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Diet & Nutrition

Beat the yeast

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Thrush is a vaginal infection caused by an excess of candida albicans, a fungal yeast which normally inhabits the intestines. Symptoms include intense burning, itching, and a discharge.
Anything which disturbs the normal balance of "good" bacteria in the gut can trigger it, including stress, antibiotics, spermicides, synthetic oestrogens, such as those in the contraceptive pill, and hormonal changes. Try these drug-free solutions to get rid of this annoying condition.
Send sugar to the sin bin
A diet rich in sugar and refined carbohydrates — eg: white pasta, bread and rice — can make you more susceptible to thrush because yeast feeds on sugar in the body.
Forgo fungi
It stands to reason that if you eat fungal foods like mushrooms, pickles, wine, and blue cheese, that you will encourage the growth of candida in your body. You also need to avoid foods that have invisible fungi in them, like nuts and dried fruit. Eat yeast-free rye or wholegrain bread, oats and quinoa, and avoid fermented foods, such as soy, vinegar, and malt.
Pucker up
Herbal bitters encourage digestive secretions, which may help to restore balance to gut microflora. Take one teaspoonful in a small glass of warm water before each meal.
Pop probiotics
Reach for yoghurt with live active cultures or a probiotic supplement to help repopulate your system with healthy bacteria and boost your immune system.
One group of women with recurrent thrush reported a dramatic 300 percent decrease in infections when they ate yoghurt containing Lactobacillus acidophilus for six months. Probiotic pessaries can be helpful, as increasing the number of healthy bacteria in and around the vagina seems to keep thrush at bay.
Pick a herb
Goldenseal (Hydrastis canadensis) contains the alkaloid berberine, which inhibits the growth of Candida. Olive leaf (Olea europaea) provides oleuropein, a bitter phytochemical which attacks fungi and prevents its replication. Pau d'arco (Tabebuia avellanedae) contains antifungal and antimicrobial compounds called napthaquinones.
Echinacea (Echinacea purpurea) helps stimulate production of white blood cells to attack the candida yeast. Grapefruit seed extract is another helpful over-the-counter remedy.
A naturopath can give you a professional-strength preparation of these herbs — visit the Australian Traditional Medicine Society at www.atms.com.au to find a practitioner.
Try homoeopathy
Borax and kreosotum are said to be effective for vaginal itching and discharge with a foul odour. However, it is important to get individualised treatment from a qualified homoeopath rather than to self-medicate; to find one near you, visit www.homeopathyoz.org.
Swim in cinnamon
This spice has strong antifungal properties. Add six broken sticks to four cups of boiling water and simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from the heat, cover and allow it to brew for one hour. Strain and use the lukewarm liquid in a sitz bath to ease irritation and soreness.
No cinnamon handy? Add up to 20 drops of antiseptic, antifungal, and antimicrobial neem or tea tree oil to four cups of water and use that instead.

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