By Robyn Lev, MS, OT/L
Candida overgrowth is a common, under-diagnosed condition.
What is Candida?
In a healthy person, candida lives on the skin and inside the body, in places such as the mouth, throat, gut, and groin, without causing any problems. It is only when candida grows out of control from eating a diet of processed foods, colas, breads, pasta, other sugary foods, habitual consumption of conventional meat with antibiotics, and/ or from enduring a stressful time in your life that this overgrowth of yeast or fungus becomes a problem.
Candida overgrowth is a systemic condition and one which happens over time, not overnight. This occurs when the microbiome, your gut health, is no longer in balance and when your immune system is in a weakened state. Candida overgrowth attacks the gut wall and destroys the mucosal lining of the gut which creates intestinal permeability and inflammation. This increases allergies, food sensitivity and overall aches and pains. This is a very serious condition when a diet and life change are required for health and longevity. The gut-brain connection is paramount to understanding overall health and ensuing symptoms, ie. general malaise, headaches, brain fog, joint pain that some may attribute to one condition when it may really be your gut health talking.
How to Heal Candida
Healing candida overgrowth requires focus, discipline, and self- love. Change of diet is the big change you need to implement in your life. Since candida feeds on sugar, you must starve it of sugar through diet and intermittent fasting. Intermittent fasting is vital to healing the gut as it gives the body more time to repair itself between meals. During the fasting period the body transitions from using glucose as a main source of energy to using fat. This type of fasting helps activate the good bacteria, increases gut bacteria diversity, decreases inflammation, and repairs the lining of your stomach. At this time a deep cleansing occurs through the elimination of toxins such as dead cells, fatty tissue, intestinal mucus, and other waste products stored in the body. In addition, toxins stored in your body’s fats cells are also released, further detoxifying the system, and often facilitating weight loss as an added bonus.
Some eat one meal a day and others skip breakfast and eat 2 meals in a designated window of time. Make sure you’re ingesting lots of good fats and fiber from organic veggies. Plant fibers help strengthen the gut by creating more biodiversity of bacteria. Regular movement throughout the day provides for greater circulatory benefits in the gut by helping digest and absorb nutrients more efficiently. Choose natural self-care hygiene products as toxic, chemical laden make-up, hair products and creams are absorbed into the skin and can affect the symbiosis in the gut. Take a pause on eating bread, sugar, dairy, and animal foods grown with antibiotics and hormones. Enhance your life with positive human interactions, reduce stress, be as active as you can, and smell the roses.
What Do I Need to Eat?
Greens, greens, greens are the most important foods to eat. Choose organic as much possible as conventional veggies can contribute to candida overgrowth as you’re consuming antibiotics from the manure that fertilizes this produce. Fresh organic greens are grown in mineral rich soil, provide enzymes, are nutrient dense, and keep your blood sugar levels stable. Eat greens like lettuces, (i.e., romaine, kale, chard, spinach), sprouts, (i.e., sunflower sprouts, alfalfa sprouts, broccoli sprouts), and cruciferous veggies, (i.e., broccoli, cauliflower, and Brussels sprouts) provide excellent nutrition. Enzymatically rich foods are important as they help your body break down the foods you’re eating and allow for more of your body’s energy to go into healing. Enzymes perform thousands of chemical reactions in the body and thus help your body function optimally. As you age the body naturally produces fewer enzymes so it’s best to assist your body in consuming more. Eat a rainbow of earth foods abundant with phytonutrients to help combat inflammation and reestablish healthy flora in your gut. Eat more probiotics, including fermented veggies, lacto-fermented sauerkraut and other probiotic rich foods that feed the beneficial microbes. Traditional lacto-fermentation involves submerging vegetables in a brine solution— salt and water, and are easy to make your own at home. If you choose to eat meat, eat grass fed, grass finished meat so you’re not ingesting the antibiotics, growth hormones, and other chemicals.
Let’s make this simple:
Drink lots of fresh lemon water
Drink fresh green smoothies with veggies, ie. cucumbers, kale, spinach, green apple, lemon.
Eat large salads (choose lettuce base, ie. romaine, butter leaf, kale), with root veggies like radishes
Add steamed cruciferous veggies, steamed spinach, avocado, seeds, (i.e., sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds), sprouts, (i.e., sunflower, alfalfa, broccoli), olives, avocado, seaweed
Make your own dressings (see quick and easy dressings below)
Eat raw flaxseed and or chia seed crackers
Eat until you are full
Olive oil or avocado oil with Himalayan salt, black pepper, organic nutritional yeast, fresh lemon juice
Raw tahini with parsley, fresh garlic, Himalayan salt, black pepper, fresh lemon juice
Raw cashews soaked with red pepper, organic nutritional yeast, Himalayan salt, black pepper. Puree in high-speed blender.
40-50 Basil leaves, pumpkin seeds, olive oil, garlic clove, Himalayan salt, black pepper. Puree in high-speed blender.
