Can anemia cause yeast infections

Yeast Infections and Your Diet: What’s the Connection?

Having a yeast infection is a common female problem — maybe in part because yeast infection causes are so wide-ranging. They include stress, illness, menstrual periods, pregnancy, and even being on medications for other conditions.

Normally the fungus that causes yeast infection, Candida albicans lives in balance with the other microorganisms in your body. “Anything that upsets this normal balance can lead to an overgrowth of yeast and can cause a yeast infection,” says Wiyatta Freeman, MD, a gynecologist at Baylor Medical Center in Irving, Texas. A common example is taking antibiotics for a bacterial infection. The antibiotics kill off many normal bacteria, and that allows yeast to multiply and lead to a yeast infection.

Yeast grows best in a warm, moist environment, so providing those conditions can lead to an infection. For example, wearing tight-fitting jeans or spending time in a wet bathing suit can increase your risk of a yeast infection — and is a more likely cause than what you eat. But diet may play a role in some yeast infections.

“Eating foods that are very high in sugar has been associated with yeast infections. This type of diet may be especially risky for someone with diabetes,” says Dr. Freeman. Recurrent yeast infections may also be due to a poor diet if you are not getting enough iron and you develop an iron-deficiency type of anemia.

A poor diet can also increase your risk of obesity, and therefore, yeast infections. “People who are overweight may have more areas of warmth and moisture in skin folds that contribute to yeast infection,” says Freeman.

How Diet May Help

There are many good over-the-counter and prescription antifungal medications that effectively treat and cure most yeast infections. As an additional measure, watching what you eat may help.

“Diet recommendations for someone with frequent yeast infections include lowering sugar, increasing yogurt in the diet, and taking probiotics,” says Freeman. “Generally speaking, we just recommend a well-balanced, healthy diet.”

Alternative treatments for yeast infection, including dietary changes, are frequently tried, but most of these methods remain controversial:

  • Yogurt for yeast infections. Yogurt is a popular natural treatment for yeast infections because yogurt is fermented with helpful bacteria. The idea is that by increasing the number of these bacteria in your system, you restore a healthy balance between bacteria and yeast. Some people have even tried putting yogurt directly into the vagina to fight a yeast infection, but there is not enough evidence to support using yogurt as a treatment.
  • Probiotics diet and supplements. Studies show that some bacteria, such as Lactobacillus GG can shorten the course of some types of diarrhea. These good bacteria may also be helpful against yeast infections by restoring the balance between yeast and bacteria, especially in people taking antibiotics or birth control pills. Probiotics have been added to some fortified foods and are sold as dietary supplements, but they are not tested or regulated the same way that drugs are. Although these supplements are generally considered safe, you should check with your doctor if you are using them to treat an infection.
  • Candida diet. This type of diet is based on the belief that the uncontrolled overgrowth of candida in a yeast infection affects the whole body and can be reversed by cleansing the body of candida with fasting and enemas. These diets promote foods like vegetable juices and algae, while restricting foods like cheese, alcohol, chocolate, and fresh fruits. “I have not seen any evidence that these candida diets are useful against common yeast infections,” cautions Freeman.

Your diet may contribute to yeast infection if you are diabetic or eat foods that are very high in sugar, and a healthy diet may help reduce your risk of yeast infection. If you are at risk for a yeast infection, particularly if you are taking antibiotics or birth control pills, a probiotic diet or probiotic supplements may be recommended. However, there is not enough medical evidence to support the candida diet as a cure or for protecting against yeast infection.

If you have symptoms of a yeast infection, such as itching, redness, burning, or discharge, your best bet is to see your doctor. The good news about yeast infections is that they usually respond quickly to over-the-counter or prescription medications.

