Digestion

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

How To Improve Gut Health

Hippocrates said, “All disease begins in the gut.” 

Our gut plays a huge role in our overall health

And while this may not be 100% true for every disease in every person, more and more research shows that our gut (digestive system) has a bigger role in many diseases than we used to think.

And we’re not just talking about heartburn, constipation, diarrhea, IBS, IBD, etc. We’re talking about all kinds of issues like allergies, pain, mood disorders, and nutrient deficiencies. 

There are a lot of reasons for this. Our gut is the portal to the outside world. It’s here where we take in disease-causing bacteria, viruses, and parasites. We also take in nutrients (and toxins) through our gut. The nutrients we ingest and absorb are the building blocks of every single part of our body.

We’re just learning the connections between our gut and other areas of our body, like our brain (have you heard of “the gut-brain axis”). Not just our gut per se; but, its friendly resident microbes too. These guys also have newly discovered roles in our gut health and overall health. 

 

So, let’s talk about the roles that our gut and our gut microbes play in our overall health. Then I’ll give you tips to improve your gut health naturally. 

 

Our gut’s role in our overall health 

 

Our gut’s main role is as a barrier. To let things in that should get in, and to keep things out that should stay out. Think of “absorption” of nutrients as things we want to let in; and “elimination” of waste as things we want to pass right through and out. 

This seemingly simple role is super-complex! And it can break down in so many places. 

For one thing, our guts can “leak.” Yes, like a long tube with holes in it, it can allow things to get into our bloodstream/bodies that can wreak havoc (bacteria, undigested food, and toxins).

You name it, whatever you put into your mouth can be absorbed by your gut and get into your bloodstream, even if it’s not supposed to. And when your gut wall gets irritated, it can “leak.”

When this happens, you get inflammation, which is a starting point for many diseases that don’t seem linked to the gut but have a sneaky connection there. 

 

FUN FACT: About 70% of our immune system lives in and around our gut. 

 

A healthy gut is not a leaky gut. It maintains its barrier and shuttles things through to be eliminated. Maintaining a healthy gut barrier is the first pillar of gut health. 

The second main part of your gut are the billions of friendly health-promoting microbes. Gut microbes help us digest and absorb nutrients.

They fight off disease-causing microbes, make some vitamins for us, and have all kinds of other health benefits, like mental health benefits, reducing inflammation, and stabilizing blood sugar. 

 

So, keeping your gut microbes happy is the second pillar of gut health! 

 

Belly photo with cartoon bugs.

How to improve gut health 

There are a lot of natural ways to improve gut health.

Let’s start with what to stop. It’s always best to eliminate the cause, so let’s stop giving our guts junk to deal with.

How about eliminating added sugars, processed foods, and alcohol? Try that for a few weeks, and you may be amazed at how much better your body (and gut) feels. 

 

You may also want to eliminate other gut irritants. Dairy and grains contain common compounds known to irritate some people’s guts. Sometimes you only need to eliminate them for a few weeks to see if it makes a difference for your health.  

By eating nutrient-dense foods, we allow ample macro- and micro-nutrients into our gut to maximize the chance for absorption.

These nutrients help our bodies build and repair our gut, and every other body part as well. Some of the most nutrient-dense foods include dark leafy greens, colorful fruits and veggies, liver, and fish. 

The second pillar of gut health is our microbes.

By ingesting probiotic-rich foods and drinks, we can help to replenish our gut microbes. These are found in fermented foods like kombucha, kefir, miso, sauerkraut, and kimchi. Make these a part of your daily diet. 

 

Want to make your own fermented recipe that’s easy, delicious and is healthy for your gut? Check out the recipe below.

 

Whole foods are full of gut-friendly fiber. Not eating enough fiber increases the risk of heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and obesity. Fiber plays lots of roles in our gut, including whisking away some of those pesky bad bacteria and toxins so they can be eliminated. Fiber also helps to feed the friendly resident microbes that help us absorb and digest our food better. What foods have a lot of fiber? Fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and even cacao. 

 

And don’t forget the extremely important lifestyle factors like getting enough sleep, dealing with stress, and getting the right amount (and intensity) of exercise for you. It’s easy to forget some of the simple, but key links there are between what we do with our bodies and how well they function. 

In a nutshell 

The function of your gut is key to your overall health. There are two pillars of gut health: maintaining a good barrier and maintaining healthy gut microbes. 

The main way to improve both of these naturally is by eating nutrient-dense whole foods. Foods filled with nutrition, probiotics, and fiber. And eliminating common gut irritants like added sugar, processed foods, alcohol, dairy, and grains. 

