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Choosing the Best Anti Candida Diet
Candida: What it is and why it's bad for you
Inside your digestive tract, there's another world of flora and fauna. It's a jungle in there. And just like in the real jungle, if the wrong organism gets in the wrong place or gets out of balance with the other organisms, chaos ensues. Usually, the wrong organism is Candida Albicans, otherwise known as 'yeast'. It's the same organism known for those nasty yeast infections that plague women and the thrush that haunts breastfeeding infants.
For you, that chaos is found in uncomfortable, vague symptoms. Bloating. Indigestion. Weight changes that are inconsistent with your eating habits. Rashes. Headaches. fatigue. None of them really seem to add up to any one real problem. But they're there. They affect your quality of life.
Candida overgrowth is a point of contention among many doctors. Some don't believe in it. Some only half believe. Naturopaths, who are trained to look at the whole individual for the root of a problem, are the ones who are most likely to suggest candida as an issue and address the real, underlying problem of candida overgrowth.
Candida overgrowth occurs when the naturally occurring candida population in your digestive tract grows out of control. Basically, it's like the weeds taking over your garden. (or non native species overtaking part of that jungle I mentioned earlier) You need to get back in control and restore balance. Some people can simply add a few probiotics to their daily diet and their bodies respond well. Others need a lot more help. That's where the anti candida diet, or yeast free diet, comes in.
The Anti Candida Diet
There is no difference between the anti candida diet and a yeast free diet. Both are designed, specifically, to kill off the overgrowth of candida and allow good bacteria to re-establish themselves in your digestive tract.
When you start looking for ways to restore the balance and function of your digestive tract, the options seem overwhelming. There's The Yeast Connection, Feast Without Yeast, The Candida Diet, The Specific Carb Diet and the GAPS diet; and that's just the beginning. All take a slightly different approach and yet each claims to be the only way to cure candida overgrowth. This is one of many reasons I've heard doctor's claim that candida overgrowth is more myth than reality. But they overlook a critical aspect. Every individual is different. We all have unique needs, and our bodies will respond better to different approaches.
If you look closely, yeast free diets all have one thing in common. Their goal is to starve out the 'bad bugs' and reintroduce 'good bugs'; allowing the good bacteria to take control and regain balance once again. This is done through food restrictions and the inclusion of probiotic supplements and/or fermented food.
Each diet has it's strengths and weaknesses, and what those are will vary depending on the user's personal needs. If you're here, you've probably already noticed the variety of options out there. You need help choosing.
The first step is to decide what will work for you. Feast without Yeast tends to put a lot of emphasis on potatoes as their main source of carbohydrates. That won't work if you don't tolerate potatoes. The Specific Carb diet relies on squash as a fall back carb. If you don't tolerate squash, the diet is next to impossible. So start with finding a cursory overview of the particular diets you are considering. Choose one that sounds approachable to you, with your particular lifestyle. Whichever diet you choose will only work if you understand why they suggest various steps, and then follow them.
Choosing a diet
As stated, there are a multitude of approaches to the candida free diet. Choosing which one works for you can be overwhelming, but it doesn't have to be. You can choose to follow the guidelines of a book, or look up a reputable website like Candida Diet.
Learn the basic premise of your chosen diet. Why are certain foods permitted and others not? If you understand the why, it's a lot easier to sidestep the forbidden foods. For most diets, the forbidden foods are high in sugars or starch. Most diets avoid sweet fruits, refined sugars and certain grains. The main variation between diets is the acceptable vegetables and unrefined grains as well as preparation methods.
Once you choose a diet, the key to success is sticking to your plan. Which means making a plan. When you choose your diet, sit down and make a meal plan. Yes, immediately. Just like that. If you can't find 7 edible meals that meet the diet's qualifications and are relatively easy to prepare, you aren't going to get very far with it. If you can't find 7 decent meals (between breakfast, lunch and dinner) that work for your lifestyle and your taste buds, look into a different diet plan.
The best yeast free diet is the one that you will follow through the end, and that you can tolerate. If your diet is a daily struggle and you're always hungry, you're more likely to give up or start 'cheating'. So find a plan that works for you and your family.
Probiotics are the 'good' bacteria that belong in your gut. The best known one is Lactobacillis acidophilus, which is frequently found in yoghurt. To get 'good' bacteria, you can either take a supplement in pill form, use yoghurt (some say home made yoghurt is the best source) or ferment your own pickled vegetables.
Is it Safe? Does it really work?
I don't know if the candida stories I read are 'really' candida or not. But the premise of any of the candida/yeast free diets I've researched is to focus on a whole foods style of eating. Eat fresh, unprocessed items. Eliminate refined sugars. And at the same time, use a probiotic supplement. Experts agree that probiotics are beneficial, and that a whole foods diet, balanced with vegetables and protein sources, is an ideal diet to strive for. An anti candida diet isn't likely to do any harm as long as you continue to eat a balanced diet. (Don't limit yourself to green apples because they're permitted. You still need some protein and vegetables.)
If you have any extenuating medical conditions, you should definitely discuss any drastic dietary changes, including a candida diet, with your doctor before starting. And be careful with supplements. Herbs are similar to medications and can interact with them like other medications do. Before taking any herbal supplement that might be recommended on your dietary plan, you should read the fine print on any prescription or over the counter medication you are already taking to make sure that certain herbs aren't contraindicated. Double check by looking up the herb online to find out if there are any precautions against taking it with your normal medications.
Once you find the right yeast free, anti candida diet for you, you'll be starting on a journey towards better health. Not just because you've killed the candida, because you're retraining yourself to eat better. Live well.