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Published on June 5, 2020

5 Symptoms of Candida Overgrowth (And How To Treat It)

5 Symptoms of Candida Overgrowth (And How To Treat It)

Do you constantly suffer from bloating or indigestion after meals? Are you always tired, irritable, or unable to think clearly? Does your skin break out into rashes or acne?

All of these issues – along with many others – could be the symptoms of Candida. Candida overgrowth is a common issue affecting adult women and men, and overcoming it requires a comprehensive attack plan.[1]

What is Candida Overgrowth?

Candida albicans is a type of yeast that lives naturally in your gastrointestinal tract and other parts of your body. Usually, Candida doesn’t cause any problems, and it can even play a small role in assisting with digestion. The ‘good’ bacteria in your gut work to keep Candida yeast in check.

However, if the balance between your good and bad bacteria is disrupted, Candida can grow out of control. This leads to an infection known as Candidiasis and a host of nasty health issues.[2]

Here are the five most common symptoms of Candida overgrowth.

5 Common Symptoms of Candida Overgrowth

1. Recurring Thrush or Urinary Tract Infections

Vaginal infections – also known as thrush – are a common symptom of Candida. The Candida yeast lives in the genital area, especially in the vagina. In fact, it’s estimated that around 75% of women will have a vaginal yeast infection at least once in their lifetime. Half of those women will have one or more recurring infections.[3]

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Symptoms of thrush or vaginal yeast infections include itching, redness, and pain during sex. A thick white vaginal discharge is also common. Thrush can affect women and girls of all ages, although it’s unlikely to occur before puberty or after menopause.

Risk factors for developing a vaginal yeast infection include being pregnant, a recent course of antibiotics, diabetes or high blood sugar levels, and a history of STIs.

An overgrowth of Candida can also lead to a urinary tract infection (UTI). This is more common in the elderly, hospitalized, or people who are immune-compromised. UTI symptoms include burning on urination, a frequent urge to urinate, dark urine, strong-smelling urine, or pain in the lower abdomen.[4]

2. Digestive Issues

While we all suffer from indigestion or bloating from time to time, constant discomfort after eating is a sign that all is not well in your gastrointestinal system. This is often due to an imbalance between the “good” and “bad” bacteria that live in your intestines.

Your good bacteria are crucial for the fermentation process that allows your body to break down the food you eat and absorb nutrients. They also help in the digestion of starches, fiber, and a number of other compounds.

However, if your gut is overwhelmed by ‘bad’ bacteria and yeast, you will likely experience digestive problems such as constipation, diarrhea, nausea, gas, cramps, or bloating.

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Yeast overgrowth is often responsible for an imbalance in the gut microbiome. It’s also associated with various digestive gastrointestinal conditions such as ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease.

Moreover, several animal studies have shown that Candida colonization in the gut can lead to inflammation that promotes further colonization. This can lead to a vicious cycle in which low-level inflammation continues to support the spread of Candida and may even contribute to inflammatory bowel disease.

Both inflammatory bowel diseases and Candida overgrowth are associated with increased levels of the pro-inflammatory cytokines.[5]

3. Fungal Infections of the Skin and Nails

Your skin and nails are also home to many species of beneficial bacteria that help prevent the Candida yeast from spreading. However, if a change to your environment or health status affects the temperature or moisture levels of your body, your beneficial bacteria may struggle to keep the Candida yeast in check.

Higher temperatures, moisture, and acidity can cause some bacteria and yeasts to grow out of control. This can be caused by certain climates or health conditions, but also by cosmetics, soaps, and other topical skin care products.

Although Candida infections of the skin can affect any part of the body, its prime locations are the areas that are warm and moist. Most Candida infections are in the groin, armpits, or feet. Symptoms include itching and an angry rash.[6]

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4. Low Energy and Fatigue

Although fatigue is a common ailment in modern life, it’s also a symptom in Candida sufferers. There are many ways that an overgrowth of Candida yeast can contribute to low energy and consistent exhaustion.

When the balance of your gut microbiome is disrupted by Candida, your digestive function will be less efficient. This can lead to nutritional deficiencies because your body is unable to break down food properly. Low levels of vitamin B6, essential fatty acids, and magnesium are often linked to tiredness and fatigue. Deficiency in magnesium is often linked to fatigue.

