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Candida…have you heard of this before?
Candida is a fungus. It is the most common type of yeast infection found in the body. At normal levels, candida aids with nutrient absorption and digestion. When it overgrows, candida breaks down the walls of the digestive tract, penetrating the bloodstream and releasing harmful toxins.
So what causes candida overgrowth? Here are a few of the reasons your gut may be thrown out of whack.
Too many processed foods
Eating a diet high in refined carbohydrates or consuming alcohol regularly. Sugar is what feeds yeast. A gut environment full of carbohydrates (like white flour and foods containing a lot of sugar) contributes to candida overgrowth. Candida uses sugar to grow and build their cell walls (which are made up of 80% carbohydrates). Candida also uses sugar to switch to its full, pathogenic, fungal form → this makes it much harder for your immune system to successfully remove the yeast.
Frequent Use of Antibiotics
Repeated use of antibiotics will create a gut environment perfect for yeast overgrowth. Although the antibiotics will kill the harmful bacteria for which it was ordered, it also destroys all the good bacteria that live in your gut. This good bacteria usually works as an army, keeping yeast at bay. If all of this good bacteria is lost, the fast-growing candida will quickly dominate the gut.
Daily birth control pills place you at risk for a candida outbreak as their main ingredient (estrogen) is known to promote the growth of yeast. Hormonal imbalances caused by birth control pills can throw your gut environment off balance, allowing for yeast to take over.
Too Much Stress
Stress can quickly change the colonization patterns of bacteria in your gut in two different ways. When you experience physiologic stress, certain strains of bacteria (the bad guys) are colonized more aggressively than others (the good guys). Stress also causes your body to release cortisol → cortisol is a hormone that depresses your immune system and raises your blood sugar levels. Candida feeds on this extra sugar and your immune system is powerless to stop it. This extra yeast will then leak into your bloodstream and continue to perpetuate your stress in a vicious cycle!
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Your intestines are delicate! They contain a mix of microorganisms and yeasts that all work together to process and digest the food you eat. These organisms depend on the right environment to support a healthy gut. Candida overgrowth can cause serious and overwhelming health problems. When this happens, you will fall victim to:
Worsening Seasonal Allergies
Alcohol and Sugar Cavings
How do you fight candida overgrowth?
- Provide your body with good, healthy bacteria to fight against this stubborn fungus. Eat a variety of fruits and vegetables notorious for promoting gut health (yogurt, miso, sauerkraut, pickles). If those foods don’t seem too appealing, try a probiotic supplement.
- Remove the bad stuff. Adding foods like garlic, coconut oil, cinnamon, lemon, ginger, salmon, and cloves to your diet may help you decrease the amount of yeast in your gut.
- Feed the good bacteria to promote their growth and colonization. Try prebiotic supplements or eat more prebiotic foods, like bananas, artichokes, onions, garlic, honey and asparagus.