Candida is a yeast that lives on the mucous membranes of our bodies, as well as on our skin. These membranes include our mouth, digestive tract and genital region. When yeast exists in a proper ratio to the other microorganisms in the body, it actually aids in nutrient absorption and digestion. When it is in a state of overgrowth, it can cause a myriad of symptoms such as oral thrush, digestive upset, recurring yeast infections, sinus and ear infections, and rashes--including diaper rash that won’t go away.
Apart from these physical symptoms, candida overgrowth can manifest within a child as a behavioral or mental issue. Symptoms such as behavioral and learning disabilities, hearing impairment, irritability, fatigue, and depression can all be associated with candida overgrowth. The gut and brain are very intimately connected and any disruption that candida may contribute to the digestive process will have similarly negative effects on the brain and consequently, on behavior.
There are many things a parent can do to prevent candida overgrowth in their child, and this often begins in utero. It is actually possible for a mother’s chronic candida to be passed to the child during pregnancy. So, the best thing a mother can do for her child, preferably before she gets pregnant, is to address her own candida overgrowth if present.
Candida overgrowth in children is very common after antibiotic use. Antibiotics ravage the delicate microflora in our digestive tract by obliterating both good and bad bacteria and fungi, destroying the balance of our internal ecosystem. Sometimes antibiotic usage is necessary, but before introducing them to your child on a regular basis, consult with a holistic practitioner to explore other effective alternatives.
A diet high in sugar can lead to candida overgrowth. Candida feeds on sugars for energy and growth. Refined sugars create the perfect environment for candida to overgrow, as it provides them with a high-volume food-source. Refined sugars not only include your typical processed snack bars, candy, and packaged goods, but also natural refined sugars such as organic cane sugar, maple syrup, honey, dried fruits, and fruit juice. These less refined foods are okay to use in moderation, but try to limit your child’s consumption by offering healthier sweet alternatives like fresh fruits.
Nutrition for Candida prevention
Herbs & Spices have many beneficial medicinal constituents that help to clear out excess yeast such as antioxidants, essential oils, and anti-inflammatory compounds. Introduce herbs and spices such as ginger, rosemary, thyme, sage, fennel, mint, turmeric, and cayenne into meals wherever possible.
Apple Cider Vinegar: The acid and enzymes present in Apple Cider Vinegar are very effective at gently removing excess yeasts from the body. Mix 1 tablespoon of Apple Cider Vinegar, with 8oz water. Give this to your child every morning, before breakfast as an excellent preventative measure.
Probiotic-Rich Foods: dairy kefir, water kefir, kombucha, fermented vegetables such as sauerkraut and kimchi, fermented soy products such as miso and tempeh.
Coconut Yogurt: Incorporate coconut yogurt + other probiotic-rich foods at least once a day.
Prebiotics are the foods that good bacteria need to grow and thrive. Incorporate prebiotics in order to maximize the proliferation of good bacteria in the gut.
Include: chia seeds, flax seeds, berries, artichokes, sweet potatoes, asparagus, leeks, tomatoes, and cabbage.
Chlorophyll is a phytonutrient and plant pigment that gives vegetables their green hue. Chlorophyll is highly alkalizing and will help to offset the acidity that excess yeasts may create in the body. Green vegetables are also very nutrient dense and will give your child the vitamins and minerals necessary to cultivate alkalinity in their tissues in the long-run, which is foundational to their continued health. Incorporate green veggies into meals wherever possible.
Coconut Oil: The lauric and caprylic acids present in Coconut Oil has anti-microbial, parasitic, and fungal action in the body. Coconut oil can be used in cooking or smoothies.
Bone broth is an ancient recipe that’s gaining massive popularity for its gut healing benefits. High in collagen, bone broth has the ability to gently heal the lining of the gut. This is an excellent way to promote overall gut health.
Organic animal products: Ensure that whatever animal products are being consumed are organic, meaning properly fed and raised without the use of antibiotics. The inorganic substances present in conventionally farmed animal products can ravage our gut by feeding harmful yeasts, bacteria, and parasites while wiping out beneficial microbes.
Herbs and Supplements for Candida prevention
Vitamin C is a huge contributor to immune function and health. A strong immune system is the first line of defense against candida overgrowth.
For children ages 12-17: 750 mg, 3x per day
For children ages 6-12: 500 mg, 3x per day
For children under 6: 250 mg, 3x per day
Probiotics: Crowds out the bad yeasts by introducing as much good bacteria as possible to tip the scales in their favor. 1 capsule of 10-15 billion CFU with multiple strains, once a day, is appropriate for children.
Pau D’arco tea: a tried and true herb that targets candida overgrowth. Take Pau D’arco as a preventative measure when there is susceptibility to yeast overgrowth such as after holidays or parties.
Olive leaf for children: Use in conjunction with Pau D’arco tea after periods of high sugar consumption, antibiotic use, or illness.
Aloe Vera Juice: helps to boost the immune system’s ability to kill yeast cells. Try giving your child ¼-½ cup in the morning and evening.
Lifestyle tips for Candida prevention
Healthy portable snacks: Make sure that when your child is hungry, they always have something low-sugar and healthy to reach for such as hummus & veggies, guacamole, apples with almond butter, coconut yogurt and fresh fruits & vegetables.
Timely introduction of sugars: When introducing solid foods to your infant, it’s a good idea to start off with more vegetables as opposed to fruits. This will help to give your child a predisposition to liking vegetables over sweet tastes, which can carry on into childhood as long as those habits are maintained.
Timely diaper changing: Infants can become yeasty after prolonged periods of high moisture and bacteria in their diaper areas. Change diapers/underwear often and check regularly for ‘accidents’ in your infant child.