Myths About the Candida Diet

Have you been diagnosed with Candida overgrowth or have read about the symptoms online? Have you tried the “Candida Diet” but to no avail? Learn more about how to best support digestive troubles including Candida, bacterial overgrowth, and parasites with Dr. Nicole Rivera and functional nutritionist Brooke Scheller.


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Dr. Nicole:
Hey there you are listening to IWG radio the place to be for all of your wellness needs. Hosted by functional medical physician Dr Nicole Rivera and functional medicine nutritionist Brooke Scheller. We just want to take a moment to thank you so much for listening and just let you know that any of the information is provided for a strictly educational resource and is not intended to diagnosis or treat any conditions. The lifestyle interventions discussed should not be used as a substitute for any type of conventional medical therapy.

Hey there welcome back to another episode of Integrative Wellness Radio. You are listening to Brooke Scheller the functional medicine nutritionist and Dr Nicole Rivera the functional medicine physician at Integrative Wellness group. Today we're going to be talking to you a little bit about some of the myths about Candida and the Candida diet. I think this becomes a pretty hot topic when we start doing some research online. There's definitely a lot of information out there. It can be easy to get wrapped up in some of the different types of diets or maybe different types of supplements. I think one of the biggest things we see in our practice is really understanding more about is Candida existing? Is that what's really causing the problems? Really the best ways to go about treating that.

One of the really interesting things is that Candida some of the symptoms that can be associated with Candida are actually symptoms that can be associated with a lot of different things. Things like digestive problems or skin manifestations, brain fog. These can absolutely be due to Candida but it might be some type of bacterial infection. It might be some type of immune virus or something like that. It definitely is important to take a look at some of the other areas as well. Why don't you tell us Dr Nicole a little bit about exactly what candida is?

Dr. Nicole:
Candida is something that is considered a yeast. This is a yeast that definitely can be normal within the human digestive tract. It really becomes more problematic when it becomes over abundant. The interesting thing about yeast in the gastrointestinal system is, it can definitely be fed by consuming too many carbohydrates and sugars. Unfortunately nowadays there is sugar in everything that we consume even if we know it or we don't. With Candida it being a yeast again it's something that can definitely be fed by sugars and carbs. It can definitely become overgrown based off of your dietary habits.

With that being said I mean obviously we're talking about the gastrointestinal system being affected but let's talk more about some of the other areas of the body that can be really affected too.

Dr. Nicole:
Symptomatically when you're dealing with something like Candida, the list can be really really big. Which is why a lot of people go online technically research Candida comes up and they look at that long list of symptoms and they go "Oh my gosh that's me". But with that being said more so in the gastrointestinal world you might have bloating, especially upon eating carbohydrates and sugars. You might not be tolerating things like pastas and breads very well. They might be irritating you again creating some bloating maybe even some gas.

You can also have a lot of manifestations more so related to the brain. Everything from changes in your mood, depression, anxiety. You can definitely be experiencing brain fog. You can also be experiencing a lot of inflammation and the reason why that can happen is because if the yeast is abundant for a long period of time, it can definitely start to escape from the gut getting into the blood stream. That's due to something called leaky gut. From there if the yeast does get into the blood stream, your immune system does start having a reaction to it. That creates a whole cascade of inflammation which can then of course lead to achy joints, stiffness. But it also can start to create other manifestations such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, headaches, migraines etc.

Well it even contribute to auto immune conditions as well. I think that that's to know especially if you're someone listening that has been diagnosed that might be something that could be coexisting along with the auto immune condition. I like that you mentioned some of those brain fog and inflammation and the brain and things like that because I always like to refer to it as a gluten hangover. You maybe have pizza one night for dinner and you wake up the next day and you feel like you maybe drank alcohol. You kind of feel yucky, your brain's a little funny. You might not be able to think real clearly or your memory's no good. It can definitely be plaguing a lot of people out there. Lets talk a little bit about the Candida diet. Because I think that this is where it gets a little controversial. There's a lot of information online. There's a lot of big sites that will come up when you type in Google. You'll see maybe some conflicting information and it's very confusing to people out there especially are thinking that they're suffering from this. Lets try to clear up some of that confusion.