Yeast Infection, does eating bread (y… – Fungal Infection …

Unfortunately having diabetes means you are at increased risk of Candida infection (also known as thrush), possibly because of the higher level of sugar that tends to encourage the yeasts to grow. You can minimise this problem in a few ways but maintaining as good control of the levels of sugar in your blood as you can is the start point.

nhs.uk/Conditions/Diabetes-…

Candida is a yeast but is different to the types of yeast use to make bread & beer for example. Candida grows quite naturally in our bodies and causes no problems until things get out of balance – e.g. after antibiotic use, too much blood sugar as both of these change the complex balance of microbes growing in our guts and on our skin. Back in the 1950’s & 60’s we used to think that getting rid of all microbes (germs) on our skin was the aim to ensure good health. Nowadays we are finding that encouraging the correct balance of good & bad microbes is more important. Once we can do that your Candida will stop overgrowing, until then it may need an antifungal medication – ask your doctor for help.

NB your husband’s infection will disappear because his ‘good’ microbes will stop the candida from growing too much after a few days.

There looks to be a good forum to ask questions about diabetes and thrush here diabetes.co.uk/diabetes-com…

Some Foods Cause Yeast Infections

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Many foods cause yeast infections over time because they weaken your immune system. This article takes a look at the worst offenders and offers tips on how to get your diet under control.

According to the USDA, the average American consumes 158 pounds of sugar a year and sugar or simple carbs are yeast’s preferred food source.

High sugar foods cause yeast infections by feeding the yeast in the body allowing it to grow and spread. Under the right conditions, one being a plentiful food source, yeast can double its population in an hour. Sugar is also by far the number one thing that can wear down your immune system. It is worse than smoking.

Not only does this sugar feed yeast, but this over consumption of sugar and fructose is creating a Type 2 diabetic epidemic in America. Obesity is at an all time high from sugar, fructose and processed grains. Processed grains are turned to sugar when digested. The pancreas kicks in some insulin that picks up the sugar and deposits it on the body as fat. Fat is the fuel the body was originally designed to run on, not sugar.

Other foods cause yeast infections because of how they are digested in the body. Grains for instance have glycemic loads higher than sugar itself and are turned to sugar very quickly when digested.

Wheat, oats, barley, rye, sorghum, corn and peanuts are also universally contaminated with fungi. These foods find their way into our bodies from cereals, pastas, breads, potato chips, crackers, peanut butter, cooking oils, etc.

How can this be, you wonder? Grains are usually stored in silos for extended periods of time. They can be stored for years before they are ever sold and brought to market for food processing. During this time, they grow molds in these silos. Now I would assume when they go to process these grains for human consumption they would wash them, but the molds and mycotoxins will enter into the inside of the grain as they try to break them down into dirt. The grains get ground up for processing, and the rest is history. The worst of these grains, as far as mold contamination, are sold for livestock feed and alcohol processing–beer mostly.

Grains have also replaced vegetables in the average diet and have tilted the preferred alkalinity of the body to acidic. This chronic acidity damages the body over time which greatly reduces immune function.

Other foods that can be a cause of yeast infections are peanuts, corn, and red apples, which will actually grow mold on them as they grow. Peanuts also are the most genetically engineered food on the planet. If you eat peanuts, I would stick to organic Valencia peanuts that are grown in a much drier environment.

These foods can kill the beneficial bacteria in our digestive system because of the molds they are contaminated with. They also allow the yeast to grow since the yeast eats the sugars in these foods. They often sit in the intestine and ferment during digestion, which causes a condition known as dysbiosis, or toxic colon. These toxins alter good bacterial supplies and yeast gains the upper hand.

Mycotoxins from molds and fungi are also known cancer-causing agents that are released by molds and yeasts. One of these mycotoxins, called aflatoxin, happens to be the most carcinogenic substance on earth. In the common diets of today, grains are consumed in all three meals in some form, from cereals to breads and pastas. So every day the average American is consuming .15mg to .5mg of aflatoxin.