In addition, a weakened immune system can also contribute to poor energy levels. If your gut microbiome is compromised by Candida yeast, it will not be able to fight off other invading pathogens and illnesses as efficiently. This can leave you more susceptible to infection and suffering from chronic exhaustion.

Some practitioners believe that Candida overgrowth may be linked to chronic fatigue syndrome.

5. Mind and Mood Problems

Mood swings, anxiety, low mood, irritability, poor memory, and brain fog are often attributed to hormones or stress, but that’s not always the case. Candida overgrowth is a major cause of mind and mood issues that can make life difficult.

Research has shown a gut-brain axis in which our brains are inextricably linked to your gastrointestinal tract. In fact, up to 95% of our serotonin (the neurotransmitter responsible for regulating mood) is made in your gut. Low levels of serotonin can result in mood disorders such as depression, anxiety, and irritability.[7]

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It’s for this reason that most antidepressant medications work by blocking the brain’s serotonin receptors because this allows more serotonin to ‘stay’ in the brain.

An overgrowth of Candida yeast can suppress the production of neurotransmitters, such as serotonin, by interrupting your body’s ability to create it. Candida also breaks down the wall of your intestines and gains access to the bloodstream where it can release toxic byproducts.

One of the most serious of these byproducts is acetaldehyde, which can also react with the neurotransmitter dopamine. This can affect mental wellbeing and lead to developing anxiety, panic attacks depression, poor concentration, and brain fog.[8]

How to Treat Candida Overgrowth

If you have identified with the symptoms above, now is a good time to start treating the root of your problems: Candida overgrowth.

Diet is a major factor in overgrowth, so your treatment should begin by reexamining the foods you eat every day.[9]

Try to limit your intake of sugars and simple carbs, as these are the main ‘fuel’ for the Candida yeast. You should also add plenty of antifungal foods and supplements to your daily menus, such as garlic, oregano, coconut oil, and thyme.

Probiotics and fermented foods also help to re-establish the balance of good bacteria in your gut, which will help to counter a yeast overgrowth. This is particularly important following a course of antibiotics, as these can severely deplete the numbers of good bacteria in your gut.

Tips for Healthier Digestion

Featured photo credit: Christopher Campbell via unsplash.com

Reference

More by this author

Lisa Richards

Nutritionist, Creator of The Candida Diet, Owner of TheCandidaDiet.com

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Last Updated on July 8, 2020

18 Benefits of Journaling That Will Change Your Life

18 Benefits of Journaling That Will Change Your Life

The act of writing in a journal often seems daunting or unnecessary to many people. Even authors who work on novels might shun the idea of daily diaries. What purpose does jotting down words on a regular basis do if not contributing to the next novel, play or song? I know from experience many benefits of journaling that I wish to share.

1. Understand Yourself Better

Though many people and even writers avoid keeping journals, I vow to do it more often. Not only do I desire to take up daily journaling but also I plan to do it with pen to paper.

Some of the benefits I’ve found from my more active days include finding myself in the sense of understanding what matters to me and what I want out of life. I’ve been incredibly fortunate to find a spouse who is my best friend and advocate in raising children. I attribute this and much more to what I learned about myself in keeping journals for years.

2. Keep Track of Small Changes

I’ll admit that I never got very far with my guitar lessons, but in writing in a journal, I have seen the ability to track small changes like those that come when you practice anything.

Those learning a musical instrument often fail to see the small improvements that come with regular practice. Writing won’t help you switch chords any faster, but it will help you to develop a better sense for language and grammar just by doing it.

3. Become Aware of What Matters

As you continue to write in a journal, following a stream-of-consciousness feel, you can look back on the topics that you chose to write about. Those issues and emotions that poured out of you will provide insight on to what matters most to you.

You may not even realize that you’re job is depressing you or that you want to spend more time with your kids until you look over your thoughts that you weren’t really thinking about.

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4. Boost Creativity

The idea that the brain and its neural activity across hemispheres encourages learning also shows up in increased creativity. Just like with learning an instrument, your increased activity will inspire your thoughts to connect and reconnect in different ways.

When I wrote in a journal, I often wrote poetry as well as just my thoughts as they came out. I started to hear poems more in my mind; so much so that I took to scrawling lines on napkins and finding metaphors in mundane activities.

