Candida Overgrowth And What To Do About It
Candida is a fungus, a form of yeast, a very small amount that lives in the mouth and intestines. Candida aids with digestion and nutrient absorption but may break down the wall of the intestine and penetrate the bloodstream if it is overproduced. This causes the release of toxic byproducts into your body, resulting in a leaky gut. This can lead to many health problems, ranging anywhere from digestive issues to depression.
How do you get Candida overgrowth?
The healthy bacteria, or the “good bacteria” in your gut usually keep the Candida at optimal levels. However, the Candida population can overgrow due to several factors. A round of antibiotics can kill too many of the good bacteria in your body. You may have a diet high in refined carbohydrates and sugar, which feed the fungus, causing it to grow; even a diet high in beneficial fermented foods such as Kombucha, sauerkraut, and pickles can cause an overgrowth. A high alcohol intake, oral contraceptives, or other factors such as a high-stress lifestyle may cause an overgrowth, as well.
10 Common Candida Symptoms
- Digestive issues such as bloating, constipation, or diarrhea.
- Skin and nail fungal infections such as athlete’s foot, ringworm, and toenail fungus.
- Skin issues such as eczema, psoriasis, hives, and rashes.
- Feeling tired and worn down or suffering from chronic fatigue or fibromyalgia.
- Irritability, mood swings, anxiety, or depression.
- Autoimmune disease such as Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, Rheumatoid arthritis, Ulcerative colitis, Lupus, Psoriasis, Scleroderma or Multiple sclerosis.
- Difficulty concentrating, poor memory, lack of focus, ADD, ADHD and brain fog
- Strong sugar and refined carbohydrate cravings.
- Vaginal infections, urinary tract infections, rectal itching or vaginal itching.
- Severe seasonal allergies or itchy ears.
How do you test for Candida overgrowth?
- Blood Test. Levels of IgG, IgA, and IgM Candida antibodies can be checked in most labs. High levels of these indicate that there is an overgrowth of Candida. Note that these can often be negative even when the stool or urine test is positive.
- Stool Testing. This might be the most accurate test available. Stool testing checks for Candida in your colon or lower intestines. Be sure your doctor orders a comprehensive stool test, rather than a standard stool test. Your stool will be directly analyzed for levels of yeast, and the species of yeast along with the treatment that will be most effective can be determined.
- Urine Organix Dysbiosis Test. This test detects D-Arabinitol, which is a waste product of Candida yeast overgrowth. An elevated test result signifies an overgrowth of Candida in your upper gut or small intestines.
How do you treat Candida overgrowth?
The process of effectively treating Candida includes stopping the yeast overgrowth, restoring the healthy bacteria that usually keep the Candida levels in check, and healing the gut so that Candida can no longer enter the bloodstream.
A change in diet, mainly to a low carbohydrate diet, is crucial in getting rid of Candida overgrowth. Sugar feeds yeast. Therefore, eliminating sugar (found in foods like candy, desserts, alcohol, and flours) and fermented foods, and reducing to only a few cups of more complex carbohydrates a day, such as grains, beans, fruit, bread, pasta, and potatoes, will prevent Candida overgrowth and will eventually cause it to die.
Changing your diet alone would take three to six months for the Candida to be back under control. For this reason, anti-fungal medications, such as Diflucan or Nyastatin, may be prescribed for a month or longer. If you are self-treating, you may also take a supplement of caprylic acid, which comes from coconut oil and causes the yeast cells to die by essentially poking holes in them. Oil and oregano can also be very effective, but are not recommended because they can also kill good bacteria, whereas the other medications and supplements do not.
In order to restore the healthy bacteria that keep the Candida levels in check, probiotics should be taken on a regular basis. Taking anywhere from 25-100 billion units of probiotics should restore the levels of good bacteria, and therefore reduce Candida levels.
Finally, in order to heal your gut, you should eliminate inflammatory foods that can harm your GI tract and introduce foods that aid in digestion and nutrient absorption. This will prevent Candida from working its way through your body and most importantly, it will greatly improve your overall health.