Got Gas? It May Be Yeast and Fungus
The digestive system contains a variety of microorganisms like bacteria and yeast. These tiny critters help aid in digestion and detoxification, but if they get out of balance and multiply in large numbers, they can cause problems. Overgrowth can be caused by a impairment in digestion (like IBS), a diet that is too high in sugars and starches, prolonged stress, or even following a course of antibiotics that kills off the good bacteria we need in our guts. When yeast or fungus multiply in the digestive system, gas or bloating are often the first signs of imbalance.
IBS gas treatment
My doctor recommended a course of antifungals last year, in combination with a diet that aims to reduce the amount of yeast and fungus in the body. It helped reduce the gas and bloating I have come to think of as “normal” for my body that has lived with IBS for twenty years. With less bloating, I have a lot less pain, and I notice my clothes fit so much easier. With less gas, I have fewer embarrassing moments! And, I just feel better in general.
So when I noticed I was experiencing a lot of gas and bloating again, I asked my doctor if I could do the course of antifungals and the diet again. She agreed, and after just a few weeks in, I’m already feeling better.
The anti-fungal diet
My doctor shared with me a handout that lists foods to avoid and which foods are good to eat while I’m on the medication. She explained that several of the foods to avoid feed yeast or are common sources of fungi. Food to avoid include:
- All natural sweeteners and sugar
- Refined grains, like white rice, white bread, and instant oatmeal
- Gluten-containing grains
- High sugar fruits, like bananas, oranges, and melons
- Starchy vegetables, like potatoes and sweet potatoes
- Some nuts, like peanuts, cashews, and pistachios
- Beans and other legumes
- Processed meats, like lunch meat, bacon, and hot dogs
- Dairy, including milk, cheese, and cream
- Alcohol, including beer, wine, and liquor
For me, it’s not that much of a difference from what I usually eat. I am gluten- and dairy-free, so the main things I do differently when I’m eating to lower yeast and fungus in my body is cut out all sugar and alcohol. I focus on healthy proteins and vegetables, as well as drinking lots of water. The diet isn’t that different from FODMAP either, which many people with IBS find helpful.
My IBS gas prescription
In addition to the diet, my doctor gave me a prescription for Nystatin, an antifungal medication that is available in a generic form. I take it with meals twice a day (with breakfast and dinner). Occasionally, I’ve forgotten a dose, and the instructions say to take it as soon as you remember, or if it’s close to your next dose, skip it and continue on.
I’ll take the Nystatin for 30 days and reevaluate with my doctor. I started the diet a week or two before I got the prescription, and while the first few days of sugar cravings are tough, my body responds pretty quickly. My abdomen is flatter, I have much less gas, and my digestion is more predictable.
Do you live with any sleep disorders (eg. insomnia, RLS, sleep apnea) in addition to IBS?