The Facts About Candida Overgrowth and How to Overcome It
Candida is an essential fungus, a form of yeast, that lives in the human body. You can find it in the mouth and the intestines. Although it is normal to have some of this fungus in the body, candida can also invade the body beyond what is acceptable. This is called candida overgrowth, and it can have some detrimental health effects.
Having too much candida in the body can result in several health problems. This includes all types of digestive issues because too much candida can break down the walls of the intestines. In addition, candida overgrowth may cause problems such as depression, lack of energy, and a whole lot of annoying ailments.
When the production of candida in the body is out of control, it can manifest the following problems:
- Allergies, sensitivities and intolerance to anything or any place that’s damp or moldy.
- Hay fever and asthma.
- Higher sensitivity to typical allergens, such as perfumes, smoke, odors, pets, dust, molds, pollen, and other airborne substances.
- Athletes’ foot or fungus growth on other parts of the body.
- Low body temperature, resulting on cold hands and feet.
- Cold-like symptoms, including excessive mucus, as well as flu-like symptoms.
- Digestive problems, such as constipation, abdominal bloating or pain, acid reflux, and gas.
- Ringing in the ears (tinnitus), ear infections, ear aches, and abnormal wax build-up.
- Fatigue, chronic fatigue and general feeling of being drained of energy.
- Swollen salivary glands, dryness in the mouth, and swollen lymph nodes.
- Dry or itchy scalp, dandruff, scalp sores, and hair loss.
- Headaches, migraines, brain fog, and dizziness.
- Fungal infections of the skin or nails.
- Joint stiffness, swelling or pain.
- Lack of appetite.
- Nasal congestion, postnasal drip, sinus inflammation or infections.
- Muscle aches and pains, including numbness and tingling, as well as lack of strength and coordination.
- Dry skin, acne, hives, itching skin, and rashes, including eczema and psoriasis.
- Sleep problems, such as frequent waking up and restless sleep, as well as insomnia.
The sad part is that candida overgrowth may be easily mistaken for other illnesses. Therefore, medical professionals often treat the symptoms of candida overgrowth, and not the actual problem of candida.
Why Does Candida Get Out of Control?
One of the biggest culprits in candida overgrowth are antibiotics. These medications wipe out all bacteria, including beneficial bacteria in the digestive system. On the other hand, antibiotics do not affect candida, because it is a fungus. As a result, taking antibiotics can create an imbalance in the body.
Now, if the immune system is strong, it can usually handle the effects of candida overgrowth. Unfortunately, many people have a weakened immune system because the typical western diet lacks the nutrients necessary to maintain strong immune function.
The standard diet consists of lots of carbohydrates, hydrogenated oils, trans-fats, sugar, white flour products, and processed foods. In addition, food growers often treat live foods with pesticides and herbicides. As well, they grow these foods in nutrient-depleted soil and radiate them to extend shelf-live.
Consequently, mainstream food choices do not give us the nutrients and healthy probiotic properties necessary to maintain a healthy immune system. As a result, when candida overgrowth happens, the body frequently starts to break down.
Some other factors that may contribute to candida population growing beyond what is healthy are:
- A diet high in sugar and refined carbohydrates,
- Drinking too much alcohol, and
- A stressful lifestyle.
Simple Home Test
The best way to know for sure if you have candida overgrowth is to see a holistic practitioner. However, you can try the following test at home:
- Make sure you conduct this test first thing in the morning, before you eat or drink anything.
- Fill a glass with room-temperature, filtered water.
- Work up some saliva and spit it into the glass of water.
- Wait 30 minutes (you may need to wait up to 60 minutes) and check the saliva. If you see string traveling down into the water from the saliva, or if cloudy saliva has sunk to the bottom of the glass, you may have a candida problem.
What You Should Do to Help with Candida Overgrowth
There is a process that you can follow to control candida overgrowth. The important thing is that you execute the following five steps simultaneously:
1. Eliminate sugary foods that feed candida.
These include foods with sweeteners such as honey and fructose. In addition, you may want to limit the intake of fruits because they are high in sugar.
