Candida is a naturally present fungus within our bodies. It typically lives in small amounts in areas like the mouth, stomach and on our skin, and helps us out with digestion and nutrient absorption. However, when our systems get out of whack we can experience an overgrowth of this fungus, which is called candidiasis.
The causes of candidiasis are varied, but typical causes are a diet high in processed foods and refined carbs and sugars, long term antibiotic usage, high stress lifestyle or a compromised immune system.
Candidiasis can lead to common problems, such as oral thrush or yeast infections, as well as long term issues such as chronic fatigue, sinus infections, chronic digestive issues (leaky gut) and joint pain, just to name a few. The oral thrush and yeast infections are easy to diagnose and treat, however long term overgrowth of candida, if left untreated, can lead to other chronic ailments that aren’t so easily diagnosed as candida overgrowth. The symptoms of candida overgrowth can be vague and seemingly unrelated to candida – things like “fatigue” and “digestion issues” are common and can be related to a lot of other health issues. The inability to easily diagnose becomes dangerous because when the issue goes untreated for too long, this allows the candida to thrive and eventually enter the bloodstream and travel through the body, turning the issue systemic.
Diagnosis can be done through blood work, but stool and urine analysis is usually more effective. A functional medicine doctor can walk you through these tests and how they work, but basically your blood can be tested for antibodies, urine tests for yeast byproducts, and stool is tested for actual yeast is overgrown.
Fortunately, this does is not have to be a lifelong problem. Instituting a few changes early on if you suspect this could be an issue for you, is key to ensuring these problems do not become chronic. The first and foremost issue to heal the gut by addressing diet. Candida thrives on sweet, so cutting out processed carbs and refined sugars is vital. This cuts of the source of food, allowing the “good” bacteria to once again flourish. Some foods to add into the diet are: garlic, turmeric and coconut oil which are great anti-inflammatories. As well as a high quality probiotic. Some people promote oil of oregano supplements, but they can be controversial as they can sometimes affect good bacteria in addition to the overgrowth of candida. Once these changes have been instituted, it can take several months to notice a change, but most patients report better digestion, deeper feelings of rest, less “foggy headedness”, and an overall feeling of “lightness”.
Finally, acupuncture is a great tool in the battle against candida! Acupuncture excels at aiding and improving digestion and while nutritional changes will need to be implemented in order to see big changes, acupuncture can help minimize the time it will take to see those changes. As well as giving an overall sense of well being!