunchy Almond Energy Balls (see recipe below). They are a healthy alternative to chocolate with great health benefits.

They are rich in healthy fats from coconut oil and hemp seeds and will keep you satiated until your next meal. Plus they are high in protein so no sugar crash later.

I hope you find something here that suits your taste buds and will make your health adventure easier!

Crunchy Almond Energy Balls on Tray

1.Apple Donut.  No, not really a donut (sorry) — but it’s quite delicious. 

Core an apple. Slice apple into rounds that resemble a donut and top with your favorite nut butter

You can even make a sandwich out of it by putting the nut butter between two slices of apple rounds.  

Tip #1 – Choose more tart apples like Jonagold or Granny Smith since they are lower in carbs.

Tip #2 – If you’re in the beginning stages of the Candida diet you may want to avoid fruits for a period of time and then reintroduce lower sugar fruits like berries and low carb apples in small quantities.

2. Cucumber Rolls.  Thinly slice cucumbers into long slices that you can then use to roll toppings inside. 

Use toppings such as tuna/salmon salad, cherry tomatoes, guacamole, whatever your heart desires. 

These are great little bite-sized snacks for when hunger strikes.

3. EatingEVOLVED Coconut Butter Cups

These original coconut butter cups are my favorite since they have simple easy-to-digest ingredients and a smooth creamy texture and taste.

Oh, and they are only 1 net carb per cup!

Tip: During the hot summer months be sure to keep them in the fridge or the freezer or you’ll have a melted mess!

4. Crunchy Almond Energy Balls

5. Healthy Homemade Chocolate

6. Super-Simple Coconut Milk Yogurt (dairy-free probiotic)

7. Marinated Artichoke Hearts

8. Zucchini Pizza Bites

9. Lemon Kale Chips

10. Celery sticks with almond butter or sunbutter

It’s an oldy but a goody…I’m always amazed at how this simple snack tastes so good with the salty crunch of the celery and the smooth creaminess of the almond butter. If you haven’t eaten this is a long time or not a fan of celery try this combo and see if your taste buds thank you.

11. Coconut Chips

These chips are lightly salted yet sweet and crunchy. Eat them as is or add to a trail mix, sprinkle on your nut butter and apples, add to your chia seed pudding, or anything else that suits your fancy!

Be sure to check out my other popular post with even more Candida diet-approved snack ideas: 20 Candida Diet Approved Snack Ideas (that are easy and delicious!).

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Healthy chocolate bark on white table.

What Is Candida & How & Why Does It Present Itself

Candida is a type of yeast responsible for a number of health problems.

Candida is actually short for Candida Albicans which is normally present in small amounts in the intestines, mouth, and skin.

Let’s take a look at how Candida can become a problem and common symptoms and side effects.

How does Candida become a problem?

If Candida is a fungus-like bacteria that are naturally present in the body, how does it become a problem?

The problem actually arises when Candida overgrows.

Things that cause imbalances in the body leading to Candida overgrowth include but are not limited to eating a diet high in refined sugar and carbs, taking oral contraceptives, taking antibiotics, high alcohol intake, diabetes, a weakened immune system, and high-stress levels.

Causes of Candida

Candida overgrowth causes a number of problems. These problems range from vaginal infections to digestive disorders, fatigue, headaches, hormonal imbalances, and weight gain.

So we know that Candida causes a number of problems. However, what causes Candida to overgrow in the first place?

One of the most common causes of Candida overgrowth is a compromised immune system. People with HIV/Aids can be particularly susceptible.

Young children and the elderly are also susceptible. However, if you’ve been sick and dealing with other illnesses, you can also be susceptible to Candida overgrowth.

For example, people fighting cancer or diabetes can be particularly susceptible to Candida overgrowth.

One common cause of Candida as it relates to previous illness is the prescription of antibiotics.

Antibiotics kill bacteria including the good bacteria that help balance your body and your digestive system. This means antibiotics can have a direct influence on Candida overgrowth.

Another common cause of Candida overgrowth is actually quite simple to reverse.

Candida grows naturally in the gut. However, if you have infrequent bowel movements and become constipated, you’re giving Candida fuel to grow.

Candida thrives in moist, dark environments like your intestines.

If you’re unable to completely process the food you’ve eaten you’re also providing Candida bacteria with a food source.