You really are what you do, so writing helps grow more than being a writer. Writing boosts the way you communicate and structure language, which really is a creative process.

5. Represents Your Emotions in a Safe Environment

A journal is as private as it gets. You can lock it in a safe or tuck it under a pillow and no one will accidentally share it on social media or have an opportunity to “leave a comment.”

Write about your sorrow as much as your happiness and frustration and know that you don’t have to keep your emotions inside your body. You can put them on paper.

6. Process Life Experiences

When you take the time to look back over what you’ve written, be it a week or a year later, you will have the distance you need to more objectively interpret your raw feelings.

Everything from losing a job to losing a loved one can emerge in a new light for a fresh perspective. Figuring out how the benefits of journaling affect your perspective on life will create connection and increase creativity.

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7. Stress Relief

In combining the exercise inherent in fine motor coordination that comes from the act of writing with the emotional release of self expression, those who maintain a journal relieve stress.

Try it out. Go home and write about your day. Write about the traffic. Write about the coffee order the barista got wrong but you didn’t have time to change. See how you can physically purge some of that pent-up stress by putting it on paper.

8. Provide Direction

Though journaling is often conducted as an activity without much direction, it often provides direction.

One of the biggest benefits of journaling is that your chaotic thoughts merge to show a direction in which to head. Asking the right questions is the only way to achieve the best solutions, so look to your journal to find your way toward your next goal.

9. Solve Problems

Just as in practicing math problems, we all get better at finding hidden solutions through the act of processing.

Think of your next goal as X and solve your life problems by reading your journals as word problems. The benefit of journaling here is that you write, explore and process to recognize and then solve problems.

When life is too in-your-face, you have to step back to see reality. Living in the moment allows us to write in the moment and use that expression to solve problems.

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10. Find Relief From Fighting

Solving your problems only comes after time to process, recognize and strategize. Just as in the benefit of journaling where relief comes from the act of writing, relief from fighting comes when you decide to “sit this one out” and communicate one-way.

Fighting is only productive when the fighters care to communicate and find common ground. When the emotions are as high as the stress levels, writing will function as the best time out.

11. Find Meaning in Life

Journaling will show you why you are living, whether you are wallowing in things you wish to change or striving to make the changes. Your life will begin to take on new meaning and your own words will reveal the actions that got you where you are so that you can assess and pave a new path for your future.

12. Allow Yourself to Focus

Taking even a small amount of time out of every day will provide you with not only peace of mind but also increased focus. Taking a break to meditate in writing and journaling will sharpen your mental faculties.

13. Sharpen Your Spirituality

When we write, we allow all the energy and experiences to flow through us, which often provides further insight into our own spirituality. Even if your parents didn’t raise you to follow a specific religion, your thoughts will start to show you what you believe about the universe and your place in it.

14. Let the Past Go

I’ve mentioned a few examples where going back over your writing offers advice and direction, but the simply truth is that writing down our feelings can be the best way to let them go. We can choose to literally throw these pages away when they’re filled with negativity and hate.

15. Allow Freedom

Journaling is the perfect way to not only express yourself but to also experience the freedom of being who you are. Your books can stay private or you can publish them. Your freedom stems from your sense of self and your perception of your thoughts.

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16. Enhance Your Career

Again, the private act of pen-to-paper processing provides the benefits of journaling mentioned above, but you can also enhance your career when you take similar ideas and categorize, edit and publish them in an online blog.

Your thoughts will often be personal and express emotions, but another benefit of journaling is uncovering fresh ideas about your work.

17. Literally Explore Your Dreams

All the benefits I’ve mentioned explore ideas, thoughts and emotions, which is also what our dreams and nightmares do. Through writing down your dreams from the previous night, you can enhance your creativity as well as connect some of the metaphorical dots from the rest of your journal.

18. Catalog Your Life for Others

No one wants to think about dying, but we all die. Leaving a journal will act as a way to reconnect with family and friends left behind. The ideas you wish to keep personal while you process the life you’re living will serve to rekindle and inspire those who loved you through the process.

We consider our partners our life witnesses, but writing provides a tangible mark on the world.

Now that you’ve learned all the benefits of journaling, it’s time to start writing a journal:

Featured photo credit: Kelly Sikkema via unsplash.com

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