• Dr. Caroline Ricker

Bread, Beer and Brain Fog – What Do All These Things Have In Common??

If you thought I was going to say gluten then you’re probably keeping with modern health trends, BUT, that’s actually not what this blog is about! We’re talking about yeast. Okay, so these aren’t exactly the same types of yeast, but they are in the same family. Specifically, we’re going to get real about Candida.

While Candida may sound like a type of dance, it’s actually a type of yeast, and it’s normal to have this meandering around in our bodies. Where we run into issues is when for different reasons, the Candida overgrows and starts wreaking havoc in whatever system it’s affecting, like a nasty weed in the garden.

Let’s look at a typical patient coming into my office. Janice comes in for food sensitivity testing. She’s got terrible digestive issues and she knows certain foods are really an issue, but no one can put their finger on it. She’s exhausted all the time, has horrible year round allergies that cause sinus infections and during the winter it seems like she’s always sick. Last year she was diagnosed with IBS and chronic fatigue by their primary care doctor, but nothing so far has helped her get much better. While these symptoms can certainly fit a few different common health conditions, I find that the most common and the most overlooked is a Candida infection. Let’s look at the most frequent Candida infection symptoms.

Common Symptoms:

- Digestive Issues (abdominal pain, gas, bloating, constipation, etc)

- Chronic or Recurring Vaginal Yeast Infections

- Itching and/or Burning Skin Rashes (children often have a rash around their mouth)

- Chronic Fatigue

- Brain Fog

- Sinusitis (or chronic sinus infections)

- Oral Thrush (white patches in the mouth)

- Frequent Colds

- Fungal Nail Infections

- Multiple Food Sensitivities or Allergies

- Chronic or Recurring Infections (UTIs, sinus infections, vaginal yeast infections, etc)

Like I said before, Candida is actually a part of many people's normal healthy flora and is kept in check by beneficial bacteria such as those found in probiotics. It is usually when this balance is disrupted that candida overgrowth occurs and the symptoms of candida arise. So what causes the disruption of balance in the first place?? The following list is applicable to many types of fungal infections, but candida infections are the most common.

Common candida overgrowth causes include:

- Antibiotic Use (especially frequent use or long duration)

- Steroid Use (oral, topical or injection)

- Oral Contraceptive Use, especially long term

- Diabetes

- High Sugar Diet

- Weakened Immune System

- Stress

These causes and symptoms are so common that the majority of people could check off more than one of the above candida symptoms as something they experience, and probably more than one causative factor as well! This does not necessarily mean that a systemic yeast infection is present, but if there is a history of one or more of the causative factors along with one or more of the common symptoms, the possibility of a chronic systemic candida infection should definitely be considered.

Figuring out how to treat systemic candida infections was such a frustrating struggle during my first few years in practice. I had several patients with what was obvious to me as systemic candida issues; some who had positive diagnostic tests (such as stool tests) for candida and others who were diagnosed based on symptoms alone. I knew that an anti-fungal diet coupled with anti-fungal supplements like caprylic acid and grapefruit seed extract were supposed to help, but I wasn't seeing the results I expected despite months of treatment with an anti-fungal diet and supplements! Talk about irritating!

After years of careful work to try new ways to address the issue of chronic systemic fungal infections such as candida, I finally came up with an anti-fungal treatment protocol that works well! Phew!

My protocol takes a 3-part approach, and I always stress that the supplements and diet are equally important. My experience has been that most patients only need 30 days on my candida diet, although I have seen patients need as long as 90 days. Even better, as long as the causative factors are addressed most, patients report lasting results!

Protocol Part 1 - Anti-fungal Supplements:

I have found the following combination of supplements to be a highly effective foundation in addressing candida overgrowth (and many other fungal issues):

1. GI Synergy (Apex Energetics) contains a combination natural anti-fungal, anti-bacterial and anti-parasitic supplements. Many people seem to respond better to this combination product than products aimed only at addressing the fungal overgrowth.

2. A mucosal repair powder such as RepairVite (also available in "caramel" flavor) or GI Revive (also available in capsules) is important in order to repair damage to the mucous membranes.

3. A probiotic to help restore the balance of good bacteria in the digestive system. I currently carry seven different probiotic in my office because not everyone has the same needs. The most popular probiotics among my patients are Nutri-West Total Probiotics and Integrative Therapeutics Probiotic Pearls.

Additional supplements such as a digestive enzyme or liver support supplements may be added on a case by case basis depending on the patient's history, symptoms and examination findings. It is very important that a physician is involved in the treatment process so that treatment can be tailored to your specific needs.

If you need a log in code for the links, use DrC in the Apex energetics site and CR1735 for Doctors Supplement Store!

*Please note that many of the supplements mentioned above are sold at a much higher price online than what you would pay at your physician’s office and the savings from purchasing them directly through your physician would offset much of the cost of seeing the physician. The additional support from a physician experienced in treating chronic fungal infections such as candida is well worth the cost.

Protocol Parts 2&3 – The Anti-fungal Diet:

I have seen several versions of an anti-candida diet and know that many people live their lives following some sort of anti-candida or anti-fungal diet with short-term relief only to have symptoms return when they stray from the diet at all. This is no way to live!

As I mentioned above, my experience has been that most patients only need to follow my anti-fungal diet for 30 days and then can go back to eating a healthy diet without their symptoms returning. In rare cases up to 90 days on my diet has been necessary.

One of the most important things to keep in mind while following this candida diet is that candida and other fungi eat sugar, so the more you can limit your sugar and carbohydrate consumption the better. Checking the carbohydrate and sugar content of a food will help to determine if it should be avoided during this time. I do allow for a small amount of whole grains and beans because I find that it helps with compliance and therefore success, but results will be seen more quickly the more carbohydrates are limited

While this diet is more strict than other anti-fungal diets, it also appears to be more effective. It can be overwhelming to only look at what can't be eaten, so I also have included a list of foods that can be eaten while on this anti-fungal diet. Please note that this is a general guide and not all-inclusive. Avoiding sugars/carbohydrates and foods that tend to contain mold should be followed as a general rule.

Part 2 - Foods to Avoid: My Top 5

1. Sugars and Sweeteners (honey, Sweet N Low, etc.)- Stevia is ok but make sure it does not have anything (like inulin) added to it!

2. Fruits (including tomato)- lemon, lime, and avocado are ok

3. Yeast (breads, beer, etc.)

4. Vinegar (mayonnaise, mustard, salad dressings, etc.)- Apple Cider Vinegar is ok

5. Dairy (you can eat eggs, plain yogurt and butter)

Want the full protocol list? Click here for the free downloadable protocol!

Part 3 - Foods to Eat: My Top 3

1. Vegetables (especially leafy greens) -starchy vegetables such as potatoes or corn should be counted as a grain

2. Meat (hormone free if available)

3. Nuts and Nut Butters (except peanut and pistachio)

Get the full list of availale foods, plus naturally anti-fungal foods here!

This protocol is so easy, I’m almost annoyed that it took me so long to get it right but it’s merely proof that our bodies just need the right amount of support to rid themselves of these infections. So what are you waiting for? If these symptoms sound like you, or you’ve tried everything, or you’ve even been diagnosed with Candida, then let’s get started!

Seem like a lot of information? Don’t worry! I’ll be following up with some more information in the next few posts. Need info now? Get in touch with us and we’d love to see how we can help you get started on the protocol!

Dr. Caroline's full Candida Protocol

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