Last updated September 22, 2019 by Lisa Richards, CNC   Reviewed by Katie Stone, ND.

Probiotics For Candida: Sources, Benefits & Recommendations

Woman taking a probiotic for Candida overgrowth

As digestive and autoimmune issues become more and more common among adults and children, gut health has never been so important. This is especially true for gut imbalances like Candida and SIBO. Thanks to decades of scientific research, probiotics are now getting the attention they deserve.

Probiotics are “friendly” gut bacteria – also known as microflora – that reside in the body, mainly in the gastrointestinal tract. Here, they provide numerous health benefits, particularly in terms of the protecting the gut and immune system. In fact, these tiny microorganisms are essential for normal, healthy functioning.

Your gut microflora are established not long after you’re born. They’re usually nourished by the breast milk you receive from your mother, and also by the passage through the birth canal.

As you grow and develop, your gut microflora are highly vulnerable to internal and external influences. The health of your gut flora is influenced by everything you face in daily life – diet, stress, your environment, and even the things you touch and smell. Other factors include genetics, other illnesses, pathogens like Candida albicans or E.coli, medications, and even psychological factors.

Numerous studies have shown that your gut microflora can provide many clues to your overall health and wellbeing. Many digestive problems and disorders can be linked to imbalances of bacteria or yeast in the gut, which in turn can lead to other serious conditions affecting the whole body.

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Food allergies, behavioral disorders, mood changes, autoimmune disease, arthritis, chronic fatigue, skin disorders and even some cancers are associated with the health of your gut.

Candida and Your Gut Flora

Every person has approximately one pound (0.4kg) of bacteria in their system. At any one time there are billions of bacteria living inside your intestine, most of which are beneficial. Keeping this system in a healthy balance supports both your digestion and your immune system. An overgrowth of Candida albicans knocks this system out of balance.

Because Candida is such a fast-growing yeast, it can rapidly reproduce after any negative shock to the intestine. For example, a course of antibiotics will kill many of your beneficial bacteria, giving the Candida yeast an opportunity to rapidly grow and dominate your gut.

Probiotics are an effective part of reversing Candida overgrowth because they reintroduce helpful bacteria to your gut. These bacteria create large, healthy colonies that crowd out the Candida yeast, regulate your stomach acidity, and boost your immune system.

This page contains everything you need to know about why and how to use probiotics to beat your Candida.

Do You Need Probiotics?

There are times when taking probiotics is even more important than usual. When bad bacteria in the gut (or yeast like Candida) get out of control, your whole gastrointestinal environmental is thrown out of balance. This is known as dysbiosis.

A Candida overgrowth can cause a number of unpleasant symptoms, such as:

  • Gas, bloating, indigestion
  • Diarrhea or constipation
  • Irritable bowel syndrome
  • Regular yeast infections
  • Feeling tired or lethargic
  • Frequent infections
  • Aching joints
  • Headaches
  • Food allergies or intolerances
  • Low mood, irritability or depression
  • Constant food cravings

High-quality probiotics can rebalance your gut and start to eliminate many of these symptoms.

Probiotics are particularly beneficial when your digestive system is under greater stress than usual. They can help your gut to stay in balance when you take antibiotics, for example, or when you travel to a new country.

If you have an overgrowth of pathogenic yeast or bacteria in your gut, and you believe that imbalance is affecting your health, probiotics can help too. By rebalancing your gut, they can boost your immune system, restore healthy digestion, and get your health back on track.

The Benefits of Probiotics For Candida And Your Health

The beneficial effects of probiotics range from improved digestion of food and the manufacture of vitamins in the gut to supporting your immune system. Probiotics also increase the nutritional value of some foods by improving the way they are broken down and absorbed in the gut.

Many people aren’t aware of the immune-boosting effects of probiotics. Numerous studies have shown that probiotics inhibit the spread of disease-causing bacteria and yeast by regulating the acidic environment in the gut. Some strains even produce their own type of natural antibiotics.

As well as boosting the immune system, probiotics can help to prevent various conditions such as urinary tract infections, vaginal infections, and inflammatory bowel disease.

For optimal results, probiotic supplementation should be accompanied by a healthy diet and other lifestyle factors. Antibiotics, high levels of sugar, stress, pollutants and other negative lifestyle factors can all destroy healthy bacteria in the gut and allow pathogens like Candida to overgrow. The key is balance – in every aspect of daily life!

Here are 6 of the most important benefits from taking a probiotic supplement:

Probiotics Support Digestion

Probiotics help the body to break down the food you eat. When food passes through the small intestine and into the colon, probiotics function alongside digestive enzymes in the intestine. Together, they help your body break down the food matter and absorb the nutrients within it. Without help from probiotic bacteria, digestion can be slowed or impaired. This can result in food passing through the body without providing your body with what it needs.

Probiotics Help Prevent Diarrhea

One of the best-known features of probiotics is their ability to reduce gas, bloating and diarrhea. This is especially important when traveling or taking antibiotics, both of which can cause major digestive upset.

