5 Things That May Be Contributing to Candida
For some, candida is a word thrown around the health space that seems to encompass all manner of things. For those living with the condition, it can be one of the most debilitating and restrictive diseases states that impairs every part of daily life. So what is candida? And how exactly does it develop? We’ve spoken to gut health expert Donna Gates to discover 5 things that may be contributing to candida, so you can address any underlying triggers and prevent it from developing.
But what actually is candida?
By definition, this condition is an overgrowth that relates to an imbalance in the gut flora. By now, many of us in the holistic health space understand the importance of a thriving gut microbiome, and just how detrimental it can be when it’s not functioning optimally. While typically, candida begins in the gut, it can spread throughout the body when our digestive system is impaired by leaky gut syndrome. And the worst thing it’s doing? Spreading toxins throughout the body.
So what’s contributing to candida manifestation in the body?
Candida is often amplified by lifestyle factors, that can be minimized to reduce the impact on our daily lives. The yeast overgrowth is responsible for a number of common ailments like brain fog, sinus infections, headaches, fatigue, yeast infections, urinary tract infections, and more. While it can be normal for these yeasts to reside in the intestinal tract in small amounts; in fact, they can aid nutrient absorption and digestion. Candida yeasts only become an issue when they are allowed to proliferate due to an imbalance in gut bacteria or a suppressed immune system. You can discover all about the condition in our wellness guide, but in the meantime, it makes sense to consider our relationship with these contributing factors.
1. Antibiotics & Other Drugs
Most of us are no strangers to the harmful effects of antibiotics on our overall health, and candida is just another painful manifestation to add to the list. Medications like antibiotics destroy the friendly, good bacteria in the gut that play a huge role in our immune system. When the good bacteria are destroyed, it creates an opportunity for fast-growing yeasts to take over and grow unchecked.
But according to Donna’s research, it’s not just antibiotics contributing to the condition. “Well, you know, many drugs actually contribute to/cause candida, not just antibiotics,” she said. “People tell me, “I have this breakout on my skin, my doctor gave me steroids. I have, gut problems or issues peeing. I’m just on these painkillers and steroids...” They’re all contributing. Even birth control pills, which so many, many, many women are on can make yeast.”
2. Too Much Refined Sugar
Perhaps the most commonly understood influencing factor is refined sugar. After all, refined sugar is a toxin in the body that breaks down to glucose - yeast’s preferred source of energy. Both sugar and refined carbohydrates provide the infection with ample access to the fuel they need to proliferate and begin to take over the intestinal tract, so this is especially important to consider when adopting treatment protocol post-diagnosis, however, it’s also something to be aware of in daily diets as a contributing factor.
3. Chronic Stress
Stress doesn’t just impact our mental or spiritual health, decades of research and firsthand experience have shown us that prolonged chronic stress has a profound effect on our physical health. Many of us have seen how it can lead to inflammation, weight gain, and even the development of severe chronic disease, but Donna’s research has shown it is also a major contributing factor for candida.
“A huge one is stress,” she has said. “Because the gut bacteria (the good ones) are destroyed by stress. And too much sugar destroys them too. So if you’re destroying them, instead of growing healthy bacteria in your gut, then the (Candida) yeast are opportunistic, and they will take over and control that environment. So stress is a big one.”
To add to that, not only does it obliterate the good parts of the microbiome, but as it suppresses the immune system and also signals the body to release stored glucose into the bloodstream, it allows the colony to proliferate as they thrive in this inflamed environment.
4. Impaired Gut Microbiome
Candida isn’t the only kind of flora living within the digestive tract. Our gut microbiome is the army of bacteria, both good and bad, that support our body to function. Typically, we’re all made up of an individual colony that’s influenced by the foods we eat, the exercise we do, the environments we live in, and other factors at play. However, the one thing that’s crucial for good health is that the good bacteria outweigh the bad. So when our good bacteria are outnumbered or impaired, it makes it much easier for conditions like candida to thrive.
5. Weakened Immune System
Finally, light needs to be shed on the role of a weakened immune system in Candida development. The opportunity for yeasts to rapidly reproduce is enhanced in those with an existing inflammatory or autoimmune condition. It’s another important factor that Donna refers to in her research. “There is also the immune system being weak,” she mentioned. “Because it’s up to the immune system to control the yeast but we have may have other infections in our body.” Our immune systems can only tolerate so much, so the less strain we can place on our ‘bodyguard’, the better.
Candida may currently be impacting your life, or it may be a completely new condition for you, but it’s important to know how to heal from the infection from a holistic mindset if and when it does arise.
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