What is Candida Overgrowth, and Do You Have It?

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Candida is a yeast, or fungi, that lives both in and on the human body. It is typically not an issue, so long as it is in appropriate quantities. It will begin to cause problems, however, if it grows out of control. Knowing the signs of candida overgrowth will help you to know whether the candida population of your body is in check or if it needs some checking-up. This is what you need to know about candidiasis, also known as candida overgrowth.

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What Is Candida Overgrowth?

As already mentioned, candida is a fungus that lives in and on your body. Typically it is found in small amounts in the mouth, in the intestines, and on the skin. When it begins to grow uncontrollably, you will experience candida overgrowth, also known as candidiasis. This is actually one of the most common fungal infections in humans and can cause a number of problems. (1)

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Signs and Symptoms of Candida Overgrowth

There are many signs and symptoms of candida overgrowth that can vary in severity. You may not experience all of them, either, because it may depend on where your overgrowth is occurring. The signs and symptoms of candida overgrowth can include (2):

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  • Oral thrush: Creamy white patches in your mouth or throat and/or painful cracks in the corners of your mouth.
  • Skin rashes, patches, and blisters: These are most often found between the fingers, in the groin, and/or underneath the breasts.
  • Vaginal Yeast Infection: Vaginal itching and irritation with a white discharge that resembles cottage cheese.

Other potential signs could be chronic fatigue, chronic urinary tract infections, digestive issues, chronic sinus infections, and joint pain. (3)

As already mentioned, the body usually does a pretty good job of keeping candida populations under control. That being said, there are things that can cause these populations to proliferate. Certain drugs, such as oral birth control, antibiotics, and corticosteroids can change the bacterial environment in your body and create the right conditions for this fungus to grow. Also, pregnancy, being overweight, or bacterial infection can do the same thing. Certain health conditions which compromise your immune system are also that way, including diabetes and psoriasis. Keep in mind that you may have candida overgrowth symptoms, but that could actually be symptoms of something else. Talk to your doctor to rule out other conditions first.

Read: 7 Easy Ways to Improve Your Gut Health: Recognize The Signs of an Unhealthy Gut

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How To Treat Candida Overgrowth

When it comes to some of the signs and symptoms of potential candida overgrowth, your doctor will prescribe certain medications. For example, there are a variety of medications that your doctor may prescribe for a yeast infection. For urinary tract infections, you will require antibiotics. Doctors will often treat invasive candidiasis with antifungal treatment. This will most often be given intravenously. This will usually occur over the course of two weeks, or until the infection is gone. It is important to note, however, that this is when you have systemic candidiasis and are in the hospital, as this condition can be life-threatening. This is not just because you have some indigestion and a UTI. (4)

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That said, if you do want to help relieve many of the symptoms you may have and better your health, there are lifestyle choices you can make to decrease the chance of fungal or bacterial overgrowth of any kind and also feel a whole lot better in the process. The first of these is diet. Eating a balanced diet that doesn’t include a lot of high-sugar foods, processed foods, and junk foods will promote good things happening in your body instead of bad. When you eat a diet based on fresh fruits and vegetables, lean proteins, healthy fats, and unprocessed carbohydrates, your body functions well. This means you will sleep better, have more energy, your skin and hair will grow, and your body’s processes will all function well. Limit sugar, alcohol, and high saturated fat foods. Include foods that are known to fight against “bad” bacteria, such as garlic and turmeric, as well as “good” bacteria-promoting foods such as kombucha and other fermented, probiotic-containing foods. (5)

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What Is The Candida Diet?

The Candida diet is one often recommended by wellness practitioners and naturopathic doctors which is claimed to prevent and/or fight back against candida overgrowth. Often supplements will be recommended along with it. This diet is one that includes no alcohol and is very low in carbohydrates, usually no more than 60 grams of carbohydrates per day. The idea is to avoid flour-based foods, grains, and sweeteners, as well as to limit foods such as fruits and starchy vegetables to just two servings per day. (6)

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This is an extremely carbohydrate-restricted diet, and even those that promote it say the first week or two you may “feel worse before you get better”. Think of flu-like symptoms, including nausea, headaches, and fatigue. This is essentially ketosis, as your body is transitioning from using carbohydrates for energy to protein and fat. It should be noted that there is no actual scientific evidence that this is good for your body or that your body needs this kind of “cleansing”. Naturally, limiting high sugar, high fat, and heavily processed foods from your diet is always a good idea.

Read: The Top 10 Medicinal Plants and Herbs for Your Health

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Is Canadida Overgrowth Prevalent?

This very much depends on who you ask. There are some who say yes, while still many others, including doctors, say no. Truthfully, more research is needed on candida in the body to be able to say once and for all whether or not candida overgrowth is real. To be clear, candidiasis is, however, an actual medical diagnosis that includes the aforementioned blood infection that can be very dangerous. (7)

The biggest problem is that candida overgrowth symptoms are often confusing, complex, and vague. So simply saying “Hmm… well it appears as though you may have this problem, go follow this diet/take these supplements” is a whole lot easier than actually doing all of the tests and exams that would be involved in actually determining 100% if that’s the problem or not. 

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Candida is Big Business

Another issue is that there is a lot of easy money in it. On many websites, you will go on and take a quick quiz, and suddenly you are recommended that you buy a certain candida control protocol from them that just happens to cost a couple of hundred dollars. Some of these sites will have you take a stool test, however, many doctors remind us that we have candida in our intestines and just because it is present doesn’t mean it’s a problem.

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Essentially, the problem is that there truly isn’t enough research to determine whether or not candida overgrowth is truly a problem that is afflicting many people or not. On top of that, the expensive protocol or following the candida diet doesn’t tell us much, either. If you go from eating sugar and processed foods to eating a healthy diet with some important supplements included, you’re going to feel better. There is no actual evidence to suggest whether this is due to a candida overgrowth or not. All of this is to say that this is your body and your choice. If you want to try a candida protocol to hopefully feel better, go for it – including the diet. Just be sure to always check with your doctor and keep close tabs on how you’re feeling so you don’t bring on any, potentially worse, conditions.

Keep Reading: Important Facts You Need to Know About Gluten (and Celiac Disease)

Sources

  1. The Pathogenesis of Candida Infections in a Human Skin Model: Scanning Electron Microscope Observations.” NCBI. A. Raz-Pasteur, et al. September 5, 2011.
  2. Candidiasis.” Mount Sinai
  3. 7 Symptoms of Candida Overgrowth (Plus How to Get Rid of It).” Healthline. Kayla McDonell, RD. August 24, 2017.
  4. Treatment for Invasive Candidiasis.” CDC.
  5. Natural Candida Remedies.” Very Well Health. Cathy Wong. January 20, 2022.
  6. What Is the Candida Diet? A Beginner’s Guide, Food List, and 7-Day Meal Plan.” Everyday Health. Jessica Migala. February 2022.
  7. The Candida Overgrowth Problem: Too Much Yeast? No, Too Little Science.” Self. Melinda Wenner Moyer. July 10, 2017.
Julie Hambleton
The Hearty Soul Team
Julie Hambleton has a BSc in Food and Nutrition from the Western University, Canada, is a former certified personal trainer and a competitive runner. Julie loves food, culture, and health, and enjoys sharing her knowledge to help others make positive changes and live healthier lives.
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