Candida albicans is a common fungus that is usually harmless, living in small quantities on your skin and mucous membranes. When the human immune system is disrupted—due to disease or antibiotic use, for example—Candida populations can skyrocket out of control, causing dangerous fungal infections. So why should healthy adults worry about this ubiquitous little fungus? Recent studies have shown that the meat-intensive, white-flour-packed diet many of us eat can turn our digestive systems into breeding grounds for Candida—and too much of it can cause chronic pain, irritable bowel syndrome, fatigue, weight gain and other health issues.
Author Sondra Forsyth explores the problem of Candida overgrowth in her new book, Candida Cleanse: The 21-Day Diet to Beat Yeast and Feel Your Best, and offers these suggestions for restoring your system to a healthy balance through the foods you eat:
A healthy way of eating increases your chances of healthy aging. Let me tell you about some research showing the association between dietary patterns at midlife and health as we age.
The research was done as part of the Nurses’ Health Study (http://www.channing.harvard.edu/nhs/), one of the largest and longest-running studies on women’s health. Between 1984 and 1986, the researchers looked at the diets of 10,670 women with no major chronic diseases when they were in their late 50s and early 60s. Then they had the women provide information on their health an average of 15 years later. The diet the healthy women followed was a version of the Mediterranean diet, which is very similar to the Candida Cleanse diet except that it allows more fruit and some other foods that aren’t permitted on the Candida Cleanse, such as peanuts and cow’s milk dairy products (except for yogurt).
What can we conclude from the research? Following a Mediterranean-style diet, which avoids sugar, white flour and processed foods, seems to substantially boost the chances for a healthy old age.
Here are the major dos and don’ts of the Mediterranean diet. They can easily be applied to the Candida Cleanse diet as well:
• Fruits and vegetables: These good carbohydrates, whether fresh, canned or cooked, are nutrition powerhouses. They also have fiber that helps prevent constipation.
• Whole grains: A variety of whole grains (that have not been stripped of the husks, which contain essential B vitamins and fiber) are strongly recommended in lieu of the less nutritious white versions.
• Nuts and seeds: These are ideal snacks because they have fiber, protein and fats that are good for you.
• Healthy oils: Olive oil is ideal. Other oils such as coconut and sesame are fine, but aren’t used as often in Mediterranean countries. Substitute oils for butter or margarine, which have unhealthy fats.
• Spices and herbs: Skip the salt. Instead, make food more tempting by cooking with a wide range of these flavor-and-aromaenhancers that won’t raise blood pressure.
• Fish: Breading and frying aren’t allowed, but eating broiled or baked fresh fish twice a week or more supplies heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids plus lean protein. Water-packed fish is also an option.
• Red meat in moderation: Have beef only about once a month. Choose lean cuts and have small portions.
• No high-fat processed meats: Stay away from sausages, whether fresh or smoked, because they all contain salt and sugar. Avoid bacon, salami, pepperoni, bologna, bratwurst and hot dogs.
New York City health writer Sondra Forsyth (www.sondraforsyth.com) is the co-editor in chief of ThirdAge.com, an AARP blogger, and a winner of the National Magazine Award. Her writing has appeared in Good Housekeeping, Town & Country, Redbook, Gourmet, Cosmopolitan, Family Circle, Ladies’ Home Journal and more.
“Healthy Diet Equals Healthy Aging” excerpted courtesy of Ulysses Press/Sondra Forsyth.