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Alternative Medicine Healthy Living Kids & Family Real Food Toxin Alert!

Dietary Changes & Supplements for Removal of Candida Overgrowth, Part I

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Many people have yeast overgrowth in their bodies and don’t even know it. Candida albicans is a type of fungus or yeast which naturally occurs in the human body, and especially in the digestive tract. Candida levels are normally kept in check by microbes found in the digestive system. Each person normally has some yeast and other potentially negative microorganisms in the intestinal area. In ordinary circumstances, this situation is harmless.

Amongst people in the food/sustainable communities, implementation of the GAPS diet – created by Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride is becoming a more and more common method of detoxification in the body to regain health. Before I knew about GAPS, I put myself through what I still call a candida cleanse protocol in 2006 that lasted about two years total in length. While this was going on, I ate lots of meat, poultry, fish, some cheese and lots of butter, olive oil, coconut oil, eggs, vegetables, and almonds and fruits now and then. I did eat grains occasionally – perhaps once a month or less, but they were always sprouted.

During this time, I didn’t know anything about the value of super-foods like cod liver oil, bone broths, or fermented foods like home-made yogurt and kefir or cultured vegetables. I was taking therapeutic-grade probiotics daily, digestive enzymes, and bile salts to make sure I was digesting my food. Because I lack both a gallbladder and an appendix, this was essential. Although not everyone is short these important organs, many people do have compromised digestive function (which can adversely affect these and other organs) due to poor dietary habits which can lead to their failure and ultimate removal.

I thought this cleanse was the way to regain health. But without following a protocol that heals and seals the gut such as the GAPS protocol, healing of the mucosal lining in the gut is incomplete. When this occurs, you will still likely experience symptoms of candida overgrowth.

This is why I highly recommend this protocol as well as using super-foods like cod liver oil, cultured vegetables, and home-made broth from the bones of animals during any type of detox you undertake, whether it be what is termed “candida cleanse” or some other protocol such as GAPS because these foods are highly nutritious, containing many minerals, vitamins, and amino acids which assist the body not only in healing but detox to be able to regain health.

An overview of candida overgrowth

When the immune system function becomes overly-reactive and its ability to effectively function, defend, and maintain a normal environment becomes compromised, that is when yeast have grown out of control in the body. In this type of environment, unfriendly microorganisms multiply rapidly, causing deterioration in digestion and elimination function.  Continued growth of harmful microorganisms and parasites, including toxins they produce enter the bloodstream. This causes damage to surrounding tissue and organ systems become involved, and the body is further weakened.

When a yeast overgrowth becomes excessive or reaches a chronic condition, its ability to trigger disease and illness can easily overwhelm the body.

What are the causes of candida yeast overgrowth?

When you experience a yeast overgrowth, the result can be a variety of unpleasant, and some seemingly unrelated symptoms. One of the most common causes of yeast overgrowth is the use and overuse of antibiotics – both directly and indirectly.  Antibiotics do not discriminate – besides wiping out harmful bacteria, they also eliminate beneficial or ‘friendly’ micro-organisms (probiotic flora) in the intestinal and vaginal areas, as well as other locations. Beneficial bacteria strains keep yeast levels in check. Without them, yeast can overtake tissue and organ systems.

Sources of antibiotics are not limited to the prescriptions we get from our doctors – a huge amount of the antibiotics we ingest actually come from our own food supply – from commercially-raised meat and dairy products.  According to the Union of Concerned Scientists, approximately 70 percent of all antibiotics sold in the U.S. are used on healthy livestock to “prevent” disease. Here’s my question – What exactly is being prevented by raising animals on feedlots in filthy conditions, with mandatory antibiotic use to “control” diseases created by the very conditions in which the animals are made to live? The continued use of antibiotics in the food supply only adds to the resistance of super-bacteria, which will continue to add pathogenic yeast to your digestive tract and increase the risk of inflammation and disease.

If you have ever taken the following medications/drugs:

  • Antibiotics
  • Antacids
  • Anti-ulcer medications and steroids/cortisones
  • Birth control pills

Or if your diet regularly includes the following:

  • Alcohol
  • Diet lacking in nutrition and including high sugar and refined carbohydrates – including grains

Or if you experience the following conditions or symptoms:

  • Compromised immune function
  • Hormonal imbalance – thyroid, reproductive, endocrine, etc.
  • Chronic stress
  • Intestinal parasites and worms

you may have a candida yeast overgrowth.

