Are skin issues, fatigue, stomach problems or recurring infections hindering your daily life? Do you have no idea as to why it’s happening or where to start to fix it? One probable cause for these symptoms (plus many more) that I commonly see with my clients is candida overgrowth. However, because it’s symptoms are similar to other health conditions, sometimes it’s overlooked or misdiagnosed for another health problem. And sometimes, it is never addressed as the root cause of certain symptoms such as acne, eczema, and chronic allergies.
When you get care from a functional medicine provider, your symptoms will be looked at from all angles. The amazing thing about functional medicine is that since we dive deeper into your symptoms, history, and lab results to get to the root cause of your health issues, there’s no guesswork. This means that you can reach true optimal health faster. Let’s get into how candida overgrowth can affect your health and what you can do to overcome it.
The word Candida is referring to the Candida albicans fungus. It’s a prevalent yeast that is found throughout the gastrointestinal tract. It’s part of a healthy microbiome when it occurs in small amounts. However, as with many things in our body, too much of one thing can be detrimental. When this fungus gets out of control and extends past the normal amount, it can cause dysfunction throughout the body.
P.S. This is why it’s so critical to keep your gut microbiome healthy and in check!
Like many gut issues, candida overgrowth is most commonly caused by factors that support the bad gut bugs and discourage beneficial bugs.
These can include:
Frequent Antibiotic Use: While antibiotics kill off unwanted “bad bugs,” they also kill off the good guys and interfere with your healthy intestinal flora and increase the invasiveness of Candida.
High Sugar Intake: Sugar feeds and fuels the harmful bugs in your gut. When your glucose intake is high, you create an environment that Candida can thrive in, helping it expand to unhealthy levels. Studies show that higher glucose consumption may lead to higher Candida overgrowth. This is why individuals with diabetes have a higher risk of infection from Candida overgrowth.
Constant Stress: If you are dealing with stress day after day, the stress can suppress your immune system. Typically, a healthy immune system helps keep your candida levels at bay, so when your immune system is compromised, your candida levels can start growing exponentially.
Steroid Use: Both topical and oral steroids can predispose someone to fungal overgrowth. Typically when someone is on steroids long-term, we are digging deeper to make sure that they are not experiencing fungal issues.
You may be more susceptible to this if you have any of the following problems as well:
Chronic antibiotic use for any reason
Weak immune system
Fungal infections of skin or nails
Bloating and gas
Diarrhea or constipation
Vaginal yeast infections
Frequent bladder infections
Inability to concentrate
Allergies and itchy ears
Low immune function
Sensitivity to foods, chemicals, or other allergens
Craving for foods rich in carbohydrates or yeast
You can see how symptoms of candida overgrowth are plentiful. These symptoms are very common with other health issues as well, making it hard to pinpoint whether that fungus overgrowth is the actual cause. Getting help from a professional is highly recommended to first diagnose this and then create a plan that clears it up.
If I suspect candida overgrowth after discussing patient history and symptoms with my clients, I then turn to testing for confirmation. There are a couple of tests I personally use with my clients depending on the circumstances. These tests can give us a better insight into what’s going on and how we can fix it.
I initially perform a blood test to look for certain antibodies. IgG, IgA, and IgM Candida antibodies in your blood mean your immune system is responding to elevated Candida levels.
I then order stool testing for my clients. These stool tests can tell us the kinds of bad bacteria and pathogens in the gut microbiome. Sometimes, if Candida albicans doesn’t come back positive, other types of fungus and bacteria show up instead. Even if this isn’t what we expected, it’s beneficial to know in treating symptoms to reach maximum health. The stool test I personally use actually tests for 5 different candida species.
Urine Organic Acids Testing (OAT) can assess dysbiosis (bad bacteria build-up) and fungal markers. I check for elevated levels of particular markers in the urine: Arabinose, Citramalic Acid, and Tartaric Acid.
Even our sinuses passages can be a breeding ground for bacterial and fungal overgrowth.
I want to note that just because one test comes back negative, doesn’t necessarily mean you don’t have candida overgrowth. This is why we don’t rely on just one test. Multiple tests may have to be performed to diagnose this condition and get a well-rounded view of what’s going on inside your body.
The good news is, candida overgrowth can be cleared up. It may take some lifestyle changes, but YOU have the power to overcome this condition and take back your health. There are times and places for pharmaceuticals and always check with your provider on the best treatment for you.
Minimize antibiotic use when not absolutely necessary
Avoid taking hormones (like birth control).
Be mindful of your yeast and sugar intake. You don’t need to avoid ALL sugars, including fruit; however, you do want to limit it and be conscious of how much you are putting into your body.
Reduce and manage your stress. Give yoga, meditation, journaling, or breath exercises a try. Sometimes even daily walks outside in nature can help reduce your stress levels.
Use probiotics to encourage a healthy microbiome so that the “bad bugs” don’t overtake the beneficial bugs
Be aware if any toxic molds of fungi are lingering around in your home.
Follow an antifungal protocol from your provider. Certain things like Caprylic acid and other herbs can be very helpful in minimizing and eradicating yeast.
There are times and places for prescriptions for this condition so consult your provider
If you need access to a stool test, a gut health expert, and personalized protocols, the Get Your Gut Right program might be the right fit for you. This is a comprehensive health reset program that also focuses on nutrition, detox pathways, the nervous system, clean environment, and more. Click HERE to learn more.
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