Candida overgrowth is the number one fungal infection in the world. Figuring out what causes Candida overgrowth is the ultimate way for stopping this yeast from taking over your gut biome. Once Candida gets loose, it can affect everything from your reproductive organs to your memory. Let’s learn what causes Candida overgrowth to happen in the first place so you can prevent these issues.
- 1 What is Candida?
- 2 What is Candida Overgrowth?
- 3 What Causes Candida Overgrowth?
- 4 What Causes Candida Overgrowth?
- 5 What to Do About Candida Overgrowth?
- 6 Resources
What is Candida?
There are over 20 different Candida species. Yet, just 90% of infections are commonly caused by one of five strains .
These Candida species are:
- Candida albicans
- Candida glabrata
- Candida tropicalis
- Candida parapsilosis
- Candida krusei
Of the five, the one our gut biome is most familiar with is Candida albicans. It is a very resourceful bacterial strain that flourishes in damp areas where oxygen levels are low.
One analysis on this pathogen found,
“The yeast Candida albicans can modulate and adapt to low oxygen levels in different body niches to cause infection and to harm the host .”– Science Daily
These characteristics are why Candida albicans is the most common yeast present when someone has a genital infection. It loves areas that get a bit damp and are introduced to very little sunlight.
You can find the most traces of Candida in areas of the body such as:
- GI Tract
Like all stomach bacteria, even Candida plays a role in keeping our gut biome in working order. This opportunistic stomach bacteria is essential for the digestion of food. Unfortunately, too much Candida is a horrible thing.
What is Candida Overgrowth?
As the name implies, Candida overgrowth is when Candida overtakes the system. Candida needs strength in numbers. So, Candida overgrowth tends to be localized as most of the Candida will colonize in the same area together.
Symptoms of Candida overgrowth include:
- Thrush in the Mouth
- Vaginal Discharge
- Itchy Skin
- Brain Fog
- Focus Issues
- Muscle Fatigue
The longer you have Candida overgrowth, the worse the symptoms will progress. In the end, Candida overgrowth may cause your system to develop candidiasis.
What Causes Candida Overgrowth?
A healthy gut biome that is flourishing with a diverse group of intestinal flora typically leaves Candida in check. Different probiotic bacteria play unique roles in stopping Candida from overtaking the gut biome.
One meta-analysis on probiotics and Candida explained,
“Candida albicans was found to be more susceptible to the antifungal effect of Lactobacillus than C. tropicalis (Candida tropierocalis). Moreover, probiotic bacteria and their supernatant also exhibited growth inhibitory activities against C. glabrata .”– Clinical Infectious Diseases
The analysis noted that these probiotics created hydrogen peroxide. Hydrogen peroxide acts as a deterrent for the Candida species. That’s why some people apply this topical to a wound.
Further analysis in the paper noted that Saccharomyces boulardii secretes a compound that stops the mycelium of the yeast from growing. Without a mycelium, Candida can’t draw on nutrients and water from the host to develop a stronger colony.
When our probiotic levels are low, it allows Candida the opportunity to grow. So, what causes Candida overgrowth? A lack of defense in probiotics. However, there are more triggers that will enable Candida to strike and colonize. Let’s explore them a bit further.
What Causes Candida Overgrowth?
Several factors set our gut biome up for disaster. Here are a few triggers that may be the cause of Candida overgrowth in your system.
What we eat plays a massive role in what causes Candida overgrowth. That’s because our diet works against us in several ways. For one, a lot of our foods causes inflammation.
Candida and Allergens
Wheat and dairy are two of the top allergens in the world. When we consume an abundance of these foods, they set off an immune response in our system.
As a result, our immune cells start inflammation to attack the intruders, our allergens.
Inflammation kills off perceived threats but it also poses harm to our probiotics. Therefore, chronic inflammation is catastrophic.
So, if we live in an inflamed state, Candida has a better chance of surviving.
Candida and Sugar
Like many of us, Candida likes sugar. All yeasts do. When you ferment fruits and vegetables, healthy yeasts in the brine will create probiotics. In turn, we have a gut-healthy snack.
Candida is a yeast. It too feasts on sugars for sustenance. That’s why you shouldn’t eat fermented foods when you have Candida overgrowth.
Also, stay away from other healthy sugars like fruit. Even though these foods can feed beneficial bacteria, they’re fuel for the bad ones too.
Too Much Alcohol
Who doesn’t like to get their drink on? Well, your probiotic bacteria aren’t the biggest fans. There’s a reason why you use alcohol to clean a wound. It clears out bacteria. That also goes for healthy intestinal flora.
Research suggests a distinct connection between a lack of probiotic bacteria and alcoholism.
One analysis found,
“Human alcoholics have a significant reduction in the numbers of fecal bifidobacteria, lactobacilli, and enterococci, with a trend towards increased E. coli . ”– Alcohol.
With a lack of probiotic bacteria in the system, it allows for the growth of E. coli.
However, it also leaves an opportunity for Candida to strike.
A study looked at the long-term effects of alcohol and its role in Candida overgrowth.
The analysis noted,
“Alcohol-dependent patients displayed reduced intestinal fungal diversity and Candida overgrowth. Compared with healthy individuals and patients with non–alcohol-related cirrhosis, alcoholic cirrhosis patients had increased systemic exposure and immune response .”J. Clin Invest.