The western diet of today, due to sugars and molds in the foods we eat, is a cancer-causing machine. The addition of these sugars allows the yeast to thrive in people that have these infections and allows it to inject its own mycotoxins into your body. This will suppress the immune system and lead to other autoimmune system diseases such as cancer, lupus, multiple sclerosis, crohns, arthritis, skin disorders, chronic fatigue, depression, fibromyalgia, etc. if left untreated.

Our foods are more and more genetically engineered and their food value is becoming more and more questionable. Wheat has been altered so much that it will no longer grow without fertilizer. Genetically engineered corn has been found to cause organ damage in rats and mice.

Modern farming has stripped the soils of all minerals and vitamins, so foods have very little nutritional value any more. According to a report released at the 1992 Earth Summit, the USA has the worst soil in the world – 85% depleted of minerals. The rest of the world’s soils are not much better, with South America and Asia’s soils being 78% depleted, Africa 75%, Europe 70%, and Australia 58%. This means the potency of our food supply is not able to sustain optimum health. Is it any wonder we are overweight and chronically ill? We are literally starving to death from the lack of nutrition!

The pesticides that are being used also kill beneficial soil based bacteria that used to be a part of our diets from the family farms of old.

Corn and soy are now genetically engineered to accept treatments for weeds with the pesticide Roundup. Roundup is now commonly applied to wheat crops 2 weeks before harvest to increase yields. Round kills your good bacteria in your gut, more information here.

We add chemicals to dairy foods to give it a longer shelf life while stripping it of nutrient value.

Our cows, pigs and chickens are given antibiotics that we end up consuming when we eat their meat and these antibiotics can cause yeast infections. They also shove these cows into unnatural feeding environments and fatten them up with grain foods that can be a cause of yeast infections as well. The meat can become loaded with mycotoxins from these molds. You eat it, and it is passed on to you.

Most of our food is over cooked, processed, and enzymatically dead, this causes the pancreas an additional load, and it must create more enzymes to digest these foods. The metabolic enzymes are forced to help out with digestion when they should be helping repair cells and removing wastes.

Chlorine is added to the water supply to kill parasites, microbes, and bad bacteria present in our drinking water supply, this is a good thing. But when you drink this water directly from your tap, the chlorine kills the good bacteria in your intestines. To chlorine, bacteria is bacteria, it doesn’t know the difference between good or bad.

Fluoride is added to the water supply and is a poison that kills enzymes. Enzymes are the building blocks of all life and work on the cellular DNA level, as well as in the process of digestion and immune system health. Fluoride has also been found, when used for cooking, to release toxic metals from common cooking utensils.

In order to remove the chlorine and fluoride from the water you drink. I recommend you get a reverse osmosis water filter and use this water to not only drink, but to also cook with. It is the only system that will remove 90% of the fluoride from your drinking water. These systems also remove other common contaminants like chlorine and will last a lifetime.

Bottled spring water in independent testing is not always safe either. A lot of so-called spring water is really just filtered tap water. The industry is not regulated very strongly, so you can’t always be sure what you are really drinking.

All of these things can contribute to yeast infections and weaken your immune system because they kill good bacteria. Good bacteria are our first line of defense in our immune systems and keep yeast, bad bacteria and viruses under control.

It is becoming more and more necessary to take supplements every day to maintain a healthy body and a healthy immune system. Even the AMA recently suggested that everyone in the country should be on a multivitamin/mineral supplement.

I should also add that candida and yeast infections in most cases cannot be beaten with diet alone, it simply will not work without good supplements to kill it and support cellular health.

The trick is to take quality supplements and eat mostly good fresh foods. Drink plenty of clean fresh water to flush out poisons and wastes from the body while minimizing environmental toxins in the home.

The benefits? You will go through life healthier, more energetic, happier, and live to a ripe old age, if you so choose.

So how do we avoid these molds and antibiotics in our foods that can be a cause of yeast infection?

