Learning about Candida can sometimes be a daunting process. There is just so much information out there, and it’s often hard to tell what’s good advice and what isn’t. That’s why we’ve created this simple infographic to explain the symptoms, causes, diagnosis and treatment of Candida. Enjoy!
What is Candida?
Candida albicans is a species of yeast that that lives naturally in the body. This yeast is a normal part of the microbes that live in your gastrointestinal tract and in warm, moist areas throughout the body: on your skin, in your mouth, and in your gut.
Candida is usually kept in check by the ‘friendly’ bacteria that make up your gut flora. However, if these friendly bacteria are compromised in any way, Candida yeast can grow out of control. This often leads to thrush or a yeast infection that can cause pain and inflammation throughout the body, both on the skin and in the gut or genitals.
Candida overgrowth is quite common. Studies show that around 70% of us have Candida albicans overgrowth in our gut, and many of those people have a yeast imbalance.
Why is Candida a problem?
When Candida albicans grows out of control, it can release up to 79 different by-products. These include a neurotoxin named acetaldehyde, ethanol, and uric acid.
High levels of acetaldehyde in the body can lead to chronic headaches and brain fog. Ethanol is a form of alcohol, which can add to the burden on your liver and make it difficult for your body to detoxify properly. Excess uric acid can cause joint pain and even lead to gout if it accumulates.
Symptoms of Candida Overgrowth
Some of the most common symptoms of Candida overgrowth include:
- Recurrent yeast infections of the skin and/or nails
- Brain fog
- Weakened immune system (2)
- Digestive issues such as gas, boating constipation or diarrhea
- Feelings of exhaustion or suffering from chronic fatigue
- Skin conditions such as eczema, psoriasis, hives, and rashes
- Irritability, mood swings, anxiety, or depression
- Genital infections, urinary tract infections, rectal itching
- Constant cravings for sugar and refined carbohydrates
4 Common Causes of Candida overgrowth
A high-sugar diet is perhaps the most common cause of Candida overgrowth. Yeasts such as Candida albicans rely on organic, carbon-based compounds such as sugar for its source of energy. The Candida yeast uses this energy to grow and to build cell walls.
Sugar also provides the Candida yeast with the ability to switch to a more powerful fungal form. This form of Candida is better able to overcome your gut bacteria and tends to grow long branches (hyphae) that can interfere with the lining of your intestinal wall.
The longer your Candida infection persists, the more likely it is to increase the permeability of your intestinal lining. This can lead to what is often referred to as Leaky Gut Syndrome.
Antibiotics can destroy your ‘good’ gut bacteria to the point where they cannot ward off harmful pathogens as they should, allowing the ‘bad bacteria’ to thrive.
Studies have shown that just a short course of antibiotics can be enough to drastically reduce the number of bacterial strains in the gut. This suggests that if short courses are able to make such major changes to the gut flora, more frequent use of antibiotics will be much more severe. (3)
It’s been found that anxiety, stress, depression and anything else you might be feeling can have a direct impact on your gut flora. This has been termed the ‘gut-brain axis’.
Stress also increases your blood sugar level and weakens your immune system function by taxing your adrenal glands. As a result, you may be at a greater risk of developing a Candida overgrowth, irritable bowel syndrome or even dysbiosis.
4. Oral contraceptive pill
Research has suggested that estrogen dominance and Candida overgrowth may be linked. Estrogen dominance is common in women aged 35-50, and this increases when taking oral contraception.
It appears that the typical oral contraceptive pill can double a woman’s risk of developing Candida overgrowth.
How To Prevent and Treat Candida Overgrowth
There are 3 basic elements in any Candida plan. Follow a low sugar diet to deprive the yeast of the food it needs; take probiotics to rebalance your gut; and use natural antifungals to fight the yeast colonies. Let’s take a look at those in more detail.
A Low-Sugar Diet
A low sugar ‘antifungal diet’ can help to reduce the spread of Candida in the gut. This begins with eliminating processed foods and limiting complex carbohydrates and whole grains. Adding antifungal foods such as coconut oil, apple cider vinegar and garlic can also help to halt the growth of yeast in the gastrointestinal tract.
Choose wholesome, natural foods in order to reduce the stress on the digestive system and allow the body to focus on fighting the yeast. Be sure to include plenty of anti-inflammatory foods in your diet as well, such as turmeric, onions, garlic and ginger.
Refined sugars should be avoided as much as possible, but natural sugars in fruit and grains should also be kept to a minimum. It’s also a good idea to reduce the intake of yeast-containing foods such as breads, cereals, alcohol.
Probiotics To Rebalance Your Gut
Probiotic supplements help to restore the ‘friendly’ bacteria that work to overcome or crowd out harmful yeasts and ‘bad’ bacteria. Taking a high-quality probiotic supplement that contains a variety of strains (mainly Lactobacillus and Bifidobacteria) is essential for treating Candida overgrowth.
Probiotics are especially recommended following a course of antibiotic treatment, as antibiotics tend to kill off many healthy bacteria populations.
Probiotics foods such as sauerkraut, kimchi, miso and kefir will also help to restore the natural balance of the digestive system and replenish healthy bacteria. At the same time, probiotics can help to support your immune system and aid your body’s natural defenses in overcoming opportunistic yeasts.
Oregano oil has been used in natural medicine throughout history and is found to inhibit a variety of pathogens including fungal infections. This is largely due to its active constituent, carvacrol, which rich in concentrated phenols that attack pathogenic fungi. Oregano oil also has antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, and antiviral properties.
Grapefruit seed extract
GSE is highly effective against a variety of yeasts and molds including Candida albicans. Clinical studies have shown that GSE has strong antifungal effects against Candida albicans overgrowth, thanks to its ability to attack yeast cells directly and effectively destroy those that have already taken over.
Caprylic acid has the ability to penetrate and eradicate persistent Candida biofilms.
Studies have shown that it can eliminate pathogenic biofilms without causing harm to the surrounding healthy cells. Researchers have suggested that caprylic acid may be used as an effective treatment against a number of infection-causing microorganisms.
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.