Dr. Nicole:
The Candida diet can definitely be overwhelming to someone who is reading about it. Because the Candida diet is on the premise of starving the yeast. Like we established earlier the yeast is fed by sugars and carbs. Primarily what the Candida diet is doing is it's going to remove all the carbohydrates and sugars from your diet to then starve your yeast and not cause it to over grow but also to kill off whatever yeast is already present. They do usually mention that you might have some die off symptoms from starving the yeast so if you don't feel well or you're feeling kind of fatigued or lethargic it's kind of part of that process. But the thing is is yeast is really smart and it actually learns how to adapt within the human body. It actually learns how to protect itself from your immune system. I think that that is something that is not really well addressed through the traditional methods of the Candida diet.

With that being said, you can go into this mode of starving the yeast so that it can die off but at the end of the day if something called a biofilm has been created. Which the biofilm is, I call it the sticky saran wrap layer. This sticky saran wrap layer is something that the yeast can actually produce in order to protect itself from the immune system. If that is something that has been established within your gastrointestinal system then you can pretty much starve your yeast all you want and feel pretty terrible in the process but you're not going to be successful with getting rid of the yeast completely. These are people that maybe go through a period of time of "OK I started the Candida diet. I feel pretty good. All right I'm starting to not feel so good. Boom I hit a plateau". Really what needs to be addressed is is Candida first of all your only problem here. Is there parasites? Is there bacteria also in the mix? But also do you have this biofilm which is somewhat protecting the yeast. Those are some really, really important things to establish.

But I think this is the most important thing to consider when you're doing something like the Candida diet. Is the more and more research they have done on Candida yeast and really not just Candida but various types of yeast. They're actually finding that the yeast is very adaptable. If you go into this mode of starvation literally no sugars and carbs, like you're not even eating carrots because they have sugar in them. If you're going into that mode of full on starving yourself of those sugars and carbs, your body goes into something called ketosis. Your body is actually making something called ketones.

What they have actually found in the new research is that the Candida learns how to live off of the ketones. You go into this super, super, super restricted diet, practically torturing yourself and then the yeast actually learns how to defeat you. It actually starts to feed off of the ketones which are being produced by you going into this very, very low carbohydrate state.

You mentioned it being so difficult. I think that that's one of the most challenging things with it is, people come into us maybe after trying a Candida diet for 2 years and they feel really, really defeated. Because they've been struggling and really, really cutting back and trying to keep out all the sugars and yet they're still having this problem. But I think going back to some of the other things that you mentioned is sometimes it doesn't exist alone. I want you to tell a little bit more about things like parasites and bacteria because we often see them coexisting.

Dr. Nicole:
Definitely. I would say if you are someone who's relating to some of these symptoms or even if you go and check out Candida online and you're like "Oh my god that's totally me". If you then say I think that this is been me for the past 10-15 years because at the end of the day most of us have consumed a lot of carbs and sugars as kids. It's very probable that if you're in your 20's, 30's, 40's that you could potential had yeast over growth in your gut for a very long time. Long standing yeast over growth can definitely be living side by side with parasites. It's a very, very, very, common co-infection. Something along the lines of parasites, you're not only going to experience maybe the bloating that you would from just having yeast but you also might have loose bowel movements if you, say, eat the wrong thing. Or just even have intermittent loose bowel movements throughout the month, you also might find yourself being on a little bit of a roller coaster ride with your moods through the month as well. Because those are very common side effects of having parasites within the gut.

On the flip side of the bacteria. Bacteria is definitely very interesting because bacteria can actually live off of a lot of foods classified as prebiotics. We say beans and a lot of people automatically think "Oh the fart food". The interesting thing about beans is, beans are technically a prebiotic so what they do is feed to good bacteria aka the probiotics in your gut. If you also have bad bacteria in you gut then the beans will also feed that as well. If you find yourself eating something like beans or even white potatoes, lentils and you're getting gassy and especially if your gas has odor to it that is very indicative of a bacterial over growth as well. Beans are not supposed to be the fart food is the moral of the story. It's really just if you have bacterial overgrowth in your gut, you're going to have those types of symptoms. Those are some really key things to keep in mind when you're really trying to figure out from a symptomatic stand point. Is there something else going in my gastrointestinal system?

