Feeling tired, anxious, or moody? Perhaps you have a recurring infection, such as a sinus infection, yeast infection, or urinary tract infection that just doesn’t seem to let up. These are just a few of the many signs that you may have candida overgrowth.
What is Candida?
Candida is a type of yeast that causes a fungal infection known as candidiasis. The fungus favors the mouth and intestines, although it can also live in any of the mucus membranes in the body.
A small amount of candida will do no harm. In fact, candida actually aids in digestion and nutrient absorption when present in small amounts. When the fungus begins to multiply more than it should, it can result in various mental and physical side effects.
When the candida yeast spreads in the mouth and throat, it causes an infection called oral thrush, or oropharyngeal candidiasis. When it grows too much in the genitals, it is known as a yeast infection or genital candidiasis. When candida overproduces in the intestines and spreads throughout the body, it can cause a whole host of symptoms.
Symptoms of Candida
Every system in the body is closely connected through a web created by the bloodstream. Candida overgrowth in the gut can easily affect not only the digestive system but all other systems as well, including the circulatory, nervous, endocrine, respiratory, and lymphatic systems.
Since the majority of the serotonin in your body is produced in the gut, candida overgrowth in the gut can have a major and direct impact on your mood. A layer of candida in the gut can suppress serotonin production, causing symptoms such as anxiety, depression, and moodiness.
In addition, candida can create holes in the intestinal wall, allowing toxins to get through from the intestines into the bloodstream. This condition is known as leaky gut syndrome. When you have excess toxins floating around in the bloodstream, your body is in a constant inflammatory state. Chronic inflammation is the cause of many chronic and inflammatory diseases, including asthma, autoimmune diseases, diabetes, and cancer.
Another serious result of candida overgrowth is a hormonal imbalance. It is believed that the byproducts of candida inhibit tissue from responding normally to hormones. Candida itself “eats” progesterone, which can lead to estrogen dominance. In addition to that, the waste product from candida mimics the hormone estrogen, causing even more trouble.
These are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the numerous problems that candida overgrowth can cause.
To sum up, if you experience any of the symptoms below, it may be a sign that you have a candida infection:
- Anxiety, depression, mood swings
- Chronic fatigue
- Brain fogginess
- General achiness
- Recurring colds
- Recurring urinary tract infections
- Recurring yeast infections
- Recurring sinus infections
- Bloating, stomach cramps, flatulence, indigestion
- Fungal nail infections
- Athlete’s foot
- White coating on tongue, bad breath, cracked tongue
- Weight gain
- Cravings for sugar and/or carbs
Causes of Candida Overgrowth
Okay, so you’ve established that you may or may not have a candida infection. Now begs the question—why? How does one get candida overgrowth?
Imbalance of Gut Flora
One of the most common reasons that people suffer from candida overgrowth is poor gut health. A healthy gut has a healthy balance of good-to-bad gut bacteria. Not enough “good” gut bacteria to keep things in check, and the candida starts to grow out of proportion. Low levels of “good” gut bacteria can be caused by the use of antibiotics, a lack of probiotics in one’s diet, and a diet full of sugar, refined carbohydrates, and alcohol.
Birth Control Pills
Combination birth control pills contain estrogen—a hormone that has a close relationship with candida overgrowth where excess estrogen causes candida overproduction and vice versa. This is evident in the fact that many women find that taking birth control pills leads to yeast infections.
People going through cancer treatments have compromised immune systems. The treatments not only kill dangerous cancer cells but healthy cells and “good” bacteria as well. This puts cancer patients at great risk for developing all sorts of infections, including candida. (1)
People with diabetes are more likely to get candidiasis because their sugar levels are generally higher than in non-diabetics. Since candida feeds off of sugar, it makes sense that diabetics are at greater risk of developing candidiasis.
How to Fight Candida Infections
There are a few ways to naturally prevent and treat candida overgrowth. Try these three methods, and you may find that your symptoms disappear.
1. Eat a Candida Diet
Since yeast loves sugar and refined carbohydrates, the whole idea of a candida diet is to limit these things and any other foods that cause inflammation.
Avoid these foods:
- Added sugars including soft drinks, juices, candy, desserts, baked goods, and any packaged foods with sugar in the ingredients
- Refined carbohydrates such as white pasta, white bread, crackers, and white rice
- Starchy vegetables that are high on the glycemic index, such as sweet potatoes, potatoes, corn, squash, beets, and peas
- Packaged and processed foods
- High-sugar fruits, including mangos, kiwis, grapes, oranges, cherries, lychees, and passion fruit
Instead, make sure to eat healthy proteins and fats and lots of vegetables—especially dark, leafy greens. Choose whole grains and eat legumes, nuts, and seeds. Make sure to drink plenty of water as well.
2. Do a Candida Cleanse
A candida cleanse is perhaps the more extreme, fast-track way to rid your body of candida. During the first two days of the cleanse, you will consume only water and vegetable broth made from onion, garlic, celery, kale, and pure water.
During the third to fifth days of the cleanse, you will consume only steamed vegetables (not including starchy vegetables).
The cleanse will give you a strong start at flushing out toxins and killing off candida as you transition into the candida diet.
3. Take Supplements
Some natural supplements can help with candida overgrowth by either killing candida yeast cells or supporting “good” gut bacteria.
Caprylic acid works by making holes in yeast cell walls, initiating their death. It also supports healthy gut bacteria. Origanum oil is another powerful candida killer that causes little harm to good bacteria. (2)
It is important to note that as your body detoxes, your symptoms may get worse before they get better. It is normal to experience headaches, fatigue, dizziness, gastrointestinal distress, flu-like symptoms, and breakouts during a candida detox.
All those “random” symptoms you’re experiencing—they may be caused by candida overgrowth. Luckily, there are things you can do to kill off candida and flush toxins out of your body naturally. Even after the candida is gone, continue to eat healthy proteins and fats, fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts, seeds, and fermented foods to keep your gut happy and your body healthy.