Everything You Need To Know About Candida Overgrowth

Everything You Need To Know About Candida Overgrowth
Last Updated: 5th October 2016

Perhaps you or someone you know has been diagnosed with Candida overgrowth and you have been left wondering what on earth it actually is. Maybe you have heard someone talking about it and are beginning to suspect that you may be suffering from it, however, you don’t know enough about the condition to be certain.

Whatever your reason for reading this article, whether it be illness or curiosity, we can guarantee that this is the only one you will ever need to read in order to discover everything that you need to know about Candida.

What Exactly Is Candida Overgrowth?

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Candida or Candida Albicans is a pathogen that occurs naturally in the body and lives in the mouth and intestines. Candida exists in the bodies of around 70% of the population and assists with the digestion process, helping us to absorb the nutrients in our food effectively.

The presence of Candida, which is a form of yeast, is not usually anything to worry about, however, if overproduced Candida can become a real problem as it has the power to upset the balance of the entire body. Although it is generally kept under control by the other microorganisms in the gut, various changes occurring within the body allows Candida to overproduce.

The overproduction of Candida results in the fungus taking control of a large section of the stomach and breaking down the wall of the intestines. From there, the Candida will make its way into the bloodstream where it willbe pumped to various parts of the rest of the body.

This poses a large problem as Candida Albicans release up to 79 different by-products, including uric acid and the potential carcinogen acetaldehyde, meaning that Candida overgrowth can result in a whole host of health issues impacting the entire body, not just the digestive system.

Some members of the medical community claim that Candida overgrowth only impacts those individuals with weakened immune systems;however, they are referring to systematic Candida, the name given to the life-threatening Candida seen in those individuals suffering from severe illnesses.

The truth is that anyone can suffer from Candida overgrowth, no matter the condition that their immune system is in if the natural balance of the bacteria in their gut is disturbed.

Symptoms And Misdiagnosis Of Candida

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As Candida overgrowth can have a negative impact on various parts of the body, it can be difficult to diagnose as many of its symptoms are similar to those of other conditions.

Candida overgrowth is often mistaken for conditions affecting the digestive system such as IBS, Crohn’s disease and gastroenteritis as it can cause bloating, diarrhoea and indigestion along with other stomach complaints and general abdominal pain.

Once the Candida has taken over the gut and spread to the rest of the body via the bloodstream, it begins to interfere with the body’s natural functioning and often causes aches and pains that are mistaken for illnesses such as Arthritis, Fibromyalgia, and even Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.

Candida had a vast array of symptoms and shown below are just some of the negative ways that Candida overgrowth can impact the human body.

The Digestive System:

  • Bloating
  • Nausea
  • Diarrhoea
  • Gas
  • Constipation
  • Haemorrhoids
  • Stomach cramps
  • Indigestion
  • Acid reflux

The Skin:

  • Acne
  • Cysts
  • Hives
  • Psoriasis
  • Eczema
  • Dermatitis
  • Fungal infections
  • Athlete’s foot

The Respiratory System:

  • Mucus in throat
  • Sore throat
  • Sinusitis
  • Asthma
  • Cough
  • Flu-like symptoms
  • Hay fever symptoms

The Mouth:

  • Halitosis
  • Thrush
  • Bleeding gums
  • Cracked tongue

The Ears and Eyes:

  • Itchy eyes
  • Blurred vision
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Ringing in the ears
  • Ear infections
  • Itchy ears

The Genito-Urinary System:

  • Vaginal infections
  • Urinary tract infections
  • Cystitis
  • PMS
  • Irregular periods
  • Vaginal and rectal itching

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The Immune System:

  • Severe allergies
  • Frequent colds
  • Food intolerance
  • Sensitivities to fragrances
  • Sensitivities to chemicals

Autoimmune Conditions:

  • Hashimoto’s thyroiditis
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Lupus
  • Psoriasis
  • Ulcerative colitis
  • Multiple sclerosis

General Wellbeing:

  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Inability to focus
  • ADHD
  • Brain fog
  • Poor memory
  • Mood swings
  • Irritability
  • Anger
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Dizziness
  • Panic attacks
  • Constantly feeling run down
  • Low libido
  • Extreme fatigue
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Hyperactivity
  • Insomnia
  • Poor coordination
  • Sugar cravings
  • Refined carbohydrate cravings
  • Alcohol cravings

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These are just some of the known symptoms of Candida overgrowth, and others include headaches, heart palpitations and even problems involving water retention and excessive weight gain or loss.

