Let’s Start with Antibiotics
Overuse of antibiotics can set the stage for candida (yeast) overgrowth.
When your doctor prescribes an antibiotic for an infection, cold or flu, not only does the antibiotic kill the bacteria responsible for your illness, it also destroys some of the beneficial bacteria in your gut that are essential for a healthy digestive tract.
This creates the “opening” of an ecological niche within which another species, like candida, can take hold. Antibiotics, while routine in our healthcare, are also a big disturbance to our GI systems.
(That’s why when on an antibiotic, many doctors also suggest taking a probiotic dietary supplement or eating yogurt or kefir with live cultures, or fermented foods like sauerkraut or kimchi.)
In addition, many farmers today regularly use antibiotics in the raising of animals. It helps the animals gain weight and may minimize spread of diseases, especially with animals raised in close quarters. This animal husbandry practice has been going on for over half a century. Antibiotic residues can be found in the meat and milk from these animals, as well as in our soil and water supplies.
Anti-microbial Products, Another Modern Invention
Anti-microbial products like hand sanitizers have become very prevalent…from the supermarket, to schools, to hospitals, to many of our homes.
And there are hundreds of soaps and cleaning supply products that “kill 99% of germs!”
Residues of these products also end up in our soil and water supplies.
A highly processed diet high in simple sugars and refined carbohydrates and low in fiber, is nourishing to candida. Their “feeding frenzy” feeds right into their ability to multiply.
Candy bars, cakes, cookies, and pies, sugared sodas, iced teas and other sugary beverages, refined sugared cereals, foods made with high fructose corn syrup, white bread, white rice, and regular pastas are some examples of foods very high in refined carbohydrates.
Some foods like alcohol and caffeine, can also irritate the gut, particularly if the gut is already inflamed.
Our Food Supply
While there is a trend in many parts of the country to eat locally from local farms, the majority of our food supply is still transported long distances. For example, it generally takes 3 days for food from farms in California to reach supermarkets in New York.
Today, food is usually handled in bulk quantities, is treated to have a longer shelf life and is usually stored for additional days until it is processed or arrives at the supermarket. During this time mold and fungal mycotoxins can develop in stored grains and fruit.
Medications, Prescriptions and Over-the-Counter
Prescription hormones, especially progesterone and birth control pills can cause or contribute to candida overgrowth.
Some other medications, especially ones that can cause irritation or inflammation in the gut lining (such as aspirin or NSAIDs, non-steroidal inflammatory drugs like ibuprofen or excessive use of laxatives) can provide an opportunity for candida to establish itself.
Counterintuitively, prescription corticosteroids (like prednisone) which are aimed to reduce inflammation, favor candida overgrowth.
Medications that reduce acidity (such as those for gastric reflux), create a more yeast-friendly alkaline environment for them to thrive in.
It’s no surprise that emotional stress has been linked to yeast overgrowth.
Stress affects the immune system and a weakened immune system also provides the candida with an advantage to proliferate.
It’s all part of the mind-body connection.
A Vicious Cycle
Candida overgrowth itself exacerbates and perpetuates the overgrowth situation. The candida produce acetaldehyde which can damage membranes.
Once candida takes hold, it doesn’t readily give up its dominating position in the microflora ecosystem. It requires an intervention.
What Can You Do? The 4 Step Clinical Process for Yeast Overgrowth
The four step clinical process to eradicate yeast overgrowth:
1. Kill the yeast overgrowth with medication, botanicals, and/or enzymes
2. Modify your diet as to not provide nourishment for the yeast to proliferate
- Eat a diet with lots of fresh vegetables (especially green leafy vegetables), fish, lean meat, lean chicken, eggs, nuts, seeds, small amount of fruit (fruit has natural sugar), healthy oils like olive oil
- Avoid foods with yeast (baked goods and bread)
- Dairy and foods made with mold (e.g. some cheeses) should be eliminated at first, and can be added back to the diet in small amounts if tolerated
3. Use probiotics to replenish “good’ bacteria (foods with probiotics and a daily probiotic supplement)
4. Make your immune system stronger, including using self-care and stress reduction techniques
Note: Biofilms, which protect pathogenic or overgrown microbial communities, make it hard to eradicate or rebalance their populations. Specific enzymes are helpful in “digesting” the biofilms so that antifungal medications and botanicals can get to the problematic microbes.
If your problem persists, it’s advisable to consult with an integrative physician.