How do I know if I have candida overgrowth?

Some of the symptoms experienced by patients with yeast overgrowth include:

  • Allergies
  • Chronic fatigue and malaise
  • Compromised immune system function
  • Chemical sensitivities
  • Recurring yeast infections such as fungal nail infections, vaginal, athletes foot, thrush, athletes foot, etc.
  • Depression, mood swings, panic attacks, and other mood disorders
  • Inability to focus or concentrate
  • Headaches, poor memory skills
  • Chronic or recurring allergic reactions, sinus issues, UTI infections, asthma and chronic chest congestion
  • A variety of digestive disturbances such as cramping, bloating, gas, indigestion, heartburn, diarrhea, constipation, etc.
  • Cravings for sugar and carbohydrates
  • Dry and/or itching skin

These are just a few of the symptoms people may experience if they have a yeast overgrowth. It is also entirely possible to have a Candida overgrowth or candidasis and not be aware of it.

If you ask a typical doctor to help with a candida overgrowth, the most likely response will be either that you don’t have a yeast problem or you will be placed on anti-fungal medication to treat the condition. Many doctors simply disagree that candida overgrowth is a problem or can be the culprit of such a variety of health issues.  But the fact is, most people in developed countries do have a yeast overgrowth problem due to eating a highly processed diet replete with sugar, carbohydrates, and grains. For the most part, there are no tests conventional doctors perform to determine how much of an overgrowth existed, or if they do treat it with drugs, there is usually no way for them to tell whether the overgrowth had been fully removed.

You can find a variety of candida-self tests in books and on the Internet, but here is a good, self-assessment test available from Jigsaw Health to help figure out where you are at in the likely possibility that a Candida yeast overgrowth being the cause of your health issues, and also how much overgrowth exists in your body.  And, here’s a questionnaire specially designed for children too. The questionnaires were created by Dr. William Crook, author of The Yeast Connection Handbook.

You may be wondering: “If these tests are useful, why hasn’t my doctor ordered them?”  Because most conventional doctors either lack the experience, knowledge, or simply don’t believe enough scientific evidence exists to prove that Candida actually is the cause of many degenerative health issues for many people. The good news is that many individuals who have been unable to get help from conventional doctors have succeeded in using the self-testing method recommended above as a way to gauge where to begin to improve their health.

Be sure to check back tomorrow to read Part II of Dietary Changes and Supplements for Candida Overgrowth Removal. I’ll talk about foods to avoid and foods to include, the importance of probiotics (beneficial bacteria), quality supplements to assist in candida overgrowth removal for those who wish to use them, and how long you can expect to maintain a candida or yeast control diet.

Alternative Medicine Real Food

To Mammogram…Or Not

Indeed, cancer is a scary thing. For as long as I can remember, women have been advised to start getting mammograms over the age of 40 as part of a preventative program for reducing the risk of breast cancer and/or detecting it early enough to be able to go on the appropriate program to be able to remove it should it be found (i.e., chemotherapy, radiation).

Most people, including health educators, doctors, and patients in health communities believe that a major component of cancer development comes down to lifestyle habits.

But very little emphasis is actually placed on education about traditional foods as a healing tool and critical component of healthy living. So it shouldn’t be too surprising that breast cancer is responsible for affecting 1 out of every 8 women.

This last week, some breaking information was released from the mainstream medical communities cautioning women to receive fewer mammograms before age 50 than was previously recommended. This bulletin is not in keeping with the American Cancer Society’s recommendations.

As everyone knows, cancer is a complex disease and many factors are considered in the development of this disease, whether it be environmental, stress, genetic, diet, and other lifestyle habits. It is one of the most pervasive and deadly killers in the modern world.

There is an entire movement of health care professionals, patients, activists, and organizations working toward a “cure” for cancer. There are endless fundraisers and events centered around cancer prevention.   Billions upon billions of dollars are spent yearly on scientific research, drug development, and other activities – all in the name of curing cancer.

