Dysbiosis - diet for yeast overgrowth

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(taken from the medical textbook "Environmental Medicine in Clinical Practice" with minor amendments - if you would like to purchase a copy of the book, please see Amazon.co.uk link for "Environmental Medicine in Clinical Practice")

The human gut normally contains astronomical numbers of beneficial organisms that help to break down our food and to manufacture some of the vitamins we need, but it also contains some organisms which seem to be neither beneficial nor usually actively bad, mainly yeasts but also some bacteria. In some circumstances, such as the repeated use of antibiotics or just an unsuitable diet, some of the beneficial organisms die out and presumably make it easier for some of the others to overgrow. This is often referred to as "candida overgrowth", though there is no proof that Candida albicans is the problem or that overgrowth is involved: there are many other possible culprits. Whatever the cause, this often provokes symptoms: bloating; passing excessive wind; diarrhoea; constipation; urticaria (nettle rash); tiredness; a fuzzy brain and many others.

The advice below would be correct if the only offending fermenting organism was yeast. However so often there are fermenting bacteria in addition - in this event one has to be careful with all carbohydrates. The foods that must be additionally avoided are highlighted below

The diet

To correct this you must avoid sugary foods and the juices of fruits: the fibre in the cell walls of the fruit has been thrown away so that the sugars inside the cells are available all at once. You must be careful not to have too much starchy food of any kind and at least in the beginning should avoid foods that contain yeasts or moulds. You will have to eat other foods to make up.

Your physician may help by prescribing anti-fungal medicines and there are herbal remedies which are useful, but tight control of your diet is essential to success.

Be careful to absolutely avoid...

  • All foods you already know upset you
If there are many of these, then some compromises will have to be made. You must eat as wide a variety of foods as possible to help prevent new allergies developing (you tend to get allergic to the things you eat all the time).
  • Refined carbohydrates
Avoiding these is the essential part of the diet. Avoid all sugars, including fructose, maple syrup, honey and all foods containing them, also refined white flour, white rice and cornflour.

Not everyone needs to avoid all the items in this group, but you will not know whether or not it is essential for you until you try it. Some people with gut dysbiosis prove to be very sensitive to at least some of this group of foods, others do not. So, exclude anything containing yeast such as bread and yeast pastries, Marmite, all alcoholic drinks, vinegar (except spirit vinegar) and foods containing it such as pickles, ketchups, salad dressings, miso and shoyu, and many sauces; use oil and lemon juice as a salad dressing and read the labels on all packaged foods.

Most stock cubes contain yeast. Some (but not all) B vitamin and multivitamin tablets contain yeast, some selenium supplements too, but selenomethionine is safe.
  • Avoid anything containing moulds
Either on purpose (as in cheese, blue cheeses particularly) or as a contaminant, for instance over-ripe fruit, old vegetables, mushrooms, shelled nuts and old leftovers: store leftovers in the freezer rather than the fridge.
  • Eat in moderation (avoid if possibility of bacterial fermentation)...
    • Whole grains: wheat, rye, oats, sweet-corn and polenta (not cornflour), millet, barley, brown rice, rice cakes, Ryvita (original, high fibre, multigrain or sesame), oatcakes (Nairn's Capital, Patterson's sugar free) also buckwheat and quinoa. Avoid commercially prepared breakfast cereals and biscuits containing added sugar.
    • Dried peas, beans, lentils and nuts provided they have been stored well and are not too old and therefore mouldy.
    • Dairy foods including butter and unsweetened yoghurt (which might actually be helpful by recolonising the gut with the good bugs), but not cheese or milk substitutes sweetened with sugar.
    • Fresh fruit: but not over-ripe or mouldy or with a bloom, like grapes and some soft fruit, and not too much, two helpings a day at the most: avoid the ones that taste very sweet. Juices freshly-pressed can be had in small amounts as an occasional treat, but all other fruit juices have lost their fibre and may have fermented.
    • Dried fruit is too sweet (dates) and may also be mouldy.
    • Teas: Indian, China and herb teas, are all at least a little mouldy, but in practice most people tolerate 1 - 2 cups/day. Artificial sweeteners, sorbitol and isomaltose might help a bit at first but it is much better to get used to the natural tastes of food.
  • Eat freely...
    • All fresh meats.
    • All fresh fish and shellfish, and naturally smoked fish.
    • All green vegetables.
    • All root vegetables.
    • All fruits commonly classed as vegetables: peppers, tomatoes, cucumbers, courgettes and most pumpkins (some, such as custard marrows, are really too sweet).

If you do not respond to this diet combined with anti-fungals, then it may be because you are multiply intolerant. In this case consider enzyme potentiated desensitisation (EPD).

Different people get better at different stages. Some people just have to avoid sugar. Some have to avoid sugar and yeast. For some people it is sugar, yeast and carbohydrate. Some have to take herbal antifungals as well, some can only recover with drugs - either nystatin or Sporanox or whatever. Some have to have EPD. Everyone is different. (See Enzyme Potentiated Desensitisation (EPD))

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