What is Candida Overgrowth & What to Do About It
Digestive problems are one of the most common complaints doctors see in their offices. People often pass off digestive issues as minor or unimportant, but having a healthy gut is vital to your overall health. When your gut becomes unbalanced – such as developing an overgrowth of candida – it can cause a cascade of health issues throughout your body. But what is candida overgrowth and how is it treated?
What is Candida Overgrowth?
Candida is a type of yeast that is commonly found in small amounts in the mouth, intestines, and on the skin. At normal levels candida helps the body with digestion and nutrient absorption. However, when there is an overgrowth of candida, it can break down the wall of the intestine and release toxic byproducts into your body – a condition referred to as “leaky gut..”
Candida levels are typically kept in check by the healthy bacteria in your gut, but when your healthy bacteria levels are depleted or your immune system is compromised, it can cause the candida to overproduce. The most common cause of candida overgrowth is taking antibiotics, which disrupt your gut’s microbiome. Other causes include high alcohol consumption, eating a diet high in refined carbs and sugar, high stress levels, taking oral contraceptives, and a weakened immune system.
What are the Symptoms of Candida Overgrowth?
The symptoms of candida overgrowth are not just relegated to the gut but can occur throughout the entire body. Common symptoms include:
- Autoimmune diseases (Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, ulcerative colitis)
- Brain fog
- Depression, anxiety, irritability, mood swings
- Digestive issues (bloating, constipation, diarrhea, painful and persistent gas)
- Fibromyalgia or chronic fatigue syndrome
- Food sensitivities
- Itchy ears or severe seasonal allergies
- Recurrent yeast infections in women
- Skin and nail fungal infections such as athlete’s foot or toenail fungus
- Skin issues (eczema, acne, psoriasis, hives, and rashes)
- Weight gain
How is Candida Overgrowth Treated?
In order to treat candida overgrowth, you must starve the yeast and replenish your healthy gut bacteria. Yeast feeds on sugar, so the first step is to avoid sugar in all its forms: straight sugar, fruit, milk (lactose is a form of sugar found in milk), etc. You should also avoid processed and refined foods, those high in gluten and sugar, and those that contain yeast (alcohol, baked goods, etc.). While candida lives on sugar, it also needs an acidic environment to survive, so vinegar and foods that contain vinegar should be avoided. Good foods to eat during candida overgrowth include garlic (which has antifungal properties), ginger, olive oil, cinnamon, and coconut oil. You can read more about candida-fighting foods here.
Next, you have to repopulate your gut with healthy bacteria so that they can keep the candida in check. The best ways to do this are by reducing stress, eating a wide variety of fruits and vegetables, eating fermented foods (yogurt, kombucha, kimchi, sauerkraut, kefir), and consuming prebiotics and probiotics. Probiotics are bacteria similar to those in your microbiome while prebiotics are foods that the good bacteria feed on to grow and flourish. Probiotics are found in fermented foods and are also available as supplements. Prebiotics are are mainly fiber-rich plants, such as artichokes, asparagus, garlic, legumes, onions, and whole wheat products.
Learn More About Candida Overgrowth and Gut Health
Board Certified in Family Medicine as well as Board Certified with the American Board of Anti-Aging and Regenerative Medicine, Dr. Malhotra knows how important a healthy gut is to your overall health. To learn more about gut health or to find relief from digestive issues, call Anchor Wellness Center today at (832) 246-8437 and schedule an appointment with Dr. Minni Malhotra, MD, FAARM, ABAARM.