I know we just met, but I’m going to ask you a very personal question: Have you ever had a yeast infection? Don’t be embarrassed. A lot of people get them. If you’re a woman, chances are you’ve suffered from the intense itching and white discharge associated with a vaginal yeast infection. Both women and men can also experience yeast overgrowth in the mouth (known as Oral Thrush), which can cause white lesions to form on the tongue and cheeks. Or maybe you’ve dealt with yeast overgrowth on the outside of your body, which can result in red, itchy rashes in the folds of your skin. No matter what type of yeast infection you’ve endured, it’s pretty fair to say that it was annoying and maybe even a little bit painful. Read on to find out why you get yeast infections, why they can be dangerous if left untreated, and how to naturally heal them.
The most common type of yeast infection found in the vagina, mouth, intestinal tract, and skin is caused by a fungus called Candida Albicans. Let me start by saying small amounts of Candida in the body is perfectly normal. In fact, very small amounts of yeast live inside your mouth and intestines on a regular basis. So there is candida yeast inside your body right now. Don’t worry, though, this is a good thing. When in proper levels, Candida actually benefits the body by aiding digestion and helping with nutrient absorption. The only time Candida is truly a problem is when it’s overproduced.
When the body produces too much Candida, you will begin to notice symptoms of a yeast infection (full list of symptoms below). While this may sound relatively harmless, think again.
If left untreated, Candida can spread to other parts of your body. It can break down your intestinal walls and penetrate the bloodstream. If that happens, toxic by-products will be able to enter into your body causing Leaky Gut Syndrome and a slew of other health problems. As you can see, it’s crucial to keep Candida yeast levels at bay.
7 Causes Of Candida Overgrowth
1) Poor Diet
Have you ever heard the phrase, “Standard American Diet (SAD)?” This refers to a diet that’s low in fiber and plant-based foods. It’s also high in unhealthy fats, complex carbohydrates (like sugar), and processed foods. SAD is linked to an increased risk of cancer, heart disease, stroke, digestive disorders, poor gut health, and yeast overgrowth.
Doctors say one of the main culprits is sugar. The sweet stuff many people love (and can actually become addicted to) feeds bad bacteria and Candida yeast, allowing it to grow and spread. It’s important to realize that Candida isn’t only fueled by milk chocolate bars and cupcakes. There are hidden sugars in just about all processed foods — from sauces to condiments, and even crackers! Plus, grains can contribute to Candida since the body breaks grains down into sugar.
Now that you know sugar can feed Candida yeast, it may not come as a big surprise to you that people with diabetes (both Type 1 and Type 2) are more susceptible to an overgrowth/ yeast infections. Uncontrolled diabetes causes the level of glucose (AKA sugar) in saliva to increase, which creates a breeding ground for Candida.
If you are someone who rushes to the doctor every time you get sick then chances are you take a lot of antibiotics. Doctors sure do love prescribing antibiotics, don’t they? Don’t get me wrong, sometimes they are needed to fight off stubborn infections. However, a lot of people use them as their first line of defense and such frequent antibiotic use can kill off too many friendly bacteria in your body. It’s that good bacteria that’s responsible for keeping Candida under control. So if you kill off too many of your beneficial bacteria, Candida may overproduce to an unhealthy level.
Before you turn to antibiotics, it’s always worth trying to heal your body the natural way. Eat plenty of nutrient-dense vegetables and lean proteins. Plus, make sure to stay hydrated and get enough rest.
While a glass of red wine a night can provide some health benefit, consuming too much alcohol could lead to Candida overgrowth. Knocking back a few too many adult beverages can alter the environment of your gut microbiome by killing off your beneficial bacteria. This is similar to how antibiotics affect your gut microbiome. As I just mentioned, good bacteria helps keep Candida under control.
5) Oral Corticosteroids
Corticosteroids help reduce swelling, redness, itching, and allergic reactions. They are used to treat a number of different diseases, including asthma. Researchers now know that asthma patients who use oral corticosteroids are at a higher risk for Candida overgrowth and yeast infections in the mouth. In one study, researchers compared 143 asthmatic patients treated with inhaled steroids, 11 asthmatic patients not treated with inhaled steroids, and 86 healthy volunteers. They found a significantly greater amount of yeast in patients who used inhaled steroids.
If you use oral corticosteroids, it’s important to rinse/clean your mouth out after each use to help prevent Candida yeast overgrowth. Find out other ways you can naturally fight Candida below!
6) Cancer Treatments
While chemotherapy and radiation can kill cancer cells, these harsh treatments can also kill off the friendly bacteria that naturally fights Candida. According to a double-blind randomized study, one-third of cancer patients who were going through treatment had “invasive” candidiasis. Doctors say this can cause serious complications. If you are undergoing cancer treatment and begin noticing signs of Candida yeast, talk to your doctor about it immediately.
7) Weakened Immune System
If you have a strong immune system then Candida yeast infections are rarely serious because the body will kick in and defend itself. However, if you have poor immunity then an infection can easily spread. In severe cases, the yeast can actually affect your blood, membrane lining the heart muscle, or membranes around the brain. Some people who suffer from a weakened immune system include:
- Small children
- The elderly
- People diagnosed with an autoimmune disease
- People diagnosed with HIV/AIDS
You may also like: