I have written at length about the negative impact that excess sugar can have on your health. In addition to weight gain, diabetes and lower levels of ‘good’ cholesterol, eating too much sugar can also lead to gut dysbiosis and a Candida overgrowth. In fact, the consensus in the medical and alternative health communities is now set firmly against excess sugar.
For those of you in any doubt about the importance of sugar to Candida, today’s article should help. We now understand more and more about how the yeast Candida albicans survives and thrives in our intestines, and sugar plays a hugely important role in this. That’s why following a low-sugar diet is one of the key elements in any good Candida treatment program.
Sugar As A Raw Material For Candida Biofilms
Two things that continue to amaze us about Candida albicans are its resilience and its adaptability. We know that it can survive in a wide variety of pH levels, develop resistance to prescription antifungals, and create biofilms that protect it from treatment. No wonder it is so difficult to treat!
Biofilms are a way in which Candida albicans attempts to shield itself from both your immune system and treatments like antifungals and probiotics. The biofilm can be thought of as a protective matrix in which the Candida can live and multiply safely. The longer a Candida colony exists inside your gut, the stronger (and harder to break down) its biofilm will be.
That’s what Candida biofilms are, but what exactly are they made of? A 2006 research study found that they are comprised of roughly 32% glucose. And where do they get this glucose from? Your diet. To put it simply, the excess sugars that you consume provide one of the key building blocks used by Candida to grow biofilms and protect itself.
Some Other Ways That Candida Uses Sugar
Sugar is far more important to Candida albicans than simply a raw material for its protective biofilms. In fact, approximately 80% of its cell walls are comprised of carbohydrates. Sugar plays a critical role in both its growth and the way that it spreads around your body.
A research team in New Zealand found that carbohydrates were “indispensable” for the cellular growth of Candida Albicans. They also showed that Candida needed those same carbohydrates to switch to its ‘hyphal’ form. In this hyphal form Candida is able to spread more quickly throughout your gastrointestinal tract, in addition to creating the complex links that underpin a biofilm structure.
In summary, sugar helps Candida albicans to grow, to spread throughout your intestines, and to protect itself from your immune system. If you are suffering from Candida overgrowth, you are potentially worsening your condition every time that you eat excess sugar.
Reducing Your Sugar Intake
If eating too much sugar can enable Candida albicans to multiply, switch to its hyphal form, and create biofilms, then eating less sugar has to be an important part of your treatment. By following a low-sugar diet you can deprive the Candida of the food it needs and make it more susceptible to other therapies like antifungals.
Here are a few simple tips that you can follow to cut back on your sugar consumption.
- Eat small meals
As satisfying as a large meal can be, its often not the best thing for your health. Large meals tend to spike your blood sugar, leading to an inevitable crash later. And when that crash comes, you’ll often find yourself reaching for the closest sugary snack.
- Find a good sugar substitute
Reducing (or eliminating) your sweet tooth is a great step to beating Candida, but its not always easy. The fact is that recovering from sugar addiction can take a long time. That’s where natural sweeteners like stevia or xylitol come in. Erythritol is another good option. These sweeteners can satisfy your craving for sweet-tasting food without spiking your blood sugar.
- Learn to enjoy herbs and spices
You don’t need to pile on lots of sugar to make your food taste great. Start experimenting with lots of herbs and spices and you’ll see that there are lots more flavors and sensations to enjoy. Cut back on the sugar and you’ll quickly start to appreciate the more subtle flavors in your food.
- Keep some snacks in the house
Just because you’ve given up added sugar doesn’t mean you have to give up snacking too! Some great ideas for snacks around the house are chopped up vegetables, coconut cookies and coconut-almond balls.
Hopefully this article has helped you to understand the importance of cutting back on your sugar consumption. If you’d like more ideas for sugar-free recipes, take a look at our Ultimate Candida Diet program!