In many stores around the country you can buy grass fed, hormone and antibiotic free beef. Buy it, eat it, and simply don’t buy the rest.

I would also stay away from farm raised fish because of the mercury, pcb’s, dyes and other chemical contamination.

Cut down on grain foods that cause yeast infections drastically by eliminating the chips, cookies, cakes, cereals, and pastas. Substitute pastas with wild rice or the alternative grains like quinoa.

Eat more organic eggs for breakfast and organic milk if you must consume milk. And don’t worry about cholesterol, which is caused by eating grains, sugar, and trans fats and is also an immune system response to these mycotoxins from fungi. Take away the mycotoxins and junk food and your cholesterol will be just fine.

It’s not hard to eat right if you want to so you can avoid foods that cause yeast infections and other diseases. It just takes a little effort and discipline.

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Yeast Infection Q + A

Ask any woman who has had a yeast infection and she will tell you that it’s an even more unwelcome “down there” situation than her monthly friend. Although they are annoying and can be painful, yeast infections are very common, aren’t usually serious and can be easily treated. Here are answers to common questions about recognizing, treating and preventing yeast infections.

Q. What is a vaginal yeast infection?

A. While yeast is a fungus that is normally present in a healthy vagina, sometimes the balance can be thrown off, causing too much of it to grow. Taking antibiotics, having high estrogen levels due to pregnancy or hormone therapies, or having health problems like diabetes or a compromised immune system can cause this imbalance.

Q. How do I know if I have a yeast infection?

A. The most common symptoms are severe and almost constant itching. Other signs include painful urination and abnormal discharge. If you are experiencing these symptoms, it’s very important that you don’t diagnose the problem yourself, because the symptoms of a vaginal yeast infection are similar to those of a sexually transmitted disease. To be on the safe side, visit your doctor. He or she can make sure your symptoms aren’t due to anything serious.

Q. How do I get rid of a yeast infection?

A. Most yeast infections can be treated with over-the-counter medications, which usually consist of a solution to be inserted into the vagina and a soothing cream for external use. It’s best to apply these medicines at bedtime. Be sure to complete the entire dosage to prevent the infection from coming back. Depending on which type you choose, treatment can take anywhere from one to seven days to complete. If the infection comes back or just won’t go away, ask your doctor about prescription medications.

Q. How can I prevent yeast infections?

A.There are a few things you can do to maintain a healthy balance of yeast in your system. First, wear clothing that breathes – trapping moisture down there makes it easier for yeast cells to multiply. Second, avoid taking antibiotics unnecessarily. Antibiotics kill off “good” bacteria as well as infectious bacteria, altering the balance of yeast in the vagina. Third, stay away from feminine sprays, talcs, perfumes, douches, scented toilet paper and deodorized tampons, as they can disrupt the body’s natural cleansing process. One common misconception is that eating yogurt can help prevent a yeast infection because it contains healthy bacteria that can help keep yeast populations in control. Although there is no evidence to suggest this is true, non-fat yogurt can be part of a well-balanced diet, which is essential to maintaining a healthy immune system and preventing yeast infections.

Gabrielle Union Tried to Use Yogurt to Cure a Yeast Infection. Here’s What a Gynecologist Says

When we heard that actress and author (and Health coverstar) Gabrielle Union recently confessed to putting yogurt in her vagina to cure a yeast infection—a treatment we’ve heard about that other women swear by—we definitely wanted to take a closer look.

“I ended up in a situation where I had a yeast infection, and I didn’t want to go to CVS to buy Monistat,” Union told Unstyled, Refinery 29’s fashion podcast. “I called my girlfriend, who always has an answer for everything, and she was like, ‘Go get yogurt and then you’re gonna just put the yogurt up your vagina.”

Union said she picked up some vanilla-flavored yogurt, then got to work applying it—with little success. “It’s not going in, it’s just slapped on the outside, which is providing a bit of relief, but I need to get it in there,” she recalled. So she called back her friend, who recommended using a straw from a local fast-food joint as a makeshift applicator.

