What is Candida?
Candida is a fungus that naturally lives on and in the body (in the gut, mouth, throat, vagina; on the skin). Candida can live within and on us without any problems, if our physiology is in balance.
However, certain situations can cause Candida to start overgrowing and causing symptoms like constipation, gas, nausea, white tongue (oral thrush), vaginal yeast infections, etc. In fact, vaginal candidiasis is the second most common type of vaginal infection after bacterial vaginal infections.
How Stress Causes Candida Overgrowth
One factor that can cause recurring infections or the onset of Candida symptoms is stress, especially chronic stress.
Stress like what occurs during Ramadan, when we are fasting long hours, sleep deprived, and also have a dysregulated circadian rhythm.
Stress can also be high when we are chronically sleep deprived (outside of Ramadan), go long hours without movement and sunlight, are not able to eat on time or eat well, etc. To learn more about my perspective on stress – check out my blog post on Stress Resiliency.
So, how does stress cause overgrowth of Candida?
By depleting the body’s most important antioxidant: glutathione.
Glutathione is directly involved in keeping Candida in check. A specific protein, glutathione reductase, is down-regulated by stress. This protein is involved in clearing out Candida when it overgrows and reducing the inflammation Candida can cause.
Recurring Yeast Infections
Do you struggle with recurring vaginal yeast infections? While external tools, like antifungals and suppositories might be useful short-term solutions, to prevent recurring infections, you have to get to the root of the problem: estrogen dominance.
High levels of estrogen are associated with incidences of vaginal candidiasis and research shows estrogen supports/sustains vaginal candidiasis, and reduces the ability of epethelial cells to fight candida.
Estrogen dominance also significantly contributes to PCOS and hypothyroidism, which is why women with either diagnoses might struggle with repetitive vaginal candidiasis/yeast infections. Too much estrogen relative to progesterone can occur due to poor liver function, poor gut health, poor thyroid function, too much soy products in the diet, and exposure to xenoestrogens in the environment (shampoos, lotions, soaps, pesticides on food).
Is a low sugar diet the answer to Candida?
Often times, the first recommendation made for Candida overgrowth is a diet low in carbs because Candida thrive on sugar (all carbs convert to sugar in the body). Yes, Candida uses sugar as a nutrient source…but so do our own cells.
According to thecandidadiet.com, a Candida diet is “a low-sugar, anti-inflammatory diet that…eliminates the sugars that feed a Candida overgrowth. The diet includes non-starchy vegetables, some low sugar fruits, non-glutenous grains, some dairy products, and fermented foods.”
Avoiding starchy vegetables, bread, dairy, and even most fruits sounds a whole lot like STRESS. This diet is not sustainable and it doesn’t address the root cause of Candida overgrowth (stress, hormonal imbalances, poor diet, etc.)
Need help with recurring vaginal yeast infections, white tongue, or poor gut health? Let’s talk!