Candida albicans is a type of single-celled yeast that resides in the digestive tract. In healthy amounts, it is benign and even aids in proper digestion and nutrient absorption. But when candida overgrowth occurs, it can cause a myriad of health issues. When most of us hear about candida overgrowth or yeast infections, we immediately think of athlete’s foot, vaginal yeast infections, ringworm, or nail fungus. While these infections are generally easy to treat, those with compromised immune function may develop chronic and systemic (throughout the body) candida overgrowth.
Once candida takes a foothold, it can be much more difficult to treat. Since yeast releases toxic by-products that further weaken the immune system, it can become a vicious cycle. This chronic form of candida overgrowth is sometimes referred to as candidiasis. Fungal infections can even be fatal in certain circumstances. This happens when candida enters the bloodstream and infects every organ in the body, causing a type of blood poisoning called candida septicemia.
Symptoms of candida include: leaky gut syndrome, allergies, environmental sensitivities, decreased libido, muscle/joint pain, autoimmune conditions, Fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, skin problems, mood disturbances, frequent yeast infections, rectal itching, premenstrual syndrome, thyroid dysfunction, brain fog, skin and nail fungal infections, digestive issues, and more.
Below we explain some of the ways to successfully combat candida:
Change Your Diet
Diet is one of the main contributors to candida. A diet high in sugar and refined carbohydrates can cause an imbalance in the bacteria in your gut and lead to candidiasis. Additionally, it is important to identify any food sensitivities that can cause inflammation and impede the healing process of the gut (this can also cause leaky gut syndrome).
When combating candida, it is recommended to consume generous amounts of fresh vegetables and fiber, cook with herbs such as garlic and oregano (which contain powerful anti-microbial properties), and drink at least half your body weight in ounces of purified water. Additionally, adding coconut oil to your diet, which contains the antifungal compound caprylic acid, can help heal your gut as well.
It is also important to avoid/limit alcohol, caffeine, added sugars, refined carbohydrates, gluten grains, yeast, dairy, and vinegar-based or aged foods (apple cider vinegar is an exception if well tolerated) in order to avoid worsening this condition.
Consider if It’s Your Medication
Oftentimes, medications such as oral contraceptives and corticosteroids can cause imbalances in the gut that can lead to candida. The overuse of antibiotics is another common contributor to candida. This condition can also be triggered by conditions or medications that suppress the immune system such as cancer or severe burns.
If you take any of the above medications or suffer from an immune-suppressing condition that could lead to a candida infection, consider working with your doctor to treat your candida and possibly adjust your medication.
It may seem counterintuitive when dealing with an infection, in order to help restore the gut microbiome’s natural balance it may be helpful to supplement with a 20+ billion live probiotic cultures daily. Ideally, the probiotic should include “good” bacteria such as lactobacillus acidophilus and Bifidobacterium bifidum.
Moreover, many botanicals have been shown to be very effective against candida without the side effects associated with prescription antifungals. Candinex by Holtraceuticals is a unique blend of natural antifungal compounds such as caprylic acid, berberine sulphate, and extracts from oregano, olive leaf, and grapefruit seed. Often, individuals experience worsening symptoms temporarily while treating candida overgrowth, due to the toxins released as yeast cells are killed off. This formula includes agents for detoxification support as well, such as milk thistle (Silybum marianum) extract and alpha-lipoic acid, to help the liver effectively process these toxins so as to reduce associated “die-off” symptoms such as headaches, muscle pain, and fatigue.
A few other nutrients and supplements that may additionally be helpful in supporting an individual with a weakened immune system and who is depleted by candida overgrowth are B vitamins, vitamin C with bioflavonoids, magnesium, calcium, vitamin D, vitamin K, free form amino acids, essential fatty acids, quercetin, colostrum, coenzyme Q10, tea tree oil (melaleuca alternifolia), and a “beneficial yeast” called saccharomyces bouvardia that can essentially crowd out candida.
A knowledgeable health care practitioner can help determine what supplements are right for you.
Make Lifestyle Changes
Candida can be worsened by poor lifestyle habits such as chronic stress, lack of sleep, and a lack of exercise.
It can be incredibly helpful to incorporate effective stress management techniques into your daily life when dealing with candida. If you are going through a period of particularly high stress, make sure to carve out a mental health day when you need it to help restore and nourish your mind and body.
It is also important to prioritize restful sleep in your day-to-day life. An infection such as candida takes a toll on the body and making sure you get the sleep your body needs is an effective and easy way to speed up your healing process. However, it is also still important to make sure you are moving your body regularly in order to maintain proper bodily function. When dealing with candida, aim to do some form of aerobic exercise three to five times per week as this has been shown to combat illness, reduce stress, and manage chronic conditions.
See a Doctor
When combatting a stubborn infection such as candida, the most important thing is to see a doctor. They will be able to test for this condition and put together an effective treatment plan for your individual situation.
A few of the options include testing for antibodies to candida (IgG, IgA, IgM), stool testing, or a urine test to detect the presence of D-Arabinitol (a waste product of candida). If antibodies are tested, it is prudent to check for total IgGs as well, since a suppressed immune system could prevent a normal antibody response and result in a false negative. Some experienced clinicians report seeing a pattern of low white blood cell and lymphocyte count, along with high neutrophils, in those with candida overgrowth.
In regards to treatment, there are pharmaceutical agents effective at treating stubborn yeast, such as Nystatin, and stronger meds such as Diflucan, Sporanox, and Lamisil. These stronger medications require careful monitoring due to their potential for causing liver toxicity. Your doctor can help determine the severity of your candida problem and whether pharmaceuticals are needed.
Candida is curable and there are a variety of treatment options available. A knowledgeable health care practitioner can help determine your individual nutritional needs and guide a treatment plan since certain strains of candida can become resistant if treated inadequately. While this may be just one of the infections involved in your chronic health condition, it is certainly one that should not be overlooked if complete healing and feeling your best is your ultimate goal.
At Holtorf Medical Group, our physicians are trained to utilize cutting-edge testing and innovative treatments to uncover and address Candida or yeast overgrowth, restore your intestinal functionality, and improve your quality of life. Book your appointment today!
*Always consult your doctor before beginning supplementation