Do your clients complain about constantly craving sugar and carbohydrates? Do they struggle with feeling tired most of the time? Are they wondering why they have sinus congestion, bloating and/or brain fog every day? It just might be a classic case of Candida overgrowth. Over 70% of Americans are believed to have some stage of Candida, yet almost none of them knows it. Perhaps this is because most physicians don’t recognize Candida overgrowth as a true health condition, so they don’t test for it and, instead, simply treat the symptoms. Since symptoms can vary from individual to individual and show up literally anywhere from head to toe, Candida overgrowth is a condition that is often is not diagnosed.
Think they might have Candida? Well, off course they do! That is because we ALL HAVE Candida. The good news is that Candida Albicans is actually a helpful fungal yeast that resides in the mucus membranes of the mouth, intestines, and genitals. Its job is to assist with digestion and nutrient absorption and it lives harmoniously with a variety of other microorganisms in a healthy balanced body. However, if the opportunity arises, Candida can be a real troublemaker. If an imbalance in the gut flora occurs (also known as dysbiosis), it can trigger Candida to grow out of control. Candida can multiply, poke its way through the mucosal barrier of the gut, and make its way into other areas of the body, and consequently causes all types of unpleasant symptoms.
Typical symptoms of a Candida overgrowth include:
- Feeling lethargic, worn out, or tired all the time (sometimes diagnosed as Chronic Fatigue or Fibromyalgia)
- Poor memory, difficulty concentrating, poor ability to focus, and brain fog
- Headaches or migraines
- Strong or uncontrollable sugar and carbohydrate cravings
- Digestive problems and bloating
- Acne, psoriasis, hives and rashes
- Skin and nail fungal infections (athletes foot or nail fungus)
- Sinus infections, severe allergies, itchy ears
- Mood swings, anxiety, or depression
- Vaginal yeast infections or itching
What causes this imbalance and over-growth of Candida?
As mentioned earlier, everyone has Candida in their system. However, since Candida is an opportunistic organism, an overgrowth can occur when the immune system is compromised. There are many lifestyle-based environmental conditions which may upset the balance of microflora in the body. Among the most common are:
- Antibiotics – including prescription meds and those found in our food supply
- Heavy Metals and environmental toxins
- A high stress lifestyle, adrenal fatigue, or poor sleep habits
- Cortisone and other anti-inflammatory drugs that compromise the intestinal flora
- A diet high in refined carbohydrates and sugar
The Functional Diagnostic Nutrition® approach to addressing Candida overgrowth
The secret to handling Candida overgrowth is understanding that the Candida is not the problem. It is the result of the problem. More likely, the problem is a compromised immune system and dysbiosis that is creating the opportunity for Candida run rampant. Therefore, FDN practitioners focus their attention in three areas simultaneously:
- The Candida must be starved and killed off
- The gut must be healed, and friendly flora must be rebalanced
- The stressors which caused the gut to become unbalanced in the first place must be identified and eliminated using the D.R.E.S.S. for Health Success® protocol.
A quick search on the internet will pull up hundreds of books and websites with diets and protocols to kill off Candida. Most of these programs are very good at step one, but ignore steps two and three. Other approaches are limited to trying to kill off the Candida, but when the protocol is stopped the Candida overgrowth problem comes right back again. The only real, final solution is to determine the root cause of the dysfunction and identify healing opportunities within the gut and immune system.
The holistic and functional approach includes:
- An antifungal diet based on your client, to support overall health while at the same time starving the Candida. Sugars and starches feed Candida and must be limited. Whole-food sources of vitamins, minerals, healthy fats, and proteins are emphasized.
- Adequate rest is always important and is essential for healing the gut and the adrenals.
- Daily exercise and deep breathing are important because they are great ways to help the body rid itself of toxins.
- Stress reduction including identifying both external (known) and hidden internal stressors is a critical and often overlooked step.
- Supplementation with enzymes and antifungals to break down biofilm and kill Candida. Also important are supportive supplements to help restore the mucosal barrier, intestinal flora balance and help the body heal itself.
As you can see, conquering Candida is more than simply getting rid of an infection or treating a symptom, it involves a holistic approach to restoring balance and function to the entire body – the very principles of Functional Diagnostic Nutrition®.