RELATED: The Best and Worst Foods for Your Vagina

Union didn’t say whether the yogurt worked. So we decided to ask a gynecologist if yogurt really can cure a yeast infection, or at least ease symptoms, such as itching and burning.

While an over-the-counter antifungal cream or prescription oral med are the preferred methods of treatment for a yeast infection, yogurt does seem to offer at least temporary relief, says Mary Jane Minkin, MD, clinical professor in the department of obstetrics, gynecology, and reproductive sciences at Yale Medical School. “A yeast infection is an overgrowth of yeast, and the good-guy bacteria in yogurt, the lactobacilli, maintain an acidic environment, which makes it hostile for yeast to grow.”

However, she cautions, the strain of bacteria that’s native to the vagina may be different from the strain in your favorite yogurt. If that’s the case, the yogurt may not help much after all. Since there’s no way to tell which brand is best suited to your body, at least make sure you’re buying a yogurt with live cultures, or you won’t get any yeast-fighting benefits, says Dr. Minkin. Opt for an unflavored variety too.

Flavored yogurts, especially fruity ones with jellies or jams, can be packed with sugar, and sugar can fuel the growth of vaginal yeast, she adds.

To keep the mess minimal, apply the yogurt internally rather than externally on the vulva. To do so, a makeshift applicator like Union’s straw isn’t a terrible idea, Dr. Minkin says, “although it might scratch you, whereas other applicators are smoother.” You can actually purchase vaginal suppository applicators online (like this 15-pack for $12 at Amazon) or at a pharmacy, she says, and simply fill the applicator with yogurt.

If an applicator isn’t available, coating your finger with yogurt before inserting it into your vagina works just fine too. You can also dab a little yogurt on a tampon and insert it that way, as Health’s medical editor Roshini Raj, MD, has previously recommended.

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Your most mess-free option for yeast infection relief might be to regularly eat yogurt. Delivering those lactobacilli to your gut can help ward off future infections, Dr. Minkin says—and you’ll get some protein and calcium while you’re at it.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, there’s not a whole lot of research on just how effective slathering up with yogurt below the belt is when it comes to treating a yeast infection—but who doesn’t have a friend like Union’s who swears by the technique? Bottom line, it’s worth a shot. “If it works, great! If not, at least you haven’t hurt yourself,” Dr. Minkin says.

Yeast infections are no fun. As well as the obvious symptoms, a Candida overgrowth can also be associated with headaches, bloating, sluggish bowel movements, brain fog and any number of other unpleasant symptoms.

The last thing you want to hear is that you may have brought it on yourself!

Like most people, you’ve probably googled your symptoms and tried numerous treatments – some of which have helped, and some have not. That’s fine: everyone is different, and everyone will respond to treatments differently. But have you considered that your diet might be the real cause of your yeast infection?

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How Does Diet Lead To Yeast Infections?

In most cases, that yeast overgrowth can be directly linked to what you’re eating every day. And, thanks in part to our high-sugar diets, yeast infections are becoming more common.

While the Candida yeast can usually live in the digestive tract without causing any problems, it has the tendency to grow out of control if it has been ‘fed’ certain foods.

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The right conditions can lead to pathogenic yeast colonizing your gut and overpowering the healthy bacteria that usually keep them in check. This not only upsets your digestion but can also damage the lining of your gut, leading to all sorts of health issues such as fatigue, skin rashes, seasonal allergies, and mood swings.

Although other triggers like stress and antibiotics can also increase your risk of developing a yeast infections, so too can the foods you eat. Much of the Western diet is high in sugar, which feeds the yeast, allowing it to thrive.

Many women don’t realize this, but eating a consistently high-sugar diet over a long period of time will leave you susceptible to chronic yeast infections.

What Is Sugar?