Wheatgrass Purifies the Blood
Wheatgrass is an immune-stimulator and a natural detoxifier to the liver. It provides the body with essential nutrients, enzymes, and minerals to heal the body. Adding this one food to your diet daily can have a huge effect on your health. Wheatgrass has antioxidant, antibacterial, and anti-inflammatory properties. It contains iron, calcium, enzymes, magnesium, phytonutrients, 17 amino acids, vitamins A, C, E, K, and B complex, chlorophyll, and proteins. Drink wheatgrass juice on an empty stomach and wait 15-20 minutes after to eat or drink.
The Importance of the Liver
The liver performs hundreds of vital functions in the body. It filters all the blood in the body as well filters out toxins, drugs, and wastes the body creates. The liver breaks down these harmful substances and produces bile to help carry away this waste. By the time someone reaches their 40’s or 50’s the liver has been overworked, stressed, and strained with the modern standard American diet, alcohol, drugs, and or pharmaceuticals and needs a cleanse. Wheatgrass juice, fresh green juices, fermented foods, and a diet rich of organic fresh greens, veggies, seeds, and nuts* will help the liver heal itself so it can function optimally. Take additional digestive enzymes prior to meals to facilitate proper digestion.
*the recommended daily limit of raw, soaked nuts is one handful.
Consume these Super Foods
· Fresh, organic greens, cruciferous veggies, sprouts
Live cultured foods, ie. Lacto-fermented sauerkraut, lacto-fermented pickles (lacto is short for lactobacillus bacteria - means it’s fermented)
Green juice and green smoothies
Avocados, olives, tahini, seaweeds, (i.e., dulse, nori flakes, kelp)
Organic raw almond butter, homemade nut or seed milks (almonds + water = nut milk)
Pumpkin and sunflower seeds
Flax seed or chia crackers (make them at home-see simple recipe below)
Fresh lemon water
Spirulina, Blue-Green Algae
Prebiotics and Probiotics – to build up healthy flora
Vitamin C, B12 and possible other B Vitamins, Vitamin D (energy test yourself)
Clean water *
Get 10-20 minutes of sunshine daily- yes sunshine is a super food and is absorbed through your eyes and skin
*Add minerals to your diet if you drink reverse osmosis water as the R/O water process removes minerals.
Flax seed/Chia seed crackers recipe
Soak a cup of flax or chia seeds in 2 ½ cups of water
Blend in food processor then add fresh herbs, ie. dill, cilantro and preferred dried herbs, Himalayan salt, pepper. Mix well, then flatten on dehydrator sheet or oven pan. Dehydrate overnight or bake at lowest temp until done.
What you consume overall contributes to the alkalinity of your body. What you eat, drink, the relationships you have, stress at work or home, and every aspect of your life contributes to the alkalinity of your body. If you clean up your diet and eat only alkalizing foods, that will help your brain function, overall state of peace and calmness, and thus coping skills.
Become more conscious of the effect foods have on your body and on your behavior. Take notice of how you feel after you eat and drink. Take notice of how your body feels after you eat more processed foods. Take notice of how you feel when you eat late at night. Do you sleep better? Do you wake up feeling hungover or tired? People say it takes so much time to juice wheatgrass, cut up a salad, and to make your own food. It takes as long as it takes. Your choice is to love yourself enough to make the time to prepare the foods you need to thrive.
Stabilizing Your Blood Sugar
Your blood sugar levels and their fluctuations are intrinsically tied to your health. With recent research, it is becoming more evident than ever that foods that stabilize your blood sugar are important to eat on a regular basis, while foods that cause blood sugar spikes or fluctuations should be avoided. Your blood sugar levels are tied to a wide range of hormonal responses that can contribute to your body’s metabolism, your mood, energy levels, fat storage, and more. Your body has a very different response when you eat a bagel compared to eating piece of broccoli. In general, when you eat foods that break down quickly and cause a spike in your blood sugar, like a bagel, you can become insulin resistant and gain weight more easily. Stabilizing blood sugar levels through a diet rich in fresh greens, sprouts, steamed veggies, nuts, and seeds provides for optimal healing to occur. Your body either fuels itself with sugar, or fuels itself with fat. Most people on the standard American diet are fueled by sugar which spikes insulin many times throughout the day. When the insulin levels drop, they can experience irritability, weakness, fatigue, head aches, jitters, and incessant hunger. Unfortunately, more than half of our population is overweight due to eating habits and lack of adequate bodily movement. Keeping a balanced blood sugar level is important for health, and achieved through an alkalizing diet and intermittent fasting.
Fine Tuning Your Healing with Energy Testing
What does energy testing have to do with healing from Candida?
Energy testing is testing yourself for what is best for your body. This practice is integral in healing yourself.
How Do I Energy Test?
