Nutrition for IBS, Reflux and Bloated Stomach Relief

Test for Candida

May 20th, 2014 by

In the past month, a number of patients with suspected Candida overgrowth have come into the clinic. Bloating and abdominal pain, fatigue after eating, diarrhoea or constipation, burping after meals, sweet cravings, lethargy and reflux were among the list of symptoms that they highlighted as symptoms that they wanted to get rid of.

All these patients were also thin, pale and run down. They had been ill for some time and having researched their symptoms on the Internet. They self diagnosed with Candida overgrowth and had started an Anti-Candida diet of no sugar and very little carbs. In each case it was over a year that they had been following a strict diet and felt no better. I mention this for two reasons:

1. The Importance of Running A Test for Candida

Many of the symptoms mentioned, such as bloating, abdominal pain, alternative diarrhoea and constipation, fatigue and reflux are also associated with a number of other possible causes, as discussed on my website. For this reason and considering the patients had been on the extreme diets for over a year and not seen any improvement, I suggested running a Comprehensive Stool test and saliva test for Candida. The results were varied but only one patient had confirmed yeast overgrowth and in this case the yeast found was not Candida. The other two patients were identified to have both an imbalance of beneficial to pathogenic bacteria and also overgrowth of parasites. Aside from identifying the cause of these digestive problems, the other benefit of the tests is the Sensitivity test. This test is performed when either yeast or pathogenic bacteria or parasites are found. It tests the efficacy of various prescribed and herbal antibiotics or anti-fungal agents. This ensures that your Anti-Candida Plan includes the most effective medications and herbs to help eradicate the unwanted bacteria, yeast or parasite.

2. The Importance of Choosing The Right Anti-Candida Plan

Fungi need to have a source of carbohydrates to live on. Their first choice is carbohydrates in the form of simple sugars, like table sugars or fruit sugar (fructose). The more sugars they have available, the better they thrive. For this reason it is advisable to avoid simple sugars found in products like sweets, chocolate, cakes, biscuits, ice-cream, fruit yoghurts, cordials, fizzy drinks and fruit juices.

Be warned though, extreme diets; which reduce not only the simple sugars but also the complex carbohydrates (wholegrain bread, brown rice, starchy vegetables etc) for weeks or even months, may lead to malnutrition. Fungi can adapt to use proteins as a food source so it is very hard to simply starve the fungi and tackle it through diet alone.

It is more effective to promote full body health rather than fighting symptoms using diet and tested anti-fungal agents. 
A healthy intestinal immune system is the best tool you have to fight against fungal overgrowth (for example candida).
 So a good anti-candida plan should strengthen your gut immunity and general health in order to combat fungal overgrowth and the associated GI (gastro intestinal) problems and other symptoms such as anxiety, poor concentration, fatigue and cravings.

Constipation, anxiety and restless sleep

November 7th, 2013 by
Jess Keane (BSc. Biochem Post Grad Dip. Nutrition), Nutritionist in Cork and Co Waterford, discusses how poor quality sleep, low mood, anxiety and constipation could be linked to low magnesium levels. 

Earlier this year a study suggested that less than six hours of sleep a night over a week has significant negative effects the immune system and consequently is linked to health problems such as heart disease, diabetes, obesity and poor mental health, such as low mood and poor concentration. More recently, a research team at the Surrey Sleep Research Centre discovered that getting just one extra hour’s sleep a night (switching from six-and-a-half hours to seven-and-a-half hours) reduces this effect.

As a nutritionist, I look at diet and nutrient status. Here are a few things to consider:

  • Caffeine intake
  • Drinking alcohol late at night reduces your REM (deep, reparative) sleep
  • Constipation, low mood and poor quality sleep may be linked to low serotonin levels. Serotonin levels may be assessed through a blood test or a more functional method may be to monitor the urinary levels of 5-hydroxyindolic acetic acid (a derivative of serotonin) using the Organic Acids Test. 
  • Difficulty going to sleep, restless sleep, racing thoughts or unexplained anxiety may be linked to low levels of magnesium. Also, if you get cramps regularly, find that fluids pass through you easily, have cold hands and feet, experience tightness in the neck and shoulders or notice twitches in small muscles (the eyelid, for example), you may have low magnesium levels. Magnesium-rich foods include dark leafy vegetables like watercress, kale, broccoli, spinach, brown rice, mackerel, beans and lentils, sunflower seeds, dried figs and dark chocolate. If your diet does not include these foods on a daily basis, consider a blood test to assess your magnesium levels. 

Be aware that people with digestive issues, such as low stomach acid production or coeliac disease as less likely to efficiently absorb minerals, such as magnesium, and may benefit from magnesium body spray or improving their digestive health.

Does Bread Make You Bloated?

August 29th, 2013 by

‘Bread makes me very bloated – is that normal?’ As a nutritionist, this is possibly the most common question that I am asked. The answer is that there are many causes of bloating, cramps, flatulence (wind, farting, gas) or burping, and not all bloating is caused by food.

If you experience bloating only after eating bread, then it may be that you are reacting to some of the ingredients used in modern day processing of bread. The list is long and includes oxidant chemicals such as azodicarbonamide to bleach the flour and strengthen the gluten, fractionated fats/emulsifiers (mono- and di-glycerides), preservatives such as calcium propionate, and enzymes derived from fungus. It is not a legal requirement to list all of these ingredients on the labels, so it is hard to always know what is in some shop-bought bread.

Go to a local baker (I’m afraid this doesn’t include the supermarket bakery) and ask for breads made using traditional methods, such as sourdough bread. The dough must be fermented in yeast over a 24 hour period.

If bread, pasta, couscous, baked goods and beer cause severe bloating which often takes a number of days to deflate and may be accompanied by foul-smelling wind and diarrhoea, it is advisable to discuss diagnostic testing for coeliac disease or gluten intolerance with a healthcare professional.

If your symptoms are severe, sudden-onset, especially if they are accompanied by blood in your stool, vomiting or painful stomach cramps, see your doctor to rule out a medical condition.