I’m a massive believer that gut health = whole health. And I’ll tell anyone who will listen. And this is a big reason why. A huge part of my healing has been restoring damage done to my gut by years of eating gluten and unknowingly having celiac disease.
So a super brief overview of the gut: it’s pretty dang important. Hippocrates said years and years (and years) ago that “all disease begins in the gut” and we’re finding more and more just how right he was. Your gut (specifically GALT, gut-associate lymphoid tissue) houses 70% of your immune system and of course the intestinal cells that break down food: where nutrients are absorbed and toxins are (supposed to be) removed. It is composed of about a tennis court worth of lining all scrunched together to soak up as many nutrients as possible. I spent an entire semester studying the biochemical presses our body uses to break down our food, so I’ll spare you the textbooks of organic chemistry and tell you it’s incredibly complex. There is SO much our organs do to convert our food to usable fuel, it’s truthfully just beautiful. But we can’t do it all on our own. We actually rely on billions of bacteria cells to help us. Yes, billions. You literally have more bacteria cells in your gut than you have of your own body cells in your WHOLE body. And these bacteria are there to help us with our digestion. There are a lot of fibers and chemicals that our intestinal cells can’t break down on their own, so the bacteria help out in exchange for a warm and cozy place to live.
What Is A Yeast Overgrowth?
Very simply, a yeast overgrowth happens when your bad bacteria outnumbers your good. Candida, the most common fungus present in your mouth and gut, can be productive in small amounts, but when it is overgrown, it breaks through your intestinal wall and leaks into the bloodstream. This allows toxins your gut is supposed to eliminate to circle back into your system (and even without a nutrition degree, I’m sure you can guess that is not exactly a good thing.) This spillage of toxins into the blood is called leaky gut, and it is the root of soooo many of our health problems.
What Causes A Yeast Overgrowth aka Candida Overgrowth?
Lots of things!
Antibiotics can cause candida. Because they don’t just kill the bad bacteria of a skin rash or an ear infection, they literally kill all bacteria in your body – even the good stuff that your gut needs to function properly. And by killing off the good stuff, it allows the bad to grow in its place.
The birth control pill can cause it, too! Really any form of hormonal treatment. With a yeast overgrowth, the candida actually attaches itself to estrogen, so any time you’re adding estrogen to your body (or messing with any form of your natural estrogen/progesterone levels), you’re increasing your risk for overgrowth. A recent study says you’re doubling it.
Even just stress can cause it. Stress (and its sister: lack of sleep) weakens the immune system and disrupts hormone levels, both lowering your body’s natural ability to maintain a healthy bacterial balance.
But probably the biggest culprit for most of us: a high sugar / high processed starch diet. The candida feeds off of sugar (and starch because starch becomes sugar almost immediately in your body). By consuming a lot of the foods that fuel it, you’re promoting its growth and it can easily start to overpopulate and throw off your microbiome flora balance.
How Do You Know You Have It?
Well to be honest, odds are that you do. Because of our diets and the disgusting amounts of sugar and refined carbohydrates loaded into everything we eat, most of us do.
You can go to the doctor and pay some good money to get a bloog test for IgA, IgG, and IgM candida antibodies or do a stool or urine sample test to confirm. But I’ve battled this for years, and never once did a doctor think to test for these. So I’ve learned on my own: More often than not, if the symptoms are present, the yeast overgrowth likely is too.
What are the symptoms of too much yeast in your body?
A yeast overgrowth can cause any and all of the following symptoms:
- Skin infections – eczema, rosacea, acne, dermatitis
- Headaches and migraines
- Digestive issues – bloating, gas, diarrhea, constipation, IBS
- Chronic fatigue – general exhaustion or any form of adrenal fatigue
- Hormonal imbalances and side effects like anxiety or depression – 70% of our sertonin is produced in the gut, so a disturbance of our flora can lead to a disturbance of our happy levels
- Autoimmune diseases
- Diabetes – both autoimmune type 1 and type 2
- ADD or ADHD
- Frequent infections – ear infections, UTIs, vaginal yeast infections
- Food allergies, intolerances, or sensitivities – often times, we develop food sensitivities simply because leaky gut allows these food particles into our bloodstream and then they use inflammation in places they shouldn’t be
- Thyroid conditions like Hashimoto’s
- Joint pain and arthritis
Crazy, right? But it makes sense. With so much of our immune system and neurotransmitter production residing in our gut, it makes sense that a disturbance of its function can cause a lot of varying effects.
My own experience with a yeast overgrowth came from the perfection concoction of years of antibiotic use for chronic ear infections as a child, a decade on the birth control pill and then transitioning off without supporting my hormones, and a month of way too many starches in my diet during a European escapade (thanks Italy and all your delicious gluten free pasta and gelato). My intestines were swollen and painful to the touch, I had some serious changes to my bowel movements, and this rash I’ve been battling on my face got a whole lot worse. Oh and I got a yeast infection you know where. That one made it pretty dang obvious.