As the symptoms of Candida overgrowth are so varied,it is crucial that you tell your doctor every single symptomyou are experiencing when trying to get a diagnosis. It is of particular importance you are not misdiagnosed when suffering from Candida overgrowth as many antibiotics and medicines prescribed to treat other conditions can actually worsen Candida as the pathogen will thrive from the changes occurring within the body.

Causes Of Candida Overgrowth

As Candida is already present within the human body, it is not possible to ‘catch’ Candida overgrowth in the same way you would with other illnesses. Instead, there are various factors that can cause the microorganisms naturally present in our gutto multiply rapidly and upset the balance of our body.

The majority of individuals develop Candida overgrowth because of lifestyle factors such as a poor diet and heightened levels of stress. However, Candida overgrowth can sometimes develop from something as seemingly trivial as taking antibiotics or the oral contraceptive pill. Check out the list below to see some of themost common causes of Candida overgrowth.

Candida And Diet

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What we put into our body really does have an effect on the way that it functions, therefore, consistently eating a poor diet really does open us up to developing a multitude of health problems, Candida overgrowth included.

A poor diet alone is enough to lead to an overgrowth of Candida because, although a healthy immune system should be enough to keep the microorganisms in check, a poor diet has the power to weaken the immune system, leaving it unable to defend itself against the multiplying Candida.

Candida is a form of yeast and therefore needs sugar to thrive. A diet high in sugary foods such as chocolate and cake will feed the Candida in your body, as will a diet that is high in refined carbohydrates and processed foods as these are all converted to sugar.

Drinking excessive quantities of alcohol is also another reason why many individuals develop Candida overgrowth because of the high sugar and yeast content present in most alcoholic beverages.

Foods containing high amounts of sugar and high-fructose corn syrup, another culprit for Candida overgrowth, are widely available, and many of us eat them on a daily basis without realising the damage we are doing to our health.

Craving sugar and the carbohydrate-filled food is actually a symptom of Candida as the pathogens are telling you to provide them with the sugar that they need to survive.

Even if you attempt to cut sugary food out of your diet in an attempt to prevent Candida overgrowth, there are still certain foods that are high in yeast that should be avoided as they can aggravate the symptoms of Candida, unfortunately meaning that even some vegetables are not safe to eat for those suffering from Candida overgrowth.

Candida And Antibiotics

Candida and Medicines

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The main cause of Candida overgrowth seems to be antibiotics. Taking antibiotics may kill the harmful bacteria in your body; however, the antibiotics also kill the friendly bacteria that live in your gut.

The average healthy adult carries around 500 strains of bacteria which play important roles in both the digestion and immune system, therefore removing these can really throw off the body’s balance.

With the friendly bacteria out of the way, the Candida pathogen is free to multiply and take over the small intestine and, as the amount of Candida grows, so does a number of toxic byproducts that it produces. It is these byproducts that cause the unpleasant symptoms of Candida such as headaches and chronic fatigue that can make simple everyday tasks seem impossible.

Although there are times when taking a course of antibiotics is the only option an individual has when it comes to regaining their full health, antibiotics are often prescribed unnecessarily for minor ailments that could be cured just as well with something as simple as ensuring that you get some extra rest.

Due to the serious side effects that negatively impact our digestive and immune systems that come with taking prescription antibiotics, you should ensure that you only take them as a last resort when there is no alternative treatment available to you.

