Kimberly Snyder C.N., is a holistic nutritionist who focuses on healing from the inside out. This week, we’re sharing Kimberly’s expertise in a new series on gut-healing remedies for candida. To learn more, check out her mindbodygreen class How To Treat Candida: The Complete Guide From A Holistic Nutritionist.
"Healthy" Habits That Actually Make Your Candida Worse
Remember margarine? Yes, the perpetually-rectangularly-shaped-even-at-warm-room-temps block of "fat," now exposed as a transfatty prelude to heart problems, but which was once hailed as mankind's spread savior!?
Sometimes health myths that turn into habits are harmless and even a little laughable. But others hang around and can do serious damage to your health and well-being. We're lucky today, in that we have so much more information at our fingertips than ever before.
One of the most common and misunderstood health conditions that's perpetuated by our "healthy" habits is candida overgrowth, which is an overgrowth of a yeast in your body that can lead to everything from chronic bloating, difficulty losing weight, to spaciness and feeling excessively moody or anxious.
The following five "health habits"—which you will find are not so healthy after—all will be very helpful to give up, and help you rebalance your candida issue, once and for all!
Let's check them out…
Problematic "Healthy Habit" 1: Greek yogurt is the best breakfast
Greek yogurt has been held up as a great food to have, especially in the morning, because of its protein content, and also the beneficial bacteria it contains.
Beside the stark fact that dairy is not intended in nature to be human food—it is food for a baby cow- and all the mucus-forming, acidogenic, congestive issues and the fact that it is very difficult for most everyone to digest…there is an even newer researched piece of information that is very pertinent to candida.
Research has found that excessive protein, and in particular protein derived from dairy, can be as insulin-spiking as white bread. Even so-called "pure" forms of yogurt like Greek yogurt—and indeed nearly all forms of dairy—are rapidly converted into sugar (insulinogenic), which is not ideal for intestinal balance or overall health. Insulin spikes indicate excessive sugars in the bloodstream, which provide more for your candida to feed off of.
Dairy products can also contain mold, and mold—and its toxic byproducts, called mycotoxins—are highly detrimental to anyone with candida.
Consuming dairy products in any form is not recommended, and especially for those with digestive issues, which tend to go hand in hand with candida. Instead, you may want to try unsweetened coconut milk or almond milk yogurt if you really love yogurt, which is becoming more widely available, and/or you can take an excellent probiotic supplement in lieu of your yogurt.
Problematic "Healthy Habit" 2: Protein or energy bars for a fast, healthy meal
So many protein bars have ingredients in them—refined or artificial sugars, processed soy, vegetable oils, and whey protein, just to name a few—that are overly processed and don't support the body's functions well.
For example, when you look at the front of any old peanut butter protein bar, you'll see that it likely has more than 10 grams of protein, almost no sugar, and that it's gluten-free. But if you flip it over to read the list of ingredients, you'll see where that protein comes from—whey protein isolate (from milk) and soy protein isolate, which are both highly processed. Such fractionated ingredients do not belong in a healthy body. The research referenced above reinforces that idea that too much consumption of protein, especially milk proteins including whey, can have an insulin-spiking response.
Better options for quick meals and energy boosters include celery with almond butter or chia seed pudding. These are far better than processed bars that will rob you of your beauty energy, and combat your efforts to balance candida overgrowth.
Problematic "Healthy Habit" 3: Going sugar-free at your coffee shop
With widespread attention on the negative effects of sugar intake, you may think you're doing yourself a favor by avoiding it all together in its purely natural, white state, and going for a calorie-free sweetener. But Splenda, one of the more popular artificial sweeteners right now, is acid-forming in the body and some research has shown that it may continue to promote weight gain by lowering the good bacteria in the intestines by up to 50 percent. This is definitely not good for candida—it tends to thrive when our "good" bacteria levels are out of balance.
The exception to a sugar-free option would be if you can find—or bring—pure stevia, which is processed but is not artificial and is not associated with the toxic side effects of conventional artificial sweeteners.
Problematic "Healthy Habit" 4: Using agave as a natural sweeter
Agave had a good reputation as a "healthy" sweetener for a little while. I bought into the hype at first, loving the idea of a low glycemic sweetener that I could use in desserts without too much worry. I too, I will admit, poured it into raw smoothies and used it in raw food desserts as if it were as harmless (or even good!) as the acai I often consumed along with it.
Agave is low glycemic, but it also often contains more fructose than high fructose corn syrup. In other words, it's destructive to your skin, your liver and your overall health—and will most certainly exacerbate a candida issue.
Avoid stocking agave in your home, and avoid restaurants and dishes that use it. Instead, you can stick to adding cinnamon, which has a naturally sweet taste, to teas and sprinkling on unsweetened chia pudding, or using pure stevia.
Problematic "Healthy Habit" 5: Eating large amounts of protein at every meal
High-protein diets are in the spotlight at the moment, and seem to suggest the idea that there is no such thing as consuming too much protein. Of all the macronutrients (fat, carbs, and protein), protein is the one to have survived countless dietary fads without getting a bad reputation. But the truth is, you can have too much protein and the results could be devastating, like renal damage in those with pre-existing renal disease. A review of dangers associated with high protein diets lists hyperaminoacidemia, hyperammonemia, hyperinsulinemia, nausea, diarrhea, constipation, and even death as concerns. When you consume too much protein, the liver can't keep up in turning all the excess nitrogen to urea so that it can efficiently leave the body. In general, the toxicity levels in your body increase the more animal protein you consume.
From a candida perspective specifically, meat is often filled with hormones, chemicals and other elements we've learned disrupt your body and often worsen candida.
Meat is also much harder to eliminate, leading to greater unfriendly bacteria proliferation and issues.
If you focus on eating whole foods, with the greatest majority of your diet made up of nutrient-dense plant foods, you will get all the protein you need (without obsessing or counting). But it doesn't have to be all or nothing—you don't have to become a vegan to eat in a way that fends of candida. Just try to reduce your meat consumption to a few times a week or one meal a day, maximum, which will help make your digestion more efficient, reduce your toxic load, and help balance your candida.