Sugar isn’t just those white granules you add to your coffee. There are many forms of sugar, depending on its source and how it’s been processed.

A few forms include raw sugar, brown sugar, fruit sugar, corn sugar, milk sugar… along with sugar alcohols and artificial sugars. The components of sugar are worth knowing, too: monosaccharides, disaccharides and polysaccharides.

Natural sugars are present in varying amounts in fruits, vegetables, dairy and grains. Refined sugars such as table sugar or sucrose have been altered or processed in some way, and are usually in the form of crystals, syrups or powders.

How Sugar Can Cause Yeast Infections

Sugar feeds yeast

Added sugar should be your number one enemy. It’s the ultimate fuel for Candida yeast. If you suffer from repeated yeast infections, you first need to ditch every source of added sugar from your diet.

The link between a high-sugar diet and Candida is clear. Animal studies have found that high amounts of dietary glucose result in increased gut colonization and Candida yeast cells. (1)

Yeasts such as Candida albicans rely on organic, carbon-based compounds as sources of energy. This includes sugar and all its forms: glucose, fructose and sucrose. Candida yeast uses this energy to build its cell walls, which are made up of 80% carbohydrates, as well as the protective biofilms that it uses to hide from your immune system. (2, 3)

Sugar also provides the Candida yeast with the ability to switch to its more powerful fungal form. This form of Candida is even better able to overcome your gut bacteria and grows long branches (hyphae) that can interfere with the lining of your intestinal wall.

The longer your Candida infection persists, the more likely it is to increase the permeability of your intestinal lining, a situation that is often known as Leaky Gut Syndrome. (4)

Sugar suppresses immunity

Research has suggested that sugar seriously hinders the function of your white blood cells, which are the ‘germ-killers’ of your immune system. It’s believed that this effect is so powerful, sugar can cripple your immune system for up to 5 hours after you eat it. (5)

Other studies have shown that glucose, fructose and sucrose all significantly reduce the activity of the neutrophils that your immune system uses to kill pathogenic microorganisms. Neutrophils are important: they’re the white blood cells that act as the first line of defense when unhelpful microbes invade your body.

Sugar also affects your white blood cells by inhibiting their ability to absorb Vitamin C. Linus Pauling’s research into how the body uses Vitamin C revealed that white blood cells need Vitamin C to destroy bacteria and viruses. However, sugar and Vitamin C have a similar chemical structure, which can confuse your body. When you eat sugar, the sugar molecules compete with Vitamin C for space in your immune cells.

The more sugar you eat, the less Vitamin C your white blood cells can absorb. Over time, this can severely weaken your immune system function, leaving you more susceptible to overgrowth of pathogenic yeast and bacteria. (6)

The Link between uncontrolled blood sugar, diabetes and yeast infections

It’s also been found that high blood sugar and the occurrence of vaginal yeast infections is linked. This explains why women and children with diabetes often suffer from yeast infections. A 2014 study showed that women with type 2 diabetes are at an even higher risk of vaginal yeast infection, possibly due to higher levels of blood sugar. (7)

Those with poorly-controlled diabetes are in danger of falling victim to yeast infections because yeast thrives on sugar.

If blood sugar levels spike, the yeast has more opportunity to grow. This can be in the genital area, but high blood sugar can also lead to a Candida overgrowth in the gut. If Candida albicans (or other types like Candida glabrata) establishes itself in the gut, it forms a reservoir that can re-infect other areas of the body even after the yeast infection has been treated.

How To Start Reducing Sugar In Your Diet

While it’s easy to say you’re going to ‘avoid sugar’, in practice it’s not easy at all! Sugar is incorporated into a huge number of foods, particularly processed or packaged foods.

Sticking to a low-sugar diet should be your first step in reduce your risk of yeast infection. And some types of candidiasis can lead to serious health complications if left untreated.

