Happy Herbivore Blog

February 24, 2012

What is Candida?

I've gotten a few questions from Herbies about candida and ways to treat it. Having not had candidiasis myself, I found out a few things that were interesting and wanted to share.

I have candida, and so do you. We all do. Candida is a type of yeast that lives in our body, normally the digestive system and mouth. It is normal and beneficial.

Candida itself is not a problem but can become so (like candidiasis or thrush) when there is too much of it. Candida is normally regulated so that it doesn't get out of control, but sometimes the natural balance of yeast and bacteria in the body is disrupted.

This can happen many different ways, but usually is caused by a weakened immune system. This can be from stress, poor diet, illness or even antibiotics.

When left uncontrolled, candida can multiply (it is a yeast after all) and spread through the body causing infections. Symptoms vary from person to person, but often included a rash of some sort.

Candidiasis can happen to anyone, man, woman or child.

Candidiasis is often controlled with anti-fungal medicine. There are several online companies that claim a Candida Cleanse is benefical and sell products (probiotics and diet plans) to help you control a candida outbreak. Most of these cleanses involve lessening sugar intake and eating more fresh foods.

According to the Mayo Clinic, there have not been any trials that show these cleanses to be effective for controlling an outbreak of candida, but that an improved diet (a part of the cleanses) does help people feel better.

Although that is not to say that changing your diet won't help with candidiasis. A healthy diet can booster the immune system.

A herbie recommended The Yeast Syndrome in the comments, though I have never read it myself so I can't say if I recommended it per se or not.

In addition to diet, yeast infections can also be the result of clothing, more speficically, your underwear. A friend of mine found she had to wear super lacey panties, so her lady area could, erm, breathe :)

More reading:

Limited effect of refined carbohydrate dietary supplementation on colonization of the gastrointestinal tract of healthy subjects by Candida albicans

What is a candida cleanse diet and what does it do?

Lastly, while Dr. Graham and his "fruitarian" lifestyle (80/10/10) is pretty controversial (Dr. McDougall actually spends an entire chapter in The Starch Solution on why a high fruit diet is not beneficial, and Jeff Novick MR RD made a comment that an all fruit diet could lead to some dietary deficiencies on Forks Over Knives blog), but he *does* have a seemingly informative video about candida on YouTube:

Understanding Candida (with Dr. Doug Graham)

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