Candida. Most people associate this word with annoying, vaginal yeast infections, and while that’s true, there’s so much more to this common fungus. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), it’s estimated that approximately 46,000 cases of candida-related infections occur each year in America, but did you know candida is present in everyone—both male and female?
What is candida?
Candida is a kind of fungus or yeast that we all have living throughout our gastro-intestinal tract and in other areas of the body. Usually, candida coexists with good bacteria in the body’s system and isn’t problematic. Trouble occurs when candida outnumbers the good bacteria and sends the system into chaos. Dysbiosis, also called dysbacteriosis, is the term for a microbial imbalance or maladaptation inside the body, and in this case, having a candida overgrowth.
Having a candida overgrowth can affect the body in a myriad of ways, such as:
- Oral thrush – this manifests as white lesions on the tongue or inner cheeks.
- Vaginal yeast infections – this can cause inflammation, intense itchiness, and a thick, white discharge.
- Skin rash – this involves redness with intense itching which can result in the skin becoming cracked and sore.
- Digestive issues – these symptoms can include upset stomach, bloating, and bowel irregularities.
- Fungal infections – this includes athlete’s foot or toenail fungus.
- Mood swings – this can result in experiencing anxiety, irritability, depression and even panic attacks.
- Chronic fatigue – a study has linked chronic fatigue to candida overgrowth.
- Brain fog – this includes lack of concentration, poor memory and poor physical coordination
The main question is how?
How did Candida get in the body to begin with? Is it possible the candida—which is now wreaking havoc in your system—is a result of your lifestyle? So many time we address the consequential symptoms without removing the root cause. This type of approach can lead to frustration and even more health complications.
What can cause candida overgrowth?
Antibiotics: This is considered the most common reason for candida overgrowth. Antibiotics destroy both the good and bad bacteria. This opens the playing field for this opportunistic fungus to gain control. Because candida has no more bacteria to contend with, it quickly spreads, taking over the gut.
Sugar and carbohydrates: Candida relies on sugar, which is a form of energy, for its survival. The more sugar present within the body, the more the yeast will thrive.
Stress: This factor is a catalyst for a plethora of health problems, including the promotion of candida within the gut. When stress is overwhelming, the immune system is weakened. This destabilizes the natural defenses against candida growth.
Birth control pills: These artificial hormones can disrupt the natural hormonal balance, triggering the multiplication of candida.
Weakened immune system: It makes sense that if the immune system is weak, it’d face challenges subduing the aggressive nature of candida.
Diabetes: Because sugar levels in the mucous membranes are usually higher in those with type 1 and type 2 diabetes, the chances of candida overgrowth are also higher.
Can I control candida overgrowth through natural means?
Absolutely! There are several natural methods to subdue the growth of candida within the body, such as:
Probiotics – These are live bacteria and yeasts that are good for you, especially your digestive system. Natural foods that are probiotic-packed are yogurt, sauerkraut, kimchi, kefir, and fermented vegetables.
Antifungals – A study, conducted in 2010, reveals oregano oil is a good alternative for the treatment of candida due to its appreciable antifungal action against candida. Coconut oil also contains antimicrobial properties which fight against the bad bacteria. If you prefer fresh garlic, a study, published in 2005, indicates that cloves of garlic are strong, determined antifungals which can subdue candida.
It’s also important to eat a nutrient-rich diet and eliminate sugar and carbohydrates. You can also boost your immune system with natural strengtheners like vitamin C.
Employing these methods, and keeping consistent, should enable you fight back against persistent candida. It’s your body, and so it’s up to you to take control of it.