Candida can cause a host of symptoms in the body, here's what you need to know.

Our bodies are made up millions of bacteria as well as fungi and yeast that also live on and in the body. For the most part, these microbials aren’t bad until they get out of balance. Candida is an example of what can go wrong when there’s a yeast overgrowth in the body that can cause all sorts of negative symptoms. Here’s what you need to know.

What’s Candida?

Candida, for example, is a type of yeast that lives in the mouth, belly, or on the skin. It doesn’t cause problems until it begins to multiply too quickly. 

Thrush, also known as Oropharyngeal Candidiasis, is a type of yeast that’s overgrown in the mouth and throat. It often happens in newborns, people with diabetes, if you have recently been on antibiotics, or are being treated for cancer. Vaginal yeast infections are another form of Candidiasis. They’re well known for causing extreme itchiness around the vagina, pain, and burning during sex, along with a thick discharge. 

"Candida is ubiquitous yeast/fungus that lives on the skin, the mucosal surfaces, and the gastrointestinal tract of human. In the vast majority of people it poses no threat however, in certain contexts, it can cause infections that range from oral thrush, to vaginal yeast infections, to esophageal infections, to life threatening blood-stream infections," says Dr. Amesh A. Adalja, infectious disease physcian and senior scholar at Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security. "There is some evidence that certain gastrointestinal disease states such as inflammatory bowel disease may be associated with a higher frequency of candida colonization however no definitive causal role has been demonstrated to date."

What Are the Symptoms of Candida?

Candida can cause numerous symptoms including oral thrush, which can cause lesions inside the mouth as well as the genital yeast infections. In addition, when candida overgrowth occurs all over the body, it can cause the following symptoms:

  • Tiredness and fatigue
  • Recurring urinary tract infections
  • Digestive issues
  • Sinus infections
  • Skin and nail infections
  • Joint pain

What Can You Do About Candida?

Once you have a candida infection, the treatment is often an anti-fungal agent, but diet may also play a role.

"The treatment for candidal infections is an anti-fungal agent. These medications can be administered topically if the infection is on a mucosal surface such as the mouth, vulva, or vagina; orally; and intravenously," says Dr. Adalja. "It’s unclear if diet plays a role in candidal gastrointestinal tract colonization levels however certain foods (e.g. high amino acid and protein ingestion, certain probiotics) are known to diminish candidal colonization."

The following foods have been shown to reduce candida in the body:

  • Kombucha
  • Probiotics
  • Garlic
  • Pomegranates
  • Coconut oil
  • Curcumin

Refined sugars and carbohydrates, as well as some dairy products, may contribute to the problem because they suppress the immune system so that it can't fight the imbalance.

Garlic contains an anti-fungal substance called allicin. A study published in the February 2011 edition of FEMS Microbiology Letters found that allicin treated Candidiasis in mouse models. Another study published in the April 2012 edition of The Journal for the Study of Medicinal Plants found that curcumin exhibited anti-Candidiasis activity in various strains of fungi in the body.

Do Candida Cleanses Work?

Candida cleanse diets eliminate sugar, white flour, yeast, and cheese because these foods are supposed to cultivate candida overgrowth in the body. While there is little evidence to show that eliminating these foods clear candida, according to the Mayo Clinic, you end up removing most or all processed foods from your diet. By replacing processed flours with whole grain flours and adding more fresh foods to your diet, you’re likely to feel better in general whether or not you’re stopping candida growth or not. 

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