Connie Yeung, HK BioTek Intern
What is Candida overgrowth?
Many types of fungi live in and on the human body. Candida (Candida Albicans) is a type of yeast which grows and lives mainly in the mucous membranes of the mouth, intestinal and digestive tract and vagina. It can be found almost everywhere in the environment. Typically, the healthy bacteria in our body keep Candida level under control. When Candida is at a normal level, it does not cause any problems to human health. Nevertheless, if the healthy bacteria level is disrupted or the immune system is undermined, Candida begins to grow in an uncontrolled manner. An infection known as candidiasis results.
In fact, there are many risk factors for Candida overgrowth. They include:
Taking antibiotics or immunosuppressive drugs
Having a diet high in sugar and low in proteins
High alcohol intake
High stress level
Living in a humid environment
What are the symptoms of Candida overgrowth?
Candida overgrowth can lead to various health problems. In general, the patients may experience a headache, weakness or fatigue, flatulence, craving for sweets or itching skin.
Other symptoms of Candida overgrowth depend on where Candida is in the body. The table below summarizes the symptoms when different body parts are infected by Candida.
Candida overgrowth does not just cause localized infections, rather, it can give rise to a larger illness and impair our health severely. The seriousness of the disease depends on the person and his/her health status.
A way to prevent candidiasis - anti-Candida diet
An anti-Candida diet requires people to avoid food and drinks that could possibly increase the risk of Candida overgrowth. When we adopt an anti-Candida diet, we should consult the healthcare practitioners like doctors and dieticians first.
The following food can minimize inflammation and balance the concentrations of bacteria inside the digestive tract. Food types for an anti-Candida diet include:
Non-starchy vegetables (e.g. asparagus, cabbage, broccoli, kale, celery, cucumber, eggplant, onion, spinach, tomatoes)
Low-sugar fruits (e.g. lemon, olives, berries (consumed in a moderate amount))
High-quality and lean proteins (e.g. chicken, eggs, salmon, turkey)
Healthy fats (e.g. avocado, olives, unrefined coconut oil, flaxseed oil, extra-virgin olive oil)
Gluten-free grains (e.g. millet, quinoa, oat bran, buckwheat, rice)
Nuts and seeds low in mold (e.g. almonds, sunflower seeds, coconut, flaxseed)
Natural sweeteners (e.g. stevia, erythritol and xylitol)
Non-caffeinated beverages (e.g. herbal teas, chicory coffee, filtered water, homemade almond milk)
Furthermore, probiotic supplements can also be consumed to alleviate inflammation and reduce the population of Candida and infection symptoms.
Although the effectiveness of anti-Candida diet in preventing Candida overgrowth is still unconfirmed due to the lack of high quality and large-scale human studies, this diet is healthy to the human body overall.