Candida – What it is, what are the symptoms and how do we tackle it

What is it?

Candida is the most common yeast infection found in the mouth, intestinal tract and vagina

It is a fungus that aids in nutrient absorption and digestion when it is found in proper levels in the body. When candida overproduces and is left unchecked it can break down the walls of the intestinal lining and penetrate in to the bloodstream.

Now it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to work out that this could have massive detrimental effects on your health and fat loss efforts.

Typical candida symptoms are:

  • Skin and nail fungal infections
  • feeling constantly tired and worn down
  • suffering from constant fatigue or fibromyalgia
  • digestive issues (bloating, constipation, diarrhoea)
  • autoimmune diseases
  • difficulty concentrating (brain fog)
  • irritability, mood swings, anxiety or depression
  • vaginal infections, urinary tract infections, rectal itching or vaginal itching
  • severe seasonal allergies or itchy ears

If the immune system is functioning optimally candida is rarely serious however if the immune system isn’t functioning properly the problem can spread to other areas of the body such as the blood and membranes around the heart and brain.

You have to think also that when overproduced candida breaks down the intestinal lining and enters the bloodstream. This unfortunately releases by-product toxins and other toxins from your system which will eventually cause leaky gut syndrome.

Now we run the risk of your body natural pH balance being upset which can cause candida to grow out of control, which creates a systemic problem. What is then required is for you body to start creating healthy bacteria and get back to a properly functioning immune system in order for the body to fight off this stubborn infection.

What can cause Candida infections?

  • high refined carbohydrate and sugar diet
  • consuming a lot of alcohol
  • taking oral contraceptives
  • a diet high in beneficial fermented foods
  • high stress lifestyle
  • Cancer treatments
  • taking too many antibiotics

Where do you start in killing off candida?

Firstly i would also recommend getting it tested via a blood test. The next step would determine whether you have gone for a blood test or not. Regardless of whether you have or haven’t gone for a blood test I would personally try a Candida cleanse for a week followed by a candida diet and supplementation protocol until symptoms start to improve massively.

Candida Cleanse

1-2 days – liquids only

  • vegetable broth from onions, garlic, celery, kale, sea salt and water
  • You need to make sure you drink plenty of water to rid of all the toxins circulating your body

3-7 days – Raw Salads

  • Eliminate grains, grains, sugars, starches and alcohol
  • Drink plenty of water again and eat fresh vegetables that have been steamed

Day 8 until symptoms dramatically improve

  • Still eliminate stage, alcohol and refined carbohydrates as these are contributing to the growth of candida in your body
  • Still stay on the fresh vegetables including carrots, sweet potatoes, spinach, kale and asparagus
  • Add unsweetened cranberry juice
  • Add some dairy in to your diet

Supplementation + foods to include

  • Include coconut oil with meals and in to drinks as it can help fight candida due to its antimicrobial properties
  • Milk Thistle can help cleanse your liver from the prescription medicines you have been taking, environmental pollution, heavy metals as well as the remains
  • Apple cider Vinegar is a natural cleansing agent and can help kill and get rid of excess yeast in the body
  • Leafy greens can help alkalise the body which helps fight against the acidic nature of the candida growth. Greens contain high amounts of magnesium which is a natural detoxifier for the body, vitamin C which helps build the immune system, chlorophyll to cleanse the body and various B vitamins which help energise the body and iron to give your body the support it needs.
  • Flaxseeds and chia seeds contain something called Polyphenols which help support growth of probiotics in the gut and thus may help eliminate candida growth in the body.
  • Spices such as tumeric and cinnamon contain a act component called curcumin that has been shown to completely inhibit the growth of candida.
  • Organic meat containing healthy fats and a good source of protein is so important as factory farmed meats could actually feed the candida.

Like I said earlier in the post your first port of call would be a blood test to determine whether candida is rife with your body however if you decide not to go the blood test route I would recommend performing the nutritional protocol above or at the very least start including some of the foods and supplements recommended above.

WHY RAPID WEIGHT/FAT LOSS IS NOT ALWAYS A GOOD THING!!!

Thats right you’ve read it correctly and I firmly stand by this statement and I have done for a while. It is now an expectation that people should lose massive amounts of weight/fat in a short space of time.
 
