By: Stephanie Heino
Candida is a systemic fungal infection that as much as 70% of the population might suffer from. Candida is a type of yeast that occurs naturally in the human body. Its main job is to aid with digestion and nutrient absorption, but when overproduced, Candida breaks down the wall of the intestine and penetrates the bloodstream, releasing toxic byproducts into your body and causing leaky gut. Sometimes an imbalance in the amount of natural gut bacteria causes excessive growth of the Candida yeast population. Taking antibiotics or eating a diet high in sugar and processed foods can often times lead to this overgrowth of yeast. This type of yeast infection, sometimes called Candidiasis, negatively affects several organ systems which can lead to many different health problems, ranging from digestive issues and depression to acne, joint pain, sore throat, constipation, gas, heartburn and kidney infections.
10 common Candida symptoms
- Skin and nail fungal infections (such as athlete’s foot or toenail fungus)
- Feeling tired and worn down, or suffering from chronic fatigue or fibromyalgia
- Digestive issues such as bloating, constipation, or diarrhea
- Autoimmune disease such as Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, Rheumatoid arthritis, Ulcerative colitis, Lupus, Psoriasis, Scleroderma or Multiple sclerosis
- Difficulty concentrating, poor memory, lack of focus, ADD and ADHD
- Skin issues such as eczema, psoriasis, hives, acne, itchy scalp, and rashes
- Irritability, mood swings, anxiety, or depression
- Vaginal infections, urinary tract infections, rectal itching or vaginal itching
- Severe seasonal allergies, recurrent sinus infections, or itchy ears
- Strong sugar and refined carbohydrate cravings
How Candida overgrowth occurs.
The healthy bacteria in your gut keep your Candida levels in check. However, several factors can cause the Candida population to get out of hand:
- Eating a diet high in refined carbohydrates and sugar (which feed the yeast)
- Consuming large amounts of alcohol
- Taking oral contraceptives
- Eating a diet that is too high in beneficial fermented foods like Kombucha, sauerkraut and pickles
- Living a high-stress lifestyle
- Taking antibiotics that killed too many of your friendly bacteria
How to test for Candida overgrowth:
Saliva test. First thing in the morning, before you eat or drink anything, work up some saliva in your mouth and spit into a clear glass of filtered water. After 10-15 minutes, check the glass. If your saliva has remained floating at the top of the water, chances are candida is not in an overgrown state. If the saliva forms “legs” or streaks, if it sinks, or if particles are suspended in the water or at the bottom of your glass (see right), candida overgrowth is likely present. Keep in mind, this test is not infallible.
Blood test. Make sure to check your levels for IgG, IgA, and IgM Candida anti-bodies if you have the symptoms mentioned above. These can be checked through most labs. High levels indicate an overgrowth of Candida and then you should keep on reading what actions to take.
Stool testing. This is one of the most accurate tests available, since it shows positive more often than the blood test. This will check for Candida in your colon or lower intestines and the lab can usually determine the species of yeast as well as which treatment will be affective.
Urine Organix Dysbiosis Test. This test detects a waste product of Candida yeast overgrowth known as D-Arabinitol. An elevated test means an overgrowth of Candida, and the test will determine if there is candida in your upper gut or small intestines.
How to treat Candida overgrowth:
What not eat: Effectively treating Candida involves stopping the yeast overgrowth, restoring the friendly bacteria that usually keep them in check, and healing your gut so that Candida can no longer enter your bloodstream. Getting rid of the Candida overgrowth primarily requires a diet low in refined carbohydrates. Sugar is what feeds yeast, so eliminating sugar in all of its simple forms like candy, desserts, alcohol and flours is necessary to kill off the yeast. In addition to removing all processed sugar, cut out fruits, alcohol and cheese from your diet from your diet as well, for at least 2-3 weeks. All fermented foods like vinegar, pickles, and kombucha need to be eliminated for a while as well. This may seem really hard, but there are still plenty of foods that you can eat when following the Candida diet.
What to eat: Most non-starchy vegetables, including broccoli, leafy greens, carrots, onions, tomatoes, asparagus and avocado are acceptable. Maintain your energy levels by consuming proteins, such as beans, eggs, fish, and small amounts of free-range organic chicken. Whole grains, such as brown rice or quinoa, make excellent substitutes for white rice or pasta products, which are big no-no’s on a Candida diet. To stimulate growth of helpful probiotic bacteria, make sure to take your probiotics. Herbal teas also contain compounds that fight against fungus and keep Candida levels low.
Using diet alone could take three to six months before the Candida is back under control. In severe cases, seeing a functional medicine doctor trained in detecting and treating Candida may be necessary, to be prescribed fungal medication such as Diflucan or Nystatin. If you are self-treating you can take a supplement of Caprylic Acid. This comes from coconut oil and basically makes holes in the yeast cell wall, killing it off. Restoring the healthy bacteria that typically keep your Candida population under control is a must, so you should take a good quality, potent dairy-free probiotic every day (read our article on good bacteria vs. bad bacteria). Taking anywhere from 25 to 100 billion units of probiotics should help to reduce the Candida levels and restore your levels of good bacteria. Oregano oil (3-4 drops in water twice a day) and Pau d’Arco (in supplement or tea form) both work great for killing off Candida as well. Finally, healing your gut by eliminating inflammatory foods that can harm your GI tract and introducing foods that aid in digestion and nutrient absorption, will prevent Candida from working its way through your body, and will dramatically improve your overall health.
- Candida: How to Cure Yeast Overgrowth Naturally (dailysolutionblog.wordpress.com)
- Candida Cure | How “Ultimate Candida Diet” Helps People Treat Yeast Infection Quickly – HealthReviewCenter.com (prweb.com)
- Guest Post: Combining Western Medicine and Natural Remedies to Cure Candida (grayhairedmom.com)