Fungal infections and food

by Carmel Reid, Somerset, UK

We can suffer from a number of different fungal infections in our bodies and two that are prevalent are ‘Thrush’ and ‘Athlete’s Foot’.

Many women experience occasional bouts of a common yeast infection known as vaginal thrush, caused by Candida albicans yeast (a single-cell fungus).

It causes itching, irritation and swelling of the vagina and surrounding area, sometimes with a creamy white cottage cheese-like discharge.

Vaginal thrush is fairly harmless, but it can be uncomfortable. It can also keep returning – this is known as recurrent (or complicated) thrush.1

We can buy creams over the counter at a pharmacist that help to suppress the symptoms, but my question is: Does it get rid of the underlying cause?

You can also get oral thrush: oral thrush is a yeast infection in the mouth. Symptoms of oral thrush include sore, white patches in the mouth, an unpleasant taste in the mouth, a burning sensation affecting the tongue and problems swallowing. Oral thrush can affect people of all ages, including adults with weakened immune systems.2

Candida albicans is one of the ‘normal’ flora that live in our gut, but becomes a pathogen if there is a disruption in the balance of microorganisms in your gut. This balance of ‘gut flora’ is a crucial part of your immune system and digestive health, but it can easily be lost during periods of stress or after a course of antibiotics. When this balance is lost, the colonies of Candida albicans are able to expand rapidly until they involve a large portion of your gut, overwhelming the other flora and causing disease.

If you’re wondering why a few extra pathogens in your gut are such a big problem, let me explain. Candida albicans releases up to 79 different byproducts, including uric acid and a powerful neurotoxin named acetaldehyde. Acetaldehyde causes chronic headaches and brain fog, and was recently classified as a potential carcinogen by the International Agency for Research on Cancer. Uric acid can cause joint pain and lead to gout if an excess builds up. Meanwhile, the change in your gut flora can lead to digestive problems, food intolerances, yeast infections and oral thrush.

Another yeast infection is ‘Athlete’s Foot’.

Athlete’s foot is a rash caused by a ringworm fungus (tinea) that appears between the toes or on other parts of the feet.

The affected skin may be itchy, red, scaly, dry, cracked or blistered. It’s not usually serious, but should be treated to stop it spreading to other parts of the body or to other people. Treatment usually involves pharmacy-bought creams, sprays or liquids and good foot hygiene. The medical name for athlete’s foot is tinea pedis.4

Generally speaking, if you visit your doctor and Thrush or Athlete’s Foot is diagnosed, there will be a medical solution offered. There is no link made to the foods we eat and yet, eating fungus or yeast is a prime culprit, as is eating foods containing sugars, including starchy foods and alcohol, and many people who stop eating certain foods find that the symptoms disappear permanently.

Of course, a change in diet for some people will be too tough a challenge, so they will prefer to use the medication, and that’s fine, but let’s explore here what food groups some of those changes include.

Years ago when I suffered from these conditions, I was stressed but also eating a lot of marmite, sugar and bread, all yeasty foods. I was also drinking alcohol and taking a food-based vitamin B, which contained yeast.

I had painful cracks between and underneath my toes and was embarrassed by the vaginal discharge. I was visiting a natural therapist at the time and she recommended the ‘Candida Diet’, which meant cutting out alcohol, honey, and fruit as well as sugar. An effective Candida diet involves cutting out as many sources of sugar as possible, whether they are natural or added.

Amazingly the symptoms disappeared within 2 weeks.

When, a couple of years later, I again had symptoms, I approached my GP to confirm the diagnosis and he looked puzzled when I said, ‘Ok, time to change my diet again’.

I find it strange that such a simple solution is not known about or promoted by the medical profession – could it be that they don’t want to tell patients to stop drinking alcohol or eating sugar?

It has been over ten years now since I have had any kind of fungal infection. Two things have changed:

(1) I have taken care to develop a less stressful lifestyle and

(2) My diet no longer includes yeast.

I avoid alcohol, refined sugar, bread, honey, rice, starchy vegetables. I still eat some fruit but mainly green apples and blueberries.

Is it worth it? Well that depends on whether you would rather indulge your taste senses for a moment or two, or live with a healthy, vital body that does not itch, smell or discharge!