So why hasn’t a cure been found? Is it possible that a “cure” may not ever be found because we’ve been going about this at all the wrong angles?  Everything to do with cancer research is about removing it after it has already become a problem. And there’s a lot of money to be made in this realm.

What about preventing a problem before it happens? Sounds like a novel idea, doesn’t it?  Let’s take a look at what’s been happening on the mainstream medical fronts with cancer.

The National Cancer Institute reports the following:

“The most common type of cancer on the list is non-melanoma skin cancer, with more than 1,000,000 new cases expected in the United States in 2009. Non-melanoma skin cancers represent about half of all cancers diagnosed in this country.”

The skin cancer connection

Something many people aren’t aware of and doctors don’t certainly don’t emphasize is that most of these cancers are the benign variety – such as basal cell carcinoma, which is 99% treatable and slow-growing. My mother had one on her nose about 3 years ago, had it removed with outpatient surgery, and has not had a recurrence since.

Many people believe sun exposure causes skin cancer. So they slather on the sunscreen, blocking out the Vitamin D, which is, ironically, largely responsible for preventing cancer. And, it’s also strange that people who live in tropical locations experience the lowest rates of skin cancer in the world. Another fact that many people don’t know is that Melanoma – which is malignant – is most often found on parts of the body which receive the least amount of sun (National Library of Medicine).

New research suggests that a deficiency in Vitamin D is rampant in many countries and that lacking this important nutrient contributes to a myriad of diseases and conditions including Melanoma, Breast Cancer, Autism, Alzheimer’s. Over 40,000 Americans die annually as a result of  Vitamin D deficiency.  But we don’t hear the American Cancer Association talking about this. And, the risk of cancer actually lessens with more sun exposure – and no, we’re not talking about getting a severe sunburn, we’re talking about regular, repeated exposure to build up Vitamin D levels in the body.

Exposure to sun actually affects over 14 different types of cancer – including breast, prostate, bladder, ovarian, and digestive (source, Dr. William B. Grant, Ph.D., internationally recognized expert and researcher on Vitamin D – SUNARC. Dr. Grant is the director director of SUNARC – the Sunlight, Nutrition and Health Research Center, an organization which is involved in education, research, and advocacy relating to the prevention of chronic disease through changes in diet and lifestyle).

What can YOU do?

In my opinion, we can drive ourselves crazy reading statistics from mainstream health sources, or we can actually do something proactive to prevent cancer. So what can we do? What sort of power do we have over this disease?

As usual, mainstream medical communities offer little to no practical advice about what people can do to prevent cancer and live proactively. General statements are often made about living a healthy lifestyle and getting “health screenings”- but no emphasis WHATSOEVER is placed on reducing the toxic load of the body and eating nourishing, traditional foods.

According to the Mayo Clinic’s web site, this is how you should go about preventing cancer:

  • stay out of the sun
  • avoid tobacco and limit alcohol consumption
  • eat “healthy” by limiting fat (with no mention about sustainable, organic foods or avoiding conventional or processed foods)
  • get immunized
  • avoid risky behaviors like drug use and unprotected sex
  • undergo screening procedures such as colonoscopies, pap tests, and mammograms

I believe people must take charge of their own health, and make definitive decisions about what kind of health they are going to have. As long as you leave the fate of your health in the hands of a medical doctor or any practitioner alone, you are risking your health.

Yes, I’m serious. And here’s why:

As a society, we have been made to feel powerless and helpless, and that we are unable to learn or know things for ourselves about our own bodies; and that we must rely upon some other expert to preserve our health.

My “cancer” scare

For the last five years, I’ve had a benign breast cyst. When I first discovered it, my lifestyle habits were pretty poor. Like most women, the discovery of a lump in my breast was terrifying. I read all I could about breast cancer and lumps in the breast before making an appointment to see a doctor. I spent about two weeks living in a panic as to whether I would be diagnosed with cancer. The stress of a situation like this alone can put the body under tremendous strain. In fact, stress directly contributes to disease. How many people have been in a similar situation -  waiting to hear from the doctor to receive a clean bill of health so you can “breathe a sigh of relief”?

