Candida albicans, called candida or candidiasis, is a usually harmless yeast growing in the human body. When the body gets out of balance, Candida gets out of control and can cause some irritating and even life-threatening conditions unless treated. Treatment usually involves removing the offending substances and adding back foods and supplements to help fight the yeast overgrowth.
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Candida and its Symptoms
Candida albicans is a common yeast-like microorganism living in the genital/urinary tract, mouth, throat and intestines. Yeasts live in humans the majority of the time with no ill effects, but when the natural flora in the intestinal tract fail to control them, overgrowth occurs, creating a host of symptoms. With candida you may experience athlete's foot, jock itch, diaper rash, canker sores, kidney and bladder infections, vaginitis, vulvar rash, conjunctivitis, ringworm, nail infections, depression and gastrointestinal problems such as constipation, diarrhea, gas, heartburn and colitis. If you have a healthy immune system, proper treatment leads to a cure, but if your immune system is compromised by disease or treatment, you can fall prey to more serious illnesses.
The primary causes of Candida result from using antibiotics, taking birth control pills, using other hormones, especially immunosuppressants such as steroids, as well as diet, alcohol and stress. By far the most common factor is the use of broad spectrum antibiotics, which do not differentiate between pathogenic and harmless bacteria. Animal research reported by the Environmental Illness Resource confirms that antibiotics and steroids create substantial increases in Candida and pathogenic bacteria colonization because of the destruction of friendly bacteria and suppression of immune defenses.
Foods To Eat
Everydiet recommends the following foods to eat to keep candida in check: vegetables, including plenty of raw garlic; protein foods such as beef, chicken, fish and eggs; live yogurt cultures; whey and acidophilus; green algae such as spirulina and chlorella; nuts, seeds and oils; and grains not containing gluten such as millet, rice, rice bran and oat bran.
William G. Crook, MD, author of "The Yeast Connection," recommends that high carbohydrate vegetables such as corn, lima beans, English peas, potatoes, sweet potatoes, winter squash and dried and cooked beans and peas be eaten cautiously. Crook recommends that all biscuits and muffins be made with baking powder or baking soda as leavening agents, avoiding the use of yeast.
Foods to Avoid
Crook recommends avoiding the following: all sugar and sugar-containing foods, since yeast thrive on sugar; packaged and processed foods which usually contain refined sugar and other hidden ingredients; breads, pastries and other raised baked goods; all cheeses as well as buttermilk, sour cream and sour milk products; alcoholic beverages and fermented beverages such as cider and root beer; condiments and sauces and foods with vinegar such as mustard, ketchup, pickles, relishes, green olives, and tamari; malt products such as malted milk drinks, cereals, and candy; processed and smoked meats such as sausages, hot dogs and corned beef; all types of edible mushrooms; coffee and tea including herb teas; canned or frozen fruit juices with the exception of freshly prepared juices; dried and candied fruits; and most leftovers because they can contain molds.
The University of Maryland Medical Center reports the following daily supplements may be helpful in the management of candida: vitamin C in the dosage 500 to 1,000 milligrams; vitamin E, 200 to 400 international units; and selenium, 200 micrograms, to reduce inflammation and help the immune system to stay strong. Essential fatty acids, which also help reduce inflammation, can be taken in the form of mixing omega-6 and omega 3 oils and taking 1,000 to 1,500 milligrams twice a day. B-complex vitamins, providing energy, should be taken, containing 50 to 100 milligrams of B1, 50 milligrams of B2, 25 milligrams of B3, 100 milligrams of B5, 50 to 100 milligrams of B6, 100 to 1,000 micrograms B12 and 400 micrograms of folate. Calcium, which is lacking in people with candida, should be supplemented with 1,000 to 1,500 milligrams per day along with 750 to 1,000 milligrams of magnesium. Caprylic acid of 1 gram with meals may have antifungal properties. Propolis, a substance from bees, should be added, along with garlic, nuts, whole grains, oregano, cinnamon, sage and cloves, for their antifungal properties.