Various types of fungus live naturally in our bodies and cause no harm. This is not something to worry about, simply part of nature. One of these naturally occurring fungi is called candida. Candida is a kind of yeast the generally lives in the mouth, belly, on the skin and other places in small quantities. In certain environments, however, yeast can grow and multiply unhealthily and out of control. This is something to avoid.
The infection caused by candida growing out of control is called candidiasis, of which there are a few types. The majority of candidiasis types are easily treated using either prescription or over-the-counter medication.
One type of candidiasis is called thrush, and it usually shows up as white lumps or lesions on the inside of the cheeks and/or mouth that look a lot like cottage cheese. This condition has the tendency to get irritated pretty quickly and result in redness, discomfort and pain in the mouth. For healthy people thrush should pose too much of a problem and should clear up with the right antifungal treatment within a matter of weeks.
Thrush can affect anyone, although babies younger than 1 month old, toddlers, and elderly adults with weak immune systems are more susceptible to it. Thrush can be contagious for people in the afore mentioned categories. It is generally contracted through contact with bodily fluid (e.g. saliva), so avoiding such contact with someone who has thrush will decrease chances of catching it.
Candidiasis also manifests itself as a vaginal yeast infection. The symptoms of vaginal yeast infections will subside within just a few days of treatment. If the case is more severe then it might take a little longer, but symptoms should die down within 2 weeks. Once you get your first yeast infection, it’s more likely for it to recur. Even though sexual contact can spread vaginal yeast infections, it’s still not considered a sexually transmitted disease (STD).
Many people think of candida as a type of disease or condition, when in reality it’s simply a type of fungus that is in every human body. Therefore “contracting candida” is not possible. There are things we can do, however, to ensure that the natural occurring candida in each of us doesn’t grow out of control.
How do you get candida?
As we’ve covered above, candida is a type of yeast that we all have in our bodies and is not harmful unless it grows out of control. So the more appropriate question rather than “how do you get candida” would be “What causes candida to grow?” Once you know what causes candida to overgrow, you’ll be able to avoid those things and keep candida from getting out of hand.
One big way that candida gets its fuel to start growing out of control is through diet. Getting too many refined carbohydrates, too much sugar, and eating too many processed foods allow yeast to start multiplying and thriving. These are the types of nutrients that yeast needs to thrive and grow, so minimizing them will significantly decrease the risk of candidiasis. The consumption of alcohol, which often goes hand in hand with the consumption of sugar, yeast, and carbs (like wine, beer and cocktails, for example) will also fuel candida growth.
Another way candida grows is through the use of antibiotics and several other types of medication. Although antibiotics are useful for killing bacteria, they kill the good bacteria along with the bad causing the balance of your microbiome to get thrown off. Another thing to pay attention to is how the microbiome of pregnant mothers affects the developing microbiome of their babies. This means that when pregnant mothers have yeast infections or take antibiotics when they’re pregnant, it can influence the baby who will be more likely to have an overgrowth of yeast. If the mother gets a C-section, it can also influence the microbiome of the baby.
Acid in the body is used to kill off parasites, bacteria, excess yeast and viruses. Hence, acid-blocking pills can allow yeast to grow out of control. The use of steroids will also likely contribute to yeast overgrowth.
Yeast will thrive in conditions with high estrogen and birth control pills boost estrogen levels, making oral contraceptives another possible way for yeast to grow out of control.
Another major factor that contributes to an overgrowth in candida is stress. If you experience stress in your daily life, whether due to work, a busy schedule, lots of responsibilities, anxiety, etc., this can cause yeast to overpower the good bacteria in your microbiome.
There are more minor causes that contribute to feeding candida and causing it to grow, but these are the major ones. Keeping an eye on these things and trying to avoid them will set you ahead of the game in trying to avoid candidiasis.
What causes candida?
Now that we’ve consolidated a few of the causes of candida growth, let’s take a little look at what some of the ways we can find out whether or not you have an excess growth of candida.
You can do a test for IgG, IgM, IgA antibodies in order to check if the immune system is responding to any infections. If antibody levels are high, that means the immune system is preparing to protect your body against infection. A low level of IgA might mean that your body isn’t equipped to properly protect you from infection due to a suppressed immune system. Blood tests can also be done for IgG, IgA, and IgM candida antibodies. If you have high levels of these in your blood, that means you have a candida overgrowth and your body is working to fight it. These tests can all be done in a lab and you don’t need to see a doctor to do them.
Another sign of yeast overgrowth is having a low white blood cell count (WBC), low lymphocyte count and high neutrophil count. These are not just connected to yeast, but it’s a frequent pattern found in patients with an overgrowth of candida.