This preconception is what is causing people to fall of the wagon when they are actually going about losing weight/body fat in the right way because the scales aren’t necessarily corresponding with the effort they are putting in.
 
Their preconception is based off magazines, their mates going on juice diets, doing slimming world etc……
 
The problem is that all these diets put you in a constant hypo caloric (reduced calorie) state. Basically the calories you are burning are not being met by the calories going in, therefore it is inevitable you lose weight.
 
To prove how bad this is I am going to use myself as an example.
 
On the 9th January this year I started a intermittent fasting protocol (don’t eat 1st meal until midday) as I was a good stone overweight and wanted a nutritional protocol which I knew would get some weight off.
 
It worked, but worked a bit too well. I lost the stone within 13 days!!!!! Now normally you would look at that loss and timeframe and get all your mates and family patting you on the back and congratulating you but heres the thing, I felt worse for it!!!!!!! Yeah I looked better in the mirror but day by day felt like shit as I was in a constant massive calorie deficit. To compound this I had started rugby again after our Christmas break, increase training frequency in the gym by at least 2 sessions so my output (exercise) had increased but my input (calories) had decreased!!!!
 
Looking back its the definition of madness!!!!!
 
-my sugar cravings increased
-I ended up binging at night
-i had no energy
-I had lost muscle without a doubt
-my overall behaviour was up and down
 
In other words I had got it wrong. Long term this wasn’t going to get me anywhere. It was ok for maybe a week or so but then I needed to change it up to something which brought about change in a more controlled way while supporting the increased exercise I was doing.
 
We as a society now are so obsessed with the scales and as a result pay very little attention to how we might be negatively affecting our hormonal make-up for the worse, decreasing our metabolism or absolutely hammering our adrenals for example. The internal mechanisms if healthy and functioning properly long term are some of the key ingredients to you looking fantastic in front of that mirror or in that ball dress or on the beach but unfortunately we want that weight loss yesterday and as a result we are willing to risk messing up all these internal mechanisms and ultimately making us more unhealthy and that task even harder.
 
It is never too late to do things the right way.

Should my child be weight training?

Weight training for youngsters is a popular topic within our industry and the myths going around this topic are endless. If I was a parent the question i would want to know is:

‘can my child weight train?’

For those parents out there that have a little superstar in the making for whatever sport they participate in the 2nd question I would want to know is:

‘Will resistance training improve my child’s performance for their given sport?’

For both of the above questions the answer is a resounding YES, and hopefully this blog post will go about explaining why and dispelling all the myths you hear about children and weight training.

So here is the first big myth and question that all you parents are wanting to know:

Does resistance training expose children and adolescences to potential injury?

The funny thing is all the research that has shown increase in strength, endurance and power in children or adolescences came with no increase in injury potential.

So why has this myth developed?

In 1983, the American Academy of paediatrics produced a mission statement that still has has a negative impact on children and resistance training to this day. Much of it was down to injuries to the epiphysis and musculoskeletal system maturity. The epiphysis is the rounded end of a long bone at its joint. Basically because of this they concluded that resistance training shouldn’t be performed until the individual has reached full maturity.

This position statement above is why you would constantly hear the below:

Sorry your child cannot weight train in this gym until they are 16!!!!!

Weight training stunts your child’s growth!!!!

Weight training is unhealthy for your child until they fully mature!!!!

The simple truth is your child can weight train from whatever age you wish. The key is to make sure your child is properly supervised by a qualified professional who understands the body.

Some research has found that in boys aged 13 or below and girls aged 12 or below that there can be a clear increased level of strength and strength-endurance as a result of resistance training. With regards to increased muscle mass that cant be ruled out however a greater degree of hypertrophy (increased muscle mass) is found towards late adolescence potentially due to changes in hormonal and maturation that supports growth.

One thing weight training has been shown to improve among children is the neurological system. If their neural mechanisms improve so will the child’s strength and rate of force development. I have found also that it sets them apart from others when it comes to the weight room when adolescence has finished. This is because their motor patterns have already been grooved during childhood with all the lifts they and their team mates and competitors will be performing.

One thing that always needs to be considered is the maturation of the child. All children develop and grow at different rates therefore making their start point and progression with regards to resistance training slightly different even if they are the same age.

So whats the next set for you and your child?

