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The one issue that could be causing your fatigue, runny nose, brain fog, and more


Photo: Stocksy/Kayla Snell
Photo: Stocksy/Kayla Snell

WC_headshot_Frank_LipmanWelcome to Wellness Council, our handpicked holistic health squad: a tightly curated group that gives the best advice this side of your own personal guru. 

In his latest article, integrative medicine pioneer Frank Lipman, MD, opens up his case files to tell the story of a patient who was struggling with a number of seemingly unrelated symptoms.

What he writes about next is up to you—tell us what you’re dying to know! Send questions and ideas to [email protected].

The patient

A fit man in his early 40s (let’s call him David) came to see me because of his ongoing fatigue. He was so tired of feeling tired, and he felt that he had no control over his sugar cravings.

He had struggled with focus issues for as long as he could remember, and now was also experiencing foggy thinking and anxiety. His sinuses were congested, his throat inflamed, and he had fungal skin issues. On top of that, he had a tremendous sweet tooth but noticed that sugars, flour, and starchy foods made him instantly bloated.

The approach

Within a few minutes of sitting down together, it became pretty clear to me that David had an overgrowth of yeast in his body. A yeast overgrowth happens when the balance of the microflora in your gastrointestinal tract is disrupted.

Yeast is opportunistic, and once it’s out of balance can be a nasty fighter—taking more and more ground from the “good bacteria” in your gut.  It feeds on sugar and can cause a lot of uncomfortable symptoms—ranging from digestive issues to brain fog and depression.

The yeast-fighting diet is low in sugar and starch, and high in gut-friendly fermented foods.

Because David had struggled with these issues for a long time and the yeast issue had become systemic—meaning it showed up in his gut, skin, brain, and—believe it or not—respiratory tract, I suggested going straight to an anti-yeast medication for two weeks and then following up with herbs afterwards.

Next up was the absolutely crucial step of changing David’s diet. Yeast feeds on sugar, so it’s important to keep a diet low in sugar, really at all times, but especially while actively getting rid of the yeast.

Nutritionist Katrine van Wyk sat down with David to go over a yeast-fighting diet, which is low in sugar and starch, and high in gut-friendly fermented foods—a challenge for David, since he works in the restaurant industry and eats at work at lot. Katrine helped him get really clear on what he could eat from his restaurant, encouraging him to load up the plate with non-starchy vegetables, a good dose of fat, and an animal protein for each meal.

David’s new menu

For David, it was all about big salads for lunch and some fish and chicken with roasted or grilled vegetables at dinner. He also incorporated easy smoothies with the Sustain protein powder for breakfast. And to help balance out his gut flora and support his immune system, I also added a supplement that contains good yeast, some gut-healing nutrients, and a probiotic.

The results

After a few months on the prescribed plan, David was free from overwhelming carb cravings and his other symptoms—and even his brain fog had lifted. He was thrilled to finally feel clear and energetic again. Although he still needed to stick to a low-sugar diet, that no longer felt like a big deal for him now that the intense cravings were gone and he could feel the difference it made.

Cutting sugar is never easy (though it’s worth it!)—but once David started feeling better and realizing how good he could really feel, he just never wanted to go back to that old place.

A pioneer and internationally recognized expert in the fields of integrative and functional Medicine, Dr. Frank Lipman is the founder and director of Eleven Eleven Wellness Center in New York City and the creator of Be Well by Dr. Frank Lipman, a proprietary brand of dietary supplements, detoxifying cleanses and health coaching services and a New York Times best-selling author of Total Renewal—7 Key Steps to Resilience Vitality and Long Term Health, Revive—End Exhaustion and Feel Great Again, The New Health Rules—Simple Changes to Achieve Whole-Body Wellness, and 10 Reasons You Feel Old and Get Fat

What should Dr. Lipman write about next? Send your questions and suggestions to [email protected]