“Candida is a big epidemic with a lot of issues and can negatively affect your life and lifestyle exponentially.”
-Dr. Jay Davidson
What Is Candida?
Candida is a common, naturally occurring species of yeast. It is found on our skin, mucous membranes, intestinal tract, and other organs. Scientists estimate that there are over 150 different strains of Candida. There are over 20 different strains of Candida that can become problematic to humans. The most common species is Candida Albicans. (1) Candida Glabrata, Candida Parapsilosis, Candida Tropicalis, and Candida Krusei are the next most common strains to cause problems in humans.
Candida is usually a harmless part of the gut microbiome and lives without issue on our skin when kept in check. Our bodies are like a diverse ecosystem. When all members of the system are balanced in favor of good bacteria, everything works smoothly. However, Candida is an ‘opportunistic fungus.’ If our immune system is weakened, the delicate balance of good and bad bacteria in our body can shift. This allows the growth of this fungus to spiral out of control. It can spread through the bloodstream, and infect any area of the body, disrupting more body systems as it grows. This leads to a long list of chronic symptoms that damage our health, and require targeted Candida support to overcome.
What Are The Symptoms Of Candida?
Candida symptoms can vary from person to person. Candida will travel to, and start to multiply in other organ systems. How can I know if I have candida overgrowth and need Candida treatment? Some of the symptoms can include the following:
Oral thrush is when Candida overgrowth occurs in the mouth. This can be quite common in babies, but can also occur in the elderly. Candida infection in this area can start in the mouth, but travel down the throat and esophagus. (2) It can appear as white patches on the tongue, but also the inside of the cheeks and roof of the mouth. The sides of the mouth can become dry and cracked. Oral thrush can even cause a loss of taste, and pain when swallowing. Dysfunctional salivary glands, drugs, denture wear, and a weakened immune system are all factors in contributing to oral thrush. (3) Babies with oral thrush can develop a yeast infection in the diaper area, appearing as a painful red rash that is difficult to heal. Unfortunately, the warm, moist environment of a diaper is the ideal place for Candida infection to happen. Providing Candida support to babies and the elderly can lessen their chances of getting oral thrush.
Candida fungus can easily flourish where inflammation is present. As it begins to overgrow, it creates a vicious circle. Low-level inflammation (from damage or toxins in the intestinal tract) promote its ability to colonize. This delays any healing of the gut lining from the toxin or damage. Then the increased colonization creates more inflammation, producing even more damage as the cycle repeats. Candida infection in the gut can result in cramps, bloating, with alternating constipation and diarrhea. Candida overgrowth is associated with Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, gastric ulcers, and duodenal ulcers. (4) Candida stools can often contain an abundance of mucus. There can sometimes even be white stringy material, but there can still be Candida overgrowth without these symptoms.
Candida infection on the skin can appear anywhere but typically emerges in the warm folds of the body where there is friction. The armpits, groin, under the breasts, the edges of fingers or toenails, and the corners of the mouth are most common. A red, burning rash with intense itchiness will develop. The skin can produce blisters and pustules, it may even crack and start to bleed or ooze from scratching. Persistent hives may develop and could be accompanied by eczema, and psoriasis. The risk of Candida yeast infection on the skin is higher with people suffering from psoriasis. (5) Candida fungus can also occur on the scalp causing a type of hair loss called scarring alopecia. (6) Athlete's foot is another common form of Candida infection on the skin.
Candida lives naturally on the skin without a problem, most of the time. But if the equilibrium of bacteria on the skin gets altered, Candida infection can form in the deep layers of skin on the face. Persistent, cystic like acne can occur. It is usually most evident on the chin, close to the mouth, and along the hairline. But as we’ve already discussed, Candida doesn’t like to stay put. Acne from Candida can spread to the chest, back and even the thighs. This type of subcutaneous infection can be very painful and problematic to treat.
Candida overgrowth is associated with nutrient deficiencies such as vitamin B6, magnesium and essential fatty acids. (7) A lack of these of these crucial components to health can further weaken the immune system, cause fatigue or brain fog, and lower our mood. Deficiencies in these micronutrients will also lead to muscle pain and weakness.
If the Candida infection gets into the blood, it can travel to the joints and cause a debilitating form of septic arthritis. (8) Without Candida treatment, this painful infection can cause serious damage to the infected joints and result in a tremendous amount of suffering.
Recurrent Urinary Tract or Vaginal Infections
Two other favorite places that Candida tend to colonize, is the urinary tract, and the vagina. Both of these types of infections are fairly common among women and can often be painful, frustrating, and difficult to treat. Vaginal yeast infection is the second most common vaginal infection, bacterial infection being the first. (9) These infections can lead to painful intercourse. Men can also get yeast infections on their genitals, but this is much less common.
Urinary Tract Infections are a little less common than vaginal yeast infections. Sufferers can feel the urge to urinate frequently, but it’s very painful when they do. Their urine can be cloudy with a stronger smell than usual.
Increased Allergic Reactions (Food, Environmental or Seasonal)
As mentioned above, Candida overgrowth in the intestines can create major digestive issues and inflammation of the gut lining. When this lining gets inflamed, the cells that form the gut wall are weakened and are not held tightly together as they would be in a healthy gut. This increased intestinal permeability allows undigested food particles, toxins and pathogens to pass through and travel to the rest of the body. Candida can release over 70 different toxic substances. The toxic metabolites that the candida themselves produce are also able to breach the gut wall and contribute to systemic inflammation.