My doctor was a GP, so he couldn’t give me a definitive answer. He ordered a mammogram. Until the procedure the following week at the hospital, I was a mess. My husband was unable to accompany me to the procedure, so I had to go alone. Sitting in that room waiting to have it done was awful. The procedure was long and painful (compression from the machine is not good for your breasts). After it was over and I got the result that the lump wasn’t cancerous, but only a fluid-filled cyst, I was relieved…but there was no information given about what could be done to reverse it or make it disappear. And that’s what I wanted.

Another year went by. The cyst got bigger and again I started to worry. I went back to the same doctor who ordered a second mammogram. Once again, I went to the hospital alone because my husband was unable to accompany me and endured one of the most stressful days of my life. This time, the lab technician performed an ultrasound as well as the mammogram. The results showed no cancerous findings.

The following year, the lump changed yet again, so I went back to the doctor. This time he referred me to a breast specialist and suggested yet another mammogram.  I had to wait about three weeks to see the specialist, but I decided against getting another mammogram.

The morning of my appointment, I was so worried I didn’t eat breakfast, and my stomach being empty only added to the growing sensation of nausea. This time, my husband came with me. I was asked all the usual questions by the nurse about my family history of breast cancer. She reviewed all the other items such as regular self-breast exams and checkups, etc. Then the doctor came in, checked the lump, and then reviewed the mammogram from the year before.  I was a shaking wreck as he did this, and wished more than anything that this moment in time would be gone and this would all go away.

His diagnosis was that he didn’t believe I had cancer, but that the finding was consistent with fibrocystic breast disease and I should have another mammogram. Keep in mind that at this point I was only 36 years old (age at which women are recommended to have annual mammograms is 40) with no history of breast cancer in my family, and had now received two mammograms showing no sign of cancer, yet this doctor was recommending that I go and have yet a third. So I explained my reasoning to him, along with my concerns about the exposure to radiation and compression of breast tissue in the x-ray device used for mammograms which could actually cause cancer.

All objections to the procedure were dismissed, and the the only response he could provide was that I had a responsibility to myself to perform this preventative measure. I had a responsibility? What about the doctors? Aren’t they responsible for providing the patient with reasonable answers and alternatives? The recommended “solution” didn’t solve my problem.  I pressed on, asking about environmental toxins and diet, and their effects on the development of cancer. His answer was brief and he insisted that there were just too many factors to solve for, and did not recommend any specific preventative measure…and that really it all boiled down to getting that mammogram.

By this time, I was crying and very angry. The nurse came back in as the doctor was leaving. She said she wanted to help me understand the importance of getting mammograms and prevention of problems before they occurred. She really believed what she was saying, but none of it made any sense to me. My husband even agreed that another mammogram seemed pretty pointless.

Although the nurse tried her best to be kind, and thought she was reassuring me that it was the right thing to do, I wasn’t buying it. She explained that she received mammograms each year because her mother died of breast cancer, and she had already had two lumps removed in her own breasts. To her, not getting another mammogram was like leaving the door open at night when criminals were out on the street. I came out and told her that I thought mammograms were dangerous and why. Of course, she thought I was insane.

Breast thermography

It really was just like talking to a wall. On the way out, she asked me to seriously reconsider the mammogram, and that she was going to give me a call in a week or two to see if I was willing to change my mind. If I had known then what I know now, I would have asked her why doctors place so little effort or educational emphasis on real food and healthy diets, and about breast thermography.

By the year 2007, I was learning even more about diet and lifestyle as it related to cancer and health. I also learned about an exciting procedure -FDA approved and has been used in Europe for decades – thermography. It is less expensive than mammograms, and can detect cancer up to 10 years before a mammogram. Why is this technology not being talked about more in medical communities? Because it doesn’t present any incentives for the drug companies. It is safe, painless, doesn’t compress the breast tissue, and doesn’t use radiation. The device is sensitive to blood vessel changes and measures heat temperatures in the body – temperature changes that are so subtle, it can indicate a development of pre-cancerous tissue.

I’m still living with the cyst, but I’m always living a preventative lifestyle and performing detoxification to help my body eliminate it over time. Because of poor lifestyle choices I made over many years, helping my body to remove the cyst and keep it from becoming cancerous will also take time.

