Brain fog, headaches, chronic low energy/fatigue, sugar cravings, chronic digestive issues, bloating, anxiety, and depression.
Those are just common health symptoms many of us live with and sometimes view as a normal part of life. In saying that, symptoms are usually a way our body is trying to communicate with us that something isn’t right. Although those can be symptoms linked to a variety of conditions, the one I’m writing about is Candida yeast overgrowth.
|What is Candida and why is the overgrowth a problem?|
A type of yeast naturally occurring in our body, Candida is a normal part of our gut bacteria, and also found in mucous membranes, birth canal and on the skin. Technically, there are over 20 varieties of Candida known to cause an infection or overgrowth, however the most common is Candida albicans.
While your body is functioning optimally and in balance, Candida is not an issue. In your intestinal tract, Candida easily coexists with the rest of your gut flora. However, if something takes away your gut flora balance, Candida, known for its opportunistic actions, will grow and spread, overpopulating your digestive system and eventually spreading to other parts of your body. This is what a yeast infection/Candida overgrowth is, and it is called a chronic yeast infection or systemic Candida. Oral thrush, vaginal yeast infections are also caused by Candida, and so can urinary tract infections (UTI’s). The presence of oral thrush results in white ‘creamy’ lesions on the tongue, cheeks, tonsils, and roof of mouth.
Possible Symptoms and Signs of Candida Overgrowth
- Brain Fog
- Depression / Anxiety
- Poor Concentration
- Poor Memory
- Mood Swing & Irritability
- General Weakness
- Cravings – specially sugar and carbohydrates
- Food Allergies / Sensitivities
- Bloating / Gas
- Vaginal Thrush
- White coat on the tongue, tonsils, cheeks and roof of the mouth
- Skin Rashes
- Painful Joints
- Diarrhoea / Constipation
- Multiple Chemical Sensitivities
- Muscle Pain
- Loss of Libido
- Headaches & Dizziness
- Worsening of symptoms in humid or cold and damp environments
The above list is not complete, there are plenty of other signs and symptoms, but the above are the most common. Each individual will present with a combination of symptoms, and since those are common symptoms of many other conditions, yeast overgrowth is often misdiagnosed, resulting in many going through life enduring a sub-optimal wellbeing state and never getting the correct treatment.
|The Main Causes of Yeast Infection|
OVERUSE OF ANTIBIOTICS
Antibiotics, in particular broadspectrum antibiotics, will kill bacteria, but it won’t discriminate between good and bad bacteria. As some of your good gut bacteria is wiped out, opportunistic bacteria and yeast can thrive. Just to be clear, antibiotics has it’s importance and its place. However, for people getting recurrent infections, this will most likely lead to secondary issues, such as Candida overgrowth.
HIGH SUGAR DIET
Sugar is the main food source of yeast. And this means ALL sugars, including cane sugar (sucrose), all sugar from fruit (fructose), refined sugar, honey, maple syrup, carbohydrates and fermented sugars from alcohol. Sugar feeds not only yeast, but many other bad or opportunistic bacteria.
However, not everyone having a high sugar diet will also have a yeast infection. Other factors, such a low or compromised immunity may be the cause, and sugar will be a contributing factor to allow the overgrowth. In saying that, let’s remember that sugar and alcohol both suppress the immune system in the first place, which will create the perfect environment for bad bacteria and yeast to thrive.
Chronic stress leads to systemic inflammation, which weakness the immune system. And, as mentioned before, a weakened immune system will create the perfect environment for a yeast infection to take place.
During periods of stress, our body release a hormone called cortisol, amongst others. Cortisol is the hormone that will get your body ready to react to immediate life-threatening situations. It does its job by helping your body save energy and increasing blood flow and blood sugar levels in order for you to get away from danger.
In order to do all of the above, cortisol also increases inflammation in your body. Sadly, cortisol can’t differentiate between an actual life-threatening situation from perceived stress – for example, it can’t differentiate between a lion chasing you or a work deadline. Stress is just stress for your body, and no matter what, cortisol will be released in response to stress.
Candida overgrowth diagnosis and treatment
There is a variety of ways to diagnose a yeast infection, and also a diverse range of prices and precision. The safest option is to discuss it with your naturopath. At The Good Health Room we can refer you to the best possible labs and functional testing available.
Once you know you have Candida overgrowth, the good news is it can be reversed. The treatment and length of treatment will vary depending on the severity of the infection as well as personal commitment to the treatment.
In saying that, it will usually involve eliminating the causative factors in your diet and lifestyle in order to bring back the natural balance to your whole system. This is done by ‘killing’ the excess yeast with the correct medicinal herbs and supplements, as well as avoiding the foods that will feed it. At the same time you recolonise your gut with more and more healthy bacteria to keep Candida overgrowth at bay. Candida overgrowth treatment can be strict, and sometimes long.
Let’s not forget to mention, since stress can be a major cause of yeast infections, stress management is of upmost importance during the treatment stage. Stress coping mechanisms will result in lower cortisol levels being released and less inflammation. This will lead to a much stronger immune system, and general wellbeing, which in turn will result in a stronger defense against yeast overgrowth.
There are many ways to reduce stress, and a few of my favorites are: sleeping enough and well, relaxation breathing exercises, meditation/prayer, doing things you love and enjoy, a good work-life balance, reducing time spent on social media, laughter and spending time with loved ones.
For more information on self-care and strategies to reduce stress, please refer to my blog post on ‘Self-Care’.
|RAISSA RINGER | 29 July 2020|