To reverse this process, eat plenty of fiber so you clean your digestive tract and eliminate the food source Candida needs.

One of the most common causes of Candida overgrowth in the average individual is a diet that is high in sugar.

There is some controversy surrounding this however many sufferers have found that simply changing their dietary habits and lifestyle virtually eliminate Candida overgrowth from their life.

This is because Candida thrives on sugar. If you eliminate sugar from your diet you subsequently starve Candida.

It’s purged from your body and then you can resume a normal diet that is high in protein, fiber, fruits and vegetables, and low in sugar.

Finally, because your immune system is affected by a number of factors, your lifestyle can play an important role in your Candida recovery.

Things like stress, depression, nutrient deficiency, and simply hormonal imbalances can cause Candida to grow. Personal hygiene also plays a role in some Candida cases.

Candida overgrowth has a number of causes.

If you suffer from frequent Candida overgrowth problems, assess your lifestyle and diet, and see your doctor.

Treating the symptoms will provide immediate relief and treating the cause will provide lifelong relief.

You don’t have to suffer from Candida overgrowth. Understand the causes and learn what’s behind your Candida symptoms.

Live Candida free!

Like yeast or other fungi, Candida thrives on sugar and lives in warm dark environments.

This means places like your stomach, genitals, mouth and even your eyes can be hospitable environments for Candida.

Candida can actually become systemic meaning it is present throughout your entire body. It takes over your organs and invades your bloodstream. When this happens, death is a real risk.

Notice I mentioned that Candida thrives on sugar. There is real evidence that poor dietary habits, or diets high in sugar, tend to cause Candida overgrowth.

This is great news for people who suffer from overgrowth symptoms. Often a change in diet will alleviate the problem.

So what problems arise from Candida Overgrowth?

The most common symptoms of Candida overgrowth are yeast or vaginal infections.

The data tells us that about three in four women suffer from a vaginal yeast infection at least once in their life.

Yeast infections are exhibited by irritation in the vaginal area, whitish discharge and inflammation, and itching.

Treatment is generally over the counter though your doctor can prescribe medication as well.

However, if you’re susceptible to Candida overgrowth then you’re likely to see a recurrence unless you change your habits and lifestyle.

Oral thrush is a common sign of Candida overgrowth. It’s commonly seen in babies and children and presents as a white almost cottage cheesy coating in the mouth, tongue, and throat.

Generally, mild antifungals are prescribed and habits are assessed. For mothers of nursing babies, dietary changes may be required.

Candida also presents as skin infections. It can affect folds of the skin where it is dark and moist or it can affect the surface of the skin depending on the individual. It’s caused again by overgrowth and a weakened immune system.

Candida skin rashes vary from person to person and there are many types of Candida skin rashes. One of the most common is diaper rash. Treatment is a topical antifungal.

Candida Albicans overgrowth causes a number of problems ranging from basic but extremely uncomfortable vaginal infections and skin infections to digestive disorders, fatigue, weight gain, and hormonal imbalances.

If you suffer from chronic yeast infections treat the symptoms but also take measures to treat the cause.

Dietary and lifestyle changes can make a dramatic difference in your overall health.

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Fact & Fiction: 5 Myths About Candida

When something is as common as Candida and Candida overgrowth is, myths tend to pop up.

Unfortunately, there are many myths about Candida. Believing these myths can affect your recovery.

Let’s dig deep and look at the 5 most common myths about Candida.

Candida Myth #1 Only women suffer from Candida overgrowth.

This isn’t true at all.

Both men and women have Candida living naturally in their body and both men and women can get Candida infections.

In fact, men can get yeast infections on their genitals just like women can get vaginitis caused by yeast infections.

Many studies have shown that Candida overgrowth is present in 90% of the population.

Candida Myth #2 Only drugs and antifungals can kill Candida.

Drugs and antifungals can treat the symptoms of Candida. However, they don’t treat the underlying cause.

In fact, many Candida drugs and antifungals can cause a number of other harmful side effects and symptoms.

If you suffer from recurring Candida infections it’s important to look at the underlying cause.

Relying on drugs and antifungals will not alleviate the problem and you’ll continue to suffer.

Candida Myth #3 Home Remedies Don’t Work To Treat Candida

This is partially true however it depends largely on the home remedy.

