In a nation riddled with obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular disease it is not surprising that people are confused about what to eat.
In a nation riddled with obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular disease it is not surprising that people are confused about what to eat. What is a healthy diet? Is it Low fat, Low carb, Vegetarian, Vegan, Gluten free, Lactose free, Raw?
It seems everywhere you turn you have another expert telling you that their diet is the only way to eat.
That’s before you even begin to bring an illness like Candida, Leaky Gut or Autism into the picture.
The truth of the matter is that there is no one perfect diet for everyone.
It seems like a strange concept. You are not the same as your friends, your neighbor, or even your family.
Your body has its own particular set of genetics and circumstances that makes it unique. What works for one person will not necessarily work for another.
Today we will talk about the general building blocks of a healthy diet, there will be a follow up to this article that talks about the specifics of a Candida safe diet but you should have this information first.
Hydration: Other than air this is our body’s most basic necessity. A person can actually survive weeks without food, but only days without water. Make sure you drink 6-8 glasses of water a day. Notice I said water, not liquids? While its true you can function with coffee, juice tea or soda, your body has to work to distill these to down to what it really wants; useable h20. Better to think of other liquids as a treat and make sure that you get enough pure water. ( lemon or lime can be added for flavor and electrolytes)
I can’t tell you how many people have solved low energy, headaches or die off from our program just by ensuring they got enough water throughout the day.
Protein: Protein is a nutrient needed for growth and maintenance of cells.After water, protein is the most abundant substance in the body.
Without protein our bodies can not grow, can not heal and can not function. Eating proteins also supply certain amino acids (the building blocks of protein) that the human body can not make itself. For the most part, proteins are found in meats or animal products such as milk or eggs. But it is also available in certain nuts, seeds and legumes, although in lower concentrations.
Lipids: Lipids are not the same thing as fats. The group of lipids includes fat soluble vitamins like A, D, E, and K. Essential fatty acids, Triglycerides and Cholesterol.
Lipids are probably the most misunderstood portion of nutrition. I could write an entire article on lipids alone, and there are many books on the subject. But for the sake of what’s needed in a generally healthy diet, here’s what you need to know:
Our bodies need fat. One of the most important ways that the body uses lipids is in the makeup of cells. Healthy fats can be found in nuts, seeds, olive oil, avocado, fish oil, and grass fed beef.
Lipids play a key role in energy production. When you eat, your body converts any calories it doesn’t need to use right away into triglycerides. They are then the body’s go-to source of energy between meals. The body can obtain energy from many sources, but Triglycerides store the most energy in the least amount of space. I am sure you’re thinking: “wait a minute, aren’t triglycerides bad? I have to keep an eye on them or I’ll have a heart attack”. We’ll get back to them. Keep reading.
Trans fats are one of the few things I will tell people to avoid completely. They are found in most processed foods. Such as fast food, crackers, packaged cookies, cakes, etc. Trans fats can be made from many different oils, and are usually listed on ingredients as “partially hydrogenated xxx oil”
Partial hydrogenation is an industrial process used to make perfectly good oil, such as soybean oil, into perfectly bad oil. The process is used to make an oil more solid; provide longer shelf-life in baked products; offer longer fry-life for cooking oils, and produce a certain kind of texture or “mouthfeel to a product.”
If the label says zero trans fats it isn’t always true! If includes the words “partially hydrogenated” or “shortening” on the ingredients list, it DOES contain trans fat. The FDA allows .5 grams of trans fats or less to be listed as “no trans fats”. Trans fats will increase your bad cholesterol, lower your good cholesterol and harden your arteries. If you avoid these fats, and follow the rest of the diet advice below, it is unlikely you will have the heart and cholesterol problems so many others can’t seem to get a handle on.
Nutrient rich roughage: This category of foods is the easiest to explain, it’s likely you grew up hearing “Eat your vegetables” at every meal. It was great advise. The technical reason it is very important to consume a good amount ofroughage, is that it helps keep your digestive system moving, by adding fiber and bulk, and thus keeps your body detoxified. A slow moving bowel will leech all your energy, and is a haven for parasites and other opportunistic organisms. Greens also contain many antioxidants and are a great source of vitamins and trace minerals. Many people seem to have the idea that these vegetables are “boring” or eat them as a chore. I personally find vegetables to be my favorite food group. Try new vegetables, like Kale, Mustard Greens, Bok Choy and Swiss Chard. Eat broccoli Rabe with olive oil, lemon and hot pepper, or Escarole soup with garlic and white beans and tell me that vegetables are boring, I’ll bet you won’t. Challenge yourself to have a serving of green vegetables at every meal for a week (even breakfast) You will feel full longer, have more energy and crave less processed foods.
