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.
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.
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!
Beat your candida in 60 days with this detailed 5-step program
If you're looking for a more comprehensive Candida treatment plan, check out the Ultimate Candida Diet program, written by Lisa Richards and Dr Eric Wood. This plan is based on the latest research into Candida Related Complex, and contains everything you need to know to beat your Candida overgrowth.