How to Recognize and
Overcome Yeast Overgrowth
(a Surprisingly Common Chronic Illness)
Candida Albicans is a single-cell fungi that lives, often harmlessly, on your skin and in your intestines (and, women, in your vagina). However, as part of the family of yeasts, candida cells can multiply rapidly and if your system is out of balance it can easily grow out of control.
As many as 80 million Americans may suffer from yeast-related problems, and about 70% of these are women.
According to the National Candida Centers, “The bacteria to yeast ratio in a healthy person is about 10:1, so in a normal bowel everything lives in a nice ecological balance. The problem comes when your “inner ecology” gets off balance through a variety of causes … The bowel becomes vulnerable to other opportunistic microorganisms seeking a new home. With no healthy probiotics
It’s estimated that as many as 80 million Americans may suffer from yeast-related problems, and about 70% of these are women. Signs and symptoms of yeast overgrowth are varied and can include:
- Irritable bowel syndrome
- Food allergies
- Chronic fatigue syndrome
- Yeast infections
- Weight gain
Candida Can Take Over Your Entire Body
Candida overgrowth, also called candidiasis, typically begins in the digestive system and then spreads to other areas of your body. If you have a yeast infection, for instance, it’s a sign that candida has already spread throughout your body. Further, candida overgrowth in your digestive tract can also be responsible for dysbiosis, which is an imbalance in your intestinal flora that can lead to irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and leaky gut syndrome.
Yeast overgrowth begins when the flora in your digestive tract become unbalanced. When this occurs, the “bad” bacteria overwhelm the good, and diseases, like candidiasis, develop.
When your gut is overwhelmed by candida, the yeast can actually burrow into your intestinal wall, creating gaps in the membrane lining. These gaps, in turn, allow partially digested food particles along with the 180 toxic byproducts of yeast, to be absorbed by your bloodstream.
These toxins can then go on to create an allergic response that, according to YeastConnection.com (the Web site devoted to the work of Dr. William Crook, who wrote the book The Yeast Connection and was one of the first to recognize that yeast can cause illness), stimulates:
- Food cravings (especially for carbohydrates, yeast’s favorite food)
- Liver overload as it tries to deal with all these toxins
- Decreased thyroid function and metabolism because the liver is busy elsewhere
- Tremendous fluid retention to try to dilute the toxins
- Fat cells swelling as they trap toxins to try and protect the rest of the body
- Gas from yeast due to its normal metabolic functions
- Toxins that block thyroid hormone function
- Hormonal imbalance on all levels known as pseudohormones (false hormones) caused by environmental chemicals blocking receptor sites
- The stress of toxins, weight, and feeling awful create excessive release of cortisol, the chronic stress hormone, which has an added negative effect of making it nearly impossible to lose weight
In rare instances, candida can even enter your bloodstream resulting in a life-threatening condition called candidemia, which can harm your kidneys, liver, bones, muscles, joints, spleen and eyes and cause organ failure.
Knock-Out Candida With This
This three-pronged approach will give you the extra support you need to help overcome candida once and for all.
What Causes Yeast Overgrowth?
Since yeast overgrowth begins in your gut, the top contributing factors are typically those that also upset the balance of organisms in your digestive system. These include:
- Taking antibiotics, which kill both good and bad bacteria in your gut
- Eating lots of processed foods, especially sugar and refined carbs (which feed the yeast)
- Chronic stress and exposure to environmental toxins, which both lower your immune system’s ability to control candida
- Certain medications, including birth control pills, antacids, anti-inflammatories and corticosteroids, which promote the growth of yeast
- Excess alcohol, which kills good bacteria and increases the toxic load on your liver, allowing candida overgrowth
- Pregnancy and certain illnesses, such as diabetes, can also promote yeast growth, as can drinking tap water that contains chlorine.
