This guest post was graciously written by Dr. John Dempster, a leader in Functional Medicine. 

When I meet with a new patient for the first time I always ask myself; “What is the root cause(s) of their condition?”  I treat a wide variety of patients who each present me with a unique medical history and a corresponding set of symptoms as a result.

Could it be hidden yeast in food making my patients sick? While many have previously been diagnosed with a specific disease or illness, it is the underlying factors for each unique case that are most important when determining any treatment program.

Why Treating Symptoms Isn’t Enough

It is critical to not fall into the ‘symptom suppression trap’ by merely chasing each symptom as they emerge.  Rather, by listening to what the body is saying by expressing these symptoms we will hear a very important story, and ultimately clues how to treat each condition at the root level.

Similar to approaching a jigsaw puzzle, if we take each patient’s ‘puzzle pieces’ and begin to connect them we can gain a much larger, and clearer picture of their health.

I am often amazed at how many symptoms, and ultimately chronic health conditions, stem from an imbalance and/or disturbance in the gastro-intestinal system.  Affectionately known as ‘the Gut’, the gastrointestinal system is fundamental to our health.  One of my favorite professors always said; “Life & death begins in the colon”.  I continue to be reminded of this phrase every day in practice as I piece together different health puzzles.

Many of my patients show dramatic improvements once the root causes of their symptoms are addressed, and many of these issues actually begin in their gut.  Symptoms such as chronic fatigue, skin issues, persistent infections, chronic joint pain, and reduced mental clarity (brain fog), headaches, and even dandruff often begin in the intestine.

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What is the common issue plaguing gut health?  YEAST.  Often, it’s the hidden yeast in food. While there can be many pathogenic (disease-causing) microbes hiding out in our small intestine, it is more often than not that I see a yeast overgrowth as the main culprit of chronic health issues.

All that being said, did you know that certain yeast strains are actually part of a HEALTHY intestinal system?  However, like most things on this planet – it’s the dose that is the poison.  Even water in excess can be problematic!  So, why does something that is labeled ‘healthy’ deemed to be the cause of so many problems?  We are often at the hand of our own demise.

Most of our current diet and lifestyle factors are posing enormous stress on our intestinal milieu/microflora.  Think of this as a melting pot of good and bad bugs all mixed together – all in one playground.  Too many bullies and chaos ensues.  What we eat, drink, breathe and think all have the ability to heal or harm our body, starting with our GI system.  An unhealthy gut is a leading instigator for most chronic illnesses present today.

There are a number of factors at hand that are aiding and abetting yeast growth in the masses. Yeast overgrowth is quite common, but many people don’t know they have it and conventional doctors tend to ignore it.  Don’t ignore your symptoms any longer!  Below are my Top 5 Ways to Reduce Yeast Overgrowth in Your Body.

How To Reduce Yeast Overgrowth

1. Reduce Yeasty foods

This may seem like a ‘no-brainer’, but many people are unaware of how the foods they eat affect them.  In fact, it is not only that ‘We are what we eat’, but more importantly ‘We are what we absorb’.  Many average everyday foods can actually exacerbate an already existing yeast condition.

Foods that contain yeast will make the problem worse – such as; bread, muffins, pastries, vinegar, citrus fruits, beer and wine, bananas, antibiotic treated animal products, and most cheeses. Identify hidden yeast in food.  Stop putting unwanted yeast in the body is half the battle!

2. Stop the Sugar

Sugar is like an accelerator for yeast overgrowth. PERIOD.  Can you imagine what would happen if you were to pour gasoline on a campfire?   You got it.  Much like the large flames that would happen in this example, feeding sugar to yeast creates a similar heightened reaction.  Yeast love sugar.  As a result, WE love sugar.  This is one of the many reasons why sugar is so tough to quit (there are many others, but that’s for another post…).  Eliminate this hidden yeast in food. If you want the yeast to stay around – you know how to do it.

3. Bring in the Cavalry

Fortunately, there are a variety of natural agents that are safe (yet powerful) that will help bring back some order from the outlaws residing in our GI tract.  There are many natural ways to help eradicate existing yeast overgrowth.  Some of the most effective are; Garlic, Oregano oil, Citrus Seed extract, Caprylic acid, and Undecylenic acid.

While many of these are helpful, certain strains of yeast are resistant to the strongest yeast killers – even pharmaceutical medications.  Fortunately, the state of the art functional medicine testing is available that can help identify which agent (natural or pharmaceutical) is most effective to the specific strain of yeast occupying your GI real estate.

4. Probiotics to the Rescue

A darling in the natural health arena, probiotics are helpful for a plethora of chronic health conditions.  The very likely reason for this is they improve absorption of nutrients and elimination of waste.  Hmmm – we might be on to something here to eliminate the hidden yeast in food… Caution – not all probiotics are the same!  As probiotics are living organisms, only use a professional grade nutraceutical company to ensure the highest quality to get the best results.

It is also essential to ensure you are getting a therapeutic dose of a broad spectrum probiotic. I generally suggest doses of no less, than 60-100 billion per day.  Don’t skimp on these, the price is usually a good indicator of what you are getting.

5. Friendly Fiber

Fiber is important for many reasons in keeping a healthy intestine.  Aside from acting as a bulking agent to promote regular bowel movements, a blend of soluble and insoluble fiber is essential to promote the growth of healthy bacteria in the small intestine.  Fiber contains prebiotics or the fuel for healthy bacteria to grow.  It reduces the hidden yeast in food. As yeast die off, fiber is also important to help ‘mop up’ the noxious toxins that are released by these toxic microbes.

If a large amount of yeast die-off at once and your body can’t keep up with the elimination, you may feel a sensation of general malaise or ‘flu-like’ symptoms.  This is known as a Herxheimer reaction. If any of you have done a yeast cleanse too aggressively in the past, you will know this unpleasant sensation well!  Too many of these toxins can be overwhelming, however upping your fiber intake will help to prevent and reduce these symptoms and keep your microflora balanced.

This guest post was graciously written by Dr. John Dempster, a leader in Functional Medicine. He is currently hosting the esteemed Mental Wellness Summit with some of the world’s leading health practitioners. Find out more here.

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Dr. John Dempster
Naturopathic Doctor
Contributor to The Hearty Soul.