In this article, Dr. Salerno explains what Candida yeast is, the symptoms of systemic yeast infection, the weight gain and digestion problems associated with Candida yeast, and how to treat it, including instructions for a yeast-free diet.
Amy came to my office by referral from another diet doctor. She had been on a low carb diet but her weight loss had stalled out and she was feeling depressed. Lately she had been craving sugar, but she associated this with a vacation to Mexico where everything had seemed to go South for her.
Her other symptoms included diarrhea, bloating, gas, fatigue, insomnia, and frequent lower abdominal pain, especially after eating. She had seen a succession of doctors, including a gastroenterologist, who told her she had irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and recommended a high-fiber diet.
Like many women with similar problems, Amy had tried several regimens without success. She was really feeling bad. She had started out well in a weight loss program, but she still had about 45 pounds to lose and was stuck. But with the added problems of sugar cravings, fatigue, bloating, and pain, she had about given up.
I believed that Amy was suffering from systemic yeast, or Candida, often accompanied by dysbiosis which is an imbalance of the bacteria in the intestines secondary to yeast overgrowth, environmental or food sensitivities.
We did a conventional work-up on Amy including a stool test which did, indeed, reveal the presence of systemic yeast, and imbalanced bacterial flora — the true underlying causes of her symptoms and the reason her diet was no longer working.
The systemic yeast was a difficult problem and would take a few months to clear up.
What is systemic yeast (Candida)?
Candida albicans is a fungal organism that is present in everyone’s intestinal tract. It is normally kept under control by the immune system and by beneficial intestinal bacteria.
This balance is upset when these bacteria are destroyed (often by antibiotics), when our immune function is impaired (stress or illness), or when we develop environmental or food sensitivities.
Then, Candida begins to proliferate and invade and colonize our body tissues. It most commonly appears as a vaginal yeast infection or as oral thrush. But Candida albicans can also spread inside the body and become a systemic problem.
How does Candida albicans affect the body?
When Candida proliferates, it changes from its simple, relatively harmless form to an invasive form, with long root-like structures that penetrate the intestinal lining. Penetration can break down the boundary between the intestinal tract and the circulatory system. This may allow introduction into the bloodstream of many substances which may be systemic allergens, poisons, or irritants. Partially digested proteins may enter the blood through the openings created by Candida (called leaky gut syndrome), which explains why individuals with Candida also often display a variety of food and environmental allergies.
What are some of the symptoms of Candida yeast infections?
While many of these symptoms may be caused by conditions other than candidiasis, a person suffering from systemic yeast will typically experience a number of the following symptoms:
Weight gain: If the patient’s been on a diet, it will no longer work. If not, the patient may experience an unexplained weight gain.
Generalized: Fatigue, lethargy, migraine headaches, weakness, dizziness, sensory disturbances, hypoglycemia, muscle pain, respiratory problems, chemical sensitivities.
Gastrointestinal: Oral thrush, diarrhea, constipation, rectal itching, inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), flatulence, food sensitivities.
Genitourinary: Yeast vaginitis, menstrual and premenstrual problems, bladder inflammation, chronic urinary tract infections (UTI’s), bladder inflammation, cystitis, PMS.
Dermatological: Eczema, acne, hives.
Mental and emotional: Panic attacks, confusion, irritability, memory loss, inability to concentrate, depression, insomnia, learning disability, short attention span.
Autoimmune: Multiple sclerosis, arthritis, systemic lupus erythematosus, myasthenia gravis, scleroderma, hemolytic anemia, sarcoidosis, thrombocytopenic purpura.
Diagnosis of systemic yeast (Candida) infection
A simple stool test can be done to determine if someone has Candida yeast overgrowth.
Treatment of systemic yeast (Candida) infection
We recommend dietary changes, supplements and lifestyle changes that provides a natural remedy for candidiasis.
Basic eating plan: The Silver Cloud Diet is a good basic diet to follow to rid yourself of a systemic yeast problem. Our diet is high in whole foods, with plenty of vegetables, protein and natural fat, and virtually no simple sugars or processed carbohydrates. Ideally the diet needs to be free of artificial colors, sweeteners and dyes.
1. Avoid yeast-containing foods:
- Beer, wine, and all other forms of alcohol
- Breads, rolls, pretzels, pastries, cookies, and sweet rolls
- B–complex vitamins and selenium products, unless labeled “yeast–free”
- Vinegar or foods containing vinegar, such as mustard, salad dressings, pickles, barbeque sauce, mayonnaise
- Commercially prepared foods such as soups, dry roasted nuts, potato chips, soy sauce, cider, natural root beer, olives, sauerkraut
2. Avoid mold-containing and mold-supporting foods:
- Pickled, smoked or dried meats, fish, and poultry
- Cured pork bacon
- All cheese, aged or fresh except cream cheese and fresh mozzarella
- Soy sauce, tamari, and miso
- Peanuts, peanut products, and pistachios
- Herbs and teas that may be moldy
- Malt or foods containing malt
- Canned or prepared tomatoes (fresh tomatoes are fine)
3. Avoid all sugars:
- Honey, maple syrup, brown sugar
- Fruit juices (canned, bottled, or frozen)
- Dried fruits
- All processed sugar
- Anything containing high-fructose corn syrup
- High glycemic index foods
- All prepared and processed foods for a period of at least 4 weeks
What foods can you eat in a Candida diet?
- All fresh non-starchy vegetables — a large variety, raw, steamed, or sautéed with plenty of dark green leafy vegetables.
- Fresh protein at every meal, including beef, pork, lamb, chicken, fish, turkey, eggs, and shellfish. Organic is best, but fresh is essential. Choose grass fed meats and wild caught fish.
- Unprocessed nuts and seeds, except peanuts.
- Unrefined cold-pressed olive, sesame, and coconut oils .
- Lemon juice with oil for salad dressing — this may be a prepared product, but be careful to avoid any salad dressing that contains vinegar.
- Beverages such as mineral or spring water, coffee, tea, and sugar-free cocktails
- Limited quantities of low-sugar fruit (three daily), unless you see a reaction, then limit to twice weekly. Avoid grapes, raisins, dates, prunes and figs..
How long does it take to heal a systemic yeast infection?
Most often, we recommend that you stay on this program for four months, then repeat the stool test. We usually find that enough progress has been made for a patient to wean off the antifungal agent and the probiotic supplement, and to moderate the anti-yeast diet at that point.
Where to go for help with systemic yeast
In our personal program, we provide pharmaceutical-grade supplements plus optional phone support from our Nurse–Educators. While the Personal Program isn’t a medical practice, many women find the right combination of guidance and support from our nurses, who are highly trained. To learn more about the Program call The Salerno Center, 1-212-582-1700.
Of course, you are always welcome to become a patient of The Salerno Center, located at 161 Madison Av, New York, New York. We have years of success in treating weight loss and candida.