If you must take them, try drinking probiotic drinks during the weeks afterwards in a bid to replace the friendly bacteria in your gut and avoid eating meat and dairy products that are not organic as livestock are often pumped full of antibiotics.

Candida And Stress

Candida and Stress

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Experiencing high levels of stress can have a negative impact on your physical state as well as your mental state, particularly if you experience heightened stress levels for a prolonged period of time.

When we are exposed to a stressful situation, our body releases the ‘fight or flight’ stress hormone Cortisol, which increases our body’s blood sugar level and depresses the immune system. The Candida in our body takes full advantage of the weakened immune system and feasts on the extra sugar present in the body and multiplies rapidly as a result.

If the body is exposed to prolonged periods of stress, the adrenal glands will become weak, resulting in your immune system becoming incapable of protecting or defending the body.

The body’s lack of protection enables the Candida to continue to multiply and take over a large portion of the intestines before being pumped via the bloodstream to the rest of the body. Symptoms of Candida overgrowth that impact your immune system and energy levels are often caused by lifestyle factors associated with stress.

Candida And Oral Contraceptives

As Candida overgrowth is usually caused by changes that occur within the body, it is no surprise that purposely altering the natural level of hormones in your body can cause Candida to multiply. Regularly taking oral contraceptives such as the contraceptive pill can cause an imbalance in your health and well being and not just in your hormones.

The stomach contains a mixture of yeasts and microorganisms that help to digest food, and this balance can be disturbed in those who take the contraceptive pill. This imbalance of microorganisms enables the Candida pathogens to multiply rapidly and take over a large section of the gut.

In the case of individuals who take the contraceptive pill, the Candida yeast will multiply at a more alarming rate than normal as Oestrogen, the main ingredient in the contraceptive pill, is known to promote the growth of yeast.

Candida And Chemicals

candida and chemicals

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Although the majority of chemicals that we are exposed to alter the body’sbalance and can result in a negative effect on our health, chlorine and fluoride are particularly detrimental when it comes to Candida overgrowth.

Both chlorine and fluoride are known to kill bacteria; however, these chemicals are incapable of distinguishing between the friendly and harmful bacteria. This means that, when ingested, these chemicals kill the friendly bacteria in our gut as well as the bad.

This upsets the natural balance of the body and weakens the immune system so that, when the Candida pathogens take advantage of the lack of good bacteria in the gut and begin to multiply, the body is incapable of defending itself.

Ingesting less of these potentially harmful chemicals can be quite difficult because they are both so widely used as disinfectants. Most cities add a small amount of chlorine into their water supply which means that every single time you drink tap water, wash your clothes and bathe you are exposing your body to the chemical and increasing your chances of developing Candida overgrowth.

Fluoride is also often added to water supplies and is used in a high percentage of processed foods and beverages. It has also become increasingly difficult to find dental products such as mouthwash and toothpaste that do not contain fluoride due to its growing use in oral healthcare.

This means that our bodies are constantly being internally and externally exposed to these harmful chemicals,and we are providing the Candida present in our bodies with the chance to multiply without even realising it.

In order to reduce the number of chemicals you are ingesting and in turn prevent Candida overgrowth you could switch to speciality chemical free cleaning and dental products available online and in certain health stores. You could also begin drinking water that has been filtered by using either a refillable, portable filtered bottle or even consider investing in a larger version for use at home.

fruit detox

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Testing For Candida Overgrowth

Generally speaking, there are three main ways that an individual can be tested for Candida overgrowth. Some individuals opt for just one method whereas other people prefer to test themselves for all three just to be certain.

  • Blood test

The first way that you can test for Candida overgrowth is by having some blood tests done. Most doctors or medical labs will do this for you if you tell them that you are concerned about your Candida levels by checking for Candida antibodies in the blood named IgG,IgA, and IgM.

Heightened levels of these antibodies would indicate Candida overgrowth in an individual. However, blood tests have been known to indicate a negative reading even when one of the other two tests has come back as being positive.

