A candida infection is an overgrowth of the fungus Candida albicans. It can affect the skin, mouth, throat, genitals, or blood. Common expressions of a candida infection include oral thrush, a vaginal yeast infection, jock itch, athlete’s foot, and even brain fog and fatigue. If the infection enters the bloodstream, it is called invasive candidiasis and causes myriad, non-specific symptoms. This is because candida produces toxins that infiltrate organs and tissues.
What causes candida
Sugar. Candida can be caused by a variety of factors. The fungus thrives on sugar so diets high in sugars, processed carbohydrates, and alcohol feed allow a candida infection to take root and thrive. This also causes sugar cravings to increase to sustain its burgeoning population.
Antibiotics. Antibiotic use is another common cause. Although antibiotics kill off harmful bacteria, they also kill off the very beneficial bacteria in your intestinal tract that help keep candida from growing out of control. It’s important to reestablish healthy gut bacteria with probiotics or fermented foods after antibiotic use, and to avoid them whenever possible. Ask my office for advice.
Poor gut health. If you have gut problems you are more susceptible to a candida infection. If you are not able to digest your food properly, you have an imbalance between good and bad bacteria, your gut is inflamed, you have leaky gut, you suffer from chronic constipation or diarrhea, and other digestive disorders, you are more at risk for a candida infection. Candida is like a weed that grows best in a sickly, neglected garden.
Hormonal imbalances. Hormonal imbalances that affect women in particular can upset the balance of gut bacteria and gut health. For instance, too little or too much estrogen can contribute to a vaginal yeast infection as proper estrogen levels keep the vaginal tract more resistant to infection.
Poor circulation. If you have cold hands and feet or the tip of your nose is cold, this indicates poor circulation. Poor circulation makes you more susceptible to a candida infection because blood carries immune cells that fight fungus and other infections. When the blood does not fully penetrate into the tissues with these immune cells, tissues become more prone to infection. A common example is chronic nail fungus. Low blood pressure is another culprit as the blood does not adequately push into body tissue.
Poor brain function from degeneration or past head trauma. One thing people don’t consider with a candida infection is brain function. If your brain is not functioning well due to a previous head trauma or because it is degenerating too quickly due to unmanaged health condition, you are at a higher risk for a candida infection. Why? Healthy brain function is necessary for a healthy gut –- the brain and gut are in close communication with each other. The brain also regulates immune function and general health of the body. When the brain suffers the body suffers, leaving it more prone to a candida infection.
A candida infection is a warning symptom
A candida infection is a red flag warning the body is out of balance. There are some very drastic candida diets on the Internet that seem designed more to provoke an eating disorder than cure a candida infection. You don’t necessarily have to go to excessive extremes. A candida infection requires you to adopt a healthy, whole foods approach to eating that eliminates sugar, junk foods, and too many carbohydrates and to focus on plenty of leafy green vegetables, healthy meats, and lots of filtered water.
In addition to a good diet, a variety of herbs and nutritional supplements are highly effective at combatting a candida infection. You also need to remedy poor digestive health (this may require specific dietary modifications as well), boost brain function, or help balance hormones. Ask my office for advice.