The next for you would be to find your child a local facility the teaches your child what we called ‘fundametal movement patterns. Teaching them these patterns from an early age enhances their physical literacy and gives the child confidence in movement patterns that they will be mimicking when playing sport.

These movement patterns help enhance fitness and sport specific components such as balance, twisting, turning, walking, running, hopping, jumping. Once these movement skills have been executed to a satisfactory standard they can then be progressed to the next stage.

Below I have included some of the movements i commonly use with children. Some of them mimic and animal so to keep their adherence at a high level we play the animal game with them. The ‘GORILLA’ mimics a deadlift out a squat, the ‘GRASSHOPPER’ is great for hip, thoracic mobility and shoulders stabilisation, the ‘CROCODILE’ is brilliant for abdominal strength, shoulder stabilisation and again hip mobility. The ‘LIZARD’ teaches lateral movement patterns as well as improving hip mobility. ‘CRUSHING THE CAN’ is great for teaching the overhead squat which is great for improving whole body strength across the whole kinetic chain.

The Gorilla and Grasshopper movements

The Crocodile, lizard and Crushing the can exercise

 

These movements are great for teaching children the fundamentals while also making it fun for them by playing the ‘animal’ game. From here under proper supervision they will be ready to be progressed on to the next stage which may or may not involve some external load.

Summary

To summarise research has come a long way on the last 35 years and there is resounding formal and informal research to suggest that performed correctly resistance training is only going to improve your child’s development and sporting performance.

TIPS TO OVERCOME SUGAR CRAVINGS

For those that have started your new diets over the last week or so no doubt over this early period you have experienced some sugar cravings throughout these last 10 days as you have dramatically cut down your sugar intake after the festive period. Cravings are not just a battle of will power it is your body telling you that something is going on that urgently needs your attention.

What we find is that if you remove the physiological problem that is causing the problem (gut issues etc) then the craving will go away with little to no mental battle required.

Two of the common causes of sugar cravings are GUT DYSBIOSIS and BLOOD SUGAR DYSREGULATION.

Gut dysbiosis is a disruption or imbalance of gut flora and good bacteria. It alters the pH of our intestines and tissues and increases intestinal permeability and affects every day tasks such as sleep, clouds our judgement on big and small decisions and can decrease our resilience to infection.

There is evidence that microbes within our gut may communicate with the brain VIA the vagus nerve and by producing neurotransmitters. These microbes within your gut say to your brain ‘feed me sugar’ or ‘feed me starch’. These opportunistic microbes favourite food source is sugar and starches so the only way to reduce sugar cravings is to restore healthy gut flora.

Blood sugar Dysregulation or Dysglycemia is a disorder with the metabolism and regulation of blood glucose levels. Unfortunately this condition has become an epidemic in our culture.

Restricting sugar when it has been so abundant in your diet over the past and when sugary products are so rife on the food shelves and when we have very strong signals being sent to the brain from our gut demanding sugar makes ignoring these sugar cravings even harder.

So I thought I would help you so here are some of my tips to help you overcome those sugar cravings and go about restoring healthy gut flora until your body adjusts to your new way of eating:

  1. If your sweet craving s are particularly for chocolate you should maybe consider supplementing with Magnesium. Specifically you should supplement with magnesium glycinate or magnesium citrate (about 300-500mg per day for a month). You should find that those sugar cravings decrease or even go away completely.
  2. Supplementing zinc has also been shown to increase leptin levels (supressed during zinc deficiency). Leptin is a hormone which is made by adipose cells that helps to inhibit hunger.
  3. Make sure you use herbs such as Cinnamon, Tumeric and/or Cumin to help improve insulin sensitivity.
  4. With regards to improving leptin sensitivity herbs such as black pepper, turmeric and Acetyl-L-carnitine (supplement form)

For any more help for you health and fitness requirements feel free to contact me at paul@paulcookpt.com

Women who weight train

Women who weight train

The most common fear expressed by women who weight train – and those afraid to start – is that they are increasing, or will increase in size.  This is often a frustration for physique and fitness coaches, as it is predicated upon society’s widely-held views; and is in no way a fault of the women themselves.

