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Lets Talk Gut Health: Candida




Overview


Candida albicans is a normal yeast inhabitant of the gastrointestinal system, genitourinary tract, and skin. However, when the immune system is down and triggered by external factors, C. Albicans behaves like a pathogen. This is why it is called opportunistic.


Basically, when conditions such as an increase in inflammation and an alteration in the normal pH of the body occur, the environment becomes more conducive to yeast overgrowth. These are triggered by excessive moisture, warmth, and an increase in skin pH. Or a change in diet, such as an increase in consumption of sweets, caloric intake, and daily consumption of sources of yeast.


In the presence of the immune system being suppressed, it becomes harder for the body to cease its overgrowth. This is why the usual culprit to a recurrence is underlying immunosuppression seen in Diabetics, malnourished individuals, and HIV/AIDS.


Other contributors would be stress, impaired glucose tolerance in non-diabetics, pregnancy, long-term use of steroids and oral contraceptive pills, broad-spectrum antibiotics, and having a high body mass index.


What are the symptoms?

Since Candidiasis manifests in different parts of the body, the symptoms vary per area.


Gastrointestinal

Many individuals experience chronic GI distress when a candida infection is present, as the yeast overtakes and inhabits the intestines. Symptoms are caused by a lack of a healthy bacterial balance in the intestines.



Common GI Symptoms:

  • Persistent flatulence

  • Burping

  • Bloating

  • Constipation

  • Diarrhea

  • Stomach cramps





Oral

Oral thrush usually develops from antibiotic intake and immunosuppression.

It presents with:


  • Dry mouth

  • Red and smooth tongue

  • White patches in the mouth and throat

  • Perlèche: horizontal, dry, red, and sometimes whitish fissures on the sides of the lips





Urinary/ Genital

On the other hand, Genitourinary Candidiasis is usually observed during pregnancy, in diabetics, from having sexual relations with an uncircumcised sexual partner, and from long- term Tamoxifen use. Causing alteration in the normal pH of the vagina.

Can be triggered by:

  • Douching

  • Use of contraceptives

  • Sexual Behavior: Orogenital sex more than twice in 2 weeks, anal intercourse, female masturbation with saliva, a high number of lifetime sex partners, sexual intercourse during menstruation


As for males, the risk factors would include masturbating with saliva and engaging in sexual activities at a younger age.


What are the symptoms?

Most cases complain of:

  • Itchiness (50%)

  • Redness and moist labia minora in females (24%)

  • Watery to curd-like or cottage cheese discharge

  • Discomfort while urinating


Women with vulvovaginal candidiasis are seen with lower levels of hydrogen peroxide- producing Lactobacilli, and with higher levels of non-hydrogen peroxide-producing Lactobacilli. This is why the probiotic intake is suggested in recurrent cases.



Mind / Mood

Brain fog is actually a symptom of a candida infection. Many of the symptoms of candida are similar to those of common mood disorders.



Common Mental/Mood Symptoms:

  • Brain Fog

  • Inability to Focus

  • Depression

  • Anxiety

  • Manic feelings

  • Mood swings

  • Irritability

  • Difficulty concentrating

  • Feeling ‘spacy’


Skin & Nails

As for the skin and nails, it occurs in areas that are prone to moisture. Such as, the groin, in between the buttocks, armpits, under the breasts, abdominal folds, and belly buttons. Skin issues are more signs of a chronic candida infection.


The oxygen circulation in these areas are affected; thus, promoting yeast overgrowth.

What does the rash look like on the skin?

  • Red and moist patches with itchiness

  • Collarette Scale (easy to lift edges with an adherent center)

How does it manifest on the nails?

Candidal paronychia is seen with red proximal nail folds and brownish thickening on the nail plate. You should avoid wetting your fingers frequently and introducing irritants to prevent a recurrence.


How is it diagnosed?

Based on the history and symptoms, your doctor might order a few tests for confirmation.


One is a KOH test that identifies the presence of C. Albicans and differentiates it from other kinds of Candida.


However, if you are negative in your KOH test and still experience a recurrence, culture and/or PCR test will most likely be done.


How is it treated?

Your attending physician will prescribe an antifungal drug along with a steroid to manage the symptoms.





Defueling Candida Through Diet

Since yeast overgrowth is influenced mostly by disrupted gut flora and general inflammation in the body, a diet that is anti-inflammatory and is low in sugar will help in defueling the Candida.


