Mark has yet another interesting article today, on the question of candida overgrowth. He makes one point that i'm incredulous about, but it's only in the comment section that things get out-of-focus.
First thing that i did: get out the updated Atkins book (i may have to find myself a copy of the original, as that is said to have interesting differences), and read what he had to say. I was hoping for references to studies, but was disappointed; he reports, "I think that the complete explanation of what Candida overgrowth does to the human body is still well in the future. But I do know from my medical practice that this is a problem that can cripple weight loss efforts."
To begin with, although Atkins specifically mentions candida albicans, he quickly starts talking about other yeasts and molds, because if you have a candida problem, you are likely to have trouble with a lot of its "relatives" too. Well, i learned long ago that allergies are "cumulative" -- you can be in contact with things to which you're sensitive, but until these irritants reach some kind of threshold, they won't make you suffer. If i'm in contact with corn chips and salsa, i MAY not feel it unless i go into my basement on a rainy day, OR the oak-trees are pollinating, OR the Bradford pears are in bloom, OR i'm in Wyoming on a windy day, OR ... so on.
So if you eat a lot of "low-carb paleo-friendly" foods such as cheese, vinegar, mushrooms, sauerkraut, sour cream, nuts, bacon and wine, you're adding yeast/mold-bearing foods to whatever environmental sensitivities you have. Is the stuffy head you get after a meal, a symptom of candida overgrowth? Not specifically, but it's definitely a sign that you've got more "yeast" on board than your body can cope with. Atkins states, "It is important to remember that yeast overgrowth stresses the immune system, undermining your total health."
And we CAN measure an abnormal growth of candida in the feces and the blood, so i find the arguments in Mark's comment section completely absurd, that "I’m not impressed with this article, probably because 'candidiasis' is so overblown. Your article acknowledges that intestinal candida infection is not a recognized medical disease, the symptoms are vague and there are no reliable tests to diagnose it, and yet you think you know how to cure it?" ... Shall we start counting the number of things that are/were "not a recognized medical disease" and which ARE things that can be overcome by means of diet and lifestyle?
"Strong Medicine" has several chapters illuminating the vast number of illnesses which can be of allergenic origin. Even if candida albicans isn't PRIMARILY responsible for some of these allergic responses, there's every reason to believe that it contributes to the overall burden, so controlling it becomes one of the logical aims of allergy treatment. Donaldson recommends doing this by means of his "allergy bandwagon" -- eliminating wheat, dairy (except butter), chocolate and eggs for all patients, and a longer list for the more sensitive.
Atkins recommended an elimination test for those of his patients who seemed to have allergy-related problems, with the suspicious items of diet being those high-yeast/mold foods like cheese, which i listed above. But the thing that he believed would feed candida and its co-irritants most...? "The worst offender is sugar. It is the major growth factor for yeast, and Candida patients are invariably warned to stay away from ice cream, candy, pastry, corn syrup, maple syrup, molasses, etc. If you're doing Atkins, there's certainly no possibility you're eating any of that. You'll also be avoiding the natural sugar in fruit juice and lactose in milk."
THIS is where i disagree with Mark's point of view on candida, etc. -- he goes with Jaminet's pronouncement on the subject, and i think it's absurd. "Paul Jaminet, who suffered from candida overgrowth, argues that since candida (being eukaryotes) have mitochondria that can feed on both ketones and carbs (as opposed to prokaryote bacteria without mitochondria), going very low carb or ketogenic will only provide more fuel for the overgrowth. Furthermore, since ketones are water-soluble and pass easily through cellular membranes, ketones will actually be a more accessible food source for candida. Don’t go high-carb, since any extra glucose will just be food for the yeast, but don’t go ketogenic, either."
It just doesn't make any sense! Granted that these buggies can eat EITHER glucose or ketones, what the hell difference does it make WHICH you feed them? But MY CELLS definitely prefer ketones and FFAs, so i'm damned if i'll eat for the bugs i don't want!