Candida Overgrowth Signs, Symptoms, and Treatment: Candida Diet Plan
21 minute read
You may not be surprised to learn that as much as 75% of women will suffer from Candida overgrowth, often referred to as a “yeast infection,” at least once in their lifetime. What may surprise you is the fact that Candida overgrowth can affect anyone of any age.
Yes, this includes everyone, even men and newborns. When left untreated, Candida overgrowth can result in significant health problems. Fortunately, Candida can be controlled.
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Before we take an in-depth look at how to control Candida, let’s examine what Candida is, as well as what contributes to Candida overgrowth and what symptoms it often causes.
What Is Candida?
Candida is a strain of fungus (or yeast) that normally lives in your body. It is often found in small colonies in your mouth, gut, and intestines or on your skin.
In this case, the microscopic, single-cell organism is harmless and even assists with nutrient absorption and digestion. However, when conditions are just right, it can thrive, monopolizing your entire body and causing many of the symptoms discussed below.
After breaking down the walls of the intestinal lining in your digestive tract, Candia will continue its rapid growth until its environment is altered and its food source is eliminated.
The Importance of Candida Control
When Candida is allowed to grow uncontrolled, it can wreak havoc on every part of your body. It can lower your immunity, increasing the chances it will spread to other parts of your body, including your brain, heart, and gastrointestinal system.
This may result in Leaky Gut Syndrome, which damages the wall of your GI tract. If Candida continues to grow uncontrolled, it has the potential to enter your bloodstream, a condition referred to as Candida sepsis.
Candida sepsis is extremely hard to treat and is known for an incredibly difficult recovery. In the late stages of Candida overgrowth, the death rate may reach as high as 70%.
Top Contributors to Candida Overgrowth
So, what causes Candida to grow uncontrolled? There are actually multiple potential causes of Candida overgrowth. Some of the most common include:
Antibiotics: When you develop a bacterial infection, your physician may prescribe a round of antibiotics. Unfortunately, antibiotics aren’t able to distinguish “good bacteria” from “bad bacteria.”
Instead, they kill any bacteria they come in contact with, including the “good bacteria” that plays a huge role in keeping the growth of Candida under control. Taking a long course of antibiotics or taking multiple antibiotics in a short period of time can make your body a breeding ground for Candida.
Oral Birth Control Pills: Researchers generally believe that the use of birth control pills by themselves do not contribute to Candida overgrowth. Instead, it’s when they are consumed with a diet that is high in refined sugars that this can become a problem. With that being said, a recent study conducted by the University of Michigan suggests that oral contraceptive use doubles your risk of triggering Candida overgrowth.
Alcohol Consumption: Alcohol contains high amounts of yeast, which is absorbed into your bloodstream when you drink it. This is essentially the same as adding fuel to the fire.
Diabetes: The high blood sugar levels that are associated with poorly controlled diabetes creates a favorable environment for yeast to grow without abandon.
Diet High in Refined Sugars: Candida feeds off sugar, along with white flour, encouraging it to flourish within your body.
High Stress Levels: Anytime your stress level is through the roof, your body will release excess cortisol, a hormone that can elevate your blood sugar and weaken your immune system. The result is the perfect environment for Candida overgrowth.
Weakened Immune System: When your immune system is compromised, Candida that is normally kept under control by your body’s healthy bacteria and immune defenses is given the opportunity to flourish.
Excess Consumption of Certain Foods: Foods that are high in sugar, gluten, grains, dried fruit, fruit juices, and starchy vegetables can feed Candida, resulting in overgrowth. This is because they are broken down into simple sugars during the digestive process.
Pregnancy: As if you didn’t already have enough to watch out for during your pregnancy, Candida overgrowth is another one. This is because shifting hormone levels can alter your body’s pH balance, particularly in the vagina, creating an environment that is favorable for growth.
Symptoms of Candida Overgrowth
Candida overgrowth can affect your entire body, meaning that symptoms can also appear throughout your body. Some of the most common symptoms to look for include:
Vaginal yeast infections, which are characterized by itching, pain, burning, and redness, along with a thick, white vaginal discharge
Nail and skin fungal infections, such as toenail fungus, ringworm, and athlete’s foot, as well as hives, eczema, psoriasis, and rashes
Oral thrush, which appears as white, bumpy patches on your tongue, gums, cheeks, tonsils, or throat (commonly seen in newborns and the elderly)
Chronic sinus infections or a sinus infection lasting longer than one month
Chronic seasonal allergies
Chronic digestive issues, such as bloating, constipation, cramps, diarrhea, gas, and nausea
Severe fatigue or a general feeling of being worn down, which may be accompanied by frequent headaches
Feelings of anxiety, depression, irritability, brain fog, and an inability to focus
Autoimmune disorder, including ulcerative colitis, psoriasis, lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis, or scleroderma
Hormonal imbalances, which may include the excess production of estrogen
Now that you have a better understanding of what Candida is and why it is so important to prevent its overgrowth, it is time to switch gears and look at ways you can control Candida overgrowth.
