Candida: Your Gut Could Be Telling You Something

What if I told you that chronic fatigue, frequent headaches, weight gain, poor digestion, yeast infections, junk food cravings and even depression may all be connected to the overgrowth of an opportunistic fungus in your body? Got your attention yet? It’s true- symptoms like these can frequently be explained by the presence of Candida, a fungus found in the digestive tract. While normally kept in check, certain conditions can allow unhealthy strains of this yeasty substance to multiply out of control, wreaking havoc on our bodies.

Normally, healthy Candida lives in harmony with a variety of other bacteria and actually performs some important digestive functions. But when something upsets the ratio of good- to- bad bacteria in the body, bad or unhealthy Candida can grow out of control. Illness, a poor diet and recent antibiotic use can all contribute to the problem. Once a build-up of unhealthy Candida is present, the body begins to react negatively, leaving us to feel sluggish and even a little depressed.

Think of it this way: If your gut (stomach) is unhappy, you are unhappy-literally! Did you know that the gut stores much of our body’s Serotonin, a neurotransmitter that contributes to feelings of well-being? That’s right-while some Serotonin is synthesized and housed in the brain, it is also found in your gut. So, it’s not surprising that our sense of well-being and happiness may depend in part on what’s happening in the digestive tract.

What can be done to stop the growth of unhealthy Candida?

The following are some other very basic steps that can increase energy and have you on the road to feeling well again. Note that consistency is important for good results:
  1. Although we can’t completely prevent illness and the occasional need to use antibiotics, we can control the food we eat. Eat a healthy diet high in lean protein. Beans, nuts, baked chicken, baked fish and turkey are all great sources. On the other hand, diets high in refined carbohydrates like bread, pasta, pizza, cereal, sugary drinks and sweet snacks can lead to a build up of Candida. Reducing or eliminating these sugar laden foods is one of the most important steps to take and can have the greatest impact on how we feel, both emotionally and physically.

  2. Talk to your doctor, psychiatrist or health coach about adding a probiotic supplement to your daily regimen. This is particularly relevant if you are currently or have recently taken an antibiotic since they tend to kill all of the bacteria in your body-both healthy and unhealthy! Adding a probiotic supplement can help to rebuild healthy bacteria levels faster.

  3. Yogurt is another great source of probiotics. It’s natural, inexpensive and does not require you to swallow a pill. Keep in mind that plain yogurt is best! Stay away from sweetened or flavored yogurt since sugar feeds and encourages the growth of Candida.

  4. Stay well hydrated. Water is essential for a healthy digestive system and has the added benefit of reducing cravings and easing feelings of fatigue.

  5. Find a healthy way to manage stress. Therapies that emphasize mindfulness and acceptance of self are helpful in reducing anxiety. Remember-when the body is under stress the digestive system does not function properly.

The connection between bacteria in our gut and the way we feel is further proof that good nutrition is vital to our well being. More than ever, that “feeling in your gut” should not be ignored but rather responded to by improving the way we nourish our bodies. It seems our tummies are smarter than we once thought!