It’s safe to say by now that we all know sugar is bad for our health.
We know that we shouldn’t consume it often, but that’s much easier said than done. Sugar is a sneaky, addictive substance and the break up isn’t always as easy as just making the decision to stop. That’s why we have to understand what it does to our biochemistry well enough to put an effective and long-lasting sugar-kicking strategy in place.
In some cases, it’s not our fault that we are collectively addicted to this stuff. Our food supply has changed so dramatically in the last 60 years, that we kind of got lulled into it.
For example, the average soda size in 1955 was only 7 ounces. Over the last five decades, it slowly crept up and now we have the Big Gulp weighing it at 128 ounces (that would be like 17 sodas in 1955)!
What Qualifies Something as an Addictive Substance?
- Having just a little bit creates a desire for more
- Suddenly quitting causes withdrawal symptoms such as headaches, mood swings, cravings, and fatigue
This addiction has led to a downward cycle of health issues including mineral deficiencies, thyroid imbalances, adrenal exhaustion, leaky gut syndrome, autoimmune conditions, and digestive and mood imbalances.
It’s a slippery slope, but sometimes the sugar cravings are bigger than us.
I have seen this so often in my practice and experienced it acutely myself. When someone comes to me with sugar cravings that “take over” (like a craving that has you running out for something sweet at 11pm in your pajamas) then I test him or her for Candida as a root cause not only of their sugar addiction, but also of all the issues listed above.
What is Candida?
Candida albicans is an opportunistic organism and pathogenic yeast. We all have it in our bodies, and most of the time, it’s harmless. But when it overgrows, it causes major problems and symptoms such as:
- Persistent constipation, bloating, or gas
- Mental fog you simply can’t shake
- Debilitating chronic fatigue/exhaustion
- Intense sugar cravings
- Chronic sinus infections
- Excess mucous
- Recurring vaginal yeast infections
- Persistent food or environmental allergies
- Depression and anxiety
- White coating on the tongue
- Hypothyroidism (Candida inhibits thyroid conversion)
In a perfect world, our good bacteria would keep Candida in check and it wouldn’t be a problem, only we are doing so many things daily to kill our good gut bacteria that so many people unknowingly struggle with it.
What Contributes to Candida Overgrowth?
- Antibiotics- even just one full-spectrum round can cause it
- Antibiotics in our meat supply
- Overconsumption of sugar and processed, refined foods
- Overconsumption of alcohol and coffee
- Chronic, prolonged stress
- C-section deliveries
- Mercury exposure from dental fillings, vaccines, & tattoos.
- Birth control pills
Any one or a combination of these things kill our good gut flora, thin our gut lining, and compromise our immunity enough to allow this opportunistic organism (and often times many other pathogens) to take over and dominate our gut health.
And when anything dominates our gut health, it’s only a short matter of time before it dominates our hormonal health and immune health.
How to Test for Candida
There are stool, blood, and saliva lab tests for Candida overgrowth. While I prefer to run an 8-day stool test on someone when looking for pathogens in their GI tract, many people cannot afford to run labs and many don’t want to go through the hassle of testing.
When that is the case, there is a fast, easy, free DIY Candida spit test you can do at home.
For six days, keep a pen and paper in the bathroom. When you wake up, (before you eat or drink anything), fill a glass of water halfway and spit a dime-sized amount of saliva into the glass.
Watch it a few times (you don’t have to stare it down) over a 45-minute period and record your results each day for six days.
Your saliva will either stay floating on top, it will sink to the bottom, or it will grow legs. If it stays floating on top, there is likely no Candida overgrowth to worry about, but if it grows legs or especially if it sinks, then Candida is likely an issue for you.
I have run this test in tandem with stool, saliva, and blood tests many times and it has proven accurate. The reason you must test daily for six days is to mitigate variables. Keep to your normal diet while testing.
I have a short video showing you exactly how to do this DIY test here.
How to Get Rid of Candida
If you have Candida, don’t worry; you can get it back in balance. You can break up with sugar, for good. You can get your thyroid working well again so that you have mental clarity and can lose weight and keep it off with greater ease. You can have good digestion, a strong immune system, and good moods.
If you suspect you have Candida and want to know more about how to get rid of it, I have a 30-minute TV episode that shares my protocol on how I’ve helped countless others kick it in 6 weeks time.
