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Yeast Overgrowth, What You Can Do

What Sets the Stage for Yeast (Candida) Overgrowth?

Let’s Start with Antibiotics

When your doctor prescribes an antibiotic to address an infection, 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 can cause a big disturbance to the GI system.

(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.)

Our bodies are also exposed to antibiotics through the food supply. Many farmers regularly use antibiotics in raising of animals. Antibiotics help the animals gain weight and may minimize spread of diseases, especially with animals raised in close quarters. 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.

The use of these products was ramped up to try to reduce the spread of the coronavirus.

Our Diets

Our diets influence the composition of the gut flora. Candida love sugar and sugar feeds candida.

sugar and candidaA 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.

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 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. Acid is a less hospitable environment for Candida.

Stress!

It’s no surprise that emotional stress has been associated with yeast overgrowth.

Stress affects the immune system and a weakened immune system also provides 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.

For microbes, it’s all about survival. 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 to Reduce Yeast Overgrowth?

1. Modify the 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
  • Purchase antibiotic-free meats and chicken

2. Use a probiotic and probiotic-rich foods to replenish “good’ bacteria, reduce inflammation and support a healthy gut lining, making it more difficult for the yeast to take hold

3. Strengthen your immune system, including using self-care and stress reduction techniques

4. If steps 1-3 are not sufficient to address the overgrowth and symptoms, work with your healthcare practitioner with medication or botanicals to reduce the yeast population. Simultaneously continue with diet modifications, probiotic and self-care.

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