Take a necklace with a charm and say show me a “yes.” Be patient and wait for the energy to move the charm in one direction. Then ask for a “no” and be patient for the energy to move the charm in the opposite direction. Your ability to energy test will improve as you practice. Practice, practice, practice, and trust in the results. Once you master this you can ask any yes/no question about your own body, ie. What greens are best for me now? Which vitamin C supplement is best for my body? You can also ask “am I getting accurate answers?” If you have a friend who does energy testing, you may ask for them to help you, so you become more confident in this new skill.
Once you implement this new way of eating, your body will inevitably respond. That response will not necessarily be greater energy nor feeling better in any way, but rather you will experience a period of detoxing. Detoxing is when the body is eliminating toxins and purging impurities. Detoxing will feel like the flu, or you may experience aches, pains, exhaustion, brain fog, headaches, and more. As horrible as you feel transitioning through detoxing your body, be proud of yourself, and keep going - remember it’s only temporary. Once you move through this period of detox you will feel better; you’ll have more energy, clearer thinking and focus, and fewer aches and pains. Have faith and know you will make it!
Peaceful Relations with Yourself and Others
Don’t underestimate the power that conflict and arguments can have on your health. It’s imperative to either minimize interaction with those people who create chaos in your life, or come to a new way of engaging with them. When your emotions are pulled, or when you are triggered by someone close to you, it’s easy to lose your footing and focus.
Good sleep is paramount for healing. Implement a calming bedtime routine where you quiet yourself and go yin – inward. Make sure your bedroom is completely dark. No electronics nor TV should be in your bedroom as your bedroom is solely for achieving great sleep. Your bedroom is your sacred space where you are safe, and only love, peace, and a state of calmness resides. For full and complete healing to occur you must bring love into every cell of your body and surrender to your own divinity.
Come Back to Your Heart Space
Say to yourself: I accept all that I have created for myself. I love and accept myself exactly as I am. I support myself, trust myself, and accept myself wherever I am. I can be within the love of my own heart. I place my hand over my heart and feel the love that is there. I know there is plenty of room for me to accept myself right here and now. I accept my body, my weight, my height, my appearance, my sexuality, and my experiences. I accept all that I have created for myself—my past and my present. I am willing to allow my future to happen. I am a Divine, Magnificent expression of Life, and I deserve the very best. I accept this for myself now. I accept miracles. I accept healing. I accept wholeness. And most of all, I accept myself. I am precious, and I cherish who I am. And so it is.
Most importantly be gentle on yourself, have the courage to put yourself first, and love yourself unconditionally.
Robyn Lev, MS, OT/L
Medical Intuitive, Energy Practitioner, Occupational Therapist, Author, and Mother
If you suspect you may have candida overgrowth, schedule an appointment with Dr. Puc or one of her associates.
Kumamoto CA. Inflammation and gastrointestinal Candida colonization. Curr Opin Microbiol. 2011 Aug;14(4):386-91. doi: 10.1016/j.mib.2011.07.015. Epub 2011 Jul 28. PMID: 21802979; PMCID: PMC3163673.
Kumamoto CA, Gresnigt MS, Hube B. The gut, the bad and the harmless: Candida albicans as a commensal and opportunistic pathogen in the intestine. Curr Opin Microbiol. 2020 Aug;56:7-15. doi: 10.1016/j.mib.2020.05.006. Epub 2020 Jun 27. PMID: 32604030; PMCID: PMC7744392.
Neville BA, d'Enfert C, Bougnoux ME. Candida albicans commensalism in the gastrointestinal tract. FEMS Yeast Res. 2015 Nov;15(7):fov081. doi: 10.1093/femsyr/fov081. Epub 2015 Sep 6. PMID: 26347504.
Bertolini M, Ranjan A, Thompson A, Diaz PI, Sobue T, Maas K, Dongari-Bagtzoglou A. Candida albicans induces mucosal bacterial dysbiosis that promotes invasive infection. PLoS Pathog. 2019 Apr 22;15(4):e1007717. doi: 10.1371/journal.ppat.1007717. PMID: 31009520; PMCID: PMC6497318.
Zwolińska-Wcisło M, Brzozowski T, Mach T, Budak A, Trojanowska D, Konturek PC, Pajdo R, Drozdowicz D, Kwiecień S. Are probiotics effective in the treatment of fungal colonization of the gastrointestinal tract? Experimental and clinical studies. J Physiol Pharmacol. 2006 Nov;57 Suppl 9:35-49. PMID: 17242486.
Schwalfenberg G. (2012). The alkaline diet: is there evidence that an alkaline pH diet benefits health? ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3195546/
Rao A, Jump RL, Pultz NJ, Pultz MJ, Donskey CJ. In vitro killing of nosocomial pathogens by acid and acidified nitrite. Antimicrob Agents Chemother. 2006 Nov;50(11):3901-4. doi: 10.1128/AAC.01506-05. PMID: 17065628; PMCID: PMC1635176.
Chilton SN, Burton JP, Reid G. Inclusion of fermented foods in food guides around the world. Nutrients. 2015 Jan 8;7(1):390-404. doi: 10.3390/nu7010390. PMID: 25580813; PMCID: PMC4303846.