If you’re feeling tired and run down… or struggling with allergies, UTI’s, or mood swings, there may be a chance you’re experiencing something called “candida overgrowth” — also known as “yeast overgrowth.” When it comes to pinpointing the cause of health problems, this condition often gets overlooked. But it’s definitely something worth looking into. Identifying — and addressing — yeast overgrowth may be just the key you need to unlock a healthier, better-feeling you.
So, if you want to know whether there’s a chance your symptoms may be caused by candida overgrowth, read on for details on what it is — and then I’ll show you how to tackle it.
What Exactly Is Candida?
Most of us don’t spend a lot of time thinking about the trillions of tiny bacteria and fungi living in and on our bodies. Candida is one such microorganism, and it exists naturally in the human body. It’s normally found in the gastrointestinal tract, the genitourinary tract (which includes the reproductive organs and the urinary system), on the skin, and in the mouth or eyes.
There are over 200 species of candida, but only a few are known to negatively affect the human body.
The most well-known of these species is candida albicans.1 Candida albicans is responsible for vaginal yeast infections and thrush – an overgrowth of candida albicans in the mouth or throat.2
And while a yeast infection is the most well-known symptom of yeast overgrowth, it’s important to keep in mind that there are a whole host of other physical signs that might indicate an overgrowth of harmful strains of yeast in the body.3
Signs of and Risk Factors for Candida Overgrowth
Now that you know that vaginal yeast infections and oral thrush are some of the most obvious signs of candida overgrowth, it’s a good idea to know about other signs of yeast overgrowth. Many of these symptoms can interfere with your quality of living, and they often overlap with other health conditions. This is why it’s important to check in with your medical practitioner regularly to rule out other problems. Here are some symptoms that might indicate candida overgrowth:
- Digestive disturbances, like bloating, gas, or diarrhea and/or constipation4
- Repeated urinary tract infections5
- Recurring sinus infections6
- Skin itching and redness, or toenail yellowing7
- Sore joints8
- Mood swings and irritability10
- Chronic fatigue or exhaustion11
Causes of Candida Overgrowth
Your body’s microbiome relies on a delicate balance of bacteria and yeast, like candida, to keep things well-regulated. When that microbiome is out of balance, it can put a strain on your body. Many things can affect your body’s bacteria balance:
- A weakened immune system12
- Sugar consumption
- Frequent antibiotic use
- Exposure to stress13
- Oral contraceptive use14
So, when trying to determine whether an overgrowth is to blame for your symptoms, take these risk factors into consideration.
Getting Candida Overgrowth Under Control
Think a yeast overgrowth may be to blame for your symptoms? The good news is, you can make some changes to help get it under control (and get your health back on track). One of the most popular methods is the candida diet.
The candida diet involves the elimination of certain foods — and the introduction of other foods — for at least 7-14 days.
Here are the foods to avoid:
- Sugar, including honey, soda, maple syrup, corn syrup, and molasses; dried fruits and fruit juices; fresh bananas, pineapple, and papaya.
- Milk and aged cheeses
- All refined grains and baked goods
- Cold cuts and processed meats
- Peanuts and pistachios
- Mushrooms, potatoes, and corn
- Condiments, such as mayonnaise, salad dressing, vinegar, vinegar-based sauces, and marinades
- Coffee and alcohol
- Sauerkraut and pickles
And here are foods to eat:
- Eggs, yogurt, and unaged cheeses
- Whole grains, like brown rice and quinoa
- Fish, chicken, turkey, lean pork, and beef
- Legumes, including peas, lentils, and tofu
- Nuts and seeds (excluding peanuts and pistachios)
- Butter and oils
- Herbal sweeteners
- Herbal tea15
The Leaky Gut Connection
There’s one more thing to keep in mind: candida overgrowth is linked to leaky gut syndrome, and it may even contribute to its development.16 If you’re not familiar with leaky gut syndrome, here’s the gist: your intestinal lining has more than 4,000 square feet of surface area. When this lining is healthy, it acts as a barrier that regulates what passes through the intestine — like toxins — and what gets absorbed into the bloodstream — like nutrients. But if you have holes or cracks in this lining, it can allow undigested foods, toxins, and bacteria to penetrate the tissue. This can lead to inflammation and health concerns — not only in your digestive system, but in your entire body.17
Long story short: if you have a leaky gut, it may pave the way for yeast overgrowth to sneak into your bloodstream and cause the symptoms mentioned above.
One of the best ways you can prevent leaky gut is with regular probiotic supplementation. Probiotics are healthy bacteria that work to keep your body’s natural bacteria and yeast levels stable, proportionate, and balanced. And it turns out, probiotics are great for your intestinal lining, too. Studies have shown that probiotics can actually help regulate the health of your intestinal wall, ensuring that the barrier remains healthy and intact.18
If you’re struggling with an array of health symptoms, and can’t pinpoint the cause, you may want to explore the possibility that it may be caused by candida overgrowth. And if it seems likely that an overgrowth may be to blame for your symptoms, try a candida diet. By following this regimen for several weeks, you may be able to rebalance your candida levels and get on the road to a healthier, more energetic you.