You may never have heard of the term “candida overgrowth,” but that doesn’t mean that you haven’t been affected by it. In fact, the combination of a standard Western diet and a lifetime of antibiotic consumption have left most of us battling this condition without even being aware of it. A quick glance at the shocking list of symptoms it causes, however, will quickly resonate with most readers, and explain a lot about the fatigue and general feeling of ill health that many of us cope with on a daily basis.
This article will provide all the information needed to understand just what candida overgrowth is, how to recognize its symptoms and, most importantly, how to correct the imbalances that cause it. (Related: Antibiotics cause health problems and candida overgrowth.)
What is candida?
As explained by Waking Times, candida is an essential fungus which lives in all our bodies. We are designed to have a balanced amount of candida in our mouths and intestines to aid digestion and nutrient absorption, but problems develop when imbalances caused by the consumption of too many antibiotics and the wrong kinds of foods cause it to grow out of control. Too much candida can break through the intestinal walls, causing digestive problems and a host of other issues.
Identifying a candida problem can be tricky because of the diverse number of symptoms it can trigger all over the body. However, there are definite clues that can identify the problem if one knows what to look out for. These include:
- Sensitivity and allergies to mold;
- Asthma and hay fever;
- Unusual sensitivity to perfumes and airborne substances;
- Cold hands and feet;
- Fungal infections like athlete’s foot;
- Flu- and cold-like symptoms, including nasal congestion;
- Digestive problems, including acid reflux, gas and constipation;
- Problems with the ears, including tinnitus (ringing in the ears) and ear infections;
- Hair loss, dandruff or itchy, flaky scalp;
- Joint and muscle pain, stiffness and swelling;
- Trouble sleeping;
- Skin problems, including eczema, hives, itching and rashes.
If you or someone in your family is experiencing several of these symptoms, it might be worth getting a candida overgrowth test from your holistic practitioner. Alternatively, according to Waking Times, the following simple home test will provide an indication of a candida problem in the body:
Make sure you conduct this test first thing in the morning, before you eat or drink anything.
Fill a glass with room-temperature, filtered water.
Work up some saliva and spit it into the glass of water.
Wait 30 minutes (you may need to wait up to 60 minutes) and check the saliva. If you see string traveling down into the water from the saliva, or if cloudy saliva has sunk to the bottom of the glass, you may have a candida problem.
What causes candida overgrowth?
Since candida is a natural substance in our body, what causes it to multiply in an uncontrolled way? According to Dr. Amy Myers, the six most common causes of candida overgrowth are:
- A diet high in processed carbohydrates;
- Excessive consumption of alcohol;
- Fermented foods (if you have an active Candida infection);
- Certain medications, particularly antibiotics;
- Autoimmune diseases that suppress the body’s ability to fight infections; and
- Chronic, ongoing stress, which interferes with the body’s digestive system.
What to do if candida has become a problem
A candida overgrowth is essentially a reflection of a body out of balance. It is vital to eliminate certain things and introduce others in order to restore that balance:
Eliminate sugary, processed foods, and switch to an immune-boosting diet high in lean proteins, good fats like nuts and avocado, and a limited number of the healthier carbohydrates like fruits and vegetables. The golden rule is to eat your food as fresh and as unprocessed as possible.
Boost your immune system with supplements like vitamins E and C and chlorella, and increase your consumption of raw garlic, unfiltered, raw apple cider vinegar, olive leaf extract and Pau d’arco.
Try to minimize stress, since chronic stress is a trigger for candida growth.
Increase the good bacteria in your gut by eating foods like yogurt, and by taking supplements with a minimum of 50 billion CFUs (colony forming units). Good probiotics usually need to be refrigerated.