Sadly, our society (perhaps through the prominence on supermarket shelves of ‘Bodybuilding’ magazines) seems to have pervaded the belief that weight training can do more ‘harm’ than good, and that lifting weights will somehow automatically result in ‘arms like Arnie’.

Let me be clear, ladies – without adequate androgenic support and a massive surplus in calories you are not going to build massive amounts of muscle!!!

Compared to the male populace, females ‘suffer’ from a poor production of anabolic hormones such as testosterone and growth hormone (with males tending to produce 6-7 times the amount that women do), so whether their aim is to maintain or build lean muscles, or to get leaner, women should ‘take advantage’ of the small amount their bodies produce naturally. One way of doing this is through embarking on a regular and consistent weight training programme.

Hypertrophy (increasing muscle mass) takes significant time  – even for the evolutionary ‘blessed’ male population!  As such, my message to any woman who may be dismissing carrying on with/embarking upon a weight training regime is simple – unless you drastically change your hormonal structure (through ‘external sources’ shall we say) weight training will not ‘turn you in to a man’.

If you want a physique that resembles either the women in the photograph, or wish to develop the shape you’re currently in, then you will need to start with weight training or maintain and build on your current programme. Don’t be afraid to put some weight on that bar, load up that machine, or pick up those dumbbells – get lifting, and you can only improve your health and physique for the long term.

Talking food: Coconut Oil

One of the biggest misconceptions in recent time has been that coconut oil is bad for you because it contains saturated fat.

Coconut and coconut oil are one of the most healthiest things your body can ingest.

People from the Pacific islands and Asia have had this food in their diet for a long time now and not surprisingly this population have a decreased risk of things such as cardiovascular disease, cancer and degenerative diseases.

Coconut oil has a form of fat in it called medium chain triglycerides (MCT’s). Because of MCT’s physical and biochemical make-up it is much easier for the body to metabolise than its ‘long chain’ saturate fat counterparts.

On the whole when you ingest MCT’s they are preferentially used for energy by the body rather than stored and also help stimulate your fatty metabolism which is vital when wanting to programme your body to burn fat as a fuel for the day ahead.

Coconut oil can be cooked with, put in coffee and even had on its own.

Start bringing a teaspoon of coconut oil in at the start of the day as well as cooking your meals with it

Talking food: Avocados

Yes you are right avocado is high in fat but the main fat within avocado is monounsaturated which has huge health benefits, one of them being lowering cholesterol.

Avocados also have amazing antioxidant properties as well as being full of fibre.

There are a few grams of saturated fat within an avocado however saturated fat is necessary within your diet and also it is exactly the type of saturated fat you want (from a natural whole food and not from chips).

If you exercise a lot and what to find a healthy fat food high in antioxidants………..If you are looking for a food that can give you half your days fibre quota ……. And if you are looking for a food which has almost no effect on blood sugar then Avocado is your food!!!

Talking training: Dropping your EGO to achieve better gains!

Have you ever wondered why the guy who doesn’t lift as much as you in the gym see’s better results?

Forget nutrition and other lifestyle factors for the purpose of this post and think more about the WAY YOU PERFORM AN EXERCISE.

Too often we get caught up in our own ego’s when we are at the gym and put way too much weight on the bar and pay little attention to the area we are actually looking to develop.

When you start a lift what is your intent?

How are you looking to target that specific muscle?

What cues are you going to give yourself to make sure you get the most out of the exercise?

There are a lot of factors that go in to hitting a certain muscle area maximally.

A keen area for most males is the chest. Its the most targeted area probably on the gym floor yet so many struggle to see improvements in the area.

Why is this?

My opinion is that exercises for the chest (and other areas) are performed so poorly causing muscles such as the anterior deltoid to be the most dominant muscle in the exercise.

For me my chest is a weak area therefore i have had to strip the weight back massively to help isolate the chest and reduce anterior deltoid activation. I can tell you now that stripping the weight down and thinking more about how I perform each exercise fatigues the area so much quicker and as a result I am starting to see changes.

So if you have read this post and want to see changes in weak areas which you have been hammering for too long with no luck, DROP THE WEIGHT AND DROP THE EGO!!!!!!!

These two walnut sized powerhouses might just be hindering your fat loss efforts

Lets face it fat loss is not easy. Our society these days on the whole is lazy compared to 100-200 years ago, most of us live life at 100mph, some burn the candle at both ends and to make it even worse most of us under eat and/or pick the easy processed food option.

