According to research, 40-60 percent of the population is colonized by Candida albicans. Candida is a form of yeast which naturally resides in the human gastrointestinal tract, mouth, and vagina. Normally, the immune system keeps it at bay. If it overgrows, it causes candidiasis. Candidiasis can affect the vagina, mouth, gastrointestinal tract, or throat. There are several different treatments for this form of fungal infection. You can also decrease overgrowth of candida albicans by making changes to your diet.
Risk Factors and Causes of Candida Albicans Overgrowth
Here is a rundown of candida’s most common causes. Candidiasis commonly affects diabetics and those that are immunocompromised. Diabetics have a lot of sugar in their secretions which helps candida to thrive. Immunocompromised individuals have a weakened immune system that is unable to keep candida populations under control.
Antibiotic Use Can Cause Yeast Infections in Women: The vaginal tract of women normally have many beneficial probiotics living in it. These probiotics lower the pH of the vagina which prevents the growth of yeast. Takin an antibiotic can kill off many of these beneficial probiotics which disrupts vaginal pH and lead to an overgrowth of yeast.
High-sugar diet: These days, many people have an excessive amount of sugar in their diet. This provides the perfect environment for candida albicans to survive and thrive. Candida uses the sugar to grow and to protect itself from your immune system by producing biofilms.
Chronic stress: Stress can affect you in two ways, which can both result in overgrowth of candida. When you are suffering from chronic stress, your body releases a hormone called cortisol. Cortisol increases your blood sugar level and depresses your immune system. When this happens, candida can feed on the excess sugar and your immune system does not put up as strong of a fight.
Antibiotics: As well as killing harmful bacteria, a course of antibiotics will also wipe out many beneficial bacteria that live in your gastrointestinal tract. This disturbs your immune system and leaves your body vulnerable to the fast-growing candida fungus.
Diabetes: Diabetics by definition have elevated blood sugar levels. The excess blood sugars find their way into all secretions. Candida can then feast on these excess sugars which leads to an overgrowth of candida.
Candidiasis symptoms depend on where the overgrowth is occurring.
Oropharyngeal (mouth) candidiasis symptoms:
- Bad breath
- White coat on tongue and throat (oral thrush)
- Sore cracks at the corners of the mouth (oral thrush)
Esophageal candidiasis symptoms:
- Pain when swallowing
Vulvovagina candidiasis (female yeast infection) symptoms:
- A disruption in the normal vaginal flora which can lead to a higher risk of UTIs
- Vaginal itching and white discharge
While candida is a normal constituent of gut flora, it can overgrow in a condition called intestinal fungal overgrowth and lead to the following symptoms1:
GasCandida Drug Treatments
There are several different antifungal medications used to treat candida. Which one your physician prescribed will largely depend on the location of the condition. Commonly prescribed drugs include anidulafungin, caspofungin and micafungin along with fluconazole. Other treatments include oral and vaginal rinses and suppositories.
The Candida Diet
The candida diet is an anti-inflammatory, low sugar diet that is easy to follow. It involves eliminating sugar, glutinous grains, and starchy vegetables. Include plenty of steamed vegetables, salads and eggs. Healthy proteins – eggs, legumes, cottage cheese, and nuts – form an important part of the candida diet, as do antifungal spices such as turmeric, cinnamon, oregano, sage, and cloves. You can also benefit from supplementing your diet with essential fatty acids, B complex vitamins, and vitamins C and E and selenium. The probiotic Lactobacillus acidophilus will help to ensure that you have plenty beneficial bacteria in your GI tract and your vagina.
Foods to Avoid on Your Candida Diet:
- Avoid starchy vegetables such as sweet potatoes, potatoes, yams, corn, and winter squash.
- Avoid hard-to-digest foods like meat, glutinous grains, and dairy products
- Avoid alcohol, simple sugars, no yeast, and very limited amounts of processed foods.
Supplemental Natural Candida Treatments
You may wish to support the treatment of your candida infection naturally with one or more of the following:
- Probiotics for candida such as Lactobacillus acidophilus and Bifidobacteria bifidum, which will lessen the chance that candid has of overgrowing.
- Oregano leaf extract is a natural anti-fungal agent that can inhibit the growth of candida.
- Caprylic acid this is another potent antifungal agent which kills candida cells and helps to restore a balanced acidity level to the stomach.
- Vitamin C boosts your immune system and can help your body fight off a candida infection.
- A comprehensive supplement for candida, such as DrFormulas™ Candida Cleanse Support, contains a specially designed formulation of fiber, oregano, Lactobacillus acidophilus, and digestive enzymes to combat candida overgrowth in men and women.
- Essential oils can be used to treat a candida The most potent anti-fungal essential oils include peppermint, lavender, thyme, tea tree, black pepper, geranium, bitter almond, citronella, cinnamon, clove, and eucalyptus.
Healthy Practices to Avoid Candida
Take probiotics: If you have been prescribed a course of antibiotics, take a probiotic supplement containing Lactobacillus acidophilus. This will help to replenish the beneficial bacteria throughout your gastrointestinal tract.
Wear cotton underwear: Cotton underwear absorbs moisture and will help to keep you dry. Other materials retain water next to your skin and encourage the growth of bacteria.
Maintain good hygiene: Good personal hygiene practices are important if you want to avoid candida.
Maintain a healthy diet: Eating healthy foods and maintaining a proper weight will help reduce your risk of candida.
Avoid douches: Women should not use douches or vaginal deodorant as these destabilize the balance of natural bacteria in the vagina.
Candida overgrowth is an unpleasant disorder that can be avoided. If you are having problems, make some lifestyle changes and talk to your health practitioner. Be sure to tell him or her if you are pregnant.