Rice University research has shown that 70 percent of all people are affected by a candida overgrowth, a systemic fungal infection.
According to the molecular biologists, the common infection is often found in colonies, on the skin, in the mouths or in the intestines of those who suffer from it.
Candida is a fungus that typically lives harmlessly in small amounts in people in order to aid digestion and nutrient absorption, but when too much is produced, it can break down the intestine wall and get into the bloodstream.
It then releases toxic byproducts into the body, causing something known as leaky gut syndrome, a major cause of disease and dysfunction, accounting for at least 50% of chronic complaints which have been confirmed in lab tests, according to Functional Medicine University.
If the immune system isn’t functioning properly, a candida infection can even migrate to other areas of the body, including the blood, membranes around the brain and the membrane that lines the heart muscle.
While that news sounds pretty dark and gloomy, there is some good news in that most of the time the healthy bacteria in the gut are able to keep candida levels in check.
There are certain factors that can cause it to grow out of control, including consuming lots of alcohol, eating a diet high in sugars and refined carbs, a high-stress lifestyle and taking antibiotics that kill off too many of those “good” bacteria, or taking oral contraceptives combined with some of the other factors.
Candida overgrowth can be difficult for physicians to diagnosis as it tends to present itself in different ways within different people, but there are specific signs to watch for if you’re concerned that you’re experiencing an overgrowth of candida.
One of the most common signs of a candida infection is feeling exhausted or fatigued much of the time. While it’s not the only cause of chronic fatigue symptom, many health experts believe that it significantly raises the risk of developing it.
If you feel extremely tired and can’t shake that feeling no matter how many hours you sleep, you may not only have candida, but CFS, which is characterized by constant fatigue that has lasted for at least six months and often accompanied by other symptoms like joint pain, headaches, difficulty concentrating and memory problems.
2. Digestive distress
Persistent intestinal problems like bloating, gas, constipation, stomach cramps or diarrhea are a clear sign that something is going on in your digestive tract.
One cause may be an insufficient level of healthy bacteria, which can be the result of candida overgrowth. Once the candida infection has been treated, you’re likely to experience significant relief of that chronic intestinal distress.
3. Mood swings, irritability and other mood disorders
Part of the problem when it comes to diagnosing candida, is that many of its symptoms are common to other conditions, including dramatic mood swings, irritability, depression, ADHD, anxiety and panic attacks.
Scientists are just now beginning to uncover how connected our digestive systems are to our brains, but we do know, scientifically, that a candida overgrowth can affect the neurological system.
That’s because a good portion of the body’s hormone production happens right in the intestinal tract.
In fact, some 90 to 95% of serotonin, that popular “feel-good” hormone known for regulating the mood, is produced here. When candida levels get out of control, it suppresses the production of important neurotransmitters like serotonin – and, without enough serotonin, anxiety, depression and other mental disorders often occur.
A byproduct of candida known as acetaldehyde also reacts with the dopamine neurotransmitter which can lead to feeling spaced out, an inability to concentrate, and depression or anxiety.
4. Recurring urinary tract or vaginal infections
Often when one experiences recurring urinary tract or vaginal infections, candida is at the root of the problem.
Many people don’t realize that candida can also be sexually transmitted, which means you can spread it back and forth between you and your partner.
Frequent vaginal infections, urinary tract infections, rectal or vaginal itching can all indicate candida. In women, signs of a vaginal yeast infection include a thick, white discharge as well as itching and other vaginal irritation. Burning with urination or pain with sexual intercourse can also occur.
5. Sinus infection
Sinus infections are common, and can be caused by many different things, which means, as with many other candida symptoms, it can be challenging to pinpoint the root of the cause.
A study by the Mayo clinic looked at a group of 210 chronic sinusitis sufferers, collecting mucus from the nasal cavity of each participant, and tested each sample for fungi and bacteria.
Researchers found that an astounding 96% had fungi in their mucus. Candida affects the sinuses in a number of ways, including increased congestion, seasonal allergies, post-nasal drip and even general, flu-like symptoms.
They concluded that all of those symptoms are caused by the body’s reaction to pathogenic fungi which triggered an immune response that resulted in sinusitis, inflammation and irritation.
6. Hormonal imbalance
Candida can also result in a hormone imbalance. When candida overgrowth occurs, the body becomes inflamed, causing the yeast to grow even further, spreading beyond the digestive tract.
As one of the byproducts of candida actually mimics estrogen, that can lead to a severe hormonal imbalance.
The infection can even cause PMS, a low sex drive, early menopause, endometriosis and the inability to shed excess pounds.
If you’re experiencing some of these common candida overgrowth symptoms, and also exhibit some of the lifestyle traits that can cause it as mentioned earlier (frequent stress, taking a round of antibiotics recently, overindulging in alcohol, eating a poor diet that’s high in refined carbs and sugars or taking oral contraceptives combined with one or more of these factors), it is likely that candida is at the root of at least some of your health problems.
Correcting the problem:
The good news is that there are natural ways to treat it so that you can enjoy optimal health and wellness once again. To be successful, you’ll need to stop the yeast overgrowth, build up those healthy bacteria, and heal your gut so that candida isn’t able to enter your bloodstream.
Eliminate things that contribute to candida growth.
Your first step is to eliminate everything that is contributing to an overgrowth of candida. That includes sugar, alcohol, refined carbs and milk (milk has sugar lactose that tends to promote yeast overgrowth).
Avoid all sugar in its simple forms, like candy, desserts and flours (as well as alcohol).
That’s because candida thrives on sugar, and it also needs a more acidic environment to survive.
Foods high in sugar, including processed and refined foods like fast food, packaged baked goods, cookies and crackers, all create the perfect home for candida.
Replace “bad” foods with healthier choices.
Replace all of that processed junk and sugary foods with more complex carbohydrates like organic fruits and vegetables (carrots, kale, spinach and sweet potatoes are great), beans, and grains like quinoa and barley.
This will help prevent candida from growing, eventually causing it to die off.
Take antifungal herbs to help kill off candida.
Garlic is well-known to be a powerful antifungal agent – in fact, candida can’t survive when garlic is present, which means using garlic consistently is key for effectiveness.
Add it to as many of your regular meals as possible, and at least once or twice a day, crush ½ to 1 whole clove up, allow it to sit for 10 minutes which activates its powerful compounds, and swallow it down.
If you’re concerned about the odor, trying chewing a fresh sprig of parsley afterward. Generally, taking garlic to get rid of candida is well-worth putting up with the smell, and the minimal effort it requires to remember to do it.
Other foods and beverages to include in your diet.
In addition to antifungal herbs, include cultured dairy in your diet, such as goat milk kefir to help kill off candida.
Unsweetened cranberry juice also helps as it creates an environment that makes it difficult for candida to survive.
Cooking with coconut oil can also help to fight candida, thanks to its powerful antimicrobial properties. The combination of caprylic acid and lauric acid in this oil helps to eliminate harmful candida through both topical application and ingestion, so try using it as part of your skin care routine as well.
Take milk thistle to support liver function.
If you have a candida infection, it’s imperative to ensure your liver is functioning at its best.
That’s because this organ is the body’s filter, and when you eliminate candida, it must function optimally in order to help the body rid itself of the abundance of yeast.
Candida has even been shown to damage the liver, making it even more important to give the the organ the support it needs.
Milk thistle supplements help to cleanse the liver from prescription medications like oral contraceptives, antibiotics and many others), as well as environmental pollution, heavy metals and the remnants from radiation and chemotherapy.
By following the “candida diet” as recommended here, and taking milk thistle, you can help your body recover while creating an environment where candida are unable to thrive.