Carbohydrates: Strictly speaking a body does not require many carbohydrates at all.
That’s not to say carbs don’t have their uses or that everyone should be on a no carb diet. Many foods that are rich in vitamins and minerals have a carbohydrate component to them. Carbohydrates are broken down very quickly into glucose. Glucose is your cells primary source of energy. But they are not the only source ( see, triglycerides in lipids section). The more active you are at any given moment, the more energy your body needs to keep functioning while it does the work of running your organs and breaking down lipids and proteins etc. The problem arises when a person consumes more energy than they need at the time, on a consistent basis. If you eat a serving of carbohydrates, especially when they are processed which makes them breakdown faster, your blood glucose levels shoot up almost instantly. In order to maintain the proper levels of sugar in your blood and prevent the catastrophe of glucose shock, your body releases a hormone called insulin. Insulin is a “master” hormone. If your metabolism were a ship, Insulin would be the captain. When it is released it is a signal for cells in the liver, muscles and fat tissues to stop doing what they normally would be doing and focus on taking in glucose from the blood and store it as glycogen. ( Stop cleaning the deck, stop repairing the sails, grab a bucket and start bailing water!) Glycogen is similar to triglycerides, in that it is a molecule that stores energy. The main difference is that it is far less efficient. Now here’s the kicker. When Insulin is released, it stops the use of fat as energy; presumably this is because it is better for your body to use the less efficient glycogen first, before tapping into its sources of triglycerides which are more valuable to the body since they store more energy in less space. What begins to happen when this occurs regularly is your body gets a massive stockpile of glycogen, which the insulin forces it to use first.
Then those triglycerides start to stockpile too, since you’re not just eating carbs, you’re eating fats, and now those fat stores start to become more visible on your body, your jeans don’t fit well, your energy starts to sag because you’re body is forced to use lower quality fuel, and you want to move around less.
Through all of this it’s likely that you’re still eating the same amount of carbohydrates and continuing the vicious cycle.
What can happen next? Insulin resistance. The receptors in your muscles and liver and fat tissues have had enough of this game, they aren’t as quick to jump when the captain says grab the bucket, it takes longer and longer, to get the job done, and your body is subject to high glucose levels for too long which will eventually begin to cause problems.
If everything isn’t brought under control quickly, the ship will sink or a mutiny will occur, your metabolism can’t do its job properly and you may diabetic.
So what does all this mean to the average person? Should I, or should I not cut carbs?
Well the answer is yes and no.
You really should cut out processed carbohydrates. ( that means white flour, pasta, white rice, white sugar, etc) as they have no nutritional value beyond raising your blood glucose level. No one needs these types of foods, and studies have shown that eating them can cause you to crave them more. However, if you are otherwise healthy you could eat them in limited amounts. As for other carbohydrates, you should eat them in the form of legumes, whole grains, fruits, and other carbohydrate and nutrient rich vegetables such as carrots, cauliflower and sweet potatoes. All in relation to how active you are. An athlete or extremely active individual who is moving around all day needs to eat a fairly large amount of carbohydrates to keep their energy up. Chances are this type of person does not have huge stock piles of glycogen and triglycerides because they are always moving and their body is using that energy. Conversely, a person who wakes up, drives to work, sits at work, drives home, is not physically active there, and doesn’t exercise needs almost no carbohydrates. It is likely you fall somewhere in the middle, for an active person about 30% of your diet being carbs is probably sufficient, Just make sure the source of those carbohydrates are not refined. If you start loosing more weight than you should, that’s a good indicator that you need to eat more carbohydrates.
The Candida Diet is a necessary evil, as many of my patients will agree.
If you are a Candida sufferer, the diet is something that “you can’t live with yet you can’t live without.” The diet is feared, hated, despised, misunderstood, and often can make the difference between the success and failure in the elimination of the yeasty beast! The purpose of this article is not to explain what the Candida Diet is. This can actually be found on our website in the “patient only section,” or by simply searching the Candida Diet on the internet. The purpose here is to explain why it is important!
I will also explain how the diet is generally healthier than most diets that are being followed in the 21st century.