References:

  1. http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/thrush/Pages/Introduction.aspx
  2. http://www.webmd.boots.com/oral-health/guide/dental-health-thrush
  3. http://www.thecandidadiet.com/an-introduction-to-candida/
  4. http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/athletes-foot/Pages/Introduction.aspx

Read more:

  1. What we get told about food
  2. Plastic surgery, designer vaginas and true beauty

576 thoughts on “Fungal infections and food

  1. I recently went to the doctors with what I was certain was oral thrush – a blood test eventually proved it was not candida, but by this point I had begun making other changes to my diet such as removing acidic, spicy and salty foods (I have already cut out sugar/fruit). Take it from me, the brain (spirit) does all it can for you to choose what you know is not supportive. Eventually, my tongue returned to normal, so back I went with spice, acidic and salty foods…and my sore tongue returned. My stubborn mind did this twice more before a healthy tongue returned. Point I’m making is that it can be difficult to change your dietary habits, but that choice becomes easier when the body speaks so loudly to let you know what is going on.

    1. This is so true, eventually when the irritation or the symptoms get to the point where it is not worth it, the food product has to go – I have a similar mouth issue where I develop several mouth ulcers if I eat things that are too salty.

  2. Sticking to the Candida diet for just a couple of weeks, that a lady in my local health food shop had shared with me, cleared up my on-going problems with thrush many years ago. However it has taken continuing refinements to address the Athlete’s Foot between my little toes, it clears up but returns whenever I am feeling stressed and over-tired and not taking as good care of my diet. I am learning to welcome the attention to detail that is required to support my body to heal and feel much more empowered than when I was regularly going to the GP to get pessaries to deal with thrush and feeling a victim of how my body was letting me down again. The more open we are to our body’s messages the more that is communicated to us.

    1. Hi Helen, I also had Candida off and on for years prior to giving up sugar, and the athlete’s foot cleared up also. Then a couple of months ago I re-introduced some fruit which I had previously found too sweet and back came the athlete’s foot. It just goes to show how sensitive our bodies are to foods and the result of our decisions show in the size, shape and health, our bodies develop into.

  3. Without a holistic approach to physical/medical issues and diet we will never break the cycle of ill health and disease that is currently blighting so many people’s lives. Relatively small changes can have a massive impact but these need to be shared so people have the option to introduce changes to their diets along with support to maintain these adjustments in the long-term. Prevention is better than picking up the pieces afterwards.

  4. This has inspired me to go on a detox! Yep it is crazy that many gp’s and health care professionals still do not link our diet with dis-ease and illness and how this affects the body.

  5. What you offer about stress contributing to the environment of the body, that can then allow infections is important as we look to eliminate this type of issue from our lives.

  6. I find it so strange also that doctors aren’t aware, or rather don’t want to behold the information around how food affects our health. By virtue of being a doctor, or choosing to work in the medical profession, does one not want to know all the possible reasons a person is not well in order to help them?

    1. My cynical response is that there’s more money in pharmaceuticals than food, apart from the addictive foods like sugar and alcohol, which are also bad for us.

  7. ‘Is it worth it?’ – A great question Carmel, and it comes down to what we value more – living an ‘easier-in-the-moment’ comfortable life, where we can eat and do what we like, or a life where our body feels vital and amazing in the long term and this assists us to do what we need to do as a career and in general…. sadly the latter lifestyle is what we generally ridicule and compare or judge in this day and age.

    1. A very simple and graphic article and it seems so so simple and yet it’s not? There has to be something more going on than just the practical decision, otherwise from what’s presented here you would just not do it. While I don’t have any problems like the ones described here, I can watch myself do things that I have already seen don’t work for me. I also remember when I drank alcohol the many and varied hangovers that were the final time I was drinking only to repeat the same process again a few weeks later. So there are things that even though they hurt and I need time to clear them out of my system that makes me feel awful, I will still go back and choose the same thing again, it doesn’t make sense. There has to be something else at play well before the decision or choice to eat or drink something that doesn’t agree with us. As I said you already have an experience or experiences where what ever it is hasn’t worked and yet you find yourself in craving land or walking back into the same part of the pantry on the hunt, so what is going on?

      Could it be possible there is more to deal with prior to the decision to eat or not to eat, before the weigh up of if this is good for us or not. Is it possible that more care is needed? Not with the decision but with how we are prior to that decision. If you are still at a point where you could put something in yourself that has harmed you prior, then the level of care you have for yourself or level of respect you hold for everything you are hasn’t deepened from the last point. It’s not merely a case of ‘I am never doing that again’ at the final point it would be true to say that ‘I am never moving that way again that would have me arrive at a point where I would even entertain the thought to have that or not.’ If there is pressure or cravings and then you cave in, then you are cutting short or allowing your awareness to be cut short on what is truly going on. We never truly just arrive at a point, there are many steps to it and so we will need to take more care, a deeper care with everything to not arrive back asleep again at the door of the pantry.