A comprehensive stool test (not the standard one) carried out by a medical doctor includes a test for lower intestine and colon candida. If it’s a different type of yeast, not candida, complete stool tests are often able to identify what type it is more often than not. This way you’ll be able to more clearly determine what the most effective treatment is for you.
A urine organix dysbiosis test is another way to find out if you have an overgrowth of candida. Yeast creates waste called d-Arabinitol, and high levels of this will mean there’s an overgrowth of yeast in the small intestines and/or upper gut.
If you already know you have a yeast infection, you can take a swab of it and send it to be analyzed in a lab so you can determine what type of yeast infection you have. That way you can find the most effective treatment for that particular type of yeast infection.
These are some of the most common and effective ways to check yourself for yeast overgrowth.
How to treat candida?
So we’ve established what candida is, found that what causes it to grow out of control, and gone over several ways to find out whether or not we have a problem with it or not. Now you’re probably wondering how to best treat an overgrowth of candida.
One of the best treatments to getting your candida growth under control and fighting yeast infection is a three-step approach.
- Step one: Starve the yeast. Cut out foods with yeast and stay away from food and drink that yeast feeds on, such as mushrooms, wine, beer, vinegar, processed foods, refined carbs, and sugar. Try to limit the amount of healthy carbs you intake for a little while (starchy veggies, grains, and legumes for example). Don’t exceed a cup a day of these and don’t consume more than a piece of fruit per day. Unfortunately, yeast feeds off of good carbs too. It may be wise to stay away from fermented foods as well until the yeast has been killed off. This means cutting down on kimchi, pickles, sauerkraut and other foods of that caliber.
- Step two: Overpower the yeast. In order to do this, you might need some prescription anti-fungal medication, such as Nystatin or Diflucan. The use of anti-fungal supplements is also helpful. Try using coconut oil (which has caprylic acid) or other supplements that contain enzymes which break down fungal and parasitic cell walls. There are multiple yeast killing supplements you can choose from that will help you get the job done.
- Step three: Replenish good bacteria. Alongside anti-fungal treatment, be sure to take good quality probiotic supplements. This will fortify your system against future yeast infections. Make sure you’re not taking prebiotics early on, as those will feed good bacteria but also yeast.
If you don’t adjust your diet it’s a lot harder to fight yeast infections and candida overgrowth, even if you’re taking anti-fungal medication. You’ll want to add a few of these foods to your diet to give you a boost in your fight against candida:
- Ginger supports the liver and has anti-fungal properties.
- Coconut oil kills yeast cells, as mentioned above.
- Salmon has omega-3 fatty acids which fight yeast infections.
- Olive Oil is strong in antioxidants.
- Cruciferous veggies like cabbage, Brussel sprouts, radishes and broccoli contain nitrogen and Sulphur which fight candida.
- Garlic also contains compounds with Sulphur.
- Cloves are a very effective anti-fungal agent.
- Cinnamon is both anti-inflammatory and anti-fungal.
- Lemons are the strongest natural antioxidant.
- Apple cider vinegar is the only recommendable vinegar to use against candida. The enzymes in it work to break down candida.
Making dietary adjustments might seem like a lot of work and you may not be too keen on it, but if you’re serious about getting rid of that yeast infection then coupling these foods with anti-fungal medication is the very best way to cure yourself of candida overgrowth.
How long to candida die off symptoms last?
And overgrowth in candida can manifest itself in a few different ways; fatigue and weakness, ADHD and poor memory, skin problems and rashes, allergies, sugar cravings, an overload in mercury, dandruff (which is actually yeast itself), autoimmune diseases, and vaginal infections for women.
Almost all serotonin is produced in the gut. Serotonin needs to be balanced to keep us in a good mood and out of depression, and when the body produces too much yeast it can form a layer around the gut which blocks the body from properly producing serotonin. This can result in anxiety, depression and mood swings.
Leaky gut can also be caused by candida overproduction. This is when the intestinal wall gets broken down and releases toxins into the body. This hinders the body from properly absorbing nutrients and can result in thyroid dysfunction and autoimmune diseases.
Candida can also cause the immune system to be suppressed. The majority of our immune system is in the gut, and yeast overgrowth suppresses the production of IgA which is an important part of our immunity. This is turn holds our immune system back from protecting our bodies from disease.
The good news is that if candida hasn’t grown too heavily out of control, you should be able to cut the symptoms off within three days of anti-fungal medication and the right dietary changes. If things have gotten a little more serious, it might take you up to two weeks to get back on track so that you stop feeling the symptoms of candida overgrowth.
With the provided information, you should be able to easily figure out if you suffer from candida overproduction. If you follow the three step treatment process and work on changing up your diet, switching out foods that feed candida for foods that will starve it, you’ll be on the road to recovery and it’ll only be a matter of time before you’ve beaten that yeast infection.