Welcome back. Today I’m going to talk about the fungal connection to HS.
We have seen first-hand in our own patients with HS, that many have intestinal yeast overgrowth or a known history of mold exposure in their home. Addressing these types of exposures are really important because fungal toxins are one of the most important drivers of inflammation known to man. And when we remove these toxins, we see people’s level of inflammation go down.
In today’s video, I’m going to focus on Candida overgrowth – but if you’re interested in more information on mold, I encourage you to check out Dr. Biscoe’s blog on mold toxicity. I’ll share the link below.
So first, I’ll talk about some of the research linking mold and yeast to HS.
Second, I’ll share the most common causes for Candida overgrowth and how to know if you have it. Finally, I’ll discuss some of the ways to get Candida back into a healthy balance.
So, if we look at the research, there are a number of clues linking fungus and yeast to HS. There are a couple of studies that have shown a significant improvement in patients with HS when they avoid foods that contain brewer’s yeast. This includes all types of bread and pastries along with beer, wine, pizza and fermented cheeses.
One of these studies also found that all twelve of the HS patients that had improved on the yeast-free diet also tested positive for ASCA antibodies. ASCA stands for anti-saccharomyces cerevisiae antibodies. This means that they were all making immune cells to saccharomyces cerevisiae, which is the main component of brewer’s yeast.
Interestingly, these ASCA antibodies are also seen in active Crohn’s disease which has also been associated with HS. The immune reaction to yeast could be one of the things that causes inflammation in both conditions. If someone is sensitive to one type of yeast or fungus, they can often react to other types. Dr. Biscoe actually discusses this study in more detail in one of her videos – definitely check it out if you want more information.
And while many of the studies for HS focus on bacterial infections, there is a 2017 study looking at fungal spores. When they evaluated the skin of patients with active HS, they found several fungal spores in the inflamed hair follicles. The study concluded that fungi could be a potential contributor to the disease severity.
I’ve linked to the studies below for anyone interested in the research.
So, what causes a Candida overgrowth? If you notice, I’m careful to use the term “overgrowth”. This is because Candida is a normal and healthy part of our collection of microbes that live in our body and on our skin; also known as the microbiome. Candida can become a huge health problem if it overgrows and becomes invasive.
Some of the most common causes for an overgrowth include antibiotics because they kill off the good bacteria that normally keeps Candida in check. Other medications such as steroids and hormonal birth control can also allow the yeast to overgrow. Sugary, processed foods and other stressors that raise blood sugar can also promote yeast.
So, how do we know if we have a Candida overgrowth? There are some obvious signs such as oral thrush, vaginal yeast infections and toenail fungus. But there are more subtle things that can include skin problems and itching, food cravings for sweets, chronic fatigue, brain fog, headache, joint pain, sleep disturbance, food allergies and other GI issues.
In our practice, we typically use both urine and stool testing. We have found the best test for Candida is a urine test called “organic acids” which is commonly abbreviated “OAT”. There is actually a lab company will let you order this test on your own. I will add the link below.
Unfortunately, there are a lot of false negatives when using stool tests for yeast, but they can still be very helpful and also look at other infections like parasites, viruses or bad bacteria.
Ok, so finally, I’ll talk about some of the ways to get Candida in check.
Of course, you’re probably already guessing there will be diet recommendations.
Well, ideally, you want to avoid anything that will feed the yeast including all sugar, alcohol and processed foods like bread, pasta, crackers and baked goods. It’s also helpful to avoid all dairy, fermented cheese and peanuts since they naturally contain mold. You will even want to limit high-sugar fruits and starchy foods like sweet potatoes because of their impact on blood sugar.
The foods to focus on for decreasing Candida include leafy greens, garlic and onions, avocado, cruciferous vegetables like cabbage, broccoli and cauliflower in addition to grass-fed meat and wild-caught fish.
Coconut and olive oils are especially good since they contain natural compounds that kill off the yeast. Spices and herbs such as oregano, basil, turmeric and rosemary also have anti-microbial and anti-inflammatory benefits.
Small amounts of low-sugar fruits such as berries and grapefruit are allowed. And if you tolerate seeds and nuts, they can be a great source of fiber, protein and healthy fats that fit well with an anti-Candida diet.
So, in addition to the Candida diet recommendations, there are many supplements that can be helpful. One of our favorite formulas is called “Yeast Away” – this is my “go-to” since it’s very gentle and effective. The formula combines beneficial bacteria to crowd out the yeast in addition to an enzyme that shreds the yeast cell wall. This is a supplement that you want to take on an empty stomach, so it can really target the yeast.
Other supplements that can be helpful include caprylic and undecylenic acids, turmeric, berberine, olive leaf, biotin, probiotics, modified citrus pectin and more. I will link to a few of our favorites below.
If you try any of the supplements, it’s important to go slow and listen to your body. If you kill the Candida off too fast, you can end up feeling worse – many people call this a “die-off” or “Herxheimer” reaction. ideally, you want to avoid this.
A few things you can do to decrease the chance for a die-off reaction include drinking plenty of water and eating fiber-rich foods. You will also want to get plenty of rest. Decreasing stress while focusing on relaxation is essential when addressing infections.
It’s important to know that if you’ve been dealing with Candida for a long time and are having trouble clearing it, there can be other things going on. I highly recommend working with a Naturopathic Doctor or Functional Medicine provider for more advanced testing. You may be dealing with other infections or toxicities such as heavy metals, chemicals or mold.
I hope you found this video helpful. If you want more tips and information, check out our other YouTube videos.
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