The Fungal Link Between Diet and Yeast Overgrowth
The Candida-Sinus Infection Link
Candida (yeast) is the most common type of yeast found in the mouth, intestinal tract, vagina, skin and other mucous membranes and is usually caused by a systemic fungal infection. The cell walls of this yeast are the same as airborne fungi. Thus, they can cause gut and systemic inflammation similar to the respiratory and sinus inflammation often caused by environmental mold. Candida, when at a balanced level in the body, aids with nutrient absorption and digestion. In fact, a Rice Study estimates that 70% of us have Candida naturally in our bodies. However, under certain circumstances an overgrowth of Candida can result in a problematic “yeast” infection.
Although acute sinus infections are commonly caused by bacteria, chronic infections (greater than 12 weeks) are often caused by a fungal infection. A Mayo Clinic study found that 93% of patients with chronic sinus infections tested positive for fungal overgrowth. Further, treatment with antibiotics can exacerbate fungal infections by killing “good” bacteria that is normally responsible for managing fungi overgrowth.
The resulting chronic sinus infection can often lead to additional symptoms of Candida overgrowth elsewhere in the body. Almost all patients with chronic sinusitis suffer from Candida overgrowth. Candida can penetrate the gut and spread throughout the body.
The following circumstances can contribute to the development of Candida overgrowth:
- Diets high in processed foods, refined carbohydrates, sugars and alcohol. Candida feeds on these simple sugars and begins to grow out of control.
- Medications, including broad spectrum antibiotics, birth control pills, oral corticosteroids, cancer treatments, and several others that are designed to kill or ward off bacteria. Candida flourishes when other bacteria levels in the body are out of balance.
- A weakened immune system resulting from autoimmune diseases such as Diabetes, Crohn’s Disease, Lyme disease, and others. Individuals with impaired immunity cannot ward off fungal overgrowth in a similar way to viral and bacterial illness.
- Chronic stress causes systemic inflammation. Inflammation wears down the immune system. When you’re under intense periods of stress, your body responds by releasing stress hormones, such as cortisol, a pro-inflammatory hormone, to help you cope with the situation at hand. Elevated cortisol impairs adrenal and hormonal regulation. All of these imbalances promote yeast and a more acidic body, where yeast, illness and disease can thrive.
If the immune system is functioning optimally, a yeast infection is rarely serious. However, it is imperative to restore the natural gut flora to manage the yeast overgrowth. Left unchecked, Candida overgrowth can become a serious chronic health condition and systemic candida infections reaching the bloodstream or organs can cause death. Persons infected with Candida overgrowth can also develop food and chemical sensitivities and allergies.
Common Symptoms Related to Candida Overgrowth:
- Persistent, intense sugar cravings
- Cravings for processed carbs, such as bread, pasta, and pastries
- Acid reflux and indigestion
- Colitis, bloating, gas, constipation, or diarrhea
- Skin issues (acne, eczema, psoriasis)
- Itchy ears
- Skin or nail fungal infections
- Canker sores
- Flu-like symptoms
- Worsening of symptoms in cold and damp, or humid environments (two conditions that encourage Candida to spread and grow, which can aggravate all existing symptoms—Candida is, afterall, a fungus, so any environment that promotes mold growth, also promotes yeast)
Diagnostic Symptoms of Candida Infection (Overgrowth)
The following are symptoms that a doctor might look for during an examination to identify or confirm a Candida overgrowth:
- Recurring gastrointestinal esophageal reflux disease (GERD)–This is a common and uncomfortable issue with Candida patients. This is not just indigestion, it is reflux that can come all the way from the stomach up through to the nose and mouth.
- Oral Thrush – Patients often
exhibit yeast on the tongue, which appears as a white or yellowish coating of the tongue.
- Recurring vaginal yeast infections characterized by itching, swelling, and discharge
- Chronic skin issues,
such as acne, eczema, and psoriasis
- Neurological symptoms,
- such as headaches, brain fog, and loss of concentration
- Organ and hormonal irregularities, such as irregular heartbeats, difficulty
breathing, loss of periods or spotting in women, low or high testosterone,
- Vitamin deficiencies, such as anemia, Vitamin D, B12 or folate deficiency
- estrogen dominance in men, etc.
Our body’s fungal immune response can also cause serious secondary bacterial infections of the lymph nodes and sinuses. Systemic fungal disease is also a possibility and often requires medical intervention, evacuation of infected environment, and maximum therapy with anti-fungal supplements and pharmaceuticals.
Candida must be controlled by both medication and diet. Anti-fungal medications must be used to kill this resilient species of fungi. The only way to pave the way for the antifungal medications to be efficacious is to “starve” the Candida by eliminating all sugars and sugar carbohydrates from the diet.
Non-diet Treatment Includes:
- Reducing the fungal load in the air to 0-4 colonies as demonstrated with mold test plates. This can include, but is not limited to:
- Identifying the source of moisture and fungi in the indoor environment;
- Performing proper mold hygiene demonstrated in the 7 Steps to Relief Infographic;
- Seeking professional remediation as needed.
- Removing sources of chlorine from drinking water either by drinking bottled water, or by installing a purification system that removes chlorine from drinking water.
- Using prescription oral and topical anti-fungal medications and iodine supplements as prescribed by a physician.
- Practicing personal mold hygiene including regular nasal rinses to clear airborne mold spores from the sinus with CitriDrops Dietary Supplement or CitriDrops Nasal Spray.
- Gargling and drinking 2-10 drops of CitriDrops Dietary Supplement in water per instructions.
8 Step Candida Diet
Diet is critical. Sugar consumption causes the sugar receptor on the cell wall to morph from the harmless yeast into an invasive hyphal form. The microscopic hyphae can penetrate the intestinal wall causing inflammation as well as food allergies. When this occurs, the person has “leaky gut syndrome,” because the foods that were once beneficial, or harmless to the body, are “leaking” into the bloodstream, and initiating an inflammatory response. That is precisely why many people find themselves suddenly gluten or casein intolerant after being able to consume it without issues previously. The hyphal form can also become resistant to antifungals rendering the medications inefficacious.
Here are the foundational steps to ridding the digestive system of yeast:
- Do not drink or use tap water. It contains chlorine, which kills beneficial bacteria on the skin and in the gut, allowing yeast to flourish.
- Do not drink beer or wine. Wine is high in sugar and beer contains yeast. Both contribute to Candida growth.
- Do not eat grains. Grains are converted to sugar in the body.
- DO NOT EAT foods that are high in sugar and make insulin levels go up!
- Consume MEATS, SEAFOOD, VEGETABLES, and BERRIES AND SOME DAIRY, if tolerated.
- DO NOT DRINK SOFT DRINKS, INCLUDING DIET SOFT DRINKS. These are either high in sugar or contain artificial sweeteners. Both induce elevated insulin levels in the body.
- Consume lots of green leafy vegetables, at least three times per day, especially asparagus juice, 2-4 oz. two or more times per day.
- Drink at least 8 glasses of purified or bottled water a day.
For further details on menu ideas and food lists, see the book Mastering the Zone by Barry Sears. More information is available online for Doug Kaufmann’s Phase I & II Antifungal Diet at http://www.knowthecause.com/index.php/get-started.
Detailed Candida Yeast Diet
A detailed Candida Yeast Treatment Plan by Dr. Dennis MD, FASC includes other references for great-tasting alternatives and ideas to suit you. The plan is strict at the start, but once you get the Candida under control and begin feeling better, some foods can be reincorporated on a gradual scale. The goal is to keep yeast levels down and healthy bacteria levels up.