When buying processed meats, always read the ingredients because many contain sugar. In fact, read the ingredients list for all processed foods. You’ll be surprised just how many contain sweeteners. Of course, don’t forget that alcohol and many drinks, like a chai latte and coffee drinks, also have lots of sugar.
2. Strengthen your immune system.
This requires a healthy diet, high in lean proteins, good fats and low carbohydrates. All the foods you eat should be fresh and as natural as possible. This means limit processed foods so you eat fewer additives, heavy metals, pesticides and other food industry chemicals.
Another step in supporting a healthy immune system is to supplement with essential vitamins and minerals. The best way to understand what supplements you need is to ask your healthcare practitioner to administer a blood test. Some typical supplements that typically help fortify the immune system are:
- Chlorella, a whole food that has many vitamins and minerals. It helps the body purge heavy metals and pesticides.
- Vitamin C, one of the biggest immune system boosters. Since we get lots of Vitamin C from fruit, you are more likely to be Vitamin C deficient when limiting fruit intake to eliminate sugar from your diet. Vegetables rich in Vitamin C include kale, spinach, and broccoli.
- Vitamin E, a powerful antioxidant that helps the body fight off infection. Foods rich in vitamin E include nuts, seeds and spinach.
3. Kill off candida overgrowth.
The most effective way to start getting rid of excess candida is to fortify your diet with anti-fungal foods. These include the following:
- Raw garlic, which contains Sulfur compounds with anti-fungal properties. Fresh garlic is most potent, especially if you first crush it and wait about 10 minutes before consuming it. Of course, you can eat the garlic with a meal to conceal the taste. Just keep it raw.
- Raw unfiltered apple cider vinegar, preferably Bragg brand. It is best to dilute 1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar in a glass of room temperature water. Then, drink 30-60 minutes before a meal.
- Olive leaf extract, which contains a phenolic compound with antiviral and anti-fungal properties.
- Pau d’arco, which is sold as a tea or as a capsule supplement.
Remember that taking too many supplements can be a strain on the liver, so always check with your healthcare provider if you plan to take several supplements at one time. The ideal way to supplement is to eat a large variety of organic raw vegetables.
4. Introduce more good bacteria into the digestive system.
It is essential that you re-establish the balance of candida and good bacteria in your body. The best way to do this is by eating foods rich in probiotics, or “friendly” bacteria. These are also called probiotics.
Probiotics are present in foods such as yogurt, sauerkraut, kimchi and kombucha. The best way to get high quality probiotics into your system is to make fermented vegetables at home. Probiotic drinks are also very easy to make at home.
As well, you can buy probiotic supplements with a minimum of 50 billion CFUs (colony forming units). If possible, purchase probiotic supplements that require refrigeration.
5. Stay calm and expect the best results from your healing process.
When your body is already compromised, the last thing you need is stress. Stress on its own can make all the other previous four steps ineffective. In fact, it may have been a culprit in candida overgrowth in the first place.
It is important to utilize several stress relieving techniques during your healing process to help you stay calm. These include exercise, meditation and yoga. Also, don’t forget to have some fun!
Another important aspect of staying stress-free is to take it easy on yourself. Do your best following the steps above, and always be patient and kind to yourself.
Finally, having the right mindset is just as important as following a healthy diet. If you believe that your self-care efforts will pay off in improved health, then that will be your end result. There is a reason why the placebo effect works! The mind is one of the most powerful healing tools, so don’t forget to use it.
Read more articles by Anna Hunt.
About the Author
Anna Hunt is writer, yoga instructor, mother of three, and lover of healthy food. She’s the founder of Awareness Junkie, an online community paving the way for better health and personal transformation. She’s also the co-editor at Waking Times, where she writes about optimal health and wellness. Anna spent 6 years in Costa Rica as a teacher of Hatha and therapeutic yoga. She now teaches at Asheville Yoga Center and is pursuing her Yoga Therapy certification. During her free time, you’ll find her on the mat or in the kitchen, creating new kid-friendly superfood recipes.
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Disclaimer: This article is not intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Views expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of Waking Times or its staff.