You might be asking yourself: What is candida?
There is a lot of information online about candida, but most is inaccurate.
While candida is present in the mouths and intestines in as much as 70% of the population, most people experience no ill effects from the fungus. An overgrowth of candida, however, can compromise the intestinal wall, sending harmful bacteria into the bloodstream. This can release noxious elements into your body and cause a variety of maladies, including leaky gut and a common candida infection, candidiasis.
Read on to learn about the fungus, including how you can be exposed to risks from it, what symptoms you may have, how to test for it, what you can eat, and how you may be treated for it.
What Is Candida?
Yeasts that belong to the genus Candida can cause a fungal infection. There are more than 20 species of candida yeasts that can promote infections in humans. Of these, the most common is candida albicans. Most of the yeasts reside in the intestinal tract and can live on mucous membranes and skin with no risk of infection to the host. An overgrowth of these organisms, however, can cause an infection to develop.
How Do You Get It?
Healthy bacteria in your intestines usually keep your bacterial levels balanced. But there are several factors that can cause population overgrowth including a diet rich in healthful fermented foods (e.g., pickles or sauerkraut) or refined carbohydrates and sugars; ingesting oral contraceptives, alcohol, or antibiotics; or suffering from a prolonged period of high stress and anxiety.
What Are Symptoms of a Candida Infection?
Symptoms vary but can include the following:
- Fungal infections of the skin and nails (e.g., athlete’s foot, toenail fungus)
- Chronic fatigue, feeling tired and run down
- Digestive issues (e.g., bloating, constipation, diarrhea)
- Autoimmune disease (e.g., Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, ulcerative colitis, rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis, lupus, scleroderma)
- Memory or concentration issues, difficulty with focus, brain fog, ADD, ADHD
- Skin ailments (e.g., eczema, hives, psoriasis)
- Irritability, anxiety, mood swings, depression
- Recurring urinary tract or vaginal yeast infections
- Cravings for refined carbohydrates or sugary foods
- Joint pain, damage to tendons and joints
Is There a Candida Test?
Several tests have become popular as professionals become more familiar with the fungal growth and its side effects. These tests include a variety of lab tests (e.g., blood, stool, and organic acids urine test), a spittle test, and patient questionnaires. Consult with a health professional for more information on which test may be best for you.
How Is It Treated?
Successful treatment includes stopping yeast overgrowth, restoring intestinal bacteria levels, and healing your digestive tract. A regimented diet followed by series of probiotics and a dietary elimination of trigger foods will eliminate the problem.
What Can You Eat to Prevent Overgrowth of the Bacteria?
Begin with a diet low in carbohydrates. Eliminate all simple forms of sugar (e.g., alcohol, sweet candies and desserts, flours) and reduce consumption of complex carbohydrates to a single serving each day. This will starve the bacteria. Experts recommend avoiding fermented foods because they feed all kinds of bacteria. An antifungal medication taken for one month or longer will accelerate what could be a three- to six-month process.
Finally, if you are self-treating, supplements like caprylic acid, found in coconut oil, accelerate the demise of bacteria. Once the infection has been eliminated, immediately begin restoring good bacteria to your intestinal tract with probiotic foods like yogurt and certain fermented foods. When you return to your normal diet, avoid the foods you eliminated and focus on eating proteins and high-fiber vegetables to protect your gastrointestinal tract from another infection.
If you believe you may have an infection caused by candida and need help managing your treatment, contact Fairwood Health and Body Transition today for a free consultation.