      1. Beautifully put, Ray, yes, we do need to explore how we were before the craving led to the action that we later regret – for example, recently I’ve been eating lots of fruit and almonds. Whilst both are healthy foods in themselves, the amount I was eating was not healthy – it was purely a numbing device. When I look back on why I was wanting to numb, I need to allow myself to feel the feelings that I was avoiding. One big area was in not honouring my body by expressing what I felt, feelings ever so subtle that it was easy to override them. I’m in a new relationship and there is an unwillingness on my part to create ripples of disturbance in what is a beautiful feeling of being loved. But my non-expression is what is causing the ripples, because it is effectively being dishonest, and honesty is a critical part of any true relationship if we are to build trust. Tensions will always exist in any relationship and I need to make sure my body is clear enough to feel what is going on so I can read situations and have a greater understanding and be more true in my responses. If I get food cravings, that is an indication that I have more I need to express, and more that I am reading but perhaps not wanting to know about. So it is very helpful to observe, as you say, what was going on in the hours, days even, before we lose it.

  8. Symptom relief is great, but for restoration of true health and wellbeing it requires us to arrest the root cause of the issue and eliminate whatever also is feeding it – and changing your diet when you have a fungal infection is an ideal example of this.

  9. The gulf between western medicine and true nutrition is vast. I can’t help but think the food pyramid is responsible for much of this. An essentially government-sponsored, medically derived model, it seems lodged firmly in most medicos minds as the only benchmark for nutrition. And sadly, it still promotes a world where gluten, dairy, fruits and even sugar and alcohol – all irritants or toxins to the body – are considered a part of a healthy diet. In time this will need to change because the costs of it not doing so will be too high.

    1. Interesting, isn’t it, how we give our power away to any authority that is able to produce a ‘scientifically proven’ method, instead of using our own bodies to guide us, which is a far more relevant science than any outside methods.

      1. This is what happens when you have a test for gluten sensitivity and it comes back negative and yet all the indications of the body say it doesn’t agree with you – no one goes on to say maybe the test isn’t sensitive enough or needs to be revised, because clearly people are not doing well on gluten, dairy or alcohol.

      2. In reply to Julie’s comment – yes, I know one lady who twice underwent the tests for Coeliac Disease in which she was told to eat whatever she wanted including gluten for six weeks. So she did and felt very unwell but the test still came back negative, that she was not allergic to gluten. Some doctors are accepting that there is an ‘intolerance’ and there is even a tablet you can take that, allegedly, helps you to eat wheat – that’s rather like taking a pill for diabetes just so as you can carry on eating sugar! If the body says No then it means ‘No’ and we need to pay attention if we want to stay healthy.

  10. While almonds and fruit may seem a healthy option for some, eating too much of them or eating them when they don’t support the body is abusing the body. I too have been eating too many almonds and bananas especially at a certain time of the day – early evening. My feeling is that I overeat to simply not feel what is truly going on, because put simply I don’t want to see what is going on because I have a responsibility and am responsible for what is going on and around me in the world. It’s not that I think I am responsible for the whole of the world, this is not the case but my part in it… this I can feel in my body which I am stubbornly choosing not to feel.

  11. The way in which I am able to take greater care of myself, my health and well-being now is directly linked to building my self-worth and being more loving in taking care of my body and being aware of the food I eat to nourish my body with. No longer eating foods that my body reacts to has been key to truly supporting myself.

  12. Interestingly, as soon as I started to honour what I felt, my body relaxed and I didn’t feel drawn to eat more fruit. I’m still eating the almonds though! So there is more for me to explore here.

  13. When we are willing to being open and honest about food, why we eat what we eat, how it really makes us feel, we then will realise, as is becoming more and more evident, that food is medicine, as is life and the lifestyle choices we make. We all need to eat food to sustain our bodies, but it is the quality of food we eat that is the point. The fact is we already use food to medicate ourselves with, seeking to reward ourselves or comfort the tensions we feel in life. We know what food will deliver the desired result. Yet imagine if this degree of precision was applied to our well-being, to being aware of our choices and addressing our hurts and unease. Food then would be approached as true medicine, to support us to bring greater level of awareness and connection to our bodies and being so that we live in a way that empowers us to be our own practitioners of medicine. And this absolutely includes calling on and working together with the expertise of other practitioners of medicine, conventional and esoteric modalities, to supports us to truly heal and live more and more with the well-being we naturally are born to live.

  14. ‘Is it worth it? Well that depends on whether you would rather indulge your taste senses for a moment or two, or live with a healthy, vital body that does not itch, smell or discharge!’ It is as simple as this, isn’t it? Although it is, I sometimes find myself continuing eating a food that does not support my body in a way it did before but there always comes a time when I say, now it’s enough and then it is easy to let it go. What I do know is that it is crucial to feel for yourself what supports your body and what doesn’t.

Leave a Comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s