Just as eating lots of sugars can promote a Candida overgrowth, eating fewer sugars can slow down or reverse your Candida. Depriving the yeast of its main fuel source will slow its growth and prevent it from spreading throughout your digestive tract.

If you have diabetes, it’s a good idea to have regular screening for vaginal yeast infections. Talk with your doctor about the best screening schedule for you.

Try to avoid not only the obvious sources of sugar (such as candy, cookies and chocolate) but also the hidden sugars.

One of the most effective ways to reduce your sugar intake is to cut out any packaged snacks (nearly all of these contain sugar!) and also baked goods, soft drinks, condiments, cereals, honey, desserts and other treats. Make it a habit to check the nutritional labels before you eat anything.

Also try to limit alcohol because it destabilizes your blood sugar levels and can cause you to crave sugar even more.

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High-sugar foods you should avoid as much as possible:

  • Candy
  • Chocolate
  • Condiments such as sauces, dressings and marinades
  • Biscuits, cakes and cookies (and most home baked goods)
  • Packaged fruit juices
  • Dried fruit
  • Canned fruit
  • Sports drinks
  • Flavored milk
  • Cereals, including granola
  • Soft drinks
  • Iced teas

Foods that contain ‘hidden’ sugars (some of these may surprise you!)

  • Vitamin water
  • Protein bars
  • Instant meals (including noodles and soups)
  • Baked beans
  • Commercial smoothie drinks
  • Frozen pizza
  • Commercial yogurt (especially the low-fat kind)
  • Sushi

Healthy Alternatives To Sugar

Reducing sugar intake doesn’t have to mean going without treats altogether. Try to replace your usual sweet treats with healthy alternatives such as probiotic yogurt and berries. Choose a sweet herbal tea such as licorice instead of soft drinks.

Increasing your fiber intake is an excellent idea, as this will keep your blood sugar in balance and reduce those sugar cravings. Add chia seeds to your smoothies and salads, eat nuts as a snack instead of potato chips, and choose complex carbohydrates such as buckwheat or quinoa over pasta and white rice. Another really effective source of fiber is psyllium husk, which you can add to a glass of water every day.

There are also lots of sugar-free natural sweeteners that you can use in place of sugar for baking and beverages:

  • Stevia: Stevia is a natural sweetener derived from the leaves of the stevia plant. The steviol glycosides in stevia are 250-300 times sweeter than table sugar but contain no calories.
  • Monk fruit extract: Monk fruit extract contains some incredible compounds that are 300-400 times sweeter than cane sugar. But, and here’s the real kicker, it’s virtually calorie-free. That means it won’t affect blood sugar levels, and it won’t rot your teeth.
  • Erythritol: Over 90% of the sugar alcohol in erythritol can be absorbed in your intestines, making it significantly easier to digest than other sugar alcohols like maltitol and sorbitol that can ferment and produce gas.
  • Xylitol: The alcohol form of xylose, xylitol has 40% fewer calories than sugar and 75% less carbohydrates.

Remember, the sooner you quit sugar, the sooner you’ll be able to beat those yeast infections and feel healthy again!

Filed under: Candida Symptoms, Diet Tips

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  1. Kate says:

    Hi, I am 15 years old and had problems with Candida pretty much my whole life. When I was about nine I had oral thrush, and started to get acne. Both things just got worse and worse as I got older. My diet wasn’t helping either. When I was fourteen my acne got so bad that I got on antibiotics and I took them for about 9 months. After I started to take them, I suffered from chronic yeast infections, the oral thrush got worse, and I always had this horrible taste in my mouth. The medicine helped at first, but after a while it wasn’t working well so I stopped taking them. After I stopped taking them, my acne got worse so I did a jucing fast (I juiced fruits and vegetables) for 12 days. My face looked a lot better and my oral thrush was gone. Not knowing about Candidasis, I ate a lot of fruit and all of my symptoms came back. I found your website and I quit eating everything that was on your foods to avoid list (I also quit meat too). My symptoms were clearing up at first, but then it would be on a cycle like every several days my face would break out, my oral thrush got bad, that bad taste would come back, and I would have all symptoms of Candida die-off (plus more). The bad days would last 1-3 days then I would get better then it would do it again (the cycle just continues). I have been on the Candida diet for 2 months now and I have been taking oregano oil and probiotics. Why do I keep having these cycles? Why do I bloat still? Why did I gain weight when I started the vegan Candida diet? How do I know when it is all gone? Btw- this is a great website for people with Candidasis! It was so much help for me! Thank you and I would love to hear from you!
    -Kate

