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Weight Loss Is Easier for People with Good Gut Health, According to Doctor

A healthier gut could mean a healthier weight.


Do you have trouble losing weight? Several women have intestinal yeast overgrowth that makes weight loss more difficult. But it doesn’t have to be that way. In an interview with First for Women, Fred Pescatore, MD, reveals a cost-effective solution for improving gut health and aiding in weight loss.

Weight-Loss Discovery

Year after year, we feel like we’re doing the right things and eating the right foods, but our body simply doesn’t cooperate in the weight-loss department. It’s as if our willpower (along with our widening waistline) has been hijacked by an invisible villainous force. Turns out, that may be true.

Millions of people suffer from yeast overgrowth, with experts estimating that one in three people are affected by it. In good health, we carry hundreds of types of yeast and fungi harmoniously on our skin and inside our bodies. But due to factors like hormone flux, antibiotic use, and sugar and carb consumption, a yeast called Candida albicans can proliferate, affecting gut health and causing problems. “When the inner ecology of your GI tracts gets out of balance, this normally noninvasive yeast can quickly become a highly aggressive fungus and bore into the gut lining,” explains nutrition guru Ann Louise Gittleman, PhD, author of Guess What Came to Dinner? (Buy from Amazon, $16). This damage allows the fungus and its toxins to spill into the bloodstream, leading to fatigue, brain fog, mood swings, and extra pounds.

The Elusiveness of This Tiredness Trigger

The overgrowth of Candida albicans damaging your gut health may be fueling a sneaky cause of fatigue, says integrative physician and author of The A-List Diet (Buy from Amazon, $16.79), Fred Pescatore, MD. This yeast pumps out toxins and gas, like carbon dioxide, which creates bloat that can change the position of the stomach in the abdominal cavity. If pushed too high, the stomach can bulge through the diaphragm, causing a hiatal hernia, a painful condition known to disrupt sleep and trigger fatigue. Dr. Pescatore says, “It makes sense: All that gas has to go somewhere!” This energy-draining condition affects 50 percent of people over 60, although many don’t even know they have it. Fortunately, says Dr. Pescatore, “By correcting yeast overgrowth, you can relieve the pressure causing these symptoms, making it more comfortable to sleep.”

C. albicans packs on belly fat in two ways. First, the yeast produces metabolism-slowing toxins that get stored in fat cells. Second, because C. albicans feed off fructose, an overgrowth causes out-of-control cravings, particularly for sugary carbs.

Recent research in the Journal of Nutrition and Dietetics reveals that different types of yeast can play off each other to create even more problems. In the study, people harboring high counts of three types of yeast in the gut (C. albicans, C. kefyr, and R. muci-laginosa) were more likely to be overweight and less likely to have healthy levels of “good” HDL cholesterol. Also, overgrowth of C. albicans was associated with more total fat and a wider waist. Infection with R. mucilaginosa was common in women who had been treated for yeast overgrowth with prescription antifungals, continuing the cycle of sickness.

“This research convinces me of what I have suspected for three decades: Overgrowth of yeast wreaks havoc on weight,” says Dr. Pescatore. “It practically guarantees no regular diet can release stubborn excess pounds.”

The good news is that it’s possible to eradicate candida overgrowth quickly and boost gut health. And research suggests that the same steps that control candida may also help control other types of yeast.

The secret ingredient? Caprylic acid, which is found in coconut oil, and its cousin, MCT oil. Scientists at New York Medical College discovered that caprylic acid was more effective against yeast than prescription antifungals. Best of all: It’s inexpensive and accessible (Buy from Amazon, $11.94 for 100 softgels). Additionally, coconut oil helps diminish cravings and hunger caused by yeast, and research shows that MCT oil can aid in weight loss.

Once yeast is tamed, “Weight loss becomes super easy,” Dr. Pescatore says. “You’re not battling a condition that wants to keep weight on.”

Slimming is just the start. In an interview with First for Women, Tammy Blaszak, 60, shared that she lost weight and improved her blood sugar, cholesterol, blood pressure, and pain on an anti-candida diet. Women also report restored focus, smooth skin, happier moods, and more energy.