Constantly living like this means that the only thing to suffer is our health. If we are not healthy we can forget about fat loss. Its a case of us surviving throughout the day instead of surviving, we are rolling out of bed instead of jumping out of bed, we are nodding off at our desks mid-afternoon instead of sealing vital business deals for your company.

We haven’t got an internal environment set up to sear fat or to build muscle and I hate to say it but you slogging your guts in the gym might be in vain or even worse detrimental to you, your health and fat loss efforts.

This is all because you may have Adrenal Fatigue at some level!

Now before I go explaining what the adrenals are, what adrenal fatigue is and what the signs and symptoms are don’t go jumping to conclusions thinking you have chronic adrenal fatigue. This blog is to make you aware of the syndrome and also making sure you don’t fall in to the trap that I did when starting my own business.

About 18 months ago I remember reading through a book that I had been recommended to by a fellow professional called ‘Adrenal Fatigue: The 21st Century Stress Syndrome’.

I remember reading it and looking through the symptoms of Adrenal Fatigue and there were about 6 out of the 25 symptoms on the page that I couldn’t associate with, all the others I was at that time possessing in some shape or form!

It was around the time when I first started running my own gym working 7 days a week, 14-16 hour days, staying within the confines of a gym day-in, day-out, sleeping terribly, eating poorly, not finding time for myself or people that were important to me, relying on stimulants such as coffee to keep me going throughout the day, the smaller tasks were seeming like mountains, I had no motivation to train and I was starting to get fat.

What made it even worse was that I was prescribing all nutritional and exercise protocols to my clients who I was trying to prevent creating these type of symptoms that I possessed at the time!

It was a wake-up call to me and I had to make changes on all fronts, business, lifestyle and family. If I was to continue like I was i don’t know where I would of ended up.

I wasn’t THRIVING I was merely surviving

It was time to change.

What is adrenal fatigue and where are your adrenals situated?

Adrenal fatigue covers a broad spectrum from you struggling to get out of bed in the morning to lacking motivation in something you used to be so passionate about. It is a condition that is usually not serious enough to feature on a TV programme or be considered medically as serious however if untreated or not addressed hormonally it can wreak havoc with your life.

With each incremental reduction in adrenal function, the chances of you burning fat as a fuel also reduce.

Your body will do its best to compensate for the underperforming adrenals but it does so at a price.

People with forms of adrenal fatigue may look relatively normal with no obvious sign of illnesss, yet behind the curtain they feel unwell, use stimulants like coffee to get through the day, have joint pain , frequent inflammation, abnormal blood sugar levels, increased anxiety, depression, fears, confusion, and decreased concentration, memory recall, tolerance and become easily frustrated. Also when the adrenals are not secreting proper amounts of hormones, insomnia is a likely outcome.

On the outside to friends and family you might appear to be lazy, unmotivated and to have lost your ambition which you once had when in reality the opposite is true. You have to drive yourself much harder than the average person with healthy adrenal glands just in order to accomplish everyday tasks.

The purpose of your adrenals is to help your body cope with stresses and survive. Your resiliency, energy, endurance and your life as a whole depend on the functioning properly.

They are known as the ‘napoleon gland’ just as napoleon was a small man with great power, these walnut sized glands situated on top of your kidneys command powerful hormones to extend their influence throughout the body which then translates in to your life. They affect every tissue, organ and gland in your body as well as affecting the way you think and feel.

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It is estimated that up to 80% of the adult population in western countries suffer on some level with adrenal fatigue!!!!

Adrenal fatigue in all its forms is usually caused by some sort of stress. This can be physical, emotional, psychological, environmental, infectious or a combination of all these. You need to know that your adrenals respond to all different kind of stresses the same wherever it comes fromUnknown-1

These stresses at their most severe can be such things as:

  • Death of a loved one
  • Major surgery
  • car accident

And less known stresses such as:

  • an abscessed tooth
  • a period with the flu
  • intense exercise
  • an unhappy relationship
  • an intense argument
  • pressure at work
  • environmental toxins
  • poor diet

Factors affecting the adrenals

It is imperative that you understand that if these smaller stresses occur simultaneously, they can accumulate and can possibly become chronic. This therefore means that the adrenals have no opportunity to fully recover therefore meaning that adrenal fatigue is more than likely to be present.