We use a combination of a carefully crafted no sugar, no fermentation, diet (here are 52 Candida-diet friendly recipes) along with a 16-day antifungal rotation that includes grapefruit seed extract, oregano oil, olive leaf extract, and Pau D’arco. There are also GI cleansing agents involved like food grade diatomaceous earth and bentonite clay as well as the yeast eating strain of probiotic called saccharomyces boulardii.
This cleanse is then followed up with gut rebuilding agents to re-establish good gut flora, repair the mucosal lining, and rebuild hydrochloric acid. All of these components are necessary for lasting positive health changes and to be sure the Candida does not return. After digestive repair is achieved, then we give the thyroid and adrenals a boost.
Note: if you are pregnant or nursing, you cannot take the majority of the supplements I recommend in my Candida Protocol except the probiotics. You can instead do it through the Candida diet and by increasing antifungal food sources on a smaller scale.
After a decade in private practice and working with thousands of real people, I cannot have a stronger belief in the power of the human body. When you give the body what it needs and remove what burdens it, it will heal itself and it will thrive.
You don’t have to live your life craving sugar, being tired, or managing a litany of other uncomfortable symptoms. You can use food as your medicine to heal and to thrive.
Do you have symptoms of candida? Ever been tested? Want to try out the Candida Protocol? Share below!
Discussion (57 Comments)
Unless you plan on eating a “Candida Cleanse Diet” for the rest of your life – and lets face it, most of us won’t – I’ve found that there is no point to doing it at all. Candida will never be entirely rid from your body, so even if you cleanse yourself for a period of time, it will only come back if you go back to your old eating ways – that’s including a healthy diet that allows for fruit. A better solution is to keep candida at bay by eating foods that lessen it, such as coconut oil, apple cider vinegar, garlic, and ginger, clove and oregano oil. I’m not an expert, but this is what I’ve found after lots of research as well as personal trial and error.
Just found Wellness Mama, and so excited I did! I struggle with fruit somewhat as well. I was never vegetarian but I was into low-fat, high fruit for a long time. Introducing more proteins and fat was difficult for me but I feel so much better eating them, with a lot less fruit cravings when I do. I regard them usually as dessert. Today I had fruit cravings, but I attribute that to not having any protein for breakfast.
Oh, and yes, I believe fruit can be as addictive as any drug!
have been there! I was never a vegetarian or vegan, but I have been unknowingly addicted to fruit (and milk) for years. I was told by my ob/gyn years ago that I was hypoglycemic and needed to increase my protein intake, so I have always made sure I ate plenty of protein (mostly meat and eggs), but it never seemed to help my hypoglycemia, which only seemed to worsen over the years. I was very sensitive to processed sugar, so I rarely ate it, and tried to avoid white flour as much as was reasonable on a basically standard american diet. I had no idea that eating loads of fruit (and in my case drinking lots of milk) throughout the day was probably the cause of my hypoglycemia.
When I signed up for the 40 Day Grain-Free Challenge (thank you Wellness Mama!), it was really just to help my husband lose weight. He did lose some, but the biggest thing to come out of it was a TOTAL CURE of the rather severe hypoglycemia that had plagued me for years. With this came a modest weight loss (I wasn’t really overweight to begin with), greater energy, emotional stability, and mental clarity. Not only did I cut out all grains and beans (a huge part of my former diet), all processed foods, canola, soy, and corn oils, and milk, but I cut WAY back on my fruit consumption. Following some of the paleo advice, I limited myself to mostly low GI fruits, mainly berries and citrus. I also cut way back on coffee and tea, but found myself substituting 90% dark chocolate to a degree.
There is no way to describe the change in me. Before I would get sick after drinking two cups of coffee on an empty stomach, but after about three weeks on the challenge, I could (and still can) drink several cups – I know, not good – without getting sick. I have only experienced low-blood sugar or hyperinsulinemia episodes on a few occasions around and after Easter when I was indulging in sugar and junk, kind of experimenting to see if all this was real. It is totally real.