How Candida Control Works
Fortunately, there are plenty of ways you can prevent Candida overgrowth. In addition to eating certain foods and avoiding others, there a variety of nutritional supplements that have been shown to be beneficial.
There are several supplements to choose from, including those that specifically target Candida growth, as well as those that contain ingredients proven to help kill off or prevent Candida from flourishing.
You can also make lifestyle changes, such as reducing your stress level, which can help control Candida growth.
Ways to Naturally Increase Candida Control
There are several natural ways to keep the growth of Candida under control. For example,
Eliminate or strictly limit Candida-feeding foods from your diet: This may be easier said than done for some of us. These foods include anything that is high in sugar or a sugar substitute (aspartame, saccharin, and Nutrasweet). Sugar can be found in some unexpected places, including:
♦ Fruits, with the exception of lemons
♦ Starchy vegetables, including beets, potatoes, beans, sweet potatoes, and parsnips
♦ Processed foods, such as cereal, ketchup, and smoked luncheon meats
♦ Foods containing gluten
Work on building up your immune system: Strengthening your immune system is always a good idea. To do this:
♦ Eat a healthy diet.
♦ Take essential nutritional supplements.
♦ Avoid fungus, mold, and yeast, as well as anyone who is sick.
♦ Schedule regular checkups (and make sure you go to them).
Add garlic to your diet: Specifically, consume 4 to 5 average-sized cloves of fresh garlic every day by adding it to your foods. Garlic is known to contain multiple potent anti-fungal properties that will ensure Candida growth is well controlled.
Consume raw apple cider vinegar: Simply mix one tablespoon of apple cider vinegar with a glass of water and drink it before every meal. The vinegar kills yeast, preventing an overgrowth of Candida, while also helping to create a friendly environment for good bacteria.
Start your day with plain yogurt: Plain yogurt that contains lactobacillus acidophilus can help keep your Candida levels in check by producing lactic acid that fights off excess Candida. Keep in mind that this does not apply to many of the flavored yogurts that can be found on your grocery store shelves. Check that the yogurt container says it contains “Live and Active Cultures.”
What Are Digestive Enzymes and How Do They Help Control Candida?
Found throughout your digestive tract, digestive enzymes act as catalysts to speed up specific, life-preserving chemical reactions in your body. In other words, they break down large molecules into particles that are more easily absorbed.
For example, lipase (a specific digestive enzyme) converts triglycerides into the glycerol and fatty acids that your body needs to survive.
So, how do digestive enzymes help prevent Candida overgrowth? Well, certain enzymes, like hemicellulase and cellulose, have been shown to break apart Candida’s cell wall.
In addition, they break down Candida biofilm, a resilient matrix Candida builds around itself, giving it plenty of protection while it grows. By degrading the biofilm, Candida has a much more difficult time hiding from your immune system and growing uncontrolled.
What Are Probiotics and How Do They Control Candida?
Probiotics are officially defined as “a microorganism that when consumed (as in a food or a dietary supplement) maintains or restores beneficial bacteria to the digestive tract.” In simple terms, probiotics are live “good bacteria” that provide health benefits, particularly for the gut, when consumed in sufficient amounts.
There are dozens of probiotic bacteria, including Lactobacillus acidophilus, Lactobacillus casei GG, and Bifidobacteria bifidum. These three probiotics work to crowd out and kill excess Candida, making it less likely to grow unchecked. At the same time, they regulate your stomach acidity and give your immune system a boost.
Top Foods to Include in Your Candida-Control Diet
By now it should be pretty evident that the foods you eat can have a significant impact on Candida growth. Earlier, we discussed what foods you need to avoid in order to help prevent Candida overgrowth. Now, it’s time to look at the complete opposite.
Here are some of the top foods to include when planning a complete Candida controlling diet:
Non-Starchy Vegetables: Best when purchased fresh and consumed raw, grilled, or steamed, non-starchy vegetables starve Candida colonies of the sugars they need to feed on. Examples include broccoli, asparagus, onions, zucchini, and eggplant.
Grains: Grains, such as quinoa, millet, and buckwheat, are known for having plenty of fiber, which helps keep your digestive system moving to eliminate Candida toxins and prevent their buildup.
Fruits: Although you will want to avoid most fruits when you are following a Candida controlled diet because of the high levels of natural sugar they contain, there are a few you can incorporate into your daily diets, such as lemons, limes, and avocados.
Fresh Meat, Fish, and Eggs: Stick to lean meats and fish you pick up directly from the butcher. Processed, smoked, and vacuum-packed meats tend to be loaded with sugars, sulfates, nitrates, and dextrose, creating a Candida-friendly environment.