If you suspect candida overgrowth is impacting your life, you should contact a health care practitioner who is knowledgeable about candidiasis. In the meantime, you can also take these online self-tests to determine if candida overgrowth is likely:
- Candida Yeast Infection Self Exam from the National Candida Center
- “Are Your Health Problems Yeast Connected?” from YeastConnection.com
How to Treat and Overcome Candida
Candia overgrowth can take time and patience to overcome, especially if it is chronic — but it can be done, and doing so will often dramatically improve your quality of life. The top steps to treat candida include:
- Eat a healthier diet and avoid sugar. Your diet should focus on whole, unprocessed fresh foods, and should drastically limit, or even better eliminate, sugar and refined carbs. Remember, sugar is a favorite food for yeast, so the less you “feed,” it the better.
- Restore balance to your intestinal microflora. If your intestinal balance has been upset, as is typically the case if you have candida overgrowth, a powerful blend of botanical extracts with natural anti-mocrobial properties may provide the answer you are looking for, sparing the natural flora.
- Repopulate your digestive tract with good bacteria. A high-dose probiotic can be used where aggressive probiotic supplementation is needed such as in cases like candidiasis, major intestinal flora imbalance, and several other types of serious GI conditions. Probiotics provide clinical activities supporting systemic health and wellness through immune-system protection, allergy reduction and effective and enhanced nutrient absorption and is necessary to restore balance to your gastrointestinal tract and ultimately will replace the candida with good bacteria.
Plant enzymes for better digestion can also be beneficial for candida. Enzymes with an effective ratio such as proteases, amylases, lipases and cellulases can help the body to digest foods properly and carry out its many biochemical processes efficiently. Plant enzymes can help you to break down food groups and maximize nutrient absorption while alleviating digestive disturbances such as the gas and bloating that are common with candida overgrowth.
- Avoid exposure to chemicals. This includes not only in your food and home and personal care products (perfume, paints, household cleaners, etc.), but also by avoiding unnecessary medications.
- Nurture your emotional health. Stress can be a major factor in candida overgrowth, so use these 15 quick tips to start relaxing more and tending to your emotional needs.America’s number one health problem — responsible for 75 percent to 90 percent of doctor visits, according to the American Institute for Stress — is stress. When stress becomes unbearable, it can lead to a host of serious illnesses, including heart disease, cancer, depression, autoimmune diseases and reproductive problems.So whether you are feeling stressed at home, work or in the car, taking time to relax is an essential part of staying healthy and happy. Here are 20 quick tips for helping you do just that — and, unlike drinking, smoking or other potentially unhealthy stress relievers, these tips will only do your body good.
- Take a Warm Bath or Ht Shower
This is especially relaxing if you add aromatherapy bath salts to your bath water, as aromatherapy has ben used for thousands of years to calm emotions, relieve stress and more.
- Sit Back and Listen to Soothing Music
Listening to soft, soothing music is one of the fastest ways to alter your mood and put your mind in a more relaxed state. Music can calm your mind, soothe your emotions and create a state of deep relaxation in your body.
- Try Yoga or Other Gentle Exercises
The repetitious movements and slow, methodic nature of yoga and other gentle exercises (like Tai Chi) are excellent for relieving stresses that have accumulated during the day.
- Stretch Your Stress Away
Simple stretching exercises can do wonders for stress relief. If you don’t stretch, your body will naturally hold on to tension and you will have reduced flexibility. However, stretching for just a few minutes a day will increase your flexibility — and with flexibility comes a significant reduction in the tension in your body.
- Get a Massage
According to the American Massage Therapy Association (AMTA), people are using massage more than ever to help relieve stress and pain, lower blood pressure, increase circulation and flexibility and even boost the immune system.
Many massage therapists will come to treat you in your own home. To find a massage therapist near you and learn about some of the different techniques out there, check out our past article “The Amazing Benefits of Massage.”
At the Office
When you can’t commit to having a standard massage, a self-massage can help you unwind easily while sitting at your desk. This can be done simply in your office to your:
- Shoulders: Use your opposite hand for the opposite shoulder. Massage the sides of your neck, down your shoulder and arm and on either side of your spine using small circular movements of your fingertips.
- Legs: Knead your thighs and calves. Next, pummel your thighs gently with soft fists to help relieve stiffness that can occur from sitting too long.
- Hands: Using small circular movements of your fingertips once again, massage between the tendons on your hands and around each joint. Then, start at the base of each finger and stretch it gently, pulling your grip up from the base of the finger to the tip as you stretch.
