Last updated October 29, 2019 by Lisa Richards, CNC   Reviewed by Katie Stone, ND.

Are Candida Yeast Infections Becoming More Common?

Woman with Candida yeast infection

Does it seem like you’re hearing about Candida yeast infections more and more? Everywhere you look, there’s somebody talking about the symptoms of Candida or worrying if they have an infection themselves.

This isn’t surprising because Candida infections are indeed on the increase. Over the past few decades, research shows that cases of Candida have become more and more common among women of all ages. And not just the typical vaginal yeast infection but also oral thrush, athlete’s foot, and other topical yeast infections. So, why has Candida suddenly become so common? (1)

Sadly, one of the main reasons is to do with our Western diet. It’s no secret that the Western population is getting fatter – and also suffering more from chronic diseases such as type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease. These are all related to poor eating choices. And the biggest problem of all? Sugar!

A high-sugar diet is not only causing more people to develop diabetes and obesity, but also increasing the likelihood of developing a Candida infection. While many people may think they’re not eating a lot of sugar, the truth is that many sugars are now ‘hidden’ in foods that appear healthy. Foods such as processed salads or meats, yogurts, dressings and even ‘fat free’ treats can all be loaded with sugar.

The Hidden Sugars That Are Causing Candida

Many of us think that salad-based takeaway meals such as Subway are a ‘healthy’ option. Well, check out the nutritional information and you’ll see this isn’t quite the case.

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For example, the 12-inch ‘Ultimate Veggie with Avocado’ sandwich served on Honey Oat bread contains a whopping 32 grams of sugar. And don’t forget that many Subway meals come with a soft drink and cookie or two. That all adds up to around 110 grams of sugar – the equivalent of 27 sugar cubes. So much for a healthy lunch!

Add that to other sneaky sugars over the course of the day, like a couple of teaspoons in your coffee or even just a throat lozenge (yes, most of them are made with sugar, too!) and you’ll soon realize that your body is dealing with much more sugar than it needs to each day.

Sadly, these unhealthy, high-sugar foods are a relatively recent phenomenon. In your parents’ day, sugar was most often only present in treat foods. But when the US government began to subsidize corn production in the 1970s, an overproduction of corn followed.

This allowed the surplus of corn to be turned into an “economical” form of sugar called High Fructose Corn Syrup. You may have already seen nutrition labels featuring High Fructose Corn Syrup (or just HFCS) on many foods you eat.

Unfortunately, because HFCS is cheaper than regular sugar, it’s being used more and more. The worst part is that food producers can load their products with HFCS but still label them as ‘low fat’ – because they’re technically correct. What many consumers don’t realize is that ‘low fat’ usually means ‘high sugar’ – and is therefore just as unhealthy (if not more so).

The Link Between Sugar and Candida

There’s a very real link between the increase in sugar consumption and the increase in Candida infections. You see, Candida yeast cells use sugar as their ‘fuel’. They need it in order to build their cell walls and multiply. Essentially, Candida cells get their energy from the sugars and simple carbohydrates that you eat. (2)

And the more sugar you put into your mouth, the more sugar in your intestines, where Candida resides. This means those colonies of yeast are able to develop, multiply, create biofilms, and spread throughout your entire body.

Research has shown that Candida actually has the ability to colonize your whole digestive tract, as well as other parts of your body such as your skin and genitalia. This could be why so many people are now ending up with oral thrush and vaginal yeast infections. (3)

Over-Prescription of Antifungals and Antibiotics

Another serious consequence of current medical practice is the global trend toward antibiotic and antifungal resistance. Researchers have suggested that higher incidence of fungal infections is partially due to increased antimicrobial resistance throughout the developed world.

There is an increasing tendency for medical practitioners to overprescribe antibiotics and antifungals for almost any bacterial infection – and sometimes even viruses or fungal infections, which cannot actually be treated with antibiotics. As a result, fungi have been able to adapt to antifungal drugs and are becoming more and more resistant. (4)

Antibiotics are another problem. The overuse of antibiotics means that people’s immune systems are generally weaker than they used to be. This has a serious effect on your susceptibility to both yeast infections and to other illnesses.