Candida is known to use the sugar in the gut to protect itself from our immune system. Hence, removing it from your diet would help you recover faster. (13)


**Note that this diet is only encouraged until symptoms resolve.


Time: Estimated minimum of 3 to 6 months

Technique: Rotate your food: Only eat the same kind of food every 3 to 4 days

Avoid: Refined sugar, starch, yeast, mold foods


Include in Diet:

Fresh vegetables with high water and low water content

  • 50% to 60% of your food intake daily must be from vegetables.

  • Preferably, raw or steamed green leafy vegetables.

Protein

  • >60 grams per day of antibiotic and hormone-free meat.

  • Preferably, deep-water ocean fish and raw organic seeds and nuts.

Limit

Complex carbohydrates, fats, and fresh fruits high in sugar

  • Only <1 serving a day.

  • Reintroduce slowly into the diet after 21 days.

  • Dilute fresh fruit juices in a 1:1 ratio with water.


Water Intake

½ ounce per pound of body weight

C. Albicans releases large amounts of toxins when they die. So it is very important to hydrate yourself properly.



Additional Therapies

There are not enough studies that support the claim that natural remedies can replace antifungal prescription drugs. Which is why we would like to stress that the following are just additional therapies. We still encourage you to see your doctor for proper treatment.


  • Grapefruit Seed Extract

  • Probiotics

  • Oregano Oil

  • Garlic Echinacea

  • Coconut Oil

  • Tea Tree Oil

  • Pomegranate

  • Essential Fatty Acids: Omega-3 and Omega-6

  • Propolis

  • Caprylic Acid

  • Gentian Violet


Prevention

Candidiasis is very notorious for its recurrence especially when the gut flora is altered or when the environmental factors cannot be easily eliminated.


So here are a few tips on how you can prevent the yeast from becoming a pathogen:

  • Avoid tight-fitting undergarments.

  • Prefer cotton underwear over other fabrics to allow air to flow through the vaginal area.

  • Avoid panty liners because they absorb moisture.

  • Avoid douching and using scented soaps or pads because they can change the normal flora of the vagina.

  • Maintain a healthy diet and lifestyle to avoid inflammation and maintain normal flora.
























References

  1. Candidiasis. (n.d.). Retrieved June 2, 2020, from http://owensborohealthse3.adam.com/content.aspx?productid=107&isarticlelink=false&pid=33&gid=000030


  1. Echinacea: Health Benefits, Dosage, and Side Effects. (2019, February 2). Retrieved June 3, 2020, from https://www.thecandidadiet.com/echinacea/


  1. Enloe, M. A. S. (2018, October 21). The Candida Diet: Beginner’s Guide and Meal Plan. Retrieved June 4, 2020, from https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/candida-diet#getting-started


  1. Goldman, R. (n.d.). How to Treat a Yeast Infection. Retrieved June 2, 2020, from https://www.healthline.com/health/womens-health/effective-yeast-infection-remedies#causes


  1. Gotter, A. (2016, December 16). Caprylic Acid: Coconut Oil’s Secret. Retrieved June 4, 2020, from https://www.healthline.com/health/caprylic-acid-coconut-oil#benefits


  1. Gotter, A. (2019, February 21). Grapefruit Seed Extract for Candida: Does It Work? Retrieved June 2, 2020, from https://www.healthline.com/health/grapefruit-seed-extract-candida


  1. Leonard, J. (2020, February 26). Eight home remedies for a yeast infection. Retrieved June 2, 2020, from https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/317935#home-remedies


  1. Md, W. J. D., Md, E. D., Md, B. T., & Md, N. I. (2016). Andrews’ Diseases of the Skin: Clinical Dermatology (12th ed.). Philadelphia, United States: Elsevier.


  1. Meyer, H., Goettlicher, S., & Mendling, W. (2006). Stress as a cause of chronic recurrent vulvovaginal candidosis and the effectiveness of the conventional antimycotic therapy. Mycoses, 49(3), 202–209. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1439-0507.2006.01235.x


  1. Propolis: Uses, Side Effects, Interactions, Dosage, and Warning. (n.d.). Retrieved June 2, 2020, from https://www.webmd.com/vitamins/ai/ingredientmono-390/propolis


  1. Rakel, D. (2012). Integrative Medicine (Vol. 3). Philadelphia, United States: Elsevier Saunders.


  1. Rowles, R. A. D. (2017, June 16). 9 Benefits and Uses of Oregano Oil. Retrieved June 3, 2020, from https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/9-oregano-oil-benefits-and-uses#section11


  1. The Candida Diet. (n.d.). Retrieved June 4, 2020, from https://www.thecandidadiet.com/


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