The Candida Diet is low in carbohydrates, low in sugar, and generally low in fermented foods like vinegar, alcoholic beverages, etc. Candida feeds on sugars. Sugars make it grow and strengthen its adherence to the intestinal lining. While on a Candida Diet, the total amount of carbohydrates for the day should not exceed 150 grams. At the Biamonte Center, we use 3 versions of the Candida Diet that range between 30-50 grams, 60-90 grams, and 100-150 grams of total carbohydrates for the day. Avoiding sugar and alcohol are the most important factors. These substances can cause the fastest and greatest increase in Candida growth. They are the most dangerous. Starches come next. Starches convert to sugars in your body. Candida can feed on healthy sugars just the same as it can on junk food. Many of your patients will notice that sweet fruits will flare their symptoms just as noticeably as junk foods! When eating starches (carbohydrates), choosing those foods that have a lower “glycemic index” rating is best. The glycemic index is a scale that rates how fast a food converts to sugar in you blood stream. Examples of the glycemic index can easily be found on the internet. Fermented foods like soy sauce, vinegar, etc. can be important to avoid, especially if the person has reactionary symptoms from the food. These foods often produce an allergic reaction in the Candida sufferer’s intestinal tract which can upset the good flora and the intestinal immune response. Foods from the fungus family like mushrooms, etc. can be allergens in the same manner as the fermented foods.
Foods high in yeast can have a similar effect to fermented foods and the foods from the fungal family. Foods that contain yeast do not contain Candida. They contain baker’s yeast. This is not Candida. These foods can aggravate Candida by causing allergic reactions, but they cannot cause Candida.
The Candida Diet, though apparently restrictive, is actually higher in nutrients than the diet of the average American. The Candida Diet in fact is very similar to “The South Beach Diet,” “The Zone,” and “The Hunter/Gatherer Diet” (also known as the “Paleolithic Diet”). There are races of people who are all slimmer, stronger, and faster than us. They all have straight teeth and perfect eyesight. Arthritis, diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, stroke, depression, schizophrenia, and cancer are absolute rarities to them. These people are the last 84 tribes of hunter-gatherers in the world. They share a secret that is over 2 million years old. Their secret is their diet- a diet that has changed little from that of the first humans 2 million years ago, and their predecessors, up to 7 million years ago. Theirs is the diet that man evolved on, the diet that is coded for in our genes. It has some major differences to the diet of “civilization.” You are in for a few big surprises.
The diet is usually referred to as the “Paleolithic Diet,” referring to the Paleolithic or Stone Age era. It is also referred to as the “Stone Age Diet,” “Cave Man Diet,” or the “Hunter/Gatherer Diet.” More romantic souls like to think of it as the diet that was eaten in the “Garden of Eden,” and they are correct in thinking so. For millions of years, humans and their relatives have eaten meat, fish, fowl, and the leaves, roots, and fruits of many plants. One big obstacle to getting more calories from the environment is the fact that many plants are inedible. Grains, beans, and potatoes are full of energy but are all inedible in the raw state, as they contain many toxins. There is no doubt about that- please don’t try to eat them raw. They can make you very sick.
Around 10,000 years ago, an enormous breakthrough was made- a breakthrough that was to change the course of history, and our diet, forever. This breakthrough was the discovery that cooking these foods made them edible- the heat destroyed enough toxins to render them edible. Grains include wheat, corn, barley, rice, sorghum, millet, and oats. Grain based foods also include products such as flour, bread, noodles and pasta. The cooking of grains, beans, and potatoes had an enormous effect on our food intake- perhaps doubling the number of calories that we could obtain from the plant foods in our environment.
Grains, beans, and potatoes (GBP) share the following important characteristics:
- They are all toxic when raw. There is no doubt about this; it is a fact that no competent source would dispute. They can be extremely dangerous and it is important never to eat them raw or undercooked. These toxins include enzyme blockers, lectins, and other types. I will talk about them in detail later as they are very important.
- Cooking destroys most but not all of the toxins. Insufficient cooking can lead to sickness such as acute gastroenteritis.
- They are all rich sources of carbohydrate, and once cooked, this is often rapidly digestible, giving a high glycemic index (sugar spike).
- They are extremely poor sources of vitamins (particularly vitamins A, B-group, folic acid, and C), minerals, antioxidants, and phytosterols.