Fermented Dairy Products: Above, we discussed how beneficial live probiotics are when it comes to preventing Candida overgrowth and balancing your overall digestive system. Your best options are probiotic yogurts and kefir. (As an added bonus, these two foods are low in casein and lactose, which are usually responsible for any type of dietary intolerance.) Two other fermented foods that will be a great addition to your diet are sauerkraut and kimchi.
Sweeteners: If you simply can’t live with an unsweetened drink, opt for those sweetened with erythritol, stevia, and xylitol.
Coconut Oil: Coconut oil contains caprylic acid, a natural fighter against Candida that has the ability to penetrate the yeast’s cell membranes, forcing them to die off. In one study out of Tufts University, coconut oil was found to effectively control the overgrowth of Candida in mice.
Grapefruit Seed Extract: Full of natural compounds that have been proven to kill Candida, grapefruit seed extract is also natural and non-toxic. Additionally, it contains an array of antioxidants and vitamins that can give your immune system a boost, while also repairing cells throughout your body that could be damaged during the die-off of Candida.
Candida Control Supplements Vs. Candida and Fungal Infections
Although this has been touched on in the above text, it is worth mentioning again. Certain probiotics, including L. acidophilus, work by crowding out and killing Candida, while regulating your stomach acidity. (This is important because your body’s pH level can affect the growth of Candida.)
On the other hand, digestive enzymes work by attacking and breaking down Candida’s cell wall, specifically its protective biofilm. This prevents Candida from hiding out in your body and growing unregulated.
Some probiotic control supplements may also contain certain essential oils, specifically lemongrass and clove. Both have a long history of being used for medicinal purposes.
Interestingly, researchers have found that lemongrass essential oil is more effective at altering Candida’s cellular structures and surfaces when it is vaporized in a diffuser. Clove has the ability to inhibit bacteria and yeast and has been shown to obstruct the formation of Candida, thanks to its superior antifungal activity.
Many high-quality supplements contain an assortment of probiotics and digestive enzymes for optimal Candida control. Although they are less commonly used, you may also run across Candida supplements that include essential oils.
How to Choose the Best Candida Supplement
Just like with every other nutritional supplement on the market, there is no shortage of Candida supplements to choose from, making it very difficult to decide which one best fits your specific needs.
Of course, there are ways you can substantially decrease your options, allowing you to settle on the right supplement for you. Here’s what you need to look for:
Take a good look at the ingredients: Every supplement has a list of ingredients listed on the back. Look for a supplement that contains potent, all-natural ingredients, including the digestive enzymes and probiotic strains discussed above.
Lactobacillus acidophilus, cellulase, and protease are all known for being highly effective. You may also see some of the ingredients mentioned in the food section above, such as caprylic acid and coconut oil, as well as the essential oils, lemongrass and clove.
Opt for a supplement that has been formulated by a physician: Most manufacturers are very proud of their doctor-formulated supplements. There is a good reason for this. Creating an effective mix of beneficial ingredients can be a long process that requires plenty of specialized expertise.
Check out what others have to say: Thanks to the internet, it is very easy to learn what others think of a certain supplement. Google any that you are considering and see what real users have to say.
Focus your search on trusted manufacturers: If you’re unfamiliar with a certain manufacturer, take the time to Google them. Look for companies that operate with integrity, make their products in the United States (where manufacturing regulations are stricter), back up any claims they make with scientific research, have a good customer service policy, and perform third-party testing.
The Proven Health Benefits of Candida Control
Just in case you aren’t completely sold on the topic of preventing Candida overgrowth, here are a few more of the top proven health benefits of Candida control.
Combats UTIs: Studies show that controlling the growth of Candida is crucial when working to put an end to recurrently bacterial urinary tract infections (UTIs). Any woman who has ever suffered from a UTI will tell you just how far they’ll go to treat them.
It can improve chronic sinusitis: A study performed by the Mayo Clinic found that 93% of patients who suffered from sinusitis for more than 12 weeks did so because of a fungal infection. (This is often made worse by the use of antibiotics, which can boost Candida growth.) Controlling Candida levels in their bodies improved their symptoms.
Can relieve GI tract diseases: Controlling Candida can help relieve several diseases of the gastrointestinal (GI) tract. This includes Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, and gastric, duodenal, and perforated ulcers.
Most importantly, controlling your body’s Candida levels can make you feel better overall, both physically and mentally.
The Bottom Line
Who knew that one fungus could have such a powerful impact on your body? If you are struggling with any of the symptoms above or are at a high risk of developing Candida overgrowth, it's time to take control.
For the most convenient and effective results, a candida control supplement with gradual dietary changes can have the greatest beneficial impact. Over time, a healthy lifestyle will be one of your greatest defenses against Candida overgrowth, but regular supplementation can provide the last bit of protection you may need.