We have all heard the word ‘Candida’, but many people don’t quite understand what it is. Candida is the genus name for a specific type of fungus, which is a form of yeast. Candida fungus, most commonly Candida albicans is present normally in small amounts in our mouth and intestines. It normally functions to help our body to digest food and absorb nutrients.
Occasionally under the right circumstances, Candida can grow to unsafe levels causing gastrointestinal issues. This problem arises when the microbiome is out of balance – called dysbiosis (less good bacteria and yeast, more bad bacteria, parasites etc.) giving Candida the opportunity to grow to excessive levels.
7 Common Triggers of Dysbiosis
There are certain foods and environmental triggers that cause dysbiosis:
- Diet high in refined carbs and sugar
o Diabetics have a higher level of oral Candida than the general population
- Diet too high in good fermented foods (pickles, sauerkraut, kombucha etc,)
- High alcohol consumption
- Taking oral contraceptives or estrogen replacement (hormonal imbalance)
- A round of antibiotics can kill off too many
- High stress lifestyle
- Autoimmune conditions and weak immune systems
As the delicate balance of the microbiome is negatively affected by any of these triggers, Candida has the opportunity to grow to unsafe levels causing issues in our gut. The fungal yeast will then begin to wreak havoc on your intestinal barrier, causing intestinal permeability or leaky gut. Any allergens or toxins that are in our gut from our diet can then enter our bloodstream, leading to many symptoms that may lead to chronic health conditions.
8 Chronic Health Conditions Caused By Candida Overgrowth
- Digestive issues – bloating, constipation or diarrhea (Irritable Bowel Syndrome)
- Feeling tired and worn down – chronic fatigue, Fibromyalgia
- Skin and nail infections
- Autoimmune conditions – Rheumatoid Arthritis, Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis etc.
- Brain fog, poor memory, and lack of focus
- Mood swings and irritability
- Vaginal or urinary tract infections
- Strong cravings for sugar and refined carbohydrates
Many of these conditions have various sources, so it’s important to confirm that Candida is the cause. To do this, see a Functional Medicine or Natural Health Doctor to perform in-depth testing like Stool testing, Urinary Organic Acid and Blood testing to determine the root cause of your symptoms.
3 Steps to Restoring Balance to Your Gut
If Candida is the source of these issues, how can we restore a normal balance to your microbiome and decrease the levels of Candida in your body? There are a few important steps that you need to go through to ensure that you can restore balance to your gut:
Step 1: Stop Feeding the Yeast
Candida is fed by sugar, so step 1 is to eliminate refined sugars and carbs. Stop eating candy, high sugar desserts, carbonated soda, alcohol, and flour. We also need to decrease your intake of complex carbohydrates like grains, beans, fruit, bread, pasta, and potatoes. If we don’t feed the Candida, it can’t grow and eventually the excessive levels will die off.
Step 2: Build up levels of good bacteria
Once the Candida levels are decreasing, it is important to re-establish the levels of good bacteria. After consulting with a health care professional, you may want to begin a course of probiotics. These will help to increase the levels of friendly bacteria in the gut that help with our normal digestion.
Step 3: Heal your Gut
If your intestinal wall has been damaged by the high levels of Candida and bad bacteria, there are certainly high levels of inflammation which need to be reduced. To do this, we need to eliminate inflammatory foods from our diet – foods that promote high levels of inflammation. Choose real foods and focus on green and colourful vegetables, grass-fed beef, free-run chicken, and good fats like nuts and seeds. All of these foods will promote healing of the gut while eliminating the high levels of inflammation.
Candida is common and needs to be addressed before it causes serious chronic conditions. If you think you may have Candida overgrowth, speak to a Functional Medicine Doctor in your area for more information.
Cole, W. (2015, June 12). Dr. Will Cole. Retrieved from How Candida Overgrowth Can Wreck Your Health + What To Do About It: http://drwillcole.com/how-candida-overgrowth-can-wreck-your-health-what-to-do-about-it/
Li, Q., Wang, C., Tang, C., He, Q., Li, N., & Li, J. (2014). Dysbiosis of Gut Fungal Microbiota is Associated with Mucosal Inflammation in Crohn’s Disease. J Clin Gastroenterol, 48:513-523.
Myers, A. (2013, April 4). Mind Body Green. Retrieved from 10 Signs You Have Candida Overgrowth & What To Do About It: http://www.mindbodygreen.com/0-8376/10-signs-you-have-candida-overgrowth-what-to-do-about-it.html
Pallavan, B., Ramesh, V., Dhanasekaran, B. P., Oza, N., Indu, S., & Govindarajan, V. (2014). Comparison and correlation of candidal colonization in diabetic patients and normal individuals. J Diabetes and Metabolic Dis, 13:66.
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