Therefore diets high in grains, beans, and potatoes (GBP):
- contain toxins in small amounts
- have a high glycemic index (i.e. have a similar effect to raw sugar on blood glucose levels)
- are low in many vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and phytosterols ( i.e. they are the original “empty calories”)
- have problems caused by the GBP displacing other foods
As grains, beans and potatoes form such a large proportion of the modern diet, you can now understand why it is so common for people to feel they need supplements or that they need to detoxify (i.e. that they have toxins in their system). Indeed both feelings are absolutely correct. The essentials of the Paleolithic Diet are:
- Eat none of the following: (Note the following is not the Candida Diet – this information is present in order to compare the Candida Diet to the Paleolithic Diet.)
- grains- including bread, pasta, noodles
- beans- including string beans, kidney beans, lentils, peanuts, snow-peas, and peas
- dairy products
Eat the following: (Note the following is not the Candida Diet- this information is present in order to compare the Candida Diet to the Paleolithic Diet.)
- meat, chicken, and fish
- vegetables (especially root vegetables, but definitely not including potatoes or sweet potatoes)
- nuts, e.g. walnuts, Brazil nuts, macadamia, almond- Do not eat peanuts (a bean) or cashews (a family of their own)
- berries- strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, etc.
Try to increase your intake of:
- root vegetables- carrots, turnips, parsnips, rutabagas, Swedes
- organ meats- liver and kidneys (I accept that many people find these unpalatable and won’t eat them.)
This diet strongly resembles the typical Candida Diet, which in fact is higher in nutrient density than most diets that are followed by the average American.
From a layman’s point of view, we can say that we use the diet to starve Candida in order to kill it. From a more scientific point of view, sugars, when metabolized by Candida cells, help Candida to adhere to the intestinal lining in order to hold on and keep its grip on you! Therefore, the avoidance of sugars can weaken the grip that the Candida has on your intestinal lining.
Sugars also make up and comprise the outer most layers of the yeast cells. A flip to this statement is the sugar, “Mannose.” The sugar, Mannose, is currently being researched by this author, as it has shown the ability to block the adherence of Candida to the vaginal lining and perhaps the intestinal lining.
Candida above all is a yeast/fungus so it can be considered vegetation, like a mushroom. Like brewer’s yeast, it metabolizes sugars and converts them to toxic alcohols called aldehydes. Many of the symptoms of Candida are produced by this toxic alcohol, the toxic proteins called antigens, mycotoxins (fungal toxins), and the neurological toxins (neurotoxins) that the Candida produces. When Candida is fed sugars, it not only strengthens its grip on you but it produces more of these toxins. Starches and carbs are naturally broken down and converted to sugars by your own body. This is normal for your health. However, Candida will eat these sugars as well. Fermented foods contain predigested sugars and substances that react like an allergen with your Candida. So sugars, starches, alcohol, and fermented foods feed Candida and make it worse! They also make it harder for medicines to kill Candida.
Diet, however, rarely causes Candida. It is usually caused by antibiotics, steroids, birth control pills, and other drugs. However, a diet high in sugar, starch, and alcohol, consumed during a period of extreme stress, can bring Candida about as if one took these medications.
At the Biamonte Center, the Candida Diet is used to weaken the Candida by starving it. This makes it more susceptible to the anti-yeast/ anti- fungal substances that we use. The Candida Diet is not used to kill the Candida as its own weapon. Diet very rarely can eliminate Candida. Candida grows a root system into your blood vessels. Here it taps into you blood and feeds on blood glucose and other nutrients. There is always enough blood glucose to keep the Candida alive, despite being on a low carbohydrate diet or even if you fasted. Fasting cannot kill Candida! This is because even when you fast, your body must keep a normal level of glucose (blood sugar) circulating for your brain and muscles to work. However, the low carb diet weakens it, like a weed which has had little water for some time.
Even when it is barely alive, it can continue to survive. And if “watered and fed properly,” could grow again, returning to its former glory.
This is a very important concept to understand when we consider the importance and place the diet treatment holds in the elimination of Candida.
DIET RARELY ELIMINATES CANDIDA. ITS PURPOSE IS TO MAKE THE CANDIDA WEAKER SO THAT THE MEDICINES CAN TOTALLY DESTROY IT!
When you cheat on the diet, the Candida can temporarily increase. If one cheats for 1 day on the diet but continues the Candida rotation and phase 0, little will happen to set one back. Any increase in growth can be reduced within 1-2 days. The more one cheats, the more Candida grows. If one does the program but does not follow the diet, either no progress will be made or the person will continually feel ill from feeding the Candida, then making it grow, and then killing it and becoming toxic from the dead Candida wastes!
