BY: JENNIFER SLUZEWSKI - JANUARY 8, 2021
Are you worried that you may be suffering from the symptoms of candida overgrowth? Our bodies are home to many kinds of fungi, including the genus of yeasts called Candida, that can greatly affect your quality of life. Here's what you need to know to overcome candida and restore balance.
Normally, you will find small amounts of fungi like Candida in your intestines, mouth, vaginal tract, and on your skin. When these levels are healthy and stable, they should cause no symptoms and should not disrupt your health.
However, when you are dealing with candida overgrowth, things start to get a little messy as this yeast begins to overproduce. When healthy bacteria in your body become overtaken by Candida, it can lead to an infection most commonly known as candidiasis.
Did you know that Candida is the most common culprit behind fungal infections in the human body?
Luckily, a candida overgrowth can usually be resolved with the right tools and lifestyle or diet changes, and although the symptoms can affect your life, they are generally not life threatening. All it takes is investing some time to learn a bit more about the symptoms and signs associated with candida overgrowth, the best lifestyle choices to promote balance, and the most effective ways to treat it.
How Can Candida Overgrowth Affect Your Body?
The overgrowth of Candida can affect many areas of your body, including your heart, brain, eyes, blood, skin, and more. Candida overgrowth disrupts the subtle balance of microorganisms living in your intestines, also known as the gut flora.
When colonies of Candida multiply too extensively, they overrun the incredibly important good bacteria living there, preventing them from functioning normally. As a result, too many toxic byproducts are released, such as ammonia, uric acid, and acetaldehyde, causing you to feel the bothersome symptoms of Candida overgrowth.
But it gets worse! When left untreated, the Candida yeast then transforms into a more hostile form, growing long branches (called hyphae) that can reach your body's soft tissue.
When this happens, they may break through the membrane around the intestinal tract and produce the same toxic substances there. A situation like this can compromise your immune system and lead to allergies and many other health issues. It may even raise your risk of having an autoimmune disease.
Candida yeast can come in many different forms, including extremely very rare life-threatening forms, such as Candida auris. Candida albicans is the most frequent type of yeast infection, but there are also other subspecies as well, including Candida parapsilosis or Candida glabrata (these also appear in the human body somewhat often). In other words, if you're suffering from a yeast overgrowth, you're most definitely not alone!
What Causes Candida Overgrowth?
There are a wide range of factors that can cause high levels of Candida, and lead to yeast overgrowth and its many symptoms. Some of these causes are more common and may be easier to spot early on. Here are just a few key causes of candida overgrowth to look out for:
Certain medications. Certain medications, such as steroids or chemotherapy, can make it more likely for you to have a Candida infection. Oral contraceptives may also be a contributing factor, so it's important to speak to your doctor if you have chosen this birth control method and have any Candida-related concerns.
Hormone fluctuations. If your hormones are out of whack and fluctuate frequently, the overproduction and growth of Candida is very likely. For this reason, these kinds of infections often appear in teenagers and women going through menopause.
Weakened immune system. People with a weakened immune system are more prone to Candida overgrowth, making it extra important to pay attention to common symptoms that may appear. This can include pre-existing illnesses and diseases like cancer, diabetes, or HIV, as well as chronic infections (tuberculosis, syphilis, frambesia, and others).
Taking antibiotics. While antibiotics serve an important purpose, keep in mind that antibiotics also destroy your body's good bacteria in addition to the bad. This means that despite being a life-saving medicine that helps you fight various infections, it can also seriously disrupt the vaginal and gut flora. As a result, if you do not use probiotic supplements and restore your good bacteria after using antibiotics, you may end up with digestive issues and the overgrowth of Candida despite being cured of the other health issue.
Pregnancy. Pregnancy is associated with many changes in the female body, such as high estrogen levels, which have been shown to also cause increased Candida infections.
Excessive alcohol consumption. If you consume too much alcohol, your immune system inevitably becomes weaker, which might easily lead to Candida overgrowth.
Too much stress. Chronic stress is another factor that makes you more prone to diseases, including yeast infections. For this reason, people who have stressful jobs or experience difficult situations in their lives are shown to be more likely to develop Candida overgrowth as well.
Poor diet. If you tend to keep your diet high in sugar, fried foods, and refined carbs, you may be at a higher risk for fungal infections. Now, bear in mind that despite fermented foods having many health benefits, they may also keep Candida infections growing when they are already active, so you should speak to your doctor for an accurate treatment plan in this case. It may be better for you to give them up until you are healthy again.
- Autoimmune diseases. To treat autoimmune diseases, patients often have to take immunosuppressants on a regular basis, making them less able to fight off an infection. This includes people with rheumatoid arthritis, Addison disease, systemic lupus erythematosus, pernicious anemia, and many more.
What Are the Signs and Symptoms of Candida Overgrowth?
Here are some of the most common symptoms and signs of Candida overgrowth. If you notice at least some of these happening in your body, it's best to speak to your doctor and schedule a visit for the best medical advice.
As you can imagine, one of the main issues brought upon by Candida overgrowth is the destruction of good bacteria in your gut. It's no wonder that it causes digestive distress like constipation, diarrhea, and bloating! Digestive complaints often occur because biological cells are very significant for the correct processing of fibers, starches, and some sugars. With a healthy gut microbiome being dominated by an opportunistic pathogen, both the small and large intestines may begin to work suboptimally.
The signs of digestive problems resulting from the overgrowth of Candida can be:
What is more, scientists have noticed links between Candida infection and other gut diseases, such as gastric ulcers, Crohn's disease, duodenal ulcers, or ulcerative colitis.