By taking antibiotics for every infection you encounter, you may actually be getting sicker – and less able to fight off a Candida yeast infection. This is because your gut microbiome is one of your main defenses against Candida. The pathogenic yeast is able to ‘take over’ the intestinal tract if your native immune system is not functioning optimally.

Recent evidence suggests that many of the infections caused by Candida are linked to biofilm growth. Biofilms are protective matrices built by Candida and other pathogens like Lyme. Researchers have noted that Candida in particular has the ability to form drug-resistant biofilms, which is a major contributor to the increase in infections. Treating infections with biofilms can take much longer than treating other conditions. (5)

Two Ways To Reduce Your Risk Of A Candida Infection

It’s now more common than ever to develop a Candida infection, but the good news is that it’s also quite easy to prevent it! There are a number of steps you can take to reduce your risk of Candida yeast evading your immune system.

Here are two simple steps to avoid Candida yeast infections:

1. Eat a healthy, low-sugar diet

The first step is probably the most important: diet. Reducing your sugar intake is a must. Although you may feel that there is no way you can do without your daily ‘chocolate fix’, you can find ways to reduce your sugar intake overall without losing your treats. Look for nutritious, low-sugar foods and try to avoid sugary, pro-inflammatory foods.

Make smarter choices about food by reading the nutritional information on every food product you buy. Look for the quantity of sugar and also the ingredients. Sugars have dozens of different names, including Glucose, Dextrose, Fructose, Lactose, Maltose and Sucrose. Don’t forget the ‘hidden’ ones such as high-fructose corn syrup, Dextrin, Malt syrup, Maltodextrin and rice syrup – plus many others. Take your phone with you and Google as you shop!

To combat your sugar cravings – which are actually a sign of Candida overgrowth – try replacing your usual sugars with natural, low-carb sweeteners such as stevia or xylitol. Both of these sweeteners are sugar-free but totally derived from plants – so they contain none of the nasty chemicals of other sugar-free alternatives (such as aspartame or saccharin). Stevia can be added to baking and beverages, and it’s completely calorie-free!

If you’re not sure how to start a low-sugar Candida diet, check out our Ultimate Candida Diet program. It contains more than 100 low-sugar, gluten-free, anti-inflammatory recipes, plus lots of advice on which foods to eat and which to avoid.

2. Support Your Immune System

The next important step is to support your immune system. You can do this by adding probiotics to your routine – both in the form of supplements and foods. Probiotic supplements are available in most good health stores or online.

A quality probiotic supplement should contain a variety of probiotic strains, especially Lactobacillus acidophilus, Bifidobacterium bifidum and Bifidobacterium longum. Choose a probiotic that has a high CFU count (colony-forming bacteria), which simply means there are plenty of live bacteria to establish themselves in your gut.

You can support your gut microbiome even more by eating plenty of fermented foods such as sauerkraut, kefir, kimchi and unsweetened yogurt.

The greatest benefit of replenishing your gut bacteria in this way is that you will be boosting your immune system. A stronger immune system means you’ll be less susceptible to infection! This goes for both colds and flu illnesses and that nasty Candida yeast. Studies have shown that taking probiotics can both reduce your risk of Candida and treat a current infection. (6)

You’ll have fewer trips to the doctor, and therefore avoid any need to take those immune-reducing antibiotics.

Prevention Is The Best Cure For Candida Infections

A high sugar diet, antibiotics, stress, birth control pills, and chemical exposure are all major risk factors for Candida infection. But if you take the right steps now, you can reduce the chances of it happening.

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Cutting your daily sugar intake (and limiting your treats!) will make a huge difference to your health alone. However, making the extra effort to boost your natural defenses with probiotics will allow your body to ward off invasive bacteria and yeasts before you get sick.

Remember, keeping well is much easier than recovering from infection!

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  1. Aimee R says:

    My holistic doctor thinks I have yeast overgrowth given my symptoms, however when I go to the gyno and they do a vaginal culture (b/c of recurrent irritation and itching), the culture only shows a minimal amount of yeast. They say it is bacterial vaginosis and not a yeast infection. Does that make sense? Does this mean I probably don’t have a Candida problem?

