Diet and Nutrition

All About Candida Overgrowth

What is Candida?

Candida, the overgrowth of yeast is one of the most common types of fungal infections. This condition can lead to a number of other health issues, such as exhaustion, brain fog, joint pain, bad breath, chronic sinus, weak immune system, hormonal imbalance, UTI, loss of libido and more. So if you are suffering from any of these health conditions, you may have candida. Let’s learn more about this condition, its symptoms, causes, treatment and more.

What is Candida?

Candida Albicans is a form of yeast commonly found in the intestinal tract, mouth and vagina, but it may affect the skin and other mucous membranes too. If the immune system of your body is working at its best, this infection doesn’t cause any problem. However, in people with weak immunity, the infection can move to other parts of the body, such as the bloodstream and membranes around the heart or brain, causing serious symptoms. When candida, which is a genus of yeast, multiplies and grows under certain environment, it can lead to an infection called Candidiasis.

Candida is actually a fungus that, when present in right levels in the body, helps with nutrient digestion and absorption. The overgrowth of Candida leads to typical candida symptoms. If the candida that has affected the digestive tract is left untreated, it can break down the lining of intestinal walls and move into the bloodstream. This results in by-product toxins and other toxic substances being released from your system, causing leaky gut syndrome. It further leads to symptoms such as gas, bloating, cramping and pain.

When the natural pH balance of your body is not right, the candida multiplies itself, creating several bodily problems. In order to fight this condition, your body needs to have a properly functioning immune system.

Candida Overgrowth Syndrome, or COS, is a condition where the growth of Candida albicans goes out of control in the body. Make no mistake, this is a chronic health condition.

Symptoms of Candida

Following are 10 of the most common candida overgrowth symptoms:

  • Chronic Fatigue SyndromeChronic Fatigue Syndrome is a condition during which you constantly feel tired or exhausted, no matter how many hours you sleep. The fatigue lasts for around six months and combines other symptoms as well such as joint pain, headaches, sore throat, memory problems and difficulties with concentration. Chronic fatigue is the most common symptom of Candida. It also augments the risk of chronic fatigue syndrome.
  • Mood DisordersIf you are suffering from Candida, you may experience mood disorders such as anxiety, mood swings, irritability, depression, panic attacks and more. These conditions are common to various other health problems as well. Hence, it becomes difficult sometimes to diagnose the overgrowth of candida by these symptoms only.
  • Recurring Vaginal and UTIs - Candida is often the root cause of the problem for people suffering recurring vagina and Urinary Tract Infections (UTIs). Candida can be sexually transferred from one person to another. Hence, if candida is the cause of your UTI, avoid having sex during that period. Wear tight-fitting underwear or panties and avoid hot baths, if you are having an active infection.
  • Oral ThrushOral Thrush is a yeast infection of the mouth. It is usually not contagious if treated on time, else it may spread to other areas such as the digestive tract, liver, lungs and heart valves. This type of candida is also infectious so people can get it by sharing utensils, children can get it through toys and newborns can get it during birth.
  • Sinus Infections - Candida fungus can also affect the sinuses resulting in a chronic cough, post-nasal drip, seasonal allergies, an increase in congestion, and flu-like symptoms. 
  • Intestinal Problems - If you suffer from persistent intestinal problems such as bloating, burping, constipation or diarrhea, persistent flatulence, stomach cramps or more, then it indicates the presence of candida infection. All these problems are caused when there is a shortage of healthy bacteria in your gut. With the overgrowth of candida, it becomes difficult for the healthy bacteria in your gut to fight off the infection alone. Hence, treatment is required.
  • Brain Fog - Apart from mood disorder, the candida overgrowth symptoms also include poor physical coordination, lack of focus, poor memory and difficulty in concentrating on tasks.
  • Skin and Nail Fungal Infections - Toenail fungus and athlete’s foot are the two most common types of yeast infection. This is also caused by the same strains of candida. If the infection is persistent, you may be having a systemic candida infection.
  • Hormonal Imbalance - Hormonal imbalance is another symptom of Candida. The overgrowth of Candida albicans can cause PMS, early menopause, a low libido, endometriosis, migraines, mood swings, water retention and an inability to lose extra weight.
  • Candida EsophagitisCandida esophagitis is another type of yeast infection caused by the overgrowth of candida fungus. It is an infection of the esophagus, which is the tube that carries food from the mouth to the stomach. This is often triggered by a weak immune system. Chemotherapy, HIV/AIDS, diabetes, organ transplants, leukemia or lymphoma and other conditions that suppress or weaken the immune system also increase the risk of Candida esophagitis. The symptoms of this condition include oral thrush, difficulty or painful swallowing, and fever.

Following are some other Candida overgrowth symptoms:

What is a Candida spit test?

Candida spit test is a saliva test you can do yourself at home to diagnose the presence of fungal infection. Candida is present in the intestinal tract. From there, it grows and multiplies itself. With the passage of time, the yeast starts moving along the mucous membranes of the digestive tract into the stomach. It then moves up the esophagus and ultimately makes its way into the mouth. If the yeast has become thick, it can be easily seen on the tongue or in the mouth as a white film called oral thrush. This fungal yeast mixes with the saliva. When put into the water, this saliva mixed with fungus display certain properties that make it easy to diagnose its presence.

