Although some people enjoy reading longer articles and blog posts, others are interested in learning the most important points. And so every now and then I will be releasing a “5 things to know” blog post. With this post I will choose a topic that has interested my email subscribers in the past, and I’ll discuss five things you should know about this specific topic. This blog post will focus on five things you need to know about Candida overgrowth.
So let’s get started…
1. Many people with Graves’ Disease and Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis have a Candida overgrowth. It’s very common for people with thyroid and autoimmune thyroid conditions to have an overgrowth of Candida. And while some healthcare professionals frequently do testing for Candida, others will look for signs and symptoms of a yeast overgrowth and then treat based on these symptoms. I fall somewhere in between, as while I do like testing to confirm that someone has a Candida overgrowth, doing so can be expensive if you’re paying out of pocket. And while many people will get tested for Candida antibodies in the blood, it’s possible to have a false negative. In other words, negative Candida antibodies in the blood don’t rule out a Candida overgrowth. As a result, some people choose not to test and simply follow an anti-Candida diet, and perhaps take some natural antifungal agents. Some of the signs and symptoms of a Candida overgrowth include brain fog, sweet cravings, gas and bloating, fatigue, dizziness, skin conditions, bad breath, and a thick white coating of the tongue. Keep in mind that not everyone who has a Candida overgrowth will experience all of these signs and symptoms I listed.
2. Organic acids testing is a great method of testing for a Candida overgrowth. Although blood and stool are probably the two most popular methods of testing for Candida by clinicians, I find that organic acids testing is the most accurate. False negatives seem to be more common with blood and stool testing. Organic acids testing is a urine test that assesses certain urine metabolites, and while there are a few different companies that offer this test, Great Plains Labs has the advantage of testing for oxalate metabolites. Oxalates are found in certain foods, but they are also byproducts of yeast and mold. And so in addition to looking at the yeast and fungal metabolites on an organic acids test such as arabinose, one can also get an idea of the severity of the Candida infection by looking at the level of oxalate metabolites. And while eating foods high in oxalates such as spinach, nuts, soy, and raspberries can cause an increase in these oxalate metabolites, if someone has very high levels of arabinose and oxalate metabolites then this is usually a good indication of a moderate to severe Candida overgrowth.
3. Avoiding fruit and fermented foods isn’t always necessary when dealing with a Candida overgrowth. Of course everyone with a Candida overgrowth (and even those without this problem) should avoid refined sugars, and until you have resolved the Candida overgrowth problem it is also a good idea to avoid some natural sugars such as honey and maple syrup. With regards to fruit, I have found that many people who have a mild to moderate case of Candida overgrowth can eat one or two servings of low sugar fruit on a daily basis without a problem. On the other hand, those with a more severe Candida infection might need to completely avoid fruit.
As for fermented foods, although some sources recommend for those with Candida overgrowth to avoid all fermented foods, in my experience most people with a Candida overgrowth can eat some of these foods. This is especially true with regards to eating fermented vegetables such as sauerkraut, kimchi, and pickles. If someone also has small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO) then these foods might be problematic, but otherwise they usually don’t cause problems for those dealing with a Candida overgrowth. On the other hand, the microbial community of kombucha consists of not only bacteria, but strains of yeast as well, including Candida albicans (1). As a result, it is wise for those with a Candida overgrowth problem to avoid drinking kombucha.
4. Candida can be a factor in thyroid autoimmunity. As for whether Candida is a direct trigger for autoimmunity, this remains controversial. In a past article I wrote entitled “Candida and Thyroid Autoimmunity” I discussed how there is evidence that Candida can result in an increase in proinflammatory cytokines, which are increased in autoimmunity. I also mentioned a few studies that showed evidence of Candida causing an increase in autoantibodies, although there is no evidence I’m aware of which specifically shows a link between Candida and the autoimmune thyroid conditions Graves’ Disease and Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis. An increase in intestinal permeability (a leaky gut) is a factor in autoimmunity, and even if Candida isn’t a direct trigger of autoimmunity, it can be a factor in autoimmunity by increasing intestinal permeability.
5. Rotating antifungal supplements and herbs can be effective for tough cases of Candida. There are a lot of natural agents that have antifungal activity. This includes oregano oil, caprylic acid, berberine, garlic, saccharomyces boulardii, golden seal, uva ursi, olive leaf, and black walnut. And while taking one or more of these agents on a daily basis can help with the eradication of yeast, with tough cases you might need to rotate these. So for example, one week you can take oregano oil and caprylic acid, and the next week you can take caprylic acid and berberine, the next week berberine and garlic, etc. It’s also important to know that Candida albicans can form biofilms, and this in turn can make them resistant to antifungal medication and herbs. As a result, taking biofilm disruptors can be beneficial, which I discussed in a blog post entitled “What Does Biofilm Have To Do With Thyroid Health?”
So hopefully you have a better understanding of Candida after reading this blog post. Just keep in mind that it can take awhile to address a Candida overgrowth problem. Also remember that having some Candida is normal, but an overgrowth is likely to occur in individuals who take antibiotics or have a compromised immune system. As a result, improving the health of the gut flora and overall health of the immune system will play a key role in overcoming Candida overgrowth, as well as preventing it from coming back.