  • Urine Organix Dysbiosis Test

The second of the three tests that check for Candida overgrowth searches for a waste product of Candida named D-arabinitol in the urine. High levels of this in the urine indicate Candida overgrowth and usually mean that the Candida has multiplied and taken over large sections of the upper gut and small intestines.

  • Stool testing

The third way to test for Candida overgrowth is arguably the most accurate yet the most unpleasant. In order to check for Candida in the colon or lower intestines and determine whether Candida overgrowth has taken place, a stool sample is required.

Once provided, the sample will be sent off to a medical lab for analysis and they should be able to determine the species of the yeast in addition to the most effective way to treat the condition.

How To Treat Candida Overgrowth

If you have been diagnosed with Candida overgrowth and are unsure what changes you need to make then don’t worry, that is where we come in. In addition to making minor lifestyle changes such as reducing the number of chemicals you are exposed to and ensuring you are not using prescription medications such as the contraceptive pill or antibiotics, there are a few things you can do in order to beat Candida once and for all.

To successfully treat Candida overgrowth, there are three things that you need to do. Firstly, you need to stop the Candida pathogen in its tracks and prevent it from multiplying further.

Secondly, you need to fight the Candida pathogen and stop it from roaming freely around your body. Thirdly, once you have successfully managed the first two steps, you need to focus on healing your gut and attempting to repair the damage caused by the Candida overgrowth.

fight  candida pathogen

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  • Step 1: Stop the Candida

In order to stop Candida in its tracks, you must essentially cut off its food supply. As we know, Candida is a yeast and therefore feeds on sugar which means that the more sugar that is present in the body, the more the Candida pathogen will be able to multiply.

Making big changes to your daily diet is the first step when it comes to combating Candida overgrowth. You will need to adopt a low carbohydrate and low sugar diet and completely eliminate sugar in its simple forms, this means forgoing chocolate, alcohol, white bread and desserts among many other sugary foods.

It is not just sugar in its simplest form that must be eliminated, however, as Candida is not picky regarding what type of sugar it feeds on. The idea that Candida does not feed on naturally occurring sugars is nothing but a common misconception.

Unfortunately, as carbohydrates are converted to sugar within the body, you will need to adopt a low carbohydrate diet and even limit your intake of complex carbohydrates which are normally considered to be healthy.

In order to beat Candida overgrowth, you will need to limit foods that contain naturally occurring sugars, such as grains, fruit, legumes, and potatoes, in addition to completely removing refined carbohydrates from your diet.

Although many people believe that consuming fermented foods will aid the prevention of Candida overgrowth by helping to feed the good bacteria in the gut, they do not realise that, by eating fermented foods, they are feeding all of the bacteria in their gut, Candida included, and not just the friendly kind. Taking this into consideration, it is beneficial to remove all fermented foods from the diet when attempting to combat Candida overgrowth using diet.

The prospect of completely cutting out fermented and sugary foods in addition to limiting your carbohydrate intake may initially seem quite daunting, and you may be wondering what will actually be left for you to eat?

The good thing about changing your diet to combat Candida is that you will be eliminating all junk food and instead can enjoy a delicious high protein diet full of nutritious meat, fish and non-starchy vegetables that will do wonders for your energy levels. It will also give you the opportunity to try out new recipes and get creative in the kitchen while dropping a few pounds as a result.

overhaul your diet

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It will take between three and six months to stop the overproduction of the Candida pathogen in the body if you are relying solely on diet. However, there are some other things that you can do in order to speed up the healing process and combat your Candida overgrowth.

  • Step 2: Fight the Candida

Once you have made the necessary changes to your diet and cut off the Candida yeast’s food supply, you should focus on rebuilding the friendly bacteria in your gut whose job it is to keep your body’s levels of Candida under control.

The lack of friendly bacteria has what enabled the Candida to multiply in the first place, therefore replacing your gut’s population of friendly bacteria is an effective way to fight the overproduction of Candida.

