Is Candida Contributing to Your Inability to Lose Weight?
Many people who struggle with weight loss also find that they are unable to control their cravings for sugar-based products, which include both simple sugars (baked goods, candy, soda and most of today’s processed foods) and refined carbohydrates (white varieties of rice, pasta, bread, bagels, crackers and cookies).
Although there are many reasons for sugar cravings and failed attempts at weight loss, one possible diagnosis worth looking into for those with severe weight challenges is a condition called Candida.
Candida or Candidiasis is an overgrowth of yeast in the body that can cause an array of symptoms such as digestive and urinary problems, irritability, fogginess, frequent or persistent fungal infections, depression, a weakened immune system, food allergies or intolerances, a strong sensitivity to odors, intense cravings for sugar and breads, and many others.
Although the presence of healthy intestinal flora is a necessity for protecting our digestive tract, Candida yeast overgrowth is primarily caused by years of antibiotic treatments that wipe out both good and bad strains of bacteria in our efforts to treat sickness and chronic health conditions. Poor diet, stress, and lack of sleep are also contributors to creating an internal environment prone to bacterial growth and disease.
Even though there are cases where antibiotics are the best treatment option, many of us have become accustomed to taking them every time we are sick, regardless of whether bacteria is the cause. As a result, our intestinal flora is severely imbalanced, which impacts our digestive and immune systems and creates an environment for yeast to flourish as well as toxins to more easily enter our bloodstream. What makes matters worse is that yeast feeds on sugar. Therefore as the yeast becomes excessive, sugar cravings intensify and our susceptibility to sickness increases, thus creating a never-ending cycle of weight and health problems.
There are many questionnaires available in books and online to help you determine whether Candida may be impacting your weight and health. The most important course of treatment is to heal the gut, which can be extremely beneficial whether you have Candida or not. Although there are some variations of opinion on the best way to go about treating Candida and Candida-related conditions, changing your diet and reintroducing healthy bacteria is an essential course of action to producing long-term relief.
The key dietary recommendation when treating Candida is to avoid sugar. As yeast feeds on sugar, the only way to eliminate it is to literally starve it. This means eliminating all sugars from your diet including bread, pasta, grains (with the exception of quinoa, amaranth, millet and buckwheat which don’t contain gluten), alcohol, natural sweeteners, most dairy products, mushrooms, refined oils and any yeast containing products. It’s also good to initially avoid fruits, beans, nuts and fermented products until you feel that your body can tolerate them without producing symptoms. The main thing to focus on is eating plenty of fresh organic vegetables and sea vegetables in addition to gluten-free grains and animal protein in small quantities.
In addition to diet, it’s important to reintroduce healthy bacteria through probiotics and raw saltless sauerkraut, which you can even make at home. There are also many herbal supplements that can help with the yeast elimination process. It’s also valuable to practice proper food combining as some foods eaten together can cause delayed digestion and fermentation in the stomach and digestive tract. This means eating fruits alone, when tolerated, and not combining animal proteins or beans with starchy vegetables or grains.
Although healing the body from the effects of Candida can seem like a daunting task at first, I feel that the benefits far outweigh the challenges. If approached properly, some people can eventually create an internal environment strong enough to tolerate some of their old favorites occasionally and in small quantities. The most important thing to remember is that each person is different and as with all dietary approaches, it’s crucial to develop your self-awareness so that you can easily determine what does and doesn’t work for you individually. If Candida is indeed contributing to your inability to lose weight despite your best efforts to do so, I hope that sharing this information with you has been eye opening and helpful.
Kara wrote for HealthCentral as a patient expert for Food & Nutrition.