Obviously you really want to back all of this up with testing. You don't want to be guessing and trying all of these different types of diets. Then obviously being months in and feeling like "Oh my gosh everything I did I don't even think it worked". Doing something like a stool sample is really useful and you can usually do that through an alternative physician, a functional medicine physician. Some medical doctors will also be on board with recommending it as well. It gives you a lot of useful information.

One of my favorite things about the stool analysis as nerdy as this sounds is, it will actually tell us when we culture certain strains of yeast or bacteria exactly which agents will be most effective in eliminating it. It not only tells us what is there but it also gives us a little bit of a treatment protocol as well and how we can best treat it. But so I like how you mentioned the beans beans they're good for your heart, little cute little song I remember that growing up but it's funny because it becomes so common. What's seemingly natural, everybody is having this issue but it really comes down to maybe some underlying issues. We mentioned the Candida diet and how maybe it's not the best but what would be the recommendations going forward for your best treatment idea?

Dr. Nicole:
Really what it comes down to for really having the most effective way of approaching something like Candida is, try the diet first. Which I'll discuss but then if you do feel like you're a couple weeks in and you have hit a plateau you really need to consider the possibility that you've had yeast for so long that that biofilm, again that sticky saran wrap layer might be there. That might be preventing you from getting rid of the yeast completely. With that being said there are very specific supplements that you can utilize that will help you to break down the biofilm. But also break down the yeast as well and get that all out of your system. Biofilms the most useful way to break that down is using enzyme therapy and then also something like a grapefruit seed extract is really really useful for helping to be an anti-yeast agent.

Kind of two really important things to keep in the back of your mind because if you truly feel like you have Candida, you have all the tell tale symptoms, yes diet if very important. But if you take the right supplements it will speed up the process tremendously. With that being said dietary wise, we established that if you go completely sugar free and completely carb free, then you could potentially feed the yeast. You want to have a balance. You want to make sure that you are cutting down on the inflammatory foods and the processed sugars, the refined sugars but you want to have some healthy carbohydrates and healthy sugars in the mix. Sticking with something along the lines of an autoimmune paleo diet can actually be really really useful. You're eliminating out beans. You're eliminating out legumes so beans and peanuts technically fall under that category. You're eliminating out grains. Even your pastas, your breads which are more refined but you're even cutting out the quinoas and the brown rice and the lentils. You're cutting those things out. But your carbohydrate alternative can turn into more of sweet potatoes, rutabaga, yams, more of these really healthy starches.

Creating some alternatives when it comes to carbohydrates and starches. Also cutting out the sugars, especially your processed white refined sugars. But sticking with maybe tops 2 servings of fruit per day. Instead of doing an excess of fruit. Technically one serving of fruit would be one orange or one banana or a cup of cut up fruit or berries. Sticking with keeping your fruit in moderation and then obviously considering the sugars that might be in bars that you're eating, shakes that you're drinking. You really, really want to keep your sugar intake really, rally low. If you're having any sugars at all it should be coming from a fruit source again keeping that also low. It also can be coming from something like a sweet potato or a yam.

You can reference the Eat for Your Gut cookbook. This is something available on our website. It's also available on Amazon. These are going to be a hundred recipes of foods that are going to be appropriate for healing your gastrointestinal system but also making sure that you're not feeding the yeast and you're having a very, very good balance of these sugars and carbohydrates. You're keeping out the ones that are technically inflammatory.

As always we like to offer a 15 minute strategy phone call with anybody who wants a little bit more information and how we can kind of guide you a little bit of what we do in our practice and taking into consideration some of your specific symptoms. Also we would be really happy if you would give us a rating and a review and subscribe to us on iTunes. We'll talk to you soon.

Dr. Nicole:
Just remember it's not you, it's your yeast.