Candida is a type of fungus, an organism that lives in all human bodies. It is a form of yeast, of which you have trillions living in your gut right now. They belong there. Candida lives in places such as the gut, vagina, throat, and mouth. It can also live outside the body on the skin. However, Candida can multiply and cause infections including candidiasis (also known as Candida albicans), depending upon surrounding environments. Symptoms of this infection vary and can include hormonal imbalances, digestive issues, depression, adrenal exhaustion, and oral thrush. According to the Centers for Disease Control in the United States, scientists estimate that 20% of women have Candida in the vagina without having any symptoms, but yeast infections can occur with an overgrowth of Candida. What’s important for everyone to know about Candida overgrowth is that several diets exist to help manage the symptoms.
What is Candida?
We all have several species of fungi living within our bodies. Candida is just one of these organisms. Candida is a type of yeast that lives within the human stomach, mouth, vagina, and even on the skin without causing problems. However, with the right environment, Candida can build up, ultimately causing candidiasis, a type of Candida overgrowth. Over 20 species of Candida exist that can create such an overgrowth, but it takes the right kind of environment for infections to develop and grow.
What are the causes of candidiasis?
Candidiasis, often referred to as ‘Candida overgrowth,’ results when Candida multiplies within areas of the body such as the intestinal tract, vagina, or mouth. There are several suspected causes of candidiasis, but more research needs to be conducted for certainty. These suspected causes include:
What are the symptoms of candidiasis?
The most significant signs and symptoms of candida overgrowth include:
- Digestive problems such as bloating, flatulence, indigestion, heartburn, diarrhea, and constipation
- Feeling of fullness
- Food allergies
- Abdominal cramping
- Rectal itching
- Hormonal imbalance
- Vaginal itching
- Leaky gut
In more pronounced cases of candida overgrowth, some patients have reported the following:
- Brain fog
- Mood swings
- Adrenal exhaustion
- Memory impairment or loss
- Severe anxiety
Some of these symptoms may also intensify during candida die off once a candida infection is treated, this often gives the impression that the infection is getting worse rather than better. These will, however, resolve over time as the infection clears.
Additionally, the website of the Mayo Clinic states an overgrowth of candida can exacerbate existing gastrointestinal diseases such as ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease.
As a woman, should I be concerned about candidiasis?
Some research shows that women can be more susceptible to candida overgrowths, but this has not been confirmed as of yet. However, if you are a woman who is experiencing several of the above-named symptoms, you may be suffering from candidiasis. Additionally, three of four women will experience at least one yeast infection in their lives, which can cause vaginal itching and discharge, pain during intercourse, and pain and burning during voiding. Adjusting your diet can help to relieve or even eliminate the effects of candida overgrowth.
I’m a woman with Candida overgrowth. How can I manage my symptoms?
Several diets exist to help manage the symptoms of candidiasis. A candida cleanse is an excellent place to start, which typically includes eliminating sugar, starchy carbohydrates, and other foods that exacerbate the symptoms of candidiasis. If you are a woman who is experiencing symptoms of candida overgrowth, or your cultures show candidiasis, following is a partial listing of foods to avoid and foods that are okay to eat on a candida cleanse.
Foods to avoid:
- All refined sugars
- Diet sodas
- Coffee, tea, and other foods containing caffeine
- Barley, wheat, flour
- Dried fruits, fruit juices
- Rice (all types)
- Pasta (all types)
- Potatoes, sweet potatoes
- Non-organic chicken
- Peanut butter
- All canned foods
- Red bell peppers
- Green peas, field peas
Foods to eat:
- Chia seeds
- Organic chicken
- Apple cider vinegar
- Asparagus, broccoli, cauliflower, zucchini
- Organic eggs
- Cucumbers, celery, lettuce
- Green bell peppers
- Lemons, limes
- Olive oil, coconut oil, sesame seed oil
- Kale, kohlrabi, chard, leeks
- Turnips, turnip greens, mustard greens, spinach
- Stevia and Truvia natural sweeteners
- Coconut milk
- Hemp seeds, hemp powder
It is best to begin your candidiasis management or elimination with a good cleanse. This typically should last from 3 to 7 days, but can also go longer as needed. A cleanse is a great way to start because it’s a sort of ‘reboot’ of your digestive tract. During such a cleanse, it’s important to know you may experience an upswing in digestive or other symptoms simply because toxins are leaving your body. It can seem a bit worrisome, but you shouldn’t be concerned. This is known as ‘Candida die-off,’ and it’s a good thing! Your intestines are being flushed of toxins, and Candida overgrowth is dying off, which will make way for much better intestinal health.
Some natural nutritionists and holistic doctors have Candida-specific diets that can be strict to follow. These diets exist to help manage the symptoms of candida overgrowth, but they can be too rigid for some people. If you can discipline yourself, following one of these likely will relieve your symptoms more quickly than tapering off. If your symptoms are severe, it may be a good idea to follow one of these stricter programs to help you get better. For those who find going ‘cold turkey’ a little too difficult, tapering off from eating junk foods and other foods on the ‘foods to avoid’ list will help to relieve symptoms more gradually, but it will probably take more time than other methods.
If you’re a woman who is suffering from symptoms of candida overgrowth, you should consider scheduling an appointment with your primary care doctor since trying to do it on your own can cause physical harm. If you suspect you may have Candida albicans, your doctor may want to take a culture to test. Or a blood sample may need to be taken, which can confirm the presence of Candida albicans.
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