How Do You Get Rid of Yeast Overgrowth?
So let’s get real about this for a moment. Most doctors and forms of conventional medicine will tell you the solution to a fungal infection is an antifungal drug.
And sometimes, that might be necessary. But often, it only provides temporary relief.
Because if you are not supporting your entire microbiome as a whole, the yeast overgrowth will return.
Here are 7 powerful, all-natural remedies that will help treat a yeast overgrowth:
1 | Sugar Detox
The first step is to kill the yeast. And the best way to do that is to starve it. Cut off its food supply by not eating any processed sugars or starches. Cut out all forms of added sugar– honey, agave, coconut sugar, all of it. Limit fruit consumption, too. Although rich in vitamins and minerals and antioxidants and so many good things, it’s also packed with sugar, so it’s important to keep it pretty fruit-free for at least a couple weeks to clear out the fungi. Enjoy a few berries on some chia pudding or 1/2 of a frozen banana in a smoothie, but don’t have any more than that in any one day for at least 2 week. Also cut out all starches– no flour, no oats, no rice. Even no starchy vegetables like potatoes or corn or beans or legumes or peas.
2 | Apple Cider Vinegar
I talked about why apple cider vinegar is a part of my daily routine in a previous post, but it became even more important for me while trying to #KillTheYeast. An acidic environment is a hard one for bacteria and fungi to grow in, and the acetic acid in ACV helps kill any that is already established.
3 | Probiotics
In addition to actually killing the bad bacteria, it’s important to repopulate the good ones in its place. Probiotics are the good ones. Invest in a good quality probiotic. (My favorite probiotic supplement of all time is BIOHM‘s probiotic green shot I take every morning and I can’t recommend it enough.) You can also add in other probiotic-rich foods like yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, kombucha, etc.
4 | Digestive Enzymes
Taking enzymes basically just alleviates some stress on your gut by providing extra assistance in its processing, therefore allowing your gut to focus on healing. Get a quality digestive enzyme you can take with every meal and enjoy the enzymes packed into your morning gut shot. This is one thing that always helps clients with bloat and general digestion pain issues.
5 | Resistant Starches
Of course we are adding in good bacteria with our probiotics, but it’s also important that we feed those good bacteria to grow and establish and populate. We do that with prEbiotics: food for the probiotics. There are tons of examples of prebiotics like jicama, dandelion greens, garlic, and onions.
Also an underrated prebiotic: resistant starches. Resistant starches serve as a natural prebiotic because they cannot be broken down by our own intestinal cells (hence the name), so they are instead digested by the healthy bacterial cells. The simplest (and cheapest) option: potato starch.
Does this seem confusing because I just told you to stay away from starches? Raw potato starch is different. It contains 8 grams of resistant starch per tablespoon and nearly no “usable” starch (none that actually feeds bad bacteria and spikes blood sugar). By taking potato starch, in its simplest form, you’re sending prebiotics straight to your gut. It will pass through your system and arrive to your intestines undigested, ready to be eaten up by the healthy bacteria waiting for some food. Not only does this allow the good bacteria to grow, the process of the breakdown itself also produces short-chain fatty acids and causes fermentation, lowering the pH of the gut and therefore creating an environment less friendly to unwanted pathogens.
6 | Collagen Peptides
If you’ve followed me for any length of time, you know my obsession with collagen is real. Further Food‘s collagen protein powder is an amazing supplement to fight a yeast overgrowth because it helps to reestablish the gut lining and heal any damage made through leaky gut. Collagen is amazing because, as the main building block of all of our body proteins, it helps to strengthen the production of any new tissues. If you aren’t already taking collagen, I highly recommend you add it in to your routine. (And you read allll the details of why I take collagen here.)
7 | Coconuts
Coconuts contain lauric acid, which the body converts to monolaurin, which it then uses to fight pathogens. Because of this, coconuts are natural antimicrobial powerhouses and they’ll aid in the yeast-slaying process. Cook your foods in coconut oil, drink Bulletproof Superfood Coffee every morning (this recipe incorporates #1 and #6 too so you’re getting a triple punch!), snack on Coconut Chia Pudding, and add a spoonful of coconut oil to your tea. Just all the coconuts. Everywhere.
These 7 natural powerhouses, along with three fundamental pillars (Kill The Yeast, Restore The Microbiome, and Heal The Gut Lining) are the foundations of the strategic system I’ve used to help hundreds of people find relief from yeast overgrowth and leaky gut: The Kill The Yeast Program.
No doctor bills. No scary drugs or unpronounceable medications. Just real, whole foods and some supplements. Just natural sources to aid your body in its amazing ability to fight for health on its own.
Are you afraid you have leaky gut? Are you wanting to give these remedies a try but have no idea where to start? Are you tired of chasing down temporary treatments? I’ve got you covered! Come join me in my Kill The Yeast Program: The ultimate resource to guide you through this healing journey!