What is Candida you might ask?
Candida albicans is a yeast, a type of fungus which grows within the mouth, intestines, and skin. In small amounts, this fungus is harmless to our body and leads to no symptoms.
The problems arise, however, when there is an overgrowth of Candida, which leads to infections. This is typically referred to as Candidiasis, which can be caused by a variety of factors:
- Antibiotics: Sometimes antibiotics are necessary to fight an infection or kill unwanted bacteria in the body. However, antibiotics can also kill good bacteria, such as those responsible for controlling Candida levels. This causes Candida to grow out of control and can lead to serious symptoms.
- Diet: The diet you consume has a significant impact on regulating levels of both good and bad bacteria in your gut. Sugar, refined carbohydrates, and alcohol are all substances that Candida feeds on, so overconsumption promotes Candida overgrowth.
- Immune Weakness: People who have weakened immune systems are more likely to experience Candida overgrowth. At-risk populations include the elderly, infants, and those with HIV/AIDS or other autoimmune disorders.
- Diabetes: Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes increases your chances of experiencing Candida overgrowth.
- Stress: A healthy immune system can regulate your body’s good and bad organisms. Sometimes, however, stress can lead to a shift in the balance between Candida and healthy bacteria. When we are stressed, the immune system’s ability to fight off infections is weakened.
What Are The Symptoms Of Candida Overgrowth?
How can you tell if you have Candida overgrowth in your body? Here are the tell-tale signs to look out for:
- Brain fog and Fatigue: This is one of the most common symptoms associated with Candida overgrowth and is likely due to nutritional deficiencies that accompany the condition. It also happens that having a weakened immune system leads to both fatigue and Candida, so the effects can be multiplied.
- Oral Thrush: When there is too much Candida in your mouth, white, bumpy patches will appear on the tongue, inner cheeks, or throat. This is a tell-tale visual sign of Candida, and is most common amongst the elderly, newborns, and those with weak immune systems.
- Digestive Issues: The balance of good and bad bacteria in the gut plays a large role in digestive health. As mentioned, small amounts of Candida can be present in the body and cause no problems. However, Candida overgrowth may cause various unpleasant gut-related symptoms, such as bloating, constipation, and diarrhea. Recent studies have connected Candida overgrowth with several gastrointestinal disorders such as Crohn’s and ulcerative colitis.
- Yeast Infections and Recurring UTIs: Candida naturally exists in the vaginal tract, but an overgrowth can lead to vaginal Candidiasis, also called a yeast infection. Symptoms include redness, swelling, itching, painful intercourse, and a thick, white discharge from the vagina. Vaginal yeast infections are quite common, occurring in 75% percent of women at least once. Candida overgrowth can also cause urinary tract infections (UTIs). This tends to occur amongst the elderly and immunocompromised populations. UTIs can cause burning while peeing, a more frequent need to urinate, dark and cloudy urine, and discomfort in the lower abdomen.
- Joint pain: When a Candida infection is left untreated for too long, the fungus can enter the bloodstream. This then affects the joints and can lead to arthritis. Candida can also affect the bones, causing infections or osteomyelitis. Bone and joint infections caused by candida are uncommon but can be difficult to eliminate when they do occur.
- Hormonal imbalance: Scientists have noticed a correlation between increased estrogen levels and the overgrowth of Candida. The by-products of Candida, which can spread beyond the digestive tract, mimic estrogen, which can cause serious hormonal imbalance.
Natural Treatments For Candida Overgrowth
Treating Candida involves a thorough health assessment from your healthcare practitioner, followed by a strict elimination diet and Candida protocol as next steps.
Since food plays a crucial role in regulating healthy levels of bacteria in the gut, one of the main ways Candida overgrowth is treated is through diet. This means reducing consumption of sugars and carbs which Candida thrives on. High-lactose dairy products can also encourage Candida to grow and should be avoided.
Along with eliminating foods that can trigger Candida, focus on foods that have been proven to fight it and promote the growth of good bacteria. Try incorporating the following into your diet:
- Garlic has an antifungal property called allicin, which is known to fight against candida yeast.
- Coconut oil. Due to its high lauric acid content, coconut oil can also reduce Candida.
- More research needs to be done, but initial research has found that the plant compounds found in pomegranate are helpful in reducing Candida.
- Test tube studies show that curcumin has the ability to reduce the growth of Candida yeast and may even kill it.
- Probiotics promote the growth of healthy bacteria in the gut and protect against candida. Lactobacillus is the recommended probiotic for fighting Candida overgrowth. Be sure to speak with a healthcare practitioner to guide you in the right supplements to choose for your condition.
