Results of Overgrowth
Candida overgrowth is a major factor in the development of leaky gut syndrome, a condition that occurs when food penetrates the bowel walls, entering the blood stream. Many experts link leaky gut syndrome with food allergies and autoimmune diseases such as lupus, diabetes, fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, arthritis, multiple sclerosis, and Crohn’s disease.
Anne Khoury, a certified colon hygienist at Health Connections Center in Philadelphia, says the most frequently occurring species is candida albicans, which can crowd out beneficial bacteria. In addition to changing their diet, she says pregnant women may take probiotics such as acidophilus strains, which are friendly bacteria.
Some of the symptoms of candida include the following:
- Rapid weight gain (not from pregnancy)
- Cravings for sugar
- Quickly becoming agitated or irritable
- Becoming extremely tired on rainy days
- Difficulty focusing or brain fog
Khoury says women become depressed on rainy days because the pores in their bodies react to the humidity.
Pamela Gerry, a registered nurse and colon hydrotherapist in Sanford, Maine, says other symptoms of candida include bloating and fatigue.
A Different Kind of Clean
Women may cleanse their bodies of candida by changing their diet and choosing more foods and drinks that cause an alkaline rather than acidic response in the body, according to experts. “We work with a lot of people who have candida,” Khoury says. “Basically what we do is get them on a diet that does not feed the candida, which means taking away yeast products and sugar products. They should not eat anything fermented. They should not have any fruit juice or anything with a lot of sugar in it. It feeds the candida. Khoury says a person’s colon should have 85 percent friendly bacteria and just 15 percent “opportunistic bacteria.”
Women who have used birth control pills are more at risk for having candida, but the average American’s high-sugar diet can put most anyone at risk. “We eat so badly [including] too much acidic-forming foods,” Khoury says. “That kills the friendly bacteria, which gives opportunity for the other bacteria to grow. It’s very difficult to get rid of that. You really have to cut out your sugar like you would not believe.”
A doctor can give a woman a blood test to see if she has candida, but Khoury suggests using most homeopathic remedies before becoming pregnant or after breastfeeding. “When you try to kill off the candida you feel awful for a couple of weeks,” she says. “When [women] get pregnant, they have a whole bunch of problems on top of it, such as constipation.”
Candida and Diet
Khoury suggests eating 80 percent alkaline-forming foods such as green vegetables and 20 percent acid-forming foods such as chicken. Then, use a home pH test kit to make sure you are staying on track. Highly acid-forming foods include white sugar, artificial sweeteners, beer, coffee, black tea, ice cream, chocolate, and soft drinks. Some of the most highly alkaline-forming foods include wheat grass, spinach, garlic, carrot, avocado, cucumbers, and celery.
Pregnant women adhere to what she loosely refers to as a “candida diet,” which is heavy on green vegetables and light on fruit, says Khoury. Green or Granny Smith apples are allowed on the diet, but no sweet fruits such as bananas and grapes are allowed. “Eat lots of greens,” says Khoury. “Greens are your friend. Eat lots of salads, broccoli, fish, and chicken. It’s also good for the baby.”
Foods and Drinks to Avoid While Cleansing
- Nuts, except raw almonds and seeds
- Cheese, sour cream, buttermilk
- Fruits, except green apples
- Dried and candied fruits such as raisins
- Alcohol, soda, coffee, ciders
- Yeast foods such as breads and pastries and white rice or pasta
- Sugar, including sucrose, fructose, maltose, lactose, glucose, maple syrup, honey, and artificial sweeteners
- Condiments and vinegar products such as mayonnaise, pickles, MSG, and ketchup
Foods and Drinks to Enjoy While Cleansing
- Clean water
- Fresh vegetables and Granny Smith or green apples
- Green vegetable juices
- Buckwheat, amaranth, spelt, millet, quinoa, and teff grains
- All fish except shellfish
- Organic chicken, turkey, and eggs
- Lemons and limes
- Raw almonds and seeds, raw almond butter
- Herbal teas
Some experts recommend taking digestive enzymes such as amylase, lipase, protease, cellulose, and lactase to increase the control of fungal growth in the gastrointestinal tract. Michelle Alley, an acupuncture physician in Altamonte Springs, Florida, offers Chinese herbal medicine and homeopathic remedies. “A great percentage of the population is affected with candida problems,” says Alley. “It has to do with our diet and antibiotic usage in this country.” She points out that people also consume beef and other meats from animals that were given antibiotics.
Alley does not recommend a pregnant woman self-medicate for candida or other conditions. “Homeopathic medication is safe for pregnant and nursing women under supervision under a licensed practitioner,” she says. “The ideal scenario would be they would treat it before they become pregnant.”
Anusha Amen-Ra, the director of the Sacred Space Healing and Retreat Center in San Francisco, says it’s unrealistic to think candida can be solved with a quick-fix solution. “Certainly there are things that can help, but it really does require a holistic approach,” Amen-Ra says. “It’s not like a magic bullet where you just take this and you will be fine. It’s a systemic problem, and it’s also fed from people’s emotions and stress that then cause them to do things like eat sweets and sugars and starches.”
He encourages pregnant women to practice meditation and other relaxation techniques. “You really have to work with the person on a holistic approach that looks at how they are dealing with their emotions and the stress in their lives so they can be more balanced so they don’t go off to the cravings,” he says.
Gerry also says stress can play a factor in promoting candida. “Because we are a nation of sugar addicts, we very often create an imbalance in our colon of unfriendly bacteria and that is candida albicans,” she says. “And you will hear we have an epidemic in our country of yeast. We do. Either stress is creating the balance or we are feeding the yeast with too much sugar in our diet.”