    1. sea88 says:

      Hello Aimee-
      I understand your frustration! I was diagnosed with Lyme disease and Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever approx. 2 years ago. Well due to the fact that the majority of physicians DO NOT have any idea how to treat Lyme or other tick-borne related diseases, I had to take matters into my own hands..I have always had some knowledge in antibiotics and other medications, so I had no choice but to research and research until I put the best reputable knowledge compiled together to create a treatment plan of my own…well that included SEVERAL different antibiotics over a period of several months…my symptoms then took a vicious turn towards yeast, beginning with vaginal yeast infections, thrush (candida of the mouth/throat), nail fungus, sinus problems, AND the putrid smell of yeast coming through the pores of my skin throughout my entire body….among dozens of other symptoms. During this time, I went to my ob/gyn as well, as my vaginal yeast infections have been going on now for over a year straight. I explained all I had been through to my ob/gyn, and tried to tell her that I knew that I had a continuous non-stop vaginal yeast infection ever since I started the antibiotics for the Lyme and RMSF…my ob/gyn checked me as well, took a culture and found it negative for yeast (which I knew was totally insane) , as we as women whom have had previous vaginal yeast infections know when they are there, I mean it’s just no ignoring it! But I have had to live with it now for over a year…I have tried the best probiotics out there 100 billion units! Did nothing…my diet is not very well though, and I am preparing myself for the “Candidia Cure”..(VERY strict diet) I have been on Diflucan for over a year as well…didn’t work (obviously)…Nystatin causes so much die-off that I feel like dying, AND the candida has infected my entire body…i.e. muscles, nerves, brain, etc, AND I have been diagnosed with Fibromyalgia (lol) as I do not believe in that particular diagnosis! But I know exactly where you are coming from….I am not a doctor, thank God, I’m not, since they are governed under the CDC (government) as I feel that there is a conspiracy going on..somehow there has been a strain of yeast released that is undetectable, and scary..after all, if we all were healthy, we wouldn’t need doctors, right? And we wouldn’t need pharmaceutical companies, right? And we wouldn’t need the FDA..and so on and so on…No one would be making $$$$…so the system is set up to keep us sick, and insult our intelligence in the meantime…I would suggest to you that you cut out all sugar ALL sugar, get on a good antifungal , and probiotic, and research, research…because if we think that mainstream drs. are going to help us…we are most definitely WRONG!! Get yourself healthy (diet wise), build your immune system, and see what happens. Hope this helps! P.S. I have heard of women inserting garlic cloves into the vagina to kill the yeast, haven’t tried it, but just may work since it is an antifungal…pure virgin coconut oil is good as well, but since you are seeing a holistic, I would think you already know this..Good luck and God Bless!

      1. littleboot says:

        I agree with you 100%! I have mass problems with candida all from lyme disease and nothing makes it better. I was off antibiotics for a year and a half, took Diflucan everyday, probiotics in the hundreds of billions, grapefruit seed extract, no sweets, and anything else that would help and I still couldnt/can’t get rid of it (or the lyme). Never thought about the government releasing an incurable yeast strain, but it certainly makes sense since Lyme was man made in Plum Island, NY (in my opinion) and mainstream medicine refuses to treat Lyme patients even though they know there is a major epidemic. I really hope I don’t have to live with these 2 horrors the rest of my life…..

  2. Sandy says:

    I was diagnosed with a yeast infection that had was ” in every cell of your body”. This diagnosis was not from a culture or blood work but from my acupuncturist! I showed him Lisa’s ultimate Candida diet and he told me toget busy that day and to follow it to T. And I would suggest the same and also add “you must follow through with it and it could take a year”. Do not do what I did and 6 months down the road try a morsel. It was difficult for me to get back on track.

    Not all holistic doctors are the same because of of their interest but also where and what they practiced. I had been to many different holistic doctors or Nautropathic doctors (moved around a lot) and none have helped me like my two acupuncturist helped.

    So follow Lisa’s diet faithfully and you WILL see a difference. Good Luck

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