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Saturday, July 09, 2011

Candida (or yeast overgrowth)

The condition known as Candida is something that those in alternative medicine circles are very familiar with.  ‘Candida’ refers to an overgrowth of yeast in the body (Candida albicans is the name of the species of yeast), which causes some very unpleasant symptoms.


Everyone has some yeasts in their digestive systems, but when you don’t have enough good bacteria to keep the growth of the yeast under control, it can grow to levels which start to cause symptoms.  One of the most common symptoms is bloating; yeasts have the ability to ferment sugars, a reaction which produces gas, and consequently bloating and flatulence.  Other symptoms of yeast overgrowth are thrush, athlete’s foot, rashes, foggy headedness, depression, lack of energy, diarrhoea, constipation, the list goes on.  These are symptoms alternative medical practitioners see regularly in their clinics (myself included). 

Candida is often linked to antibiotic use because antibiotics can reduce the levels of beneficial bacteria in your digestive system, which then leaves the door open for yeasts to multiply. 

The usual treatment for candida involves an impossibly strict dietary regime, coupled with nutritional supplements to help bring the body back to health.  The main feature of the ‘impossibly strict diet’ is the complete avoidance of sugar in all forms. 


My colleagues and I are all taught the anti-Candida diet during training, and I have used it in the past and when it works, it works really well.  But throughout my years in practice, I have met many people for who the diet does not work.  I have met several people who have been on the diet for a year or more, and are still not feeling better.  Now, my rule when it comes to food and diets is ‘only avoid certains foods if it makes you feel MUCH better’, otherwise it’s just not worth it.  What’s the point of following a diet that a) is stressful, and b) is not making you feel better?  And in fact, I have seen research that sugar in the diet doesn’t actually increase the population of candida anyway!

Over the years my approach has evolved to focus more clearly on supporting the body with real foods, rather than excluding them.  I also teach intuitive eating principles, which help my clients to break free from using rules to choose their foods, and to trust their instincts more.  I believe this is one of the best methods to nourish the body optimally.  Supporting the immune system is really important when faced with Candida symptoms; after all, the only reason that its there in the first place is because theres been a breakdown of the body’s own defences, so rebuliding them is key.  Probiotics (‘friendly bacteria’) are usually the mainstay of any nutritional treatment programme.

Kinesiology is useful to work alongside nutritional therapy; it works on the subtle energy system in the body and facilitates healing on a different level.

So if you, or someone you know, think they have Candida, please don’t go to the internet and put yourself on an extreme diet.  I think the body responds best to gentle support, rather than harsh deprivation.



www.melanieflower.com
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2 comments

Clare said...

I wish I had read this before I did my extreme diet and lost loads of weight and yes, it was quite miserable actually. Very sensible advice, thanks Clare, North London

Melanie Flower said...

Thanks for your comment Clare. I hope you are feeling back to normal now.

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