What I have learned is that fruit is something that can definitely be abused. It gives you a big sugar high, but you don’t necessarily realize that until you go off of it. At first I had major problems with fatigue and sugar cravings. It took about a week and a half for the drugged out feeling to go away, but the sugar cravings still hit me. A bit of dark chocolate or some berries, avocado, or coconut milk helped me with the cravings, but I had to remember to cool it, and not go overboard. I had to up my fat intake quite a bit to compensate for the lost carb energy. I really believe that I was on my way to diabetes big time, burning out my beta cells with all that fructose and lactose. I had NO IDEA. On a side note, the weight I lost (remember I wasn’t overweight according to the scale, or clothing size) was ALL BELLY FAT. After seven children, I have my waist back! I still love fruit, I just don’t abuse it anymore. Good luck! And thanks again Wellness Mama!
Just thinking I should clarify something. In case anyone thinks my problem had more to do with caffeine than fruit and milk sugar, I should say that before the challenge I limited myself strictly to two cups of coffee in the morning and one cup of tea in the afternoon. It was a comfort addiction, but I could barely tolerate even that much caffeine. During the challenge I gave up coffee and tea cold turkey, but exercising the Lenten “Sunday exemption,” allowed myself a morning cup of coffee with heavy cream. I liked it so much, it eventually became several cups, but what amazed me was that I could now tolerate a really large amount of caffeine. I believe this is due to better blood sugar regulation, as caffeine can cause an insulin response that in hypoglycemics can be rather extreme. Now I am trying to go back to limiting caffeine again just because it seems like the prudent thing to do.
Is it just me, or are these confusing food times we live in? Fruit on the chopping block… you’ve got me!
LOL – no, I’m thinking it’s Too Much Fruit that’s on the chopping block, yes?
In addition to the other great advice, especially regarding blood sugar issues, I would like to offer the suggestion to approach using fruit in your diet in a different way.
First of all, be sure to acknowledge the amazing fruits coconut and olive which contribution such healthy fats in the diet…enjoy them regularly! Mainly, though, it might help to generally limit your fruit consumption to items that are in season….you can truly appreciate them at their nutritional and taste peak this way…they are also much more affordable at this time…I love associating different times of year with the fruits that come in season then…it’s not that I won’t occasionally buy apples or bananas (mostly for their convenience) but throughout the year I look forward to the best tastes of each season this way! This might also be a way of not overdoing it with fruit…the fresh blueberries we have coming in now are easy to gorge on at first, but soon I’m ready to back off and look forward to the watermelon crop. There also may be interesting local crops that aren’t available in the regular grocery store…for example, we just finished with the wild plums and mulberries and the figs will be coming in soon.
Also, large quantities of in-season fruits lend themselves to processing in even more beneficial ways….to me, fermentation comes to mind…those blueberries would make a nice lactofermented syrup and the watermelon rinds are fun to pickle…providing you with fruits that are in a more beneficial form…..namely as probiotics! Many fruits can be made into tasty fermented chutneys that would complement some healthy meat dishes.
I would also like to add that cooking fruits or any plant material actually renders many more nutrients available as the plant cell walls are broken and the contents made more available…we are not true herbivores and are not well equipped to break those cell walls (think: the plant’s skeleton)…both cooking and fermentation do a great job of this…my understanding of all those enzymes in raw plant material is that many are inactivated as soon as they hit the stomach and it’s strong acid. Most of what you do get from raw fruit is that yummy addictive fructose!
I found The Vegetarian Myth really helpful in illuminating the fallacies of the health of the vegetarian diet both for people and the planet…I see that you have found this resource as well as the amazing Nutrition and Physical Degeneration…keep exploring, and questioning and listening to the guidance that has gotten you to this place….I think you’re on the right track!!!
Thanks for sharing your thoughts Karen. Great way to look at using fruits in another way. I think we all get stuck on the idea of ‘raw food’. Cheers.
My first foray into “real” food was through the Maker’s Diet book. I also think that as you cut out the sugars from all of that fruit it is probably normal to have some “withdrawal” symptoms. That is true for me any time I go from eating grains, etc to eating high proteins/fats and low carbs and processed foods. For me it helps to let myself eat as much as I want to of allowed foods and then I don’t feel like I’m being deprived. Good luck!!
You clearly have to reduce the amount of fruit you are eating. I think you have to decide whether cold turkey or a gradual weaning off is the way to go for you. If they are ‘domino’ foods for you and you can’t control yourself, you may have to simply not have them in the house or you may be able to cut your intake slowly allowing your body to transition. If you know the way to go, do it, if not experiment and see which way works best for you.