In short adrenal fatigue occurs when the amount of stress overextends the capacity of the body (mediated by the adrenals) to compensate and recover from that stress or combined stresses. once this capacity to cope and recover is exceeded, some form of adrenal fatigue occurs.

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How is adrenal fatigue hampering your fat loss efforts?

The hormones secreted by the adrenals influence so many physiological processes in your body. They are a massive player in affecting the utilisation of carbohydrates and fats, the conversion of protein and fats in to energy and also the distribution on stored fat (especially stubborn areas).

Who suffers from adrenal fatigue?

Anyone who:

  • Drives themselves constantly,
  • Is never satisfied and is a perfectionist,
  • Is under constant pressure,
  • Feels trapped or helpless,
  • Feels overwhelmed by repeated or continuous difficulties,
  • Has experienced severe or chronic emotional or physical trauma or illness.
  • Lacks enjoyable to rejuvenating activities
  • makes poor food choices
  • has a consistently poor sleep night after night
  • uses food and drinks as stimulants when tired

No one is immune to adrenal fatigue. From a top poiltician to a university student or the mother with more than one child and very little support to the factory worker with varying shift patterns. All these lifestyles in some way promote adrenal dysfunction which can lead to:

  • loss of productiveness
  • loss of creativity
  • poor business decisions
  • unhappiness
  • poor health
  • poor quality of life

Look at your Job and lifestyle 

There is no doubt about it some professions are harder not he adrenal glands than other. Shift work such as being a nurse in the NHS can be very hard on the adrenals. The long hours, the varying shift patterns, seeing trauma and being exposed to emotional situations are a lot of things for the adrenals to deal with.

Being a nurse is just one example but have a look at the questions below and answer them honestly.

Do you finish work at work or do you take it home with you?

Have you got time to switch off throughout the day and at weekends?

Does the stress with family life continue when you get home?

Do you have an interest/hobbie which is just for you?

Is 24 hours not enough time in the day?

Is you diet poor throughout the week?

Do you drink alcohol most nights of the week?

Do you rely on stimulants to get you through the day? (coffee etc)

Do you struggle to get to sleep and once asleep get in to a deep sleep?

These by no means are the definitive questions which would confirm whether you have some form of adrenal dysfunction but hopefully it may ring a few alarm bells and will mean you start to address your work/life balance if you haven’t already.

As some one who went through some level of adrenal fatigue make sure:

  • You put time aside for yourself
  • You put time aside for what you love (family, hobbies sport)
  • find a place at work which is quiet and tranquil where you can gather your thoughts for 10-15 minutes (park bench, quiet room)
  • Off all the 100’s of thoughts going through your head deal with 1 at a time. Also make sure you write them all down on paper so you are seen to be emptying your head
  • Find a well qualified personal trainer who can help you tidy up your nutrition and give you an exercise programme which isn’t too much of a stress on the body but is enough to create a training stimulus and make sure you
  • enjoy life!

This blog was written to help make you are aware of this condition which isn’t talked about enough yet it is so rife in our society. You will go to doctors with these sort of symptoms listed and they will prescribe you with medication which 9 times out of 10 is detrimental on your health and doesn’t address the root cause of the problem that you are facing.

Like I said earlier don’t go jumping to conclusions and think that you now have a severe form of adrenal fatigue because you have 9 out of the 12 symptoms listed!

Just take note that how you work and live your life affects your day to day running, productivity, happiness, creativity and I would hate you to fall in to the traps I did 18 months ago.

Talking Supplements: Melatonin

Melatonin is a neurohormone secreted by the pineal gland that helps regulate sleep. It is the reason why people tell you not to go to sleep watching TV or with any electrical devices as it appears to be sensitive to light therapy. And therefore the primary reason why people use melatonin is to normalise sleep patterns.

If you are a frequent flyer and suffer with jet lag, or work shift patterns or just general long and unsociable hours I would strongly recommend you trying Melatonin if you want to keep improving your fat loss + muscle building efforts as well as being productive throughout the day.

I would recommend taking 1 tablet 30-45 minutes before bed and you should find that you are falling in to a much deeper sleep.