By SUSAN CALLAHAN, Associate Editor and Featured Columnist
I have suffered on and off from tinnitus for years. What always puzzled me, since doctors could find no physical impairment to my ears, was what made the tinnitus disappear. I have gone years without experiencing tinnitus. Finally, after a recent bout of tinnitus, I had a light bulb moment. I am usually pretty good about staying away from too many carbohydrates, mainly because of weight gain and not wanting to increase my diabetes risk. But, for a couple of months this summer, I went off the rails during a vacation and the aftermath.
I allowed myself a few treats of ice cream cones. Then a few more treats and soon, those treats had become a regular feature of my diet. With carbs, once I go too many days into the deep, the cravings increase --- carbs beget carbs. So, even when I stopped eating ice cream, I felt I had to satisfied my raging sweet craving by eating more sweet fruits such as melons and grapes. Really, I must have eaten two large bunches of grapes one day this week.
Suddenly, I noticed that I had raging tinnitus. Could the carbs have triggered my tinnitus? Does eating too much sugar actually cause tinnitus?
The Connection Between Tinnitus and Blood Sugar
The connection between tinnitus and eating refined carbohydrates is candida.
Candida albicans, usually just referred to as "candida" is the most common fungal infection in humans, according to a 1998 study from the University of Glasgow. This study noted that candida, once a problem of low significance, has become the major source of hospital infections. Some of the reasons the scientists believe are responsible for this increase in candida infections is the overuse of antibiotics. As the study noted, we can blame " broad-spectrum antibacterial antibiotics, hyperalimentation, cancer chemotherapy, immunosuppression following organ transplantation, and surgical procedures resulting in prolonged, intensive care unit hospitalization."
In our daily lives, outside of hospital settings, candida can also be the underlying cause of many seemingly unrelated health problems. Candida overgrowth or intestinal candida is a condition in which the candida yeast overwhelms the bacteria that are normally resident in your gut.
Candida causes yeast infections. Yeast feed on sugar. If you have too much sugar in your blood stream, candida will opportunistically and preferentially eat the extra sugar, which multiplies their number exponentially.
Candida, left to grow uncontrolled and unchecked, can overwhelm all of the systems of your body. It can invade your sinuses and cause sinusitis. It can invade your ear canals, and cause tinnitus.
What Is Hyperalimentation and How Does It Increase Candida?
The Glasgow study observed that one of the causes of candida overgrowth is "hyperalimentation". In laymen's terms, this means getting too many nutrients, usually through a feeding tube.
But we often simulate hyperalimentation in our daily lives, simply because we eat too much. We take in too many calories over too long a period, creating ideal conditions for candida overgrowth.
How You Can Fight Candida By Changing Your Diet
A diet that reduces your blood sugar will reduce candida. But it may take some time. If your tinnitus is severe, dietary approaches to change the levels of candida can take months. Here is a list of foods that help to lower or steady your blood sugar levels.
Adding vinegar to your salads and cinnamon to your unsweetened teas are two quick ways to lower blood sugar through diet. Eating greens in general is another way. And of course you should be careful to avoid refined carbohydrates such as table sugar, white bread, white rice and white flour. Avoid desserts such as ice cream and any sweetened drinks or alcohol. I know, it's no fun, but neither is tinnitus.
You can shorten the time it takes to lower candida levels by eating foods that encourage the growth of "good" probiotic bacteria in your gut. These bacteria compete with candida in your intestines. By encouraging their growth, you are decreasing candida's numbers.
Natural probiotic foods are fermented foods such as sauerkraut, Korean kimchi and pickles. These foods contain high levels of probiotic bacteria such as bifidobacteria and lactobaccillus. Live cultured, unsweetened yogurt also contains probiotics.
You can also encourage the growth of good bacteria by feeding them foods they like. These foods are called prebiotics an include radishes, asparagus and green bananas.