Candida and yeast overgrowth is exceedingly common. The symptoms experienced by individuals vary massively but typically they include: IBS, allergies, fatigue, bloating, constipation, heartburn and muscle weakness. Sometimes there can be mental symptoms such as irritability, confusion and brain fog.
Candida is commensal in the gut of all healthy individuals and is only a problem if it overgrows. Ordinarily Candida is kept from overgrowing by our normal beneficial flora. Unfortunately modern lifestyle and our typical westernised diet has deleterious effects on our resident gut flora and providing opportunity for Candida to overgrow and thrive: frequent antibiotic use, diets high in sugar or lacking in key immune nutrients, birth control pills, NSAIDS, repetitive and highly processed diets, refined carbohydrates, alcohol intake, poor digestion and high levels of stress.
Identifying whether Candida is indeed your issue is the first and most important step to take and whilst it might be tempting to simply assume its existence, similar symptoms may be experienced from other pathogens such as a common parasite called B Hominis. Whilst an anti-candida diet (low in sugar and starch) is useful in eradicating many parasites the anti-fungal supplements typically used for Candida are can be ineffective against B Hominis and a stronger suplement may be warranted for a longer period of time in order to achieve an effective eradication.
Once a Candida infection is confirmed, the anti-candida (A/C) approach can be begun. Very strict diets can be very challenging for an individual to adopt and may not be the best approach in supporting your innate immune system, which is after all, going to be critical in preventing the return of Candida at a later date.
A “strict” diet which involves the severe reduction of all carbohydrates, is overly restrictive and can be a difficult diet to do. The idea that Candida can be starved out of the body is also a misnomer as candida can survive off of proteins, not just the carbs. This will serve to starve the patient, upset hormones involved in energy production (adrenals, thyroid) as well as make the individual absolutely miserable.
Whilst I do not recommend a “strict anti-candida diet” I should qualify that comment by saying that a person with a proven case of candida should avoid refined carbohydrates and sugar, fruit and juices, in in order to avoid feeding the yeast, whilst undergoing any treatment phase for Candida.
I approach Candida treatment in phases according to the individual’s personal case history and state of health. It is often necessary to begin the treatment with a course of supplements designed to support the body’s innate immunity by increasing levels of a substance known as Secretory ImmunoGlobulin A or SIgA. Secretory IgA (SIgA) is the main immunoglobulin in mucus secretions and is our body’s first line of defence against pathogens. Intestinal cells produce about 2-3g of SIgA every day and production tends to be highest in childhood and declines after about sixty years old.
SIgA antibodies prevent micro-organisms, food proteins and carcinogens from binding to the surface of absorptive cells. Effectively, they attach themselves to invading pathogens, trap them in mucus and stop them from going anywhere. They can also neutralise any damaging toxins given off and help ensure the invaders are removed. The antibodies also ‘tag’ foods as acceptable to the body and this explains how low SIgA levels can contribute to Candida overgrowth as well as promoting food allergy and intolerance.
Supplementation for Candida Reduction
I use a variety of supplements to assist the body in controlling Candida which include the use of probiotics and nutrient compounds which serve to increase SIgA but also ensure the integrity of the gut lining serving to make it less permeable. In addition, a number of nutrients are given to actively ‘kill-off’ the yeast and simultaneously I give large doses of probiotics or ‘friendly bacteria’ which replace Candida on the gut wall. This phased approach, whilst not quick (8-12 weeks typically) does prove to be the best approach long-term as the focus is on building the individuals immune system as much as it is about killing off the yeast. In this way, I believe that this approach can be the last ever anti-candida treatment a client needs.
More about Candida lab testing
It is strongly recommended that before commencing an anti-candida regime, that a definite diagnosis of Candida is made. This is done very successfully by the use of either of two tests both done by yourself at home. Once you have done the tests you submit them to the lab for analysis. The results are then sent to you and to us here at IBS Clinics and then we can organise a consultation to discuss what steps we can take to help you.
Saliva test – this is a quick, cheap and simple, non-invasive test which tests Saliva for Candida antibodies. Ordinarily the lab can turn these tests round in 5-7 working days, often faster. It is important
to know that this test only checks for Candida it cannot test for any other parasites.
Comprehensive Stool test with Parasitology – this test, as you would expect, tests the stool for Candida, as well as other parasites and gives an indication of the growth of beneficial and non-beneficial bacteria. It requires two samples taken on consecutive days and takes around 2.5 weeks to be returned. This test is especially useful as it helps us to understand the patients internal gut environment and can identify the species of the pathogen as well as what anti-fungal protocols are likely to be most effective in eradicating it.
Getting Candida under control – commonly asked questions
Why do you say getting Candida under control, why not say get rid of it altogether?
