You may have heard of yeast overgrowth by it’s other name, Candida (or Candida albicans). Candida is a type of fungus, a one-celled organism. Everyone has some Candida in their body, and quite often it lives in balance with the bacteria in your body.
Sometimes however, it can go a little crazy, and start to dominate your body’s ecosystem.
This can happen for a few different reasons:
- Too many course of antibiotics. Antibiotics disrupt the eco-system in your gut, killing off lots of bacteria, good and bad. In doing so, it allows candida to take over, it doesn’t have to compete with bacteria any more.
- Too much sugar and refined carbohydrates in the body. Candida loves sugar, and worse than that, it makes its host (the child) crave sugar. So a child with candida will get into a vicious cycle, of craving sugar, which feeds the Candida, which makes the sugar cravings even worse!
- Heavy metal toxicity. If your child has been affected by lead, mercury or another heavy metal, this will make them more susceptible to Candida overgrowth. And until you can get rid of the heavy metal, the candida will be hard to treat. Doing a hair tissue mineral analysis (HTMA) will show if your child has a heavy metal issue, which you can then treat using food and nutrients.
So why is it so bad to have a candida overgrowth?
If you have ever had a candida infection, you will know the physical discomfort this can bring. But the problems run deeper than this. Just like the problem bacteria Clostridia, Candida will form toxins (metabolites) in the body which can affect the brain and cause behavioural problems. The toxins can leak out of the gut and into the bloodstream, which means they can get to the brain.
Behavioural issues you can expect in a child with a Candida overgrowth include:
- Mood swings
- Memory problems
- Poor attention span
- Inappropriate behaviour
- Sleep disturbances
Other symptoms of Candida overgrowth:
- Cravings for sweet foods or refined carbohydrates
- Weak immune systems
- Vaginal candida infections
- Fungal toenail infections
- Bad breath
- Sinus issues
- White furry tongue
How do I get rid of the Candida overgrowth?
Certain types of probiotics, if taken in sufficient quantities will help to dampen down a candida overgrowth. That is why it is a good idea to take probiotics at the same time as taking the antibiotic, to make sure Candida doesn’t over grow.
Remove sugar from the diet. All forms of sugar need to be removed for a while, this even includes fruit. The only fruit that can stay is lemons and limes. This is an essential step to take, as if you keep feeding the Candida, you will never get the upper hand.
Add in antifungal foods and spices. Antifungal foods include coconut, garlic, oregano and ginger. Cook with coconut oil, add garlic in the final stages of cooking so it is still quite raw, add heaps of oregano to bolognaise and make a tea from fresh ginger and lemon
Drink Kefir. Kefir is a fermented milk drink, and it helps your gut ecosystem get back into balance. It tastes a bit like drinking yoghurt. The sugar in the milk has been digested by the good bacteria and yeast in the kefir.
Add sauerkraut into your diet. If you have never had sauerkraut before, start with a very small amount, or even start with sauerkraut juice. Similar to the kefir, sauerkraut will help to rebalance the ecosystem in your gut, so Candida can’t dominate. Sauerkraut is really great for digestion, as raw vegetables contain enzymes which will help remove toxins from the body and strengthen your immune system. Strengthening your immune system will help your body defend itself again Candida overgrowth.
When I work with children with mood or behaviour issues, I run both a HTMA and a combined food allergy + Candida test. That way I can tell from the very start if heavy metals, nutrient deficiencies, food allergies or candida is the issue. This makes treatment much faster!