Reintroducing friendly bacteria to your gut by taking probiotics on a daily basis is the most effective way to fight off Candida overgrowth.Once the friendly bacteria in your gut has been compromised, the Candida yeast wastes no time in rapidly multiplying to the point where it dominates your gut which, as we know, results in various unpleasant side effects as the natural balance of our body is altered.

Incorporating friendly bacteria containing probiotics into the daily diet reintroduces good bacteria to the digestive system, and healthy colonies of it compete with the Candida yeast that has taken over the gut, eventually wearing it down and restoring the immune system and the stomach’s natural acidity level.

Probiotics are available in supplement form and are commonly found in the refrigerated sections of supermarkets under the guise of various yogurt drinks. Ensure that you choose carefully when selecting your preferred method of taking probiotics as, although the yogurt drinks are delicious, many are high in sugar and can actually end up feeding the Candida.

  • Step 3: Heal your Gut
gut healing diet

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In addition to adopting a low sugar and low carbohydrate diet and supplementing the friendly bacteria in your body with probiotics, you could also try using an antifungal in conjunction with these in order to combat Candida overgrowth once and for all.

Antifungals can help to disrupt Candida overgrowth and heal your gut as they work by essentially poking holes in the Candida pathogen’s cell walls and killing them.

The way in which they fight the Candida pathogen and reduce the amount of it in your gut enables the good bacteria to multiply and reclaim its rightful place, reinstating your body’s natural balance and allowing you to regain your full health.

You can either make an appointment with your doctor and ask for a prescription antifungal or keep your eyes peeled for one of the many natural antifungals when you are next out shopping.

Although both natural and prescription antifungals are effective, it is risky using a prescription drug to treat a condition that is often triggered by prescription medicine. For this reason, many individuals who are attempting to treat their Candida overgrowth opt for natural antifungals which tend to be milder and have fewer side effects.

If you do choose to use a natural antifungal instead of a prescription one in order to treat your Candida overgrowth, there are a few different ones available for you to try. Fortunately, most can be found in your local supermarket, and you can use more than one at once without needing to worry about nasty side effects from excessive use.

chai tea

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If you decide to go with a natural antifungal,there are a few different options for you to try. Spices such as cinnamon, cloves, ginger and turmeric can all be found on the shelves of supermarkets and are all known to be natural antifungals that effectively help to restore the body’s balance. Why not try adding them to hot water with lemon in order to make a delicious and comforting homemade herbal tea?

Alternatively, you could try adding half a teaspoon of the spices into a smoothie made with unsweetened and low sugar almond milk and probiotic-containing yogurt on a morning in order to start the day with a delicious Candida fighting and immune system boosting drink.

Garlic is also known to be a powerful antifungal that helps to kill Candida pathogens and assist the friendly bacteria in the gut. Why don’t you take advantage of all the fresh meat, fish and vegetables in your new low sugar and low carbohydrate diet by getting creative in the kitchen?

Experiment with garlic by whipping up some simple yet delicious garlic prawn or garlic chicken dishes that are sure to impress. You could also get maximum benefits from the antifungals by using a few of them in conjunction with each other, this can easily be done by getting creative in the kitchen and using garlic and some of the antifungal spices to flavour various curry or stir dry dishes.

coconut home remedy

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Another very popular and effective natural antifungal that can be used to fight Candida overgrowth is caprylic acid, which is a key component in coconut oil.

Fortunately, coconut oil has many uses and can be incorporated into the diet in various ways. Why not try adding a teaspoon full of your coffee along with some cinnamon in order to make a Candida fighting “bulletproof coffee” or adding a teaspoon to your scrambled eggs on a morning. You could even try using it in place of butter on the limited complex carbohydrates like a sweet potato that are still in your diet.

Coconut oil is also one of the healthiest oils to cook with, and you can therefore also incorporate it into your new healthy low sugar, low carbohydrate diet in this way in order to fight Candida overgrowth and restore your body’s natural balance.

You may also add clove oil or lavender oil to coconut oil to help kill off candida. Since these oils are powerful, remember they should only be taken internally for ten days or less.

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