Say Bye-Bye to Belly Fat

Eliminating an overgrowth of Candida albicans in the intestinal tract shuts off fat-packing sugar cravings and relieves gut damage to make slimming easier. And thanks to Dr. Pescatore‘s two-part plan, it’s easy to do. Start by avoiding yeast’s food source (sugary carbs). Next, consume tropical oils rich in caprylic acid, which has been proven to speed yeast die-off. “I see patients feel better at the end of the first week,” says Dr. Pescatore, who outlines his yeast-free eating approach in his book, The Allergy & Asthma Cure (Buy from Amazon, $17.99).

The three-week plan requires skipping sugar, as well as food the body breaks down into sugar, such as starchy veggies (like corn and carrots), dairy, alcohol, fruit, and grains with gluten. These foods are replaced with satisfying portions of protein, like eggs and turkey, and low-starch vegetables like broccoli and cauliflower. You can eat soft cheeses like ricotta, but you’ll avoid hard, aged cheeses, which feed yeast.

For the best results, consider incorporating these savvy strategies:

Answer cravings.

Hunger may spike on the first days on this plan, cautions Dr. Pescatore. “That’s when yeast bugs are starving and dying. They get desperate and send every signal possible to get carbs.” So don’t give the body anything that can turn into sugar. When cravings strike, reach for snacks like raw (unroasted) nuts, hard-boiled eggs, and seaweed chips. “Not giving in to sweet cravings is crucial to help you break the sugar/yeast habit in those first few days,” says the doctor. He assures, “After 72 hours, things calm down and you’ll feel better.”

Drizzle off fat deposits.

To get your daily dose of yeast-killing caprylic acid, use slimming coconut oil when cooking or dressing salads. You can also blend MCT oil powder into coffee and smoothies. Simply GoodFats Creamy MCT Oil Powder (Buy from Amazon, $18.99) is a good option. New York Times best-selling author and nutrition consultant Naomi Whittel says, “MCT oil has been shown to have a positive effect in weight management, exercise performance, heart health, and brain health.” Indeed, a Columbia University team found that people consuming MCT oil lost more weight than those consuming olive oil.

Consider a supplement.

The miracle acid found in coconut oil and MCT oil can also be taken as a supplement in its most concentrated, powerful form. Dr. Pescatore recommends taking 600 milligrams twice a day. A brand to try: NOW Caprylic Acid plus MCT oil (Buy from Amazon, $11.94 for 100 softgels).

Reseed the gut.

With levels of bad C. albicans diminished, you’ll need to restore the “good” bacteria that was crowded out. Dr. Pescatore recommends Dr. Ohhira’s Probiotics (Buy from Amazon, $26) to aid in revitalizing your gut biome.

Take a break from fermented foods.

Although foods like pickles and sauerkraut are known to promote gut health, Dr. Pescatore suggests temporarily avoiding them since they break down into sugars that feed yeast. Also smart: Limit fermented ingredients like vinegar and soy sauce.

Slim to your happiest weight.

After the three-week plan ends, you’ll likely feel substantially better. If brain fog, skin rashes, and weight struggles persist, as is the case for some women, Dr. Pescatore advises repeating the plan to completely heal from systemic yeast overgrowth. If you’re ready for maintenance mode, slowly add some yeast-containing, non-carb-y foods like roasted nuts and hard cheeses to your diet. Next, phase in non-yeasty carbs like rice, always paired with protein to balance sugar spikes. In the future, if yeast returns, revisit the plan to regain control.

Simple Self-Test for Yeast Overgrowth

Molly Devine, RD, author of The Natural Candida Cleanse (Buy from Amazon, $12.99), says in her book that adjusting your diet and healing your gut microbiome can help you feel your best. To find out if yeast overgrowth affects you and to get a sense of whether C. albicans has overtaken your body, try this easy at-home test: Before eating, drinking, or brushing teeth in the morning, spit into a glass of filtered water. Let sit for three minutes. A spit sample that spikes down or sinks to the bottom could indicate candida overgrowth.

If you think you may suffer from C. albicans overgrowth, talk to your doctor.

A version of this article originally appeared in our print magazine, First for Women.

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