This is a good question and the reason that I do not use stronger language is that Candida is a normal inhabitant of a healthy gut and poses no issue in healthy people. Issues arise however when the immune system is compromised for any reason. Approximately 70% of the body’s immune system is in the gut and is comprised of a bacterial community the balance of which is vital for our health.
Why test for Candida?
Candida protocols and treatment plans can involve extensive changes to your diet & lifestyle combined with the use of anti-fungal supplements. Before embarking on such a regime it makes sense to identify the presence of a candida infection to be sure of the right approach.
I think I definitely have Candida, but could it be something else?
I have seen many clients at my clinic who display a myriad of what appear to be Candida symptoms, however tests have shown in some cases that there is no over growth of Candida but instead a parasitic infection was identified.
I haven’t been anywhere exotic; could I really have a parasite?
You don’t need to travel to far flung remote destinations to pick-up a parasitic infection, most are transmitted via the fecal-oral route, in simple terms you have eaten contaminated food or water, have pets or come into contact with someone with poor toilet hygiene.
What’s the easiest way to test for Candida?
A simple saliva test, this checks just for the presence of Candida antibodies and identifies a current and/or past exposure to Candida. There is another (admittedly more expensive) test, which is a stool test that gives a comprehensive overview of an individual’s gut environment and shows the balance of gut flora (dysbiosis) as well as the presence of Candida and/or any other inhabitants (parasites such as B Hominis or D Fragilis), which can result in Candida-like symptoms.
Is the Saliva test the best test to take?
The choice of test is up to personal taste and your budget. If Candida is found and is your only issue then it will prove to be the least expensive option. If the test is negative for Candida and you still have symptoms then you will need to undertake another test to look for other factors. Ultimately this could prove more expensive in the long-term.
Why bother to test at all, couldn’t we just assume it and start the Candida control plan?
This is your choice ultimately and this approach does have its merits, but the path to ridding yourself of Candida can be a long one and is dependent on a variety of factors. Testing gives important information as to the progress made and also identifies if other interventions such as the use of probiotics, low sugar diet or digestive enzymes could be beneficial to assist or speed up the process.
How many appointments or phone consultations will it take to resolve my Candida issue?
Two to three appointments is about the normal number to achieve the resolution of the issue. I am not in the habit of suggesting appointments if they are not necessary, but the Candida protocol can be complex and many of my clients have found it beneficial to have a formal appraisal of their progress. I should also point out that as well as working to control Candida my approach is to treat the individual as a whole and so we typically address blood sugar balance, adrenal fatigue and hormonal balance as part of the process. The goal is to get you feeling as well as possible.
How much are supplements and how many will I need?
This varies enormously and will be in the region of £100 per month dependant on test results. Expect to take supplements for three months to a year.
How quickly will I notice an improvement?
This varies from person to person, but typically after a couple of weeks symptoms such as bloating and toilet frequency should begin to improve and after 3-4 weeks, you should feel a bit more ‘alive’ and have sense that things have improved.
What’s Candida die-off? Will it make me feel terrible?
The symptoms associated with a Candida overgrowth are largely due to Candida’s ability to produce a toxin called acetaldehyde. When Candida is killed-off it releases a large amount of this chemical so it is possible to begin to feel worse again which can be hard to understand as it often follows a period of feeling better.
Can you help me manage the die-off process?
Absolutely! I don’t believe that an individual needs to suffer just to prove that the approach is working and have found that there are a number of nutritional interventions which can be used to improve bile flow and speed up the removal of toxins from the body.
What do I do if I have any questions throughout the process, and do you charge extra?
You are welcome to email me with quick questions or to call me on my phone clinic days. However, please understand that lengthier emails, by their very nature require a comprehensive response and for these there may be a charge or I may suggest that you schedule a 2-30 minute phone consult, which will be charged pro-rata.
Ok I’m happy with this, what do I do to get started?
Just complete the enquiry form, and I will contact you to send you a health questionnaire and to schedule our first appointment.
What we do
IBS Clinics aims to be your partner in care. We focus on you, taking the time to understand your health concerns and anything that appears to affect your symptoms. Then – explaining everything as we go – we work with you to develop, implement and review a comprehensive treatment plan.
IBS, SIBO, Ulcerative Colitis, Crohn’s Disease, Microscopic Colitis, Candida, Celiac Disease, Leaky Gut Syndrome, intestinal parasites and more. Tracey explains each gut condition – and other, related ailments including Fibromyalgia, Chronic Fatigue – and shows how IBS Clinics can help.
About Tracey Randell and her colleagues
Tracey studied clinical nutrition at BCNH College of Nutrition and Health, where she now lectures: her interest in nutrition was initially sparked by her own IBS and weight issues – both of which resolved during her studies. Her patients appreciate her committedly professional, evidence-based, and empathic approach.