Candida is a fungus, which is a form of yeast, and a tiny amount of it lives in your mouth and intestines. This fungus is helpful in those small amounts as it aids digestions and nutrient absorption.
However Candida is also the most common type of yeast infection found in the mouth, intestinal tract and vagina. When left unchecked, the outbreak can grow to a point where it breaks down the wall of the intestine and enter into the bloodstream.
This releases toxic by-products and encourages a leaky gut. ‘Leaky gut’ refers to an issue where the lining of your digestive tract which controls what passes through the lining of the intestine does not work properly leading to substances leaking into the bloodstream.
This can lead to multitude of problems from digestive issues to depression. In a worst case scenario where the immune system is not functioning properly, the Candida infection can migrate to other areas of the body, including the blood and membranes around the heart or brain.
How does it happen?
Normally Candida levels are kept in check by the other healthy bacteria in your gut however Candida growths can occur from:
- Antibiotics which kill off other gut bacteria
- Stress in your everyday life
- Oral contraceptives
- Eating a lot of sugar or refined carbohydrates
- General poor diet
- Drinking a lot of alcohol
- Uncontrolled diabetes
What are the symptoms?
Symptoms from an over growth of Candida can be wide-reaching due to the fact that it attacks your digestive tract. Symptoms can be mild and therefore difficult to diagnose. The micro-environment of your gut is essential to wellness so if you suffer from the below symptoms, consider a test for Candida outbreaks.
- Digestive problems like bloating, constipation, or diarrhea
- Feeling tired and generally worn down.
- Vaginal infections, urinary tract infections, itching around the rectum or vagina.
- Skin issues like psoriasis, eczema, hives or rashes. Also skin or nail infections like athlete’s foot.
- Mood swings, irritability, depression or anxiety.
- Autoimmune diseases like ulcerative colitis, lupus, psoriasis, scleroderma, or multiple sclerosis
- Weakened immune system
- Brain ‘fog’
- Bad breath or a white coating on your tongue
- Cravings for sweets or simple carbohydrates
How do you test for an overgrowth of Candida?
A blood test will check the levels of Candida antibodies in your blood. These are called IgG, IgA, and IgM and high levels of these antibodies normally point to an overgrowth of candida. This can be easily done through most medical labs so contact your primary care physician to ask for a test. Sometimes these can show negative despite a Candida outbreak being present so consider doing other tests to confirm. There are two other tests which can help to confirm one.
This is a very accurate test for Candida growths. The lab checks for signs of Candida in your colon or lower intestines. They can also determine the actual species of yeast which then determines which treatement option is the most effective. Note that this does require a more comprehensive stool test rather than the standard.
Urine Organix Dysbiosis Test
This is a urine test that looks for a specific waste product of Candida yeast. This is called D-arabinitol and elevated levels will indicate an overgrowth of the Candida. The test is also helpful in determining if there is Candida in your upper gut or small intestines and therefore your treatment plan.
How do you treat the overgrowth of Candida?
To successfully treat the Candida outbreak, you need to do three things.
- Stop the initial Candida overgrowth.
You can do this by switching to a low carbohydrate diet. Sugars feed yeast so eliminating sugar in all forms including fruit, added sugar, alcohol and carbohydrates will prevent a favorable gut environment for Candida growth.
Essentially you are starving the yeast. Diet alone can take up to six months before growth of Candida return to healthy levels. It is recommended to use an anti-fungal medication, such as Diflucan or Nystatin, for at least a four weeks to kick start the process.
A more natural option is the use of supplements of caprylic acid which comes from coconut oil. This acid basically pokes a hole in the yeast cell wall causing it to die. Or better yet just consume coconut oil, cold pressed, extra virgin, organic of course.
Take 3 to 5 tablespoons through out the day – do not take it all at once or you will up set your stomach, as an added bonus your skin will feel extra soft and look healthier.
- Build up the healthy gut bacteria to keep Candida in check.
Now you want to rebuild the ‘good’ or healthy bacteria that would normally keep your Candida growth under control. Probiotics are an excellent way to restore your gut population. It is recommended to take a dosage from 25 to 100 billion units of probiotics on a regular basis.
- Heal your gut so that Candida can no longer enter your bloodstream.
You need to work on healing your gut or intestinal walls. Removing inflammatory foods from your diet will aid in healing and strengthen your gut, eventually preventing Candida from working its way through your body. The carry on effect is a dramatic improvement on your overall health and wellness.
On occasion this infection can be more complicated or persistent then general Candida infections.
The following reasons could mean you have a complicated infection:
- Your symptoms are severe such as extensive redness; swelling and itching that can lead to tears, cracks or sores.
- You have four or more infections in one year
- Your infection is caused by a strain of Candida other than the normal Candida albicans strain.
- You are pregnant
- You suffer from uncontrolled diabetes
- Your immune system is weakened due to certain medications or conditions such as a HIV infection
This requires specialized care so you will need to visit your doctor.