Here’s a recipe to help nourish and support your gut health:

 

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Woman's hands forming heart over her stomach.

References: 

https://authoritynutrition.com/does-all-disease-begin-in-the-gut/
http://www.precisionnutrition.com/all-about-nutrition-gut-health
http://neurotrition.ca/blog/your-gut-bugs-what-they-eat-and-7-ways-feed-them

What Your Bowel Movements Reveal about Your Health

Get the Scoop on Your Poop

The Scoop on Your Poop

Unless you’re the parent of a toddler who has just mastered “going potty,” poop is probably not a hot topic in your household. But the composition of what you deposit into the toilet has important implications for health.

Although it’s not a comfortable subject, I have to ask my clients what’s going on with their poop. Many are embarrassed since it’s not usually a topic that is talked about in friendly conversation!

 I got over my embarrassment a long time ago since I knew I was going to be talking about it with my future clients. It’s so important to look (some people don’t!) and actually see what’s going on with what’s coming out.

Did you know the features of fecal matter—such as the size, color, shape, odor, and consistency indicate how well the gastrointestinal (GI) tract is functioning?

Those same features also provide clues about how your body is (or isn’t) faring against threats of infection and more serious diseases like celiac disease, hepatitis, urinary tract infections, malabsorption disorders, inflammatory bowel disease, pancreatitis, and cancer.

 

To give you an idea of what healthy, normal stool looks like, check out the Bristol Stool Chart.  The healthy range for fecal matter is of a consistency that is not too hard, not too soft, and mostly solid—as opposed to lumpy, pellet-like, or liquid. Normal stool color is in the light-to-medium brown range and is not offensively odorous. Also, bowel movements (BMs) should pass easily from your body to the toilet.

5 BMs that Require Medical Attention

Unless you are aware of dietary changes or a medication that could produce the following types of stool, it’s advisable to seek medical attention if you observe the following changes in BMs.

1. Stool that is hard to pass, requires straining or is accompanied by abdominal pain.
2. Black, tarry stool might indicate infection or GI bleeding, while bright red stool could indicate infection and/or bleeding in the GI tract or anus. Seek immediate medical attention.
3. White, pale, or gray stool could indicate problems with the liver, bile ducts, or pancreas.
4. Yellow stool could indicate serious infection or gallbladder problems.
5. Mucus in the stool can indicate inflammation, infection, or even cancer.

How Often Should You Go?

How frequently you have a BM is important, too. And, what’s typical for you may be different for other people in your family. Three daily BMs are considered the norm. No matter how often you poop, you should not have to strain or experience pain while excreting. Additionally, be aware that the appearance and frequency of BMs will vary based on what’s in your diet, sleep and exercise patterns, hormonal changes, travel, stress, hydration level, medications or supplements you are taking, and exposure to toxins (from nicotine to industrial toxins).

How Low Should You Go?

There’s also evidence that the position you take to evacuate the bowels has health implications for the physical structures of the GI tract. So much so that some scientists indicate sitting to poop is a contributing factor in the development of colon and pelvic diseases. Before potty training, young children squat to poop in their diapers—they don’t sit. Yes, there’s a difference between squatting and sitting. The modern toilet places the thighs at a 90-degree angle to the abdomen, whereas squatting has a much deeper angle that gives more motility to the intestinal muscles and organs. Evacuating the bowels is much easier on the body in the squatting versus seated position. Toilet position should be a consideration for everyone over the age of five, but is especially important for the elderly, the disabled, and individuals with compromised mobility.

You can learn more about proper toilet position in this video:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5P8L0r4JVpo

Even though this may be an uncomfortable topic, I hope that this information will help you to pay better attention to what’s coming out (as well as what’s going in!) so you’ll be better informed about the health of your digestive system and body!

If you’re needing help with sorting out what may be going on with your digestive health.  I offer a free 30-minute health discovery call where we can chat and see how I can help you get to the root of the problem so you can finally feel strong, sexy and confident again!  Schedule your free session here

Resources
Mercola, J. “What You See in the Toilet Can Give You Valuable Insights into Your Health.” Accessed February 2015. http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2013/02/14/normal-stool.aspx

Monastyrsky, K. “Gut Sense: What Exactly Are Normal Stools?” Accessed February 2015.
http://www.gutsense.org/constipation/normal_stools.html

Sikirov, D. “Comparison of Straining During Defecation in Three Positions: Results and Implications for Human Health.” Abstract. Digestive Diseases and Sciences 48, no. 7 (July 2003): 1201-5.
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12870773

Step and Go. “Step and Go Ergonomically Correct Toilet Position.” Accessed February 2015.
stepandgo.com