White Patches in Your Mouth (Oral Thrush)
If you can see white patches on your inner cheeks, throat, tongue, or the roof of your mouth, be aware that they may point to Candida overgrowth. Such a sign is called oral thrush, and it usually appears due to antibiotic use or a compromised immune system. However, it can also originate from dry mouth or hormonal changes as well (like those happening while pregnant or during menopause).
Oral thrush often occurs suddenly, and you will not only see it, but also feel it. Apart from the white coating, there can be tasting or swallowing problems, as well as a weird feeling as if you had cotton in your mouth. Also, you may notice sore or red edges around the affected area.
Lethargy and Fatigue
Fatigue is one of the most commonly observed symptoms of Candida overgrowth. Even though it has not been scientifically proven that it is the Candida itself causing the fatigue, it certainly can contribute to it.
Firstly, this is because it usually comes with nutritional deficiencies, including a lack of vitamin B6, magnesium, or necessary fatty acids. And secondly, the overgrowth of Candida often appears when your immune system is weakened, and at such a moment, tiredness and fatigue are very common.
Interestingly, there is also a study showing that prolonged gut candidiasis can even contribute to developing chronic fatigue syndrome.
Because Candida overgrowth releases a toxic metabolite called acetaldehyde, it can also cause symptoms such as brain fog, poor memory, concentration problems, and confusion. Apart from that, Candida can produce around 80 more chemicals, including uric acid and ammonia, which negatively affect your well-being. If you are more forgetful than the average person, and it is harder for you to focus, the growth of Candida may be the cause.
Repetitive Genital or Urinary Tract Infections
Candida can be commonly found in the vaginal tract, and its overgrowth can lead to a yeast infection in this area of the body. Scientists suggest that 75% of women get a minimum of one vaginal yeast infection in their lifetime, and half of those have at least one repetition. Such yeast infections can also occur in men, but more rarely.
Some signs that you may have vaginal candidiasis include:
- Thick, white discharge
Moreover, Candida overgrowth can also lead to a urinary tract infection, especially in the elderly, hospitalized patients, or people with a compromised immune system.
You may have a UTI caused by Candida if you notice:
- Pressure or pain in your lower abdomen
- More frequent need to urinate
Dark, cloudy, or weird-smelling urine
Research has found that a chronic sinus infection occurs in one in eight adults in the United States. If it is just short-term, it is usually caused by bacteria, but numerous chronic sinus infections are associated with Candida overgrowth or other fungal issues.
The most common symptoms are:
- Nasal congestion
- Runny nose
- Loss of smell
It is crucial to determine whether a sinus infection is caused by bacteria or by fungi, because antibiotics can only be used to cure bacterial variations. In the case of fungal issues, they can even contribute to Candida overgrowth, as mentioned before.
Poor Immune System
Candida overgrowth can also develop in those with a compromised immune system, weakening immune defenses even further. It occurs mainly in the following three ways:
- A lack of balance in the gut flora. As we have explained earlier, the overgrowth of Candida causes an imbalance between the harmful and good bacteria in your gut. These changes can deteriorate your immune system to a noticeable extent.
- Leaky gut syndrome. Also known as increased intestinal permeability, leaky gut syndrome can weaken immune defenses and inflammatory responses by damaging the gut barrier. As a result, your system can be overloaded by ongoing inflammation and food sensitivities.
- Adrenal fatigue/HPA axis dysfunction. Candida can also negatively affect your HPA (hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenals) axis, which plays a vital role in supporting your immune system. Prolonged Candida overgrowth can also influence the levels of hormones and neurotransmitters like cortisol, which are necessary to optimize immune function.
How to Fight Candida Overgrowth
If you want to improve your health and wellness by preventing Candida overgrowth, you can make a number of holistic lifestyle changes that have been shown to have a hugely beneficial impact. For example, you can change your diet by reducing foods and drinks high in sugar, gluten, alcohol, and certain types of dairy that have all been shown to help reduce the risk of fungal issues.
Instead, you can turn your focus to healthy fats, non-starchy vegetables, probiotics, and lean proteins. Thanks to these nutritious foods, you can naturally enhance the concentration of good bacteria in your gut flora and restore a healthy balance
One laboratory study found that eating food with fructose may help you to avoid Candida overgrowth developing in your mouth.
In addition to diet, hydration, rest, and stress management, you can add high-quality holistic supplements (like probiotics and synbiotics) to your routine as well, like those we've formulated especially for balancing a healthy gut microbiome.
When it comes down to it, there are many ways to take control over your candida overgrowth. When your body is healthy, Candida will be naturally kept at balanced levels; otherwise, it can cause unpleasant health issues, such as urinary or sinus infections, brain fog, oral thrush, fatigue, digestive problems, and more.
Heightened levels of Candida can appear due to many factors, including taking antibiotics or oral contraceptives, having a weakened immune system, consuming a lot of alcohol, being pregnant, or overeating, which all stimulate fungus growth.
In order to keep the good bacteria levels higher than those of harmful Candida, you can take control by changing your diet and taking the right supplements. However, bear in mind that if the signs and symptoms of Candida overgrowth continue appearing, it is always best to get professional medical advice as soon as possible.
HAVE YOU STRUGGLED WITH CANDIDA IN THE PAST? WE WANT TO HEAR YOUR STORY AND BE PART OF YOUR JOURNEY TO OPTIMAL HEALTH! JOIN OUR PRIMAL HARVEST TRIBE COMMUNITY ON FACEBOOK OR CONNECT WITH US @PRIMALHARVEST AND LET US KNOW HOW WE CAN SUPPORT YOU ALONG THE WAY.
IT'S ABOUT YOU. IT'S ABOUT YOUR HEALTH. IT'S ABOUT RECONNECTING.