For a while now—years, actually—I’ve had a sneaking suspicion that I’ve got a fungal overgrowth situation going on.
You might, too.
If your gut microbiome is out of whack, your symptoms may include: cravings for carbohydrates and sweets.
And/or longstanding constipation or eczema. Recurring urinary tract or yeast infections. Itching of the ears, anus, or vaginal area. Inability to lose weight. Abdominal bloating. Toe fungus or athlete’s foot. Psoriasis. Insomnia or fatigue. Joint pain. Brain fog. Low libido. Migraines. Oral thrush. Unfortunately, the list goes on.
If you receive my monthly email newsletter (You can sign up in the right side bar, or down below this blog post!), you may recall my mention of occasional flare-ups of angular cheilitis: red painful cracks at the corners of the mouth, sometimes mistaken for fever blisters. The diagnosis? My dermatologist deemed it a fungal overgrowth. The cause of said overgrowth? Feeding the critters that naturally live in your gut too much of the thing they love: sugar. Thankfully, once I curtailed my snack-sized candy bar intake, the condition went away. For the record, the very same thing happened to my elderly mother.
Might your “pot belly” be a “wheat belly?”
As far back as I can remember, I’ve had a poochy tummy. Weight reduction didn’t cause my belly bubble to go away. Sit-ups didn’t make it smaller either. Guess what budged my pudge? Cutting way down on gluten consumption.
Back in 2017, when I wrote this blog post about decreasing grain intake, I experienced a wildly welcome flattening of my tummy. Recently it’s gotten even flatter. Thanks to two podcast episodes—on the topic of fungal overgrowth—both podcasts hosted by physicians.
The first podcast episode I listened to was with Dr. Mark Hyman and Dr. George Papaicolaou. Both doctors agreed that poor nutrition is often the main cause of fungal problems. Specifically, sugar intake. Everyone knows sweeteners are present in things like candy and desserts, but they can also be hidden in fruit juice, sweetened beverages, as well as processed and/or fast foods. Dr. Hyman commented that sugar is “jet fuel” to the yeast and fungus living in our gut.
In addition to poor nutrition,
Other things can cause the healthy balance of your gut to shift.
- Birth control pills
- High amounts of wine, beer, and other alcoholic beverages
- Psychological stress
How to find out if you have a fungal issue
To determine if you have an issue, the doctors suggest having a conversation with your physician. Your doctor can run the following tests to determine if you have an overgrowth of yeast and bad bacteria in your body.
- Gut microbiome test
- Candida antibodies test
- Stool test
- Organics Acid Test
If your doctor diagnoses you with the condition,
How is a fungal overgrowth treated?
Once it’s established that you do indeed have a fungal overgrowth situation, the first three steps Doctors Hyman and Papaicolaou recommend are simple. They can actually be done without a doctor’s involvement.
- Improve your diet. Start by eliminating sugars and processed carbohydrates (which break down to sugar).
- Limit your alcohol intake.
- Decrease stress in your life.
If your symptoms persist, there are other steps you can take.
Doctors Hyman and Papaicolaou recommend additional tactics for bringing the gut into balance, but I’ll let you listen to their podcast episode yourself to see what you think. I will say this, after implementing some of their suggestions, I’ve lost a few pounds and my stomach has flattened further.
Dr. Josh Axe’s short video on the subject provides a list of six actions you can try to resolve a gut imbalance such as candida.
His recommendations include:
- Consume less sugar.
- Consume fewer grain-based products.
- Support your spleen (by eating squash, sweet potatoes, and lentils).
- Eat sour foods such as fermented vegetables, kefir, and apple cider vinegar.
- Eat bitter foods such as kale, arugula, cinnamon, and ginger.
- Take a probiotic supplement.
Probably all of us would benefit from a healthier diet and reduced stress.
After that, the choice is up to you—whether or not to take further action. If you’re experiencing a number of the symptoms the doctors listed, or if you’ve gotten to the point where weight loss seems almost impossible, looking further into the topic of fungal overgrowth may very well be worth your time.
Note: As you hopefully know, I am NOT a doctor. I am presenting this information because the topic of weight loss is very popular with my readers.