Now that summer is upon us, we might be indulging in some more barbeques, beer drinking, iced coffees and sweet cold drinks. Small amounts of these treats might not do much harm for some people, however the increase in sugar can feed a yeast in our bodies called Candida albicans. A condition that is known as Candidiasis is a systemic (whole body) problem that can affect our digestive tracts, skin, liver, adrenal glands and reproductive organs as well as our immune systems.
It is normal for our bowels to have small amounts of Candida in balance with beneficial bacteria, however when the number of yeast organisms outnumber the good bacteria, then many adverse health conditions can develop.
Gastrointestinal symptoms such as bloating, gas, diarrhea and constipation are common with Candida overgrowth. If the condition worsens, and toxins are released into the bloodstream a person may experience low energy, memory loss, difficulty concentrating, headaches, irritability, sinus problems, weight gain or chronic fatigue syndrome. Recurrent vaginal yeast infections can be a common concern for many females and fungal infections anywhere on the body might be a symptom for both males and females. Food cravings, especially for wheat, sugar and other simple carbohydrates are most often present. Other common complaints include muscle or joint pains, recurrent bladder infections, dry, rashy or itchy skin, heightened sensitivity to environment chemicals such as soaps, perfumes, household cleaners and tobacco and premenstrual syndrome.
Candida can arise for many different reasons. Diets high in simple carbohydrates along with chronic antibiotic use are the two most common causes for Candida overgrowth. Other possible causes include long term birth control, cortisone use, prolonged antacid therapy or estrogen therapy.
Candida can be diagnosed through stool or throat tests however the tests do not always show a presence of yeast. In which case, your Naturopathic Doctor might choose to go ahead with treatment based on your symptoms and history.
Treatment will most likely begin with dietary changes usually involving avoidance of simple carbohydrates such as sweets, breads, vinegars and alcoholic beverages. Depending on the severity of the case, a more strict diet might be implemented. Along with the dietary modifications, your Naturopathic Doctor will likely prescribe natural anti-fungal and probiotic supplements.
Candida overgrowth can reoccur if not treated properly. Therefore, if you think you have any symptoms of Candida, it is best to work under the care of a Naturopathic Doctor to ensure that treatment is effective so that the Candida does not come back.
Top 10 Candida Symptoms
- Strong cravings for sugar and refined carbohydrates
- Low energy (might be a misdiagnosed case of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome)
- Vaginal yeast infections, chronic vaginal itching
- Digestive symptoms of bloating, gas, constipation and diarrhea (similar symptoms to Irritable Bowel Syndrome)
- Difficulty concentrating
- Inability to loose weight
- Chronic body aches (similar to fibromyalgia)
- Itchy skin (might look like eczema, hives or psoriasis)
- Fungal nail or skin infections such as Athlete’s foot
- Decreased immune function
* You don’t need to have all of these symptoms to be diagnosed with Candida.