Here’s my cancer prevention program:

  • Eat a healthy diet – and by healthy, I am referring to the absence of processed foods and refined sugars. My diet includes plenty of real, traditional foods such sustainable-raised grass-fed meats, raw, organic dairy from a clean source, poultry, game, lamb, safe-source fish and seafood, organic vegetables, legumes, nuts, seeds, oils, and fruits. I also occasionally eat sprouted/soaked, organic grains.
  • I receive as much sun exposure as possible, and I don’t wear sunscreen. I also take Green Pastures Blue Ice Fermented Cod Liver Oil. This fantastic natural food contains Vitamins A, D, E, and K. My family also takes this supplement. Visit the Weston A. Price web site for detailed information about dosages for Vitamin D and Vitamin A, as well as other natural sources for these nutrients.
  • I used to take take an iodine supplement daily. But I took this for nearly 2 years and found out I was not absorbing it. Then I learned that taking supplemental iodine can be dangerous because it can throw the body into Although most people in developed countries are deficient in iodine, and iodine deficiencies are directly connected to the development of cancer and many degenerative diseases, it is best to obtain iodine from a real food source such as seafood, seaweed vegetables like kelp and dulse, and pastured dairy foods and meats. Kerrygold butter is an excellent source of iodine because it comes from cows grazing on mineral-rich soil in Ireland where they are close to the sea.
  • I have been using Gesterone Cream by Premier Research Labs. Natural progesterone is something many women are deficient in – usually due to hormonal imbalances which can cause cancer, and this nutritional supplement is more potent than synthetic pharmaceutical drug varieties of progesterone. The skin absorbs up to 10 times more than the digestive tract.
  • I am by no means a skilled athlete, but I maintain a schedule of regular exercise including horseback riding, bicycle riding, walking, hiking, and gardening.
  • I try to maintain a reasonable sleep pattern.  This is an area I need work on, because like many people, I stay up too late a lot and then have to rise early the next day. I don’t usually find that I am fatigued much, though, and I attribute this to my healthy diet and lifestyle.
  • I use few personal care products and chemicals in my home – I don’t use anything on my hair except organic shampoo, which I use only once or twice a week (I have dreadlocks, so hair washing is fairly infrequent…and no, my husband doesn’t think I smell). I don’t use expensive creams and solutions on my body except for extra virgin, raw coconut oil or olive oil. We use organic soaps and cleaning solutions in our home – and much of what we clean with is apple cider vinegar, hydrogen peroxide, lemon juice, and water. For more information about toxic load, read Your Toxic Load…How Does it Affect your Health?
  • We have completely eliminated plastic dishes and many other items from our home. We use as little plastic as possible in our refrigerator to store foods. Most of our kitchen dishes and materials are as follows: glass, pyrex, ceramic, cast iron, wood, stainless steel, wooden spoons, bamboo cutting boards, parchment paper for baking and wax paper and foil for storage.
  • We do not own a microwave oven. All of our food is prepared at home from scratch, unless we are heating up leftovers from food we have already made in our oven.
  • We do not use clock radios in our home. All clocks in our house are battery-operated with faces except for one digital readout we have on our oven in the kitchen. Clock radios, particularly close to your body for extended periods of time (as in, near your bed where you sleep) can emit continued, harmful amounts of radiation.

There are so many other sources of toxins, radiation, and other harmful substances which can lead to cancer. These items include but are not limited to: televisions, cell phones, land line-cordless phones, clock radios, wireless devices, and other electronic equipment, clothing, drapes and window treatments, bedding, furniture, toys, paint, and flooring in your home.

It’s true that we do have some of these items in our lives – in particular, cell phones, wireless devices, and computers because by profession my husband was in the computer science field for nearly 20 years. We have now switched gears and own a solar business, but find that the necessity for all of those devices has not gone away.  But I feel better knowing that as careful as we are in the other aspects of our lives, we are doing the most we can to reduce our toxic load and prevent cancer the best we can.

Have a story or advice you’d like to share that has been successful? I’m interested to hear everyone else’s tales about natural cancer treatments and prevention involving traditional foods and natural supplements that have assisted you on your journeys to better health.

Update! Breaking news about CT scans from the medical community – they are finally reporting that these procedures are linked to an increased risk in cancer.

This article is part of The Kathleen Show’s Prevention Not Prescriptions Carnival, and Kelly the Kitchen Kop’s Real Food Wednesdays Carnival. Please visit these sites and read the informative posts featured there.