Several studies suggest probiotics reduce the risk of antibiotic-associated diarrhea, with one study showing that taking probiotics reduced the incidence of diarrhea by up to 42%. (1)

Taking probiotics can also prevent or treat infectious diarrhea caused by illness or bacteria. One major review of 35 different studies showed that probiotics helped to reduce the duration of infectious diarrhea by around 25 hours.

Probiotic supplements are often recommended for those traveling in unsanitary areas or working in environments where pathogens are present, such as schools or hospitals.

Probiotics Produce Valuable Nutrients

Probiotics in your gut not only support digestion, but also create valuable nutrients to maintain your health and energy levels. (2)

These nutrients are essential for healthy function. The nutrients produced include B vitamins, vitamin K, and short-chain fatty acids. The fermentation process also encourages the production of enzymes that help to break down foods (especially protein and fat).

Without these nutrients, your body’s energy production is likely to be compromised. It also needs these nutrients for tissue repair and maintenance, cognitive function, and hundreds of other processes.

Probiotics Strengthen Your Immune System

Did you know that more than 70 percent of your immune tissue is in your gut? The cells lining your gut are the first line of defense between your internal body systems and external pathogens. Probiotics can strengthen those defenses.

Any disease-causing microbes that enter your body (from food you eat, air you breathe or objects you touch) need to pass through several defense systems in your gastrointestinal tract before reaching the bloodstream.

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The microflora of your gut is constantly on the lookout for incoming pathogens. Probiotic bacteria work to fight these pathogens by increasing your body’s production of antibodies. They also regulate acidity in your gut, which is another part of your immune system’s defenses.

Regular infections, along with some diseases and autoimmune conditions, are linked to an imbalance of bacteria in the gut and a misfiring immune system.

Probiotics Help Maintain Gut Health

The lining of the gut is naturally permeable in order to allow nutrients (from the food you eat) into your bloodstream. The bacteria that reside on the walls of your gut act as a defense barrier, preventing any substances such as E. coli, Candida albicans, and other invaders entering the bloodstream.

By maintaining the gut lining in this way, probiotic bacteria help to prevent the development of food allergies, which can lead to (and be caused by) Leaky Gut Syndrome. This occurs when the gaps in the gut lining become too large and allow harmful substances into the bloodstream.

These bacteria also support the uptake of nutrients, electrolytes, water and other beneficial substances from the intestines. This is vital for healthy digestion and normal functioning of the body, as well as keeping inflammation in the gut and elsewhere at manageable levels.

Probiotics Support Mental Health

Researchers have found that a direct line of communication exists between the brain and your enteric nervous system. This has been termed “the gut-brain axis”. (3)

This line of communication links the emotional and cognitive centers of the brain with peripheral intestinal function.

Because your gut bacteria interact closely with your nervous system, dysbiosis in the gut can severely affect the body’s response to stress and anxiety. It can even affect memory function and mood. Supplementing with probiotics has been shown to reduce depression, anxiety and other mood disorders.

What Are The Best Sources of Probiotics?

There are two main forms of probiotics: supplements and food. What’s best for you depends on your specific needs, your lifestyle and possibly your budget.

Source #1: Fermented Foods

Fermented foods have been treated in a way that allows natural, healthy bacteria to develop. This fermentation process is actually very similar to that which happens in your gut when bacteria break down food you’ve eaten.

Fermented foods are essentially ‘predigested’, because the bacteria have already broken down many of the nutrients. That makes them very easy to digest and easy on your gut.

Bacteria from fermented foods also help to improve the diversity of the microbiota in your gut. These foods support the health of the bacteria already present in your gastrointestinal tract, allowing them to function more efficiently.

By including fermented foods in your diet each day, you can help to maintain healthy digestion. These foods have been found to reduce inflammation in the gut, improve the profile of your gut microflora, boost digestion and the absorption of minerals, and even support mental health.

Types of Fermented foods

Here are four of the most popular categories of probiotic foods.

  1. Dairy Products
    Yogurt, kefir and buttermilk are fermented dairy products that contain both Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium, the two most-studied genera of probiotic strains. Some manufacturers add probiotics after the pasteurization process in order to avoid bacteria being destroyed by the heat.
    Yogurt made from goat’s milk is a rich source of proteins, vitamins, and minerals. Because it’s lactose-free, goat’s milk can be easier to digest and have fewer allergens than cow’s milk. Goat milk yogurt is particularly high in probiotics such as Streptococcus thermophilus, Bifidobacterium bifidus, and Lactobacillus bulgaricus.
  2. Non-Dairy Products
    Coconut milk kefir or water kefir are dairy-free and may be more suitable for those who have allergies or intolerances to dairy.
  3. Fermented Vegetables
    Sauerkraut, kimchi and pickles are good sources of fermented vegetables.
    Sauerkraut is a traditional European dish made from fermented cabbage, carrots and other vegetables. It contains nutritious organic acids which support the growth of healthy bacteria.
    Kimchi is a Korean dish rich in digestive enzymes and healthy bacteria. It also contains chilies which can be helpful for warding off bad bacteria and yeasts.
    Both kimchi and sauerkraut should be eaten fresh (not canned!) to provide a live dose of nutrients to the gut.
  4. Fermented Soybeans
    Natto, miso and tempeh are popular in the Japanese diet. Natto has a high content of bacillus subtilis, which has been found to boost the immune system, improve digestion and enhance the breakdown of vitamin K2. (4)
    Natto also contains nattokinase, a potent anti-inflammatory enzyme which reduces gut inflammation and supports healing.

