When we talk about fungal infections, Candida albicans fungus is the most common fungus in the gut of human beings. It is generally a small part of the healthy microbiota, but sometimes it grows out of control and causes various health issues. The causes for this may be dysbiosis, stress, antibiotics etc. Researchers have shown that Candida colonisation delays healing of inflammatory lesions and that inflammation promotes colonisation. These effects may create a vicious cycle in which low-level inflammation promotes fungal colonization and promotes further inflammation.
Types of Fungal Infections
Aspergillus fungi- It can be inhaled causing fever, cough and sneezing.
Cryptococcus neoformans is found in the soil or in bird droppings resulting in cough and chest pain
Histoplasma capsulatum is found in the soil of the United states due to bird and bat faeces, which can cause flu-like symptoms, body aches, fever and cough.
Candida Albicans, is the most common yeast in the human body. It is normally present in skin and mucous membranes (gut, mouth, throat, vagina) and in small amounts it is harmless and is a part of the healthy microbiome.
Why does Candida proliferate?
When we are healthy then good microbiota keep the Candida overgrowth in control. However when there is a reduction in the quantity and diversity of good microbiota, it causes an imbalance and allows for the Candida to outgrow. These conditions usually happen due to multiple courses of antibiotics, nutrient deficient diet, stress, chronic illnesses, sugar and processed food, various medications, or a combination of any of these.
Common reasons of Dysbiosis (leading to Candida overgrowth)
Overuse of antibiotics
Long term use of steroids
Fungus thrives on sugar, carbohydrates, mouldy foods, fermented foods and vinegar. So, if you feel cravings for any of these, then there are chances you have a yeast overgrowth in your body.
Signs that you have Candida Overgrowth
Fungal infections on skin or nails, Athlete’s foot, Toenail fungus, arm pit, groin and under the breasts.
Thrush: It's a thick white coating seen on the tongue, cheeks, throat, or the roof of your mouth. Generally termed as oral thrush, which is a sign of candida overgrowth.
GI problems: Constipation, bloating, diarrhoea, heartburn
Bad breath, dry mouth
Joint pain, numbness
Lack of impulse control
Hyperactivity, Poor concentration, Brain fog, ADD, ADHD
Autoimmune diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, ulcerative colitis or multiple sclerosis
Mood swings, Anxiety, Depression
Strong cravings for sugar or refined carbohydrates
Eczema or psoriasis, Hives
Seasonal allergies or itchy ears
Chronic Urinary tract infections: These are mostly caused by bacteria, however Candida Albicans, an opportunistic fungi can overgrow in the urinary tract causing chronic infection.
Vaginal or rectal itching
How to test for Candida Overgrowth in the body?
Various advanced Functional Testing can help in identifying Fungal infections in the body.
1.Comprehensive Stool Test
A GI map test will test for Candida Albicans overgrowth and help rule out possible reasons for the candida overgrowth, such as dysbiosis or inflammatory markers leading to other health-related illnesses caused by the candida. It requires a stool sample for testing.
2.Organic Acid Testing It's a urine test which is used to detect a wide range of important biological markers of health. These markers are crucial to know how our metabolism is working. It also informs us about our levels of vitamins, important chemicals, like neurotransmitters or about the presence of toxins.
A candida profile blood test is another way to check for candida overgrowth. These tests look for an IgG, IgA, or IgM reaction to the fungus.
6 things you should do right away to deal with Candida Overgrowth.
Avoid all processed, refined and sugary foods.
Coconut has anti-fungal properties: Take 2 tablespoons of virgin coconut oil everyday in the morning empty stomach.
Garlic is a very potent anti-fungal agent. It also detoxifies the liver and colon.
Pumpkin seeds are rich in omega 3 and are very good antiviral and anti-fungal agents.
Ginger is a very powerful detoxifier for the liver. It also helps in dealing with indigestion issues from yeast overgrowth.
Stop fermented foods for a while: Fermented foods like sauerkraut, Vinegar and kimchi, though are good sources of probiotics, can also feed fungal overgrowth. Certain prebiotics too can feed fungal overgrowths. Though these foods are healthy we should avoid them for at least till we have die-off reactions with anti-fungal regimen.
After reading this blog, if you think you have symptoms of Candida Overgrowth, you can reach out to us. At the Functional Medicine Clinic, we help treat Candida Overgrowth using a holistic approach.
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Krause, R. et al. Role of Candida in antibiotic-associated diarrhea. J Infect Dis.(2001), 184(8),1065-9.