Don’t let a Candida overgrowth run you down! It’s important to get the proper assessments in order to get to the root cause and a tailored plan to cleanse your body of it for good – we can help!
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Your Liver is Vital to Your Health: Here’s How to Protect It
Primary Functions of The Liver
On the surface, the liver’s job sounds straightforward. The digestive system delivers blood to the liver through the portal vein. Once that blood arrives, cells in your liver called hepatocytes act as a filtration system to remove toxins and create energy. The detoxification process helps your body rid itself of harmful substances like excess hormones, harmful food additives, and environmental pollutants. Behind that simple explanation, however, lies a complex network of processes that include:
- Producing gamma globulin, which is essential for immunity
- Manufacturing hormones
- Creating the proteins necessary for blood clotting
- Producing cholesterol
- Regulating blood sugar
- Metabolizing carbohydrates, fat, and protein to deliver energy
- Storing vitamins and minerals, and releasing them as needed
- Filtering toxins
- Breaking down waste products and delivering them back to the digestive system for elimination
- Producing bile to break down fat
With so many functions in its wheelhouse, it’s not surprising that liver problems can have a deep impact on your health. One of the most common is NAFLD, in which fatty tissues build up in your liver. Left untreated, this can develop into cirrhosis and even liver cancer.
Warning Signs of a Sluggish Liver
One of the most common and debilitating symptoms of liver problems is overwhelming, unexplained fatigue. One study found that patients with a fatty liver frequently experience extreme fatigue during the day no matter how much they slept the previous night. Pain in the upper right quadrant of the abdomen is another symptom. Other possible indicators of liver problems include:
- Swelling in the stomach and legs
- Mysterious rashes
- Jaundice, or a yellowing of the skin and the eyes
- Muscle aches
- Mood swings
- Fuzzy thinking
- Hormonal imbalances leading to problems like severe PMS and low libido
6 Ways to Support Liver Health
The good news is that your liver is amazingly resilient. It’s one of the few organs that can regenerate under the right conditions, so healthy lifestyle changes can go a long way to restoring liver health. Below are some strategies to support your liver.
- A liver-friendly diet. Focus on a well-rounded, whole foods diet. The “Mediterranean Diet” with its emphasis on fresh produce, seafood, and healthy fats is often recommended for liver health.
Because of the tight interconnection between your liver and your digestive system, maintaining healthy gut health is important. High-fiber complex carbohydrates like beans and oatmeal have been proven effective in fighting NAFLD, as have leafy green vegetables like spinach.
At the same time, reduce or eliminate processed sugar and white flour intake. These foods not only lead to weight gain, but they can also raise your blood sugar, which taxes your liver. Similarly, choose unsaturated fats like olive oil over saturated fats like butter, as saturated fats increase the amount of fat in your liver.
- Exercise. One of the biggest risk factors for NAFLD is being obese, so steps towards weight management are important. Work with a healthcare provider to determine the safest, most sustainable approach for you. A sedentary lifestyle is also linked to a higher prevalence of NAFLD, and it’s important to note that this risk is separate from the obesity risk – even people within a healthy weight range are at risk if they’re not moving enough. Exercise also stimulates another powerful detoxification process: sweating!
- Eliminate alcohol and cigarettes While NAFLD is different from liver disease caused by excessive alcohol, it’s still wise to give your liver a break. A liver that is already sluggish is more vulnerable to damage from alcohol than a healthy liver.
- Stay hydrated. Water is an important part of the liver’s detoxifying mechanisms, and helps to dissolve fat and fiber.
- Supplement wisely. A number of supplements can bolster liver health, including:
- Turmeric: The curcumin in turmeric has been found to reduce fat in the liver.
- Garlic: Studies have linked garlic to lower liver fat, triglycerides and LDL cholesterol.
- Ginger: The anti-inflammatory properties of ginger reduce inflammation in the liver.
- Ginseng: Although ginseng has been shown to improve liver function, it can also interact with some medications and damage the liver, so always use under supervision of a healthcare practitioner.
- Chinese medicine has used licorice root to treat liver ailments for centuries.
- Milk thistle: As a powerful antioxidant, milk thistle may help reduce liver inflammation.
- Detoxify your environment. Pesticides, fungicides, household cleaners, food additives, pollution… your liver faces a lot of toxins every day. Although it’s difficult to eliminate many environmental toxins, try to make conscious choices about the things that you surround yourself with, including toiletries, cleaning products, and household items. That includes things that affect your psychological health – studies have linked excess stress with liver disease.
If you’d like to learn more about protecting your liver, I can help you put together a workable plan!
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