Candida – The Sneaky Fungus That Can Take Over Your Body

Bugs, yeasts, and fungi of many kinds live in your body. Some good and some not so good. Candida albicans is a type of fungus that is found all over the body.

You may have heard of candida before, but thought it was just another health fad. This could have happened in a passing chat or while reading a health magazine. But you might want to pay attention now because this sneaky fungus could be taking over your body! Candida, or candida albicans, is a yeast fungus that lives in your body normally and doesn't usually do any harm.

Even though it seems harmless, don't be fooled. This sneaky organism can quickly overgrow if nothing is done or if the conditions are right. This can cause a condition called candidiasis, which means candida overgrowth. This can be very bad for your health and lead to a wide range of symptoms, from stomach problems to sadness. It's not fun and can be dangerous at times, especially for people whose immune systems aren't working well.

What is Candida?

Candida can grow and change in many places in your body, such as your mouth, digestive system, skin or nails, vagina, and even your bloodstream. Its ability to grow in dark, damp places and adapt to different conditions lets it cause a lot of different health problems.

Candida is usually kept in check by our immune system and good bugs in our gut. But candida is a very adaptable type of yeast, so when conditions are right, it can quickly grow into an uncomfortable overflow. Some things that make candida grow faster are:

  • High carb, high sugar diet
  • Broad spectrum antibiotics
  • Corticosteroids
  • Food sensitivities/food allergies
  • Alcohol—especially wine and beer
  • Environmental allergies
  • Weakened immune system
  • Inflammation
  • Stress
  • Fighting off another illness
  • Vegan diet
  • Anemia and other nutritional deficiencies
  • Pregnancy
  • Diabetes/pre-diabetes
  • Oral contraceptives/the ‘Pill’
  • Smoking
  • Immunosuppressive drugs
  • Cancer
  • Being in warm, humid weather
  • Mold infestation in home
  • Artificial nails

It's easy for Candida to sneak up on people because its signs are so varied and are often mistaken for other health problems. A lot of people have candida buildup all the time and don't even know it. How can you tell if this bad person has taken over your body?

Candida "lives" in the vagina and the gut system on its own. If any of the above factors are present, candida can quickly start to grow, most often in the gut and the vagina for women.

Candida overgrowth can lower your energy, make your brain work less well, and hurt your skin, stomach, and mood. People who have it often say they have extreme brain fog, tiredness, dizziness, joint pain, sinus infections, rashes, and a weakened immune system. When you think about how your gut health affects every other part of your body, none of this comes as a surprise.

What Happens if I have Candida Overgrowth?

1. Yeast Infections - Most of the time, candida buildup starts in the gut and moves to the vaginal area. If this happens to a woman, she will get yeast infections that come back. A vaginal yeast infection usually causes redness, intense itching, pain during sex, thick white discharge, and an unpleasant odor that smells like yeast. Your partner, whether they are a man or a woman, can also get yeast diseases in the vagina. Thrush can also be caused by too much yeast in the mouth. It hurts to eat or drink some foods because thrush leaves behind painful red, raw spots on soft tissues in the mouth. There are also white spots of fungus that make things even worse.

2. Extreme Fatigue - Candida can make it hard for your body to receive nutrients. Gut bugs that are good for you help break down and use food. This process is slowed down by too much candida, which also causes more inflammation in the gut, which leads to nutrient shortages. Low magnesium, iron, vitamin A, and vitamin B6 have all been linked to too much candida. People who don't get enough of these nutrients often feel tired. People who have chronic fatigue syndrome might also have too much fungus in their bodies.

3. Brain Fog - Acetaldehyde is a poison that Candida makes. It's the same poison that you get from drinking booze (ethanol). Acetaldehyde is known to be toxic to nerve cells and to cause cancer. The poisonous chemical that makes hangovers worse is the same poison that candida in the gut gives off. You might feel like you have a bad hangover when you have a candida infection: headache, foggy head, great fatigue, and trouble focusing. Acetaldehyde also makes the liver work too hard, which is called overloading. Mood swings, sadness, and anger can also be caused by candida infections.

4. Food Sensitivities and Digestive Disorder - When yeast gets into the gut, it can lead to leaky gut. If candida gets into the lining of your gut, it can cause a "leaky gut" problem. Food bits that have only been partially digested then get into the bloodstream and hurt the immune system. Then, this leaky gut situation leads to stronger reactions to many foods, nutrient deficiencies, gas, bloating, indigestion, diarrhea, or constipation.

5. Cravings for Starchy Sugary Foods - Candida yeasts that live in the gut can make your body send signals to your brain that make you want fatty and starchy foods, which are exactly what candida yeasts eat. Until the overgrowth goes away, it's best to stay away from all foods that have added sugar, all grains and grain goods, fruit, wine, and beer.

6. Skin Problems - A lot of people who have an overgrowth of candida have skin problems like rashes, acne, itchy, peeling skin, or dry spots. Candida can also grow in places where your skin isn't smooth, like under your breasts, in your buttocks, or in your groin. What a great place for candida to grow in this dark, damp place that is hard to get rid of.

7. Sinusitis - Fungal diseases, such as candida or mold, are often the cause of long-lasting sinus problems. These tiny living things like to stay in the nose where it is dark and wet. They can easily grow in your sinuses, which can give you a stuffy nose, sinus headaches, and red, raw spots inside your nose.

8. Hormonal Imbalances - can also be a sign of candida. It is important to know that a candida infection can make menopause or perimenopause symptoms worse, as well as PMS, low sex drive, migraines, endometriosis, water retention, mood swings, and the failure to lose weight. When you have too much Candida, the yeast spreads outside of your digestive system and makes your body swell. One of the things that candida makes can act like estrogen, which can cause a major hormonal imbalance.