Other popular forms of fermented foods include coconut yogurt, water kefir, kombucha, and raw apple cider vinegar with the ‘mother’.

There is one major disadvantage to eating probiotic foods. Although they contain lots of probiotic bacteria, these bacteria are mostly destroyed by your stomach acid. And there is no way to tell exactly which bacteria are contained in your food.

Source 2: Probiotics from Supplements

Probiotic supplements are widely available in health stores, pharmacies and even some supermarkets. They’re usually available as capsules, pills or powders. However, these products vary dramatically in quality and some are much better than others.

Here are three reasons why you might want to include probiotics in your Candida treatment plan.

  1. Convenience
    Pills or capsules are easier to take than preparing fermented foods. It’s also possible to get probiotic supplements that are shelf-stable, which means they don’t require refrigeration. These are great for travel or keeping on your desk at work.
  2. Multiple Strains
    Supplements allow you to select the exact strains of bacteria that you need simply by looking at the supplement facts label. You can also choose the potency.
    By comparison, only certain strains of probiotics are available in fermented foods. With many foods – especially those made at home – there’s no way of accurately knowing which strains are available, how many there are, or whether they’re beneficial or not.
  3. Better Colonization
    Probiotic supplements can guarantee the number of live colony-forming units (CFU) in each dose. This refers to the number of bacteria available that can grow and develop in the gut. The higher the CFU count, the more likely the bacteria are able to colonize the gut, and the sooner you’ll reap the benefits. This cannot be guaranteed in fermented foods, which makes it difficult to gauge what benefits you get from eating them.
  4. Better delivery
    Higher-quality probiotics use a time-release delivery system like BIO-tract that get your bacteria safely through your stomach. Probiotic foods lose most of their bacteria as they are exposed to stomach acid, whereas time-release probiotics can get more than 60% of their bacteria past stomach acid.

Choosing the right probiotic is not easy, but it’s vitally important if you want to get the most from your probiotic.

Balance ONE ProbioticI recommend the Balance ONE Probiotic. It uses time-release tablets that get 15 times more bacteria to the gut than regular probiotics in capsules. It contains 15 billion CFUs of bacteria, has 12 different strains that are naturally found in the human gut, and is shelf-stable.

The Balance ONE probiotic is the only probiotic that I recommend for Candida. You can find it on Amazon or on the Balance ONE website.

What About Prebiotics?

You may have heard that prebiotics are equally as important as probiotics. Prebiotics are not actually bacteria themselves; they’re the ‘food’ for the probiotic bacteria.

Prebiotics are various types of non-digestible fiber. This includes a whole group of substances found in foods, including fructo-oligosaccharides, other oligosaccharides, inulin, and polysaccharides.

Prebiotics can be found in foods such as garlic, Jerusalem artichokes, jicama, dandelion greens, and onions. Because the gut can’t fully break down this type of fiber, it passes through the upper part of the gastrointestinal tract and remains undigested. Then, after reaching the intestines, it is fermented by the microflora in your gut.

Prebiotics help to maintain a healthy gastrointestinal environment that allows good bacteria to thrive. They are the food that other microbiota can feed on. Taking prebiotics along with your probiotics can be like ‘watering the garden’ in your gut to help keep all those bacteria happy.

Research has shown that prebiotics can benefit the brain and the body. A study published in the journal Brain, Behavior and Immunity showed that certain prebiotics can enhance neuro-immuno processes as well as reversing anxiety caused by inflammation. (5)

There is one important thing to note for Candida sufferers, along with those who have SIBO or other types of gut dysbiosis. Prebiotics don’t just feed the good guys – they can feed pathogenic bacteria and yeast too!

If you suspect that you have a yeast or bacterial overgrowth in your gut, taking large amounts of prebiotics can make it worse. This is particularly true of prebiotic powders or supplements., but prebiotics in foods are less problematic.

Probiotics Could Be Your Gut’s Best Friend

Whether you eat fermented foods, drink kefir, or take supplements (or all three!) the benefits of probiotics are hard to beat. Our daily lives are a constant battle with pathogens, allergens and disease – and our microflora are always in need of a helping hand to keep us healthy.

When pathogens like Candida can overgrow in your gut, probiotic supplements can compete with them for space and resources, recolonize your gut, boost your immune system, and much more.

Those microscopic bacteria play a far more important role in your overall wellbeing than you may realize. Looking after your gut health with probiotics can mean you digest food more efficiently, get fewer colds, feel more positive, and even think more clearly. The only way to find out is to start taking them!

The probiotic that I recommend for Candida is the Balance ONE probiotic. It uses time-release tablets to deliver 15 times more bacteria to the gut, contains 15 billion CFUs of probiotic bacteria, and has 12 carefully-chosen strains. In other words, it’s a well-designed daily probiotic that can improve your gut health and help you fight Candida.

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