One popular home remedy for Candida overgrowth is to eat more yogurt. This actually can work if the infection is mild and you don’t have other risk factors.

Yogurt contains probiotics which are the good bacteria in your gut.

When there’s a balance of bacteria, Candida overgrowth can be eliminated.

However, other home remedies like drinking vinegar do not work and can, in fact, worsen Candida overgrowth symptoms.

If you have a home remedy for Candida overgrowth, consult your health care practitioner first.

Candida Myth #4 Candida overgrowth isn’t a big deal.

Candida overgrowth can actually kill you. It can become systemic, and take over your blood and organs so it is a big deal.

Candida overgrowth can also cause other surprising problems like weight gain, chronic fatigue, chronic illness, headaches, hormonal imbalances, and a wide variety of pretty serious problems.

Yes, Candida is a big deal.

Candida Myth #5 Only people with compromised immune systems get Candida infections

While people with compromised immune systems are in danger of more serious complications from Candida, the truth is that anyone can get a Candida infection.

Healthy, unhealthy, good dietary habits, poor dietary habits, male, female, young, and old – Candida exists in everyone and everyone is at risk.

However, you strongly improve your chances of avoiding Candida overgrowth if you take great care of yourself.

This includes making sure you reduce stress, eat a nutrient-rich, low sugar diet, eat lots of fiber and you don’t smoke or drink heavily. 

Candida is an organism that lives in everyone. It can cause real and serious health problems and no one is immune.

If you suffer from Candida overgrowth, find a qualified health care practitioner to get the help you need to begin the healing process. Then start changing your life for the better.

Simple lifestyle changes can make a big difference in living a Candida free life.

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Woman hanging over edge of chair

Candida Diet Approved: Chocolate Chia Seed Pudding Recipe (Selenium-rich)

Rich, creamy, and filling…you have to try this delicious, easy-to-make sugar-free chocolate chia seed pudding recipe!

Make it the night before and store it in the fridge for a ready-to-go breakfast. Easy peasy.

Looking for a great afternoon snack this will hit the spot without the afternoon sugar crash. Um yes, please!

Chia seeds will keep you feeling full until dinner and quell your sugar cravings without being harmful to your health.

All About Chia Seeds

Chia seeds spilling out of a jar.

If you haven’t already heard, chia seeds are being touted as one of the most nutritious, powerful “superfoods” on the planet. 

They are an excellent source of fiber, loaded with antioxidants, full of protein and the richest natural source of Omega-3.   

The chia seed, (Salvia hispanica L.), is a tiny seed with a lot of muscle.  Each seed contains roughly 34% oil, 25% dietary fiber and 20% protein.  The remainder of the seed is composed of important trace minerals such as magnesium, phosphorus, calcium, and iron. 

Most of the oil within the tiny whole chia seed is heart-healthy ALA Omega – 3 and easily digestible.

They are easy to eat, tiny whole grain that can be consumed in many ways and by people of all ages. 

Chia Seed powerful health-building benefits:  

  • Super-energizing for increased endurance and sustained energy
  • Improves cardiovascular health 
  • Stabilizes blood sugar
  • Reduces cravings for sweets and junk foods 
  • Improved mental focus and concentration
  • High-quality protein promotes lean muscle mass 
  • An ideal superfood 
  • Gluten-free
  • Super-hydration and electrolyte balance
  • Supports healthy elimination and detoxification

There is no need to grind up chia seeds in order to eat them. Sprinkle them on cereal, sandwiches, salad, soup, smoothies, cottage cheese, oatmeal or just about any other food.

Their taste is so mild that it hardly affects the flavor of the food it is being added to.

They have a shelf life of over 5 years because of their high concentration of antioxidants that keeps them from getting rancid. 

Blue cup filled with chia seeds.

The chia seed has been around for a long time.  It was a staple of the Aztec diet. 

Warriors relied upon the seed for nourishment during battle. It is hydrophilic, or water-loving and can hold up to ten times its weight in water, aiding in hydration.  

They’re great for your health and are an easy way to make everything you eat more nutritious.

Do yourself a favor and give chia seeds and this chocolate chia seed pudding recipe a try!

More Candida Diet Recipes

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Cup of chocolate chia seed pudding with coconut flakes.

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