Star foods for candida: brown rice, carrot, fresh tuna, garlic, green beans, green leafy vegetables, herring, leek, live yoghurt, mackerel, millet, olive oil, onion, quinoa, salmon, sardine, wholemeal flour
The condition now commonly known as candida was first described as recently as 1978. Although many eminent doctors have published work on the condition, there remains today a great deal of controversy over candida, and many in the medical profession deny that it even exists. This is largely because there was an over-diagnosis of the problem in the 1980s at a time when candida became big business among alternative practitioners.
Candida Albicans is a yeast that inhabits the gut. It is a natural part of the plethora of good and bad bacteria inside the body that play an important role in general health. In a healthy child, the good bacteria will far outweigh the bad. These good bacteria are part of your child's first line of defence against harmful microbes. They produce B-vitamins, help to improve digestion and increase your child's resistance to gastrointestinal infection. They also produce substances that can act as natural antibiotics within the gut. Providing that there is equilibrium within your child's gut, the bacteria can all get along happily with each other. There are factors in the modern world, however, that place this equilibrium in jeopardy.
Today, children are exposed to antibiotics with increasing frequency and starting from a very young age. Antibiotics kill bacteria. They are not discriminatory and, as well as killing the bacteria causing the infection for which they were originally prescribed, broad-spectrum antibiotics will also kill the good bacteria in your child's gut. The routine use of antibiotics, combined with the high-sugar diet that most children consume, can result in an imbalance in the gut and a weakened immune system. This encourages the bad bacteria to proliferate and to outweigh the good bacteria. If the yeasts in your child's gut grow out of control, they can turn into a pathogenic (disease-causing) form leading to increased permeability of your child's gut wall.
The pathogenic form of the candida yeast also releases powerful toxins into your child's bloodstream, which can cause unpleasant symptoms such as tiredness, headaches, tummy aches, increased wind, bloatedness, food cravings, allergies, anxiety, skin rashes and poor concentration. These often accompany other fungal-type symptoms, such as thrush and athlete's foot.
If your child does show a combination of these symptoms it is advisable to ask your doctor or a qualified naturopath to test for a yeast overgrowth. There is some debate among health professionals about whether the yeast involved is in fact candida, but I have retained the common name for this condition for ease of reference. You might also hear it referred to simply as “yeast overgrowth”.
The no yeast, no sugar diet
The yeast in food is different from the yeast in your child's gut, but children with a yeast overgrowth become very sensitive to products containing yeast and such products should be eliminated from the diet for a period of a few months. Removing yeast from the diet involves avoiding all risen bread products, such as pizzas, croissants and breadsticks, yeast extracts including Marmite and Vegemite, all types of mushrooms, stock cubes, gravy powders, fermented foods such as soy sauce, miso and vinegar, and any packaged food with yeast on the label.
Avoiding yeast can be very easy. There are now many ready-made yeast-free breads or you can make your own. Yeasts feed off sugar, so it is very important to avoid all sugar while treating the problem, thus depriving the yeasts of their fuel. Eliminate all sweet foods, including cakes, pastries, puddings, biscuits, soft drinks, honey, dried fruit, jams and fruit concentrates. You can now find many good cookery books that deal with food avoidance.
Extracted from Immunity Foods for Healthy Kids by Lucy Burney, text © 2004, published by Duncan Baird Publishers, London.