Getting and Keeping Candida Under Control

This sneaky fungus can be hard to get rid of completely, but there are things you can do to get it under control and keep it that way. Candida usually stays in your gut, and it's good to have a little bit of it there. It's important to keep it under control.

There are medicines that can help get rid of candida, but they often have bad side effects, like hurting the liver, and the candida will "die off." What does candida die-off mean? Candida die-off could make your yeast infection symptoms worse for a short time, or it could even give you new ones, like a fever or stomach pain. A lot of people call it the "Herxheimer reaction." Even though scientists don't fully understand what causes candida die-off, they think that when the candida cells break open and die, they release chemicals that make the symptoms worse for a short time.

Even though medicine might kill candida for a short time, it will come back if you don't make the necessary changes to your food and way of life.

Changing what you eat, how you live, and your nutrition will help keep candida levels low and in balance with the good bugs in your gut. This is the best way to stop the overgrowth and get candida under control. To stop candida overgrowth, you need to keep your gut immune system healthy, stay away from sugars and refined carbs, and take certain probiotics and nutritional vitamins.

Some Simple Rules to Follow on a Candida Cleanse Diet

  1. Avoid all added sugars - sucrose, fructose, cane sugar, beet sugar, glucose syrup, high fructose corn syrup, maple syrup, agave, etc.
  2. Avoid processed foods - they are almost always high in carbohydrates, inflammatory seed oils, processed starches and grains, and sugar.
  3. Eat non-starchy vegetables - avoid carrots, beets, potatoes, parsnips, squash, corn, etc.
  4. Eat low-sugar fruits - strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, cherries, and blueberries okay in very small amounts. Avoid bananas, mangoes, pineapple, watermelon, apples, peaches, plums.
  5. Enjoy healthy proteins - grass fed meat, organic free-range poultry, wild caught fish, pastured eggs.
  6. Use healthy fats and oils - Avoid all omega 6 processed vegetable oils.
  7. Avoid all grains.
  8. Fermented foods are ok to eat: plain yogurt, sauerkraut, kimchee, cheeses.
  9. Avoid alcohol - especially wine and beer or sugary mixed drinks.

It is very important to stay away from all kinds of sugar. The sugar in your food is fuel for Candida albicans and helps it grow. It also hides itself from your immune system by making biofilms out of sugar.

On your anti-candida diet, you should also try to stay away from foods that cause inflammation, such as processed foods, booze, and caffeine. This will help reduce swelling, improve gut health, and speed up your healing.

Your immune system will also work better if you get 7-8 hours of sleep every night, spend time outside, and exercise for 30 to 60 minutes every day.

Supplements That Help Fight Candida

Taking vitamins that make your immune system stronger can also help you get rid of candida. Fungi like candida albicans have been getting stronger against prescription antifungal drugs over the last ten years. A lot of people are switching to natural antifungals instead. Most people can handle these well, they don't have many side effects, and they work very well.

Caprylic acid - There are three fatty acids that make up coconut oil. They are caprylic acid, capric acid, and lauric acid. Caprylic acid is the most important of these. Giving yourself caprylic acid while you're being treated can help balance out your gut health and keep candida from growing back. Caprylic acid is about as strong as prescription antifungals, according to studies.

Caprylic acid hurts the candida yeast cells' cell walls. The short chain fatty acids get through the cell wall and into the cell membrane, where they break it down. This kills the whole yeast cell. Caprylic acid has been shown in several studies to kill Candida albicans yeast cells and ease the symptoms of people who have long-term Candida illnesses.

Oregano Oil - Because it fights inflammation, fungus, parasites, and germs, oregano oil capsules may be good for gut health in more than one way. It has been shown that carvacrol and thymol, two substances found in oregano oil, can help treat bacterial overgrowth in the small intestine and candida overgrowth. When it comes to killing candida albicans in the gut, oregano oil works especially well. It is not possible for yeasts and fungus to become resistant to oregano oil.

Probiotics - Adding good bacteria to your gut can help push out the bad ones and keep your digestive system safe from more attacks. Good bacteria that are found in large numbers in your gut can be restored by taking a good probiotic. Several cultured foods are also very good for you, as long as they don't have any added sugars. Some of these foods are plain yogurt without added sugar, kimchee, cabbage, and some cheeses.

Even though probiotic vitamins can work for everyone, here are the best ones to fight candida:

  • Lactobacillus rhamnosus
  • L. acidophilus
  • L. casei
  • L. fermentum
  • L. paracasei
  • B. lactis
  • Bifidobacterium

Berberine - This well-known natural product for lowering blood sugar is also very good at killing fungi. Barberry, Oregon grape, and goldenseal all contain berberine, which is what makes them work.

A study from 2016 found that berberine can kill different kinds of yeast, even Candida, which is immune to other antifungals. Berberine broke down the yeast cells' walls, which killed the yeast cells. You can also use berberine with other antifungal drugs to make them work better together.

It is also possible to use berberine to boost the defense system. Its ability to turn on macrophages (white blood cells) makes the body's defense system stronger, so it can fight off not only Candida infections but also other germs that try to get inside.

After your symptoms go away, you should keep eating veggies that are low in starch and high in protein. You should limit or avoid grains, fruits, sugar, and vegetables that are high in starch, like white potatoes. Consume fermented foods regularly to keep your gut healthy and stop candida from coming back. Good gut health comes from not getting sick.

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