Candida can induce histamine release from basophil cells. (10) Basophil cells are a specific type of white blood cell and are part of our immune system. They are responsible for the inflammation generated during an allergic reaction. The acute reactions of anaphylaxis, hay fever, asthma attacks, and inflammatory skin issues like hives are all part of the basophils release of histamine. Wherever Candida is colonizing out of control, the basophils will be releasing histamine and creating more and more allergic-type reactions. These inflammation problems can start in one area, but spread to the entire body as the Candida continue to colonize.
Strong Sugar and Carbohydrate Cravings
We have much more to learn about the human microbiome. One thing that has been established, however, is that the gut microbes can influence the cravings and choices of their host, you! (11) Candida love sugar, it is their preferred fuel source. People with Candida overgrowth often have extreme cravings for sugar and simple carbohydrates. As the Candida continue to colonize, they need more and more sugar and sugar cravings will increase.
What are the main causes of Candida?
Candida is an invasive and opportunistic pathogen. As you can see, there is not one body system that is exempt from Candida overgrowth and its effects. What causes this yeast to colonize out of control? After all, it is a normal part of our microbiome. What are the conditions that allow it to spread and infect the whole body?
Antibiotics are designed to kill all bacteria and organisms in the microbiome. This includes the good, protective ones that would keep Candida from overgrowth. Our natural defense system is killed off. When we take a course of antibiotics, we leave ourselves wide open for negative pathogens to make themselves at home in our bodies. Overuse of antibiotics is creating strains of pathogens that are becoming immune to antibiotics. This is making the problem even worse as our good bacteria are killed, but some of the negative mutated ones can survive. Antibiotics are often prescribed for issues which the drug will not actually have any effect, like viruses. The cycle of periodically killing off our good bacteria is making the Candida yeast stronger and able to resist treatment.
Corticosteroids are used to suppress the immune system in hopes to lower inflammation. They can be prescribed for arthritis, allergies, asthma, or skin issues like dermatitis. Often they are used for autoimmune diseases where a person's body is attacking itself. Similar to antibiotics, suppressing our natural defenses gives Candida a perfect environment to take over. Long-term use of these drugs can also lead to other health issues such as osteoporosis, gastrointestinal problems, and suppress normal growth. (12)
Proton Pump Inhibitors
Proton Pump Inhibitors are commonly prescribed for indigestion, acid reflux symptoms and peptic ulcers. They change the pH in the stomach by suppressing stomach acid. This may relieve acid reflux symptoms but can leave a person susceptible to Candida overgrowth, especially in the esophagus. (13) This class of drug also results in changes to the intestines leading to an unbalanced microbiome. (14) This again can give Candida the upper hand to colonize with less restriction.
High Sugar Diet
The modern diet we now consume is much higher in sugar than that of our ancestors. This unnatural sugar consumption can lead to many chronic illnesses and diseases such as Type 2 Diabetes, liver problems, and obesity. Hidden sugar in our pre-packaged convenience foods lowers our defenses while being the perfect food source for Candida! The Candida yeast even has sugar sensors in their DNA, triggering it to grow and morph into a stronger organism. (15)
High levels of stress can change the way we metabolize sugar and also contribute to sugar craving. We get less sleep when we are stressed, so we reach for sugary foods to give us a burst of energy to get us through the day. We think we are feeding ourselves, but we are really feeding the Candida infection. Long-term stress also weakens the immune system, lowering our defenses to fight pathogens.
High Levels Of Mercury In the Body
Candida has the ability to live and even flourish in environments that contain heavy metals such as mercury. (16) Mercury may be a naturally occurring element in our environment, but that doesn’t mean it is harmless to the human body. It can contribute to anxiety, depression, and cognitive problems besides helping the Candida. Unfortunately, there are many environmental sources of mercury exposure. We can ingest mercury from contaminated water or from fish that lived in contaminated water. We can breathe it in from air pollution. Vaccines are a source of mercury as are amalgam dental fillings.
Fluoride And Chlorine
Fluoride and chlorine have been added to municipal water systems for many decades to kill pathogens and keep our drinking water clean and safe. These chemicals do indeed help to kill pathogens, including Candida. However, much like antibiotics, fluoride and chlorine kill indiscriminately. Candida Albicans actually showed to be the most resistant type of pathogen to be killed by fluoride. (17) If fluoride and chlorine have started to wipe out our own good bacteria, but Candida isn’t as affected, once again we have left Candida a great environment in which to multiply.
Birth Control Pills
Prescription contraceptives are widely used by women today. These artificial estrogens upset the normal biological levels of female hormones. Candida seems to flourish in high-estrogen environments. There is a strong correlation between birth control yeast and Candida infection. (18)
Although sugar is the easiest and most preferred fuel of Candida, this yeast can also use ethanol as a fuel source. (19) If there is also sugar in your alcoholic drink of choice, this is the equivalent of dumping gasoline on a fire.
One of the dangerous metabolites Candida produces, especially if alcohol has been its fuel source is acetaldehyde. Acetaldehyde is considered a probable cancer-causing substance.
The Benefits of Early Detection
Candida overgrowth can have devastating consequences on your health if not properly dealt with. If you have some of the signs of Candida infection, seek help from health professionals that are experienced in successfully treating people with Candida. Getting a grip on this type of infection early is important so that other organ systems are not overtaken as well. Your health and energy levels will improve as you restore the delicate balance of microbes in your body.