Furthermore, a lot of alcohols have high sugar content. That is especially true for fruit wines. These sugars only serve as food for Candida to grow.
Antibiotics are a necessity to treat many conditions. However, they should be a final resort. That’s because antibiotics not only wipe out your bad bacteria, but they clean the slate of good ones too.
One study called antibiotics the top cause of Candida overgrowth.
The analysis found,
“Use of antibiotics is by far the commonest cause of erosion of normal beneficial flora leading to yeast overgrowth. There is increasing prevalence of intestinal candidiasis in many parts of the world today, all associated with clinical overuse of antibiotics and in recent times .”– African Health Sciences
As that analysis noted, there is a clinical overuse of antibiotics.
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), there are 47 million unnecessary prescriptions written each year . If your doctor is quick to prescribe an antibiotic, bring up that you are interested in other options. It may even be in your best interest to get a second opinion.
At the end of the day, don’t go against your doctor’s suggestions. However, make sure you are thoroughly informed about your options.
In the event that antibiotics are the right call, please supplement with probiotics. You want to make sure that beneficial bacteria are first to colonize this cleared-out land known as your gut biome opst-antibiotics.
While effective in preventing unwanted pregnancy, oral contraceptives are also effective in growing more Candida.
The influx of estrogen and progesterone may throw off your own natural hormonal flow. As a result, the stressed system may be prone to a pathogen taking over, such as Candida. That’s why many see a correlation between yeast infections and taking birth control.
Furthermore, research indicates that hormonal therapy can cause the body to create more sugar.
One analysis stated,
“Hormonal contraceptives exert some degree of influence on the mechanisms modulating glycemia .”– Linacre Q
Scientists believe it has to do with the ratio of estrogen to progesterone in the system. They noted that other studies had found a direct correlation between sex steroid levels and insulin resistance. Therefore, hormones and sugar levels influence one another. As a result, more sugar leaves room for Candida overgrowth to happen.
What to Do About Candida Overgrowth?
If you believe you have Candida overgrowth, consult a physician. However, there are some steps you can take to bring some balance back to your gut biome.
What to Eat for Candida Diet?
First, you need to starve the Candida out. Stop eating foods that may make Candida grow stronger.
Steer clear of:
- Gluten (Shocking Items with Gluten)
- High-Sugar Fruits (Grapes, Mangoes, Bananas)
- Fermented Foods (Kombucha, Pickles, Kraut)
- Baked Goods (Pizza, Bread, Cookies)
Instead, opt for:
- Wild Fish
- Low-Sugar Fruits (Small Amounts Tomatoes and Berries)
- Green Tea
- Free-Range Poultry
- Cruciferous Vegetables (Broccoli, Kale, Brussels Sprouts)
- Alliums (Onions, Garlic, Shallots)
- Nuts (Walnuts, Macadamia, Almonds)
- Seeds (Flax, Hemp, Chia)
Once you starve out the Candida, you need to fill your gut biome with beneficial probiotic bacteria.
Candida is rather clique-y. They stick to each other while allowing other harmful commensal bacteria to live around them. So, you need to get these bad microbes out of the system as well.
Essentially, you have to figure out which stomach bacteria you have present so you can devise an action plan. The best way to achieve this is through microbiome testing.
At Thryve Inside, we send you a gut test kit to your home. Safely secure a small sample from your toilet paper with the tools we provide. From there, mail in your sample for our labs to analyze.
Based on the results of your gut health test, we can formulate personalized probiotics tailored to your unique gut biome. That way, your system has a fighting chance against Candida overgrowth.
 Turner, S. A., & Butler, G. (2014). The Candida pathogenic species complex. Cold Spring Harbor perspectives in medicine, 4(9), a019778. doi:10.1101/cshperspect.a019778
 Umea University. “How Candida Albicans Exploits Lack of Oxygen to Cause Disease.” ScienceDaily, ScienceDaily, 15 Jan. 2019, www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2019/01/190115132807.htm.
 Victor H. Matsubara, H. M. H. N. Bandara, Marcia P. A. Mayer, Lakshman P. Samaranayake, Probiotics as Antifungals in Mucosal Candidiasis, Clinical Infectious Diseases, Volume 62, Issue 9, 1 May 2016, Pages 1143–1153, https://doi.org/10.1093/cid/ciw038
 Kirpich, I. A., Solovieva, N. V., Leikhter, S. N., Shidakova, N. A., Lebedeva, O. V., Sidorov, P. I., … Cave, M. (2008). Probiotics restore bowel flora and improve liver enzymes in human alcohol-induced liver injury: a pilot study. Alcohol (Fayetteville, N.Y.), 42(8), 675–682. doi:10.1016/j.alcohol.2008.08.006
 Yang, A. M., Inamine, T., Hochrath, K., Chen, P., Wang, L., Llorente, C., … Schnabl, B. (2017). Intestinal fungi contribute to development of alcoholic liver disease. The Journal of clinical investigation, 127(7), 2829–2841. doi:10.1172/JCI90562
 Ezeonu, I. M., Ntun, N. W., & Ugwu, K. O. (2017). Intestinal candidiasis and antibiotic usage in children: case study of Nsukka, South Eastern Nigeria. African health sciences, 17(4), 1178–1184. doi:10.4314/ahs.v17i4.27
 “Appropriate Antibiotic Use | Antibiotic Use | CDC.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 22 Aug. 2019, www.cdc.gov/antibiotic-use/index.html.