Candida spit test has to be done in the morning, when you have just woken up. Before eating or drinking anything or even before brushing your teeth, get some saliva in your mouth and spit it into a clear glass of water. Look in the glass for about half an hour. 
If you have the overgrowth of candida, you may see the following signs:

  1. Heavy-looking saliva at the bottom of the glass.
  2. Strings hanging down from the saliva.
  3. Cloudy specks suspended in the water

If you notice all these signs within 3 minutes after spitting into water, it indicates towards the extensive overgrowth of candida.

Treatment for Candida

You can get rid of Candida through candida cleanse. This can be done through liquid cleansing or cleansing with food. This cleansing process sets a foundation for candida diet as well.

For liquid cleansing, prepare a vegetable broth by boiling organic garlic, onions, kale, celery and sea salt in pure water. Let it simmer for a few minutes and then strain. Refrigerate the broth. Sip on this warm broth throughout the day for at least 2 days. In between, make sure to drink lots of water. This will help your body flush out all the toxins present in your system. While this cleansing treatment cannot be used long-term for treating candida infection, it provides a sound base for candida diet. Keep repeating it every 2 weeks.

For cleansing with food, make sure to avoid fruits, sugars, starches and alcohol for at least 5 days. Whenever possible, eat fresh, organic steamed vegetables. During the cleansing stage, do not eat any starchy vegetables like radishes, carrots, beets, white potatoes and sweet potatoes. All these foods increase sugar levels and stimulate the growth of Candida. Drink plenty of water during the course, at least 72 ounces per day. This will help the body flush the Candida and other toxins from your system.

Foods That Help Get Rid of Candida

Following is a list of foods you can eat to get rid of Candida:

  • Apple Cider Vinegar - Apple cider vinegar is a wonderful remedy for yeast infections. The acid and enzymes present in it kill excess yeast in the body.
  • Green Vegetables & Green Drinks - Leafy green veggies like kale and spinach make the body pH level more alkaline. This helps fight against the acidic nature of Candida. Leafy vegetables are not only free from sugars, but they also contain high amounts of magnesium that detox the body naturally. The vitamin C present in it builds the immune system, B vitamins energize the body, chlorophyll cleanses the body, and iron gives the full support to the body.
  • Fermented Foods - Fermented foods like kimchi and sauerkraut contain microflora that protect the intestinal tract from the overgrowth of yeast and fungus. If you consume these fermented foods on a regular basis, it will help improve the immune system, making the body less prone to the Candida infection.
  • Coconut Oil - The antimicrobial properties of coconut oil make it a perfect food for killing the candida yeast. It contains lauric acid and caprylic acid that kills off harmful candida through topical application or ingestion.
  • Stevia - Sugary foods augment the multiplication of Candida. Hence, using artificial sweeteners such as stevia is a perfect choice for candida diet. It not only adds sweetness to the foods, but it also has anti-inflammatory, antifungal, and antibiotic properties.
  • Garlic - Garlic comprises of a large number of sulphur-containing compounds that are known for their antifungal properties. Hence, eating raw garlic may help you fight against candida and prevent its overgrowth.
  • Ground Flaxseeds & Chia Seeds - Polyphenols found in chia seeds and flaxseeds help in the growth of probiotics in the intestinal tract. It may also inhibit the growth or eliminate candida and yeast in the body.
  • Cranberry Juice with no added sugar - Unsweetened Cranberry juice balances the pH levels of urine. This helps prevent the overgrowth of candida.
  • Spices like Turmeric & Cinnamon - Turmeric comprises of an active component called Curcumin which is known to stop the growth of Candida Albicans completely. It is also helpful in removing other fungal strains. Cinnamon is another spice that can heal oral thrush. In fact, studies have shown that people who consume cinnamon on a regular basis experience the candida overgrowth very rarely as compared to those who don’t.
  • Cooked Vegetables - Cooking non-starchy vegetables such as cauliflower, broccoli, and asparagus provides essential nutrients that help prevent the overgrowth of candida.
  • Organic Meat - Organic meat is rich in proteins, which is crucial for fighting with candida. Eating organic and free-range meat high in healthy fats and proteins, helps fight candida infection.
  • Bone Broth - Consuming bone broth is another way to treat candida naturally.

Foods To Avoid When on Candida Diet

When you are on candida diet, you must avoid the following foods:

  • Sugar and sugar alternatives
  • Fruits and fruit juices
  • Alcohol
  • Vinegar
  • Grains
  • Peanuts
  • Conventional Dairy products
  • Ice Drinks
  • Allergen foods
  • Bananas
  • Dry fruits
The Candida Diet

The Bottom Line

Candida is a very common problem among people. However, by following an anti-fungal and anti-microbial diet, you can actually fight this infection.  In general, avoid sugary and processed foods, and opt for a healthier diet. Having a healthy, well balanced diet and exercising regularly is the routine to fight with almost all sorts of infections, including Candida.