INLAND EMPIRE – Yeast is well known as the leavening agent responsible for helping breads and baked goods get their fluffy texture. But some might be surprised to learn that yeast grows in the body as well. A certain amount of yeast in the body is necessary, but an abundance of yeast can compromise a person’s health.
Candida albicans is a form of yeast that naturally occurs in the body. This fungus lives in small amounts in the mouth and the intestines. It helps with nutrient absorption and digestion. Some people produce too much candida, which can be unhealthy. The reasons behind overproduction of candida are unknown, though some medical professionals suspect it has to do with ineffective healthy bacteria in the digestive tract, as healthy bacteria in the digestive tract keeps yeast levels in check. However, certain factors can cause candida to grow out of control, particularly when a person consumes foods and beverages that feed the yeast.
Diets high in refined carbohydrates and sugar can feed yeast, possibly causing an imbalance. Consuming a lot of alcohol can also may contribute to such an imbalance, as can stress. Taking antibiotics for a bacterial infection may also kill off the friendly bacteria in the body, leading to overproduction of candida in the body.
The Mayo Clinic notes that some complementary and alternative practitioners blame fatigue, headache, depression, and poor memory on the overgrowth of candida, and some suggest a cleanse diet can limit the growth of candida. Yet there are no clinical trials that document the efficacy of a candida cleanse diet for treating specific medical conditions.
The following are a handful of conditions that can be impacted by candida overgrowth.
Oral thrush: An overgrowth of candida can cause oral thrush. This condition causes creamy, white lesions, which usually form on the tongue or inner cheeks. It can spread to the roof of the mouth, gums, tonsils, or back of the throat. Oral thrush is not typically dangerous, but if it produces painful or itchy lesions in the mouth or spreads down the esophagus and makes swallowing difficult, prompt treatment may be necessary.
Vaginal yeast infections: The same fungus that causes oral thrush can result in vaginal yeast infections. White discharge and internal and external itching of the genital area can occur. Although a yeast infection isn’t dangerous, it can be passed on to a baby during delivery and also can be passed on to sexual partners.
Male yeast infections: Contrary to popular belief, men can get yeast infections, too. These may result from intimate contact with a partner who has a yeast infection. Jock itch, rashes, intestinal issues, and even loose stools can be signs of a yeast infection in men.
Athlete’s foot: Candida can contribute to athlete’s foot. The warm, dark environment that forms when damp feet combine with socks and shoes may cause yeast to grow unchecked. Rashes, sores and dry, patchy areas form on the soles of the feet as well as between the toes. If the skin between the toes cracks, it may cause bacteria to penetrate deeper and cause secondary infections.
Although cutting sugar and refined foods from a diet can help with candida treatment, it is unlikely dietary changes alone will cure an overgrowth problem. Anyone who suspects they have a problem with yeast should talk to a doctor. A lab culture will confirm whether yeast or another bacteria is the problem.
Antifungal medications are popular treatments for candida overgrowth. Whether they come in topical creams and ointments, suppositories or pills that are taken orally, these medications will slow or eliminate the proliferation of candida. In addition, reducing moisture around the affected bodily areas can help. Consult with a doctor for more information concerning candida yeast and its symptoms.