- Take Care of the Quick Stuff
Our days are cluttered with “assignments” and “to-do’s.” Time management experts recommend taking care of as much of the small stuff as possible right away. For instance, stop on any quick errands you can on your way to work, then write back any quick e-mails, make any quick phone calls and get any other fast tasks out of the way immediately.
That way, you can completely forget about these things, rather than holding them somewhere in the back of your mind to accumulate and do later. The end result? You feel less cluttered, less overwhelmed and less stressed.
- Power Nap
Sneaking off for a 20-minute “power nap” can leave you feeling refreshed and ready to take on new challenges. Studies have found that 20 minutes is just the right amount of time to de-stress — sleep too much longer and you could end up feeling groggy. So grab and alarm clock and head off for some quick zzz’s.
- Laugh More
Having a good laugh can make stress melt away in an instant. Plus, it decreases blood pressure and heart rate, increases oxygen in the blood and creates an enzyme that helps protect your stomach from the effects of stress. Sadly, adults don’t laugh nearly as often as they should.
Every notice how kids rarely look stressed? One reason why is because they’re always laughing.
“Children laugh approximately 80 to 100 times per day. By the time we reach adulthood, we laugh only 5-6 times per day. You only need to watch children to appreciate the relationship between humor and enjoying life. Children will laugh at anything! If you ask them, “what’s so funny,” they may say something like, “he looked at me!” says Barbara Bartlein, R.N., M.S.W., a motivational speaker and consultant.
So make an effort to have a few laughs with your coworkers as often as you can throughout your day.
- Put Some Variety in Your Day
Sitting on the phone making sales calls for six hours straight, or filling out paperwork for five, is stressful, simply because of the repetitiveness of the activity. Breaking up your workday, by taking a walk outside, a “power nap,” stopping to grab a bite to eat or even switching to a different work-related task, will help you to feel more invigorated and less tense.
On the Road
- Drive the Unbeaten Paths
According to a study by Ohio State, study participants were frustrated when driving down industrial routes, but calm when driving on scenic routes. Whenever possible, trade in busy interstates and unsightly travel routes for the “road less traveled.”
- Turn Off the Radio
And turn on a soothing jazz CD — something relaxing enough to help you feel calm, but not so soft as to make you fall asleep. Believe us, you won’t miss the shock jocks, screaming morning and afternoon DJs, local news about murders and overplayed commercial segments one bit.
- Breathe Deeply
Deep breathing is one of the easiest and most natural – yet most often overlooked – stress relief methods out there. Take in a deep breath through your nose, then exhale through your mouth, counting for about four seconds on each phase (in and out). Repeat this about 20 or 30 times.
When you start to breathe deeply on a regular basis, you’ll notice how little you were actually breathing before, and how taking deep breathes, which increases oxygen levels in your body, is naturally calming.
- Add Natural Scents to Your Vehicle
Said Sue Nicholson, head of campaigns for the British RAC Foundation, a motoring organization, “It’s astounding how much the smell in a car can affect a driver’s mood and actions.” Certain scents, like fast food wrappers and pastry, can actually irritate a driver, but others help a driver feel calm, yet alert. While driving, the most calming scents for reducing stress while still staying alert include:
- Peppermint and cinnamon: They improve concentration levels and make drivers less irritable.
- Lemon and coffee: These, too, help drivers achieve high concentration levels and clear thinking.
- Sea ozone: A breath of salty sea air may make drivers breathe deeply, which helps relieve stress, relax the muscles and calm the mind.
- Be a Courteous Driver
It’s easy to get caught up in trying to “one-up” an aggressive driver, but doing so is a surefire way to add unnecessary stress to your life. If you notice an aggressive driver who is weaving in and out of traffic, tailgating, etc., don’t challenge them and avoid them if necessary. And, of course, don’t be a texting or an aggressive driver yourself.
Remember, yeast multiply quickly so it’s very easy for them to quickly take a hold of your body. However, combining the tips above with the care of a knowledgeable health care practitioner (who specializes in candida overgrowth) will allow you to fight back against candida and ultimately restore balance to your body and your health.
U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Candidiasis