How many eggs do you get per day? Do you ever eat any liver? You’ve had so much fructose in your diet and you struggle so much with blood sugar issues that I’m curious whether you’re getting enough choline in your diet. Animal studies have shown that in the presence of choline deficiency is when sugar does the most damage to the liver, leading to fun things like non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. (That can show up in labs as elevated liver enzymes, but it doesn’t always. If you’re at all insulin-resistant, that should be warning sign enough.)
The adult daily requirement for choline is somewhere between 400 and 500mg. I think the choline content of an egg yolk is somewhere between 100 and 200mg. Liver has even more.
There’s a lot of fear surrounding organ meat consumption but the benefit you get from the stuff far outweighs the risks. If it helps, try incorporating livers from pastured animals into your diet rather than eating the CAFO stuff. If you just can’t bring yourself to eat liver, though, you’ll want to increase your egg intake.
Also, rather than doing high protein, high fat you might try doing moderate protein and high fat. The general rule of thumb is to consume anywhere between 0.8g and 1g of protein daily per pound of lean weight you want to maintain. If you’re sedentary go more toward the 0.8g side; if active, more like 1g. I think very athletic people can get away with 2g of protein per pound of weight but we’re talking high-intensity exercise.
If you find you just can’t live without fruit, maybe change what type of fruit you eat. Berries and most melons (not watermelon) are pretty low in sugar.
Give your body time to adjust to the increased fat intake. Your body changes how much of each enzyme it produces according to how much food you eat that requires that enzyme. Someone who’s gone low-fat for a long time will not find it easy to transition to high-fat because they’re not making enough lipase yet. Give it time and reintroduce slowly. And be sure to get a mix of fatty acid types. Everybody goes on and on about medium-chain triglycerides like you find in coconut oil, but it’s the long-chain fatty acids such as those found in butter that give your gallbladder a workout. So getting some of those in your diet as well is a good idea.
Hope some of this helps.
Is there a formula (or ballpark) for how much fat should be consumed?
Rebecca Skvorc Latham
I understand about the fruit. Although I did not eat as much of it as you were (are) eating, the idea of living without fruit was unimaginable. However, once I made the commitment to eat low carb, fruit had to go, and after a short while, I did not miss it. The only fruit I have had in the past two years is berries, and that is rare.
I know you have been reading books that are telling you that eating that much fruit is unhealthy. I know, because I have read all the same books. At some point, it comes down to you deciding what you are going to do, and then making the commitment to do it.
Can you be addicted to fruit? I think so. Your body can be so dependent on the sugar that you are eating that it cries out for it when it is not there. The only thing to do about an addiction, in my opinion, is to break it. Stop eating vast amounts of fruit. Believe it or not, your body will adjust over the next week or so and the cravings will end. Eating the amount of sugar you are eating is only leading you toward Type 2 Diabetes and other illnesses. Just because it is “natural” does not mean it is healthy. If you cannot give up fruit all together, I would suggest limiting yourself to 1/2 cup of some sort of berry per day.
I know that in your heart you know this is not healthy. From what you have said, even your own body is trying to tell you to stop eating all that sugar. You have cravings, sure, but so do people that are addicted to Coca-Cola or chocolate. Just because you crave it does not mean you should eat it. And the cravings will stop, believe me, when your body readjusts.
Im sorry but i disagree. Eating fruit is goof for you. candida or not. its better then eating artificial sugars. Eating Whole vegan is very healthy. I dont see Raw vegans sick. they are a lot healthier. Especially if you are eating locally grown organic fruits and vegetables.
You have a major problem with this. Fruit and greens is our natural diet. It us what humans were designed to eat and what they did eat before they invented weapons and discovered fire. You need fruit sugar to live. Every cell in your body needs it including your brain. Without glucose you die.
You are wrong. I was never healthier with more energy than when I cut all fruit, and sugar. 90 days and I am a triathlete. I trained and competes in an Olympic distance triathlon in that timeframe. That’s 1 mile swim, 25 mile bike, and a 10 k run.
Just wondering if you have read the book Gut and Psychology Syndrome by Dr. Natasha Campbell McBride? Even if you don’t have major health issues, following her diet plan for awhile really is a great guide to learning how to eat healthy. We have been off and on it a few times and each time my sugar/sweet food cravings are almost eliminated just after a couple of days. Anyways. just a thought. Good luck on your journey!