How often have you felt prey to a maddening itch down there? If you say too often, and also have general symptoms like chronic fatigue, a brain fog, one too many skin or nail fungal infections – you may actually have a candida overgrowth which may be the culprit behind all these various issues.
Further symptoms may be a low sex drive, recurring sinus and allergy issues, too many digestive issues, bad breath, a coated tongue and or a craving for sweets. Remember that while not all these symptoms may point to a candida problem, having too many of these just might…
What is Candida, & Why Is Its Overgrowth A Problem?
Candida is a group of yeasts which exists beneficially within host bodies (such as humans) and basically helps in digestion as a healthy gut flora. However, some conditions can cause candida to overgrow and then invade other parts of the bodies thereby causing infections such as thrush and candidiasis. If left unchecked, Candida Albanicus, in particular, populate rather effectively and start to cause health problems. 
That said; Candida is found almost universally on the human skin although the dryness of the epidermis (top layer of the skin) does not let candida multiply. In the moister and warmer inner linings of the mouth, vagina and the intestinal tract – Candida can thrive. Intestinally, a kept in check population of this yeast helps in digestion. However when the yeast multiples too much, it causes mild to severe oral and vaginal infections as well as mimic hormonal imbalances. In healthy individuals, these infections can easily be cured by OTC medications but in people with compromised health, candida can invade and infect the inner linings of the brain and heart and cause health problems.
Why Does This Friendly Fungus Turn Into a Toxic Invader?
Basically, most of the healthy bacteria in your gut (remember probiotic) keep this fungus in check. However, if anything causes the friendly gut flora to die off, the situation is perfect for candida to take over and reign supreme. While it does not actively attack the bacteria, if there is an imbalance in your gut, candida is quick to take advantage… The good news is that this does not happen often, but the external factors that can lead to a Candida coup are many. 
- Too much of refined carbs: Fungi or yeast need a high-carbohydrate atmosphere to thrive and in case you have been feasting on sugar and all carbs refined – you are providing too much of fuel for Candida to resist.
- One too many happy hours: Alcohol is basically a fermented, high –in sugar drink – yet again providing loads of fuel for this fungi.
- The pill, overkill: Oral contraceptives can affect and alter the bacterial gut flora and sometimes give an unfair advantage for candida to thrive.
- Too much of a good thing is bad: While fermented foods like Kombucha, sauerkraut, vinegar or pickles are good for health – eating too many can cause a gut flora imbalance.
- Leading a high-stress lifestyle: Too much of stress can cause indigestion, acidity, and inflammation in the gut – killing off the good bacteria.
- Too many antibiotics: While antibiotics are a godsend for anyone with an infection, they don’t really differentiate between good or bad bacteria and kill off gut flora along with the attacking bacteria as well. The bacteria-less gut can be overridden with candida then.
- Corticosteroids can enable fungal infections: Corticosteroids are used to treat allergies, asthma, and many other skin problems as well – these drugs, however, can enable yeast infections as well.
- A down and out immune system: Like with any immune-weakened infection, candida overgrowth can happen when the body is at a risk – be it from any disease or infection.
How Do I Get A Diagnosis?
The problem with a fungal infection like this is that the symptoms are common enough to point many other equally likely culprits as well. One simple test that has no scientific backing per se, but can point to a candida infection is the DIY home spit test. 
In the morning, before you brush or rinse or drink anything; take a transparent glass and fill it with water Now gather some spit in your mouth (don’t cough up anything though) and spit in the glass. The saliva should float and that’s normal. Keep it aside for 10-15 minutes. If you notice strings reaching down from the floating saliva, or have a sunk-to-the-bottom spit with cloudy specks on top – you may have a candida infection.
Go to the doctor and insist on having a blood test or a stool test to get a confirmed diagnosis. 
How Do I Treat A Candida Infection?
Candida infections or overgrowth can be treated with various ways. Remember that if your infection or symptoms are serious, it’s best to consult a doctor.
Depending on the severity and the location of the infection, as well as keeping in mind the vulnerability and toxicology of the patient, doctors tend to treat candidiasis patients with “azole” medicines such as fluconazole and sometimes even surgery, such as valve replacement for endocarditis. 
Home or Nutritional Cures
If you do have candida and are looking for organic and DIY cures of the same, then dietary changes are what will kill off the overgrowth – all you need to do is starve the yeast… It’s best to do this under the care of naturopathic or natural medicine physician though, lest you worsen the situation. The steps usually part of this cure are simple but effective. 
- Cut out sugars and refined carbohydrates: Yeast aka candida needs sugars and carbohydrates to thrive. To kill it off, cut off the food source! No sugar, no refined carbs and at least for the first few days of the treatment even fruits and complex carbs are off the menu as are any yeast-containing foods such as melons, alcohol or peanuts. Oh, and milk is off the menu too since it may contain antibiotics.
- Use antifungal herbs: Herbs like olive leaf and grapefruit seed extract are effective fungicides that do not kill off healthy gut flora – and while they are nature’s arsenal, they are potent enough to kill off candida.
- Get in more probiotics: Repopulating the gut flora (think probiotics) is next in line as the healthy bacteria can and will keep the gut candida in check. This along with plenty of fiber-rich foods such as flaxseeds, psyllium husk along with probiotic-rich food like coconut water and yogurt does the trick.
- Support the liver: Too much of candida puts a big load on the liver – so now the emphasis has to be on liver-protective foods that help to detox the body as fast as possible.
The Candida Diet
Anytime you feel or know that this usually friendly fungus is trying to take over your body, remember to include these foods in your diet. As Hippocrates said, let thy food be thy medicine… 
- Non-starchy veggies: Think salads and leafy greens for they are nutrient-rich but low in sugar!
- Organic meats: If you cannot live without your daily meats and eggs make sure what you eat is organic, and free range for they will be nutrient rich and will nourish healthy gut flora without overfeeding the fungi.
- Healthy fats: Healthy fats such as coconut, avocado, olive, and ghee heal the gut, seal any leaks and are anti-inflammatory.
- Fermented probiotics: Coconut water, kefir or yogurt – eat these but in moderation to help your microbiome being the best it can.
- Sip on teas: Common herbs like oregano and ginger have anti-microbial effects. Sip on some nourishing teas then.
- Switch to sweeteners: Push the sugar away and reach for organic stevia instead as it does not actually contain sugar, ergo no food for the fungi.
- Bone broth: A healing food that not only helps the joints but is also showing promising results in sealing the gut and keeping the candida from escaping into the bloodstream and wreaking its variety of havoc.
The Candida Die Off
When you have a candida overgrowth and begin a Candida diet, you might experience something called the candida die-off – the symptoms will get temporarily worse before they start to get better. This is the time to become mentally strong and stick to the diet, for the worsening will soon ease up and you will start to feel better. 
Remember that like all health issues, a candida imbalance can be treated with a little patience and some perseverance – and a some good lifestyle changes!
Featured photo credit: Womens Health Mag via womenshealthmag.com
|||^||Mind Body Green: 10 Signs You Have A Candida Overgrowth|
|||^||The Candida Diet: An Introduction to Candida|
|||^||National Candida Center: Self-Test 2 My Body Fluids|
|||^||CDC: Invasive Candidiasis|
|||^||E-Medicine: Treatment of Candidiasis|
|||^||Huffington Post: Five Steps To Treating Candida|
|||^||Mind Body Green: The Candida Diet|
|||^||The Candida Diet: Candida Die Off Symptoms|