So when you cheat a day or so here and there on the diet, it does not defeat the entire program, providing that you stay on the anti-fungal rotation and Phase 0.
WHY IS GLUTEN AND MILK EXCLUDED IN CANDIDA DIETS?
Many of the Candida diets also suggest excluding Gluten and Casein (milk protein) from the diet. What isn’t explained is why. It is observed that most, but not all Candida patients worsen when eating these foods.
A possible theory as to why is that an underlying allergy to these foods causes damage to the intestinal condition, where damage to the intestinal villi occurs. These villi are finger- like hairs that absorb nutrients that pass through the intestines. This damage causes putrefaction and decay of food in the intestines due to malabsorption.
In that case, the Candida is provided with food so it can continue to proliferate. This can also suppress normal, healthy flora and the intestinal immune response. The underlying problem is gluten-induced intestinal damage, but because the Candida is easier to identify, the underlying pathology is missed. Candida could easily eat these foods and release allergens as a by product of its metabolism, which causes intestinal allergies and further degrades the intestinal flora.
WEIGHT GAIN AND CANDIDA
“It’s Not Your Fault”
If you have failed to lose weight despite following a diet exactly, it could be due to Candida. The late Dr. Robert Atkins, an international expert on the low carbohydrate diet, says in his books that Candida or low thyroid function can prevent weight loss despite a low carbohydrate diet. Candida adversely affects your metabolism and interferes with many hormones, nutrients, and the body’s ability to burn fat!
One of the major secondary problems associated with Candida Albicans is weight gain. A number of the problems associated with loosing weight and staying with a diet are due to Candida Albicans. A person with Candida Albicans will often crave sugar and simple carbohydrates because this is the main source of nutrients for yeast. Mood swings and depression are often associated with the rapid change in blood sugar levels caused by the yeast.
Lower thyroid function, lower Dhea levels, Estrogen dominance, and elevated Cortisol levels are all typical in someone with chronic Candida. Each of these situations has been known to contribute to weight gain or difficulty losing weight. Focusing on removing Candida Albicans from the body rewards the dieter with a feeling of well being and weight loss that is steady, sustainable, and healthy. Very often a person trying to lose weight will not be able to do so because of a Candida infection.
A NEW MIRACLE FOOD TO STOP SUGAR AND CARBOHYDRATE CRAVINGS SO YOU CAN STAY ON THE DIET!
Hemp Hearts (Shelled Hemp Seed) is a natural food that is concentrated with all of the required proteins, essential fats, and many vitamins and enzymes, and contains only insignificant quantities of saturated fats and carbohydrates.
Because Hemp Hearts provides people with an excellent balance of proteins and essential fats, they will have less difficulty avoiding the sugar and starchy carbohydrates that cause obesity and many other late onset health problems. Individuals who use Hemp Hearts as described above—eating them in the morning for their nutritional essentials, to increase their energy and reduce their dependence on sugar and carbohydrates, and having all day to burn off the calories—these individuals always experience profound health benefits.
Except for those with diabetes and other conditions which may seem to require individuals to eat more frequently, most people eat at least four, but usually five, measuring tablespoons of Hemp Hearts early each morning, preferably on fruit and yogurt (vegetables for diabetics), but also sometimes on cereal. They frequently report that they are not yet hungry at lunch time, and often only slightly hungry at three or four o’clock in the afternoon. Those who are overweight can quite easily limit themselves to a large salad in the afternoon. Because those who eat Hemp Hearts in quantity every morning are nutritionally satisfied, they have less difficulty avoiding foods made with sugar, flour, potatoes, pasta, and rice, and they are less inclined to regain lost weight.
THE NEW LOW CARB BOOM!
Since the popularity of the “Atkins Diet,” many companies have emerged that produce low carb versions of popular snack foods and baked goods. These companies are easily accessed on the internet. In most cases, these foods are perfect for the Candida diet.
Michael Biamonte holds a Doctorate of Nutripathy, and is a New York State certified Clinical Nutritionist. He is a professional member of the International and American Association of Clinical Nutritionists,The American College of Nutrition and is a member of the Scientific Advisory Board for the Clinical Nutrition Certification Board. He is listed in “The Directory of Distinguished Americans” for his research in Nutrition and Physiology.