    1. Jane M. says:

      You’re doing an amazing job to take control of your health at such a young age! I wish I had had these resources when I was in high school because I went through something similar with acne and antibiotics for a long time and birth control pills for an even longer time. I’m pretty sure I’ve struggled with candida my whole life, as well. I developed a milk allergy recently and I was always hugely bloated like I was pregnant, and after some research, I decided to go on the GAPS diet. After the intro, I incorporated more smoothies and grains like quinoa and a little white rice to make sure my carbs weren’t too low. But long story short, I’ve been on it for 3.5 months and my dairy allergy is completely gone. I’ve been having die off symptoms the last week though since I started a new probiotic. It can happen. But GAPS will help heal your stomach lining so that the candida diet can work better. I wish you luck on your journey– it’s admirable.

  2. cris says:

    what about bv? i don’t see any mentions of that in your article. is that connected to the candida over growth?

    1. Lisa Richards says:

      Bacterial Vaginosis is caused by bacteria, whereas Candida albicans is a yeast/fungus. Having said that, some of the same habits and behaviors that can lead to a fungal overgrowth can also contribute to a pathogenic bacterial overgrowth too.

    2. Molly Gardner says:

      BV nothing to do with yeast- It’s a bacteria not a fungus

  3. Sheila says:

    Hi I have whole body Candida and I am getting a horrible response from my doctor about it, she told me ‘Drs don’t recognise whole body candida’.
    So I told her my daughter had had this, who lives in Australia, she went off onto one about she could have nothing to do with this. After a few minutes of her rabbiting on about medicines etc, I then told her I was cutting out sugar, that stumped her, she quickly went onto something else.
    It has been quite a few years now with this candida. I have had sores in my ears, fingers/nails, mouth, only just realised what it was. Boy, I am so glad I, well my daughter, figured out what it was.
    I have been slowly adjusting the food in my cupboards and fridge, it’s been difficult I can tell you, sugar is everywhere!!! I do smile to myself, when I say ‘ kill that candida!!!!!’

  4. G says:

    Try and see. Just stop eating sugar, cereal, juice…while using the medicine

  5. L says:

    I started having constant yeast infection symptoms last year. I had most common symptoms like the itching (horrible) but did not have any other common issues. I went to the doctor and they ended up doing a biopsy to check for anything. All that came back was that I had eczema. Weird! They told me to not use soaps ever and prescribed me the one day yeast infection pill which seemed to work for about one week. Then back to the same. Finally one day I went on Weight Watchers which cuts out most of my sugar intake and what do you know….no more issues.

15 Yeast Remedies

Dr. Pamela Frank, BSc (Hons), ND

Most women experience it at least once in their lifetime: that itching, burning, irritated and white chunky discharge that signifies a vaginal yeast infection. A one-off yeast infection is no big deal, you just head to the nearest pharmacy, grab some over the counter yeast infection treatment and Bob’s your uncle. But, there are many women for whom the OTC treatments just plain don’t work or they only work temporarily and the yeast infection recurs within a few weeks or months. If you are one of these unfortunate ones that yeast is driving batty, here are some ways to get at the root of the yeast problem for good:

  1. First off, is it really yeast? If yeast treatments don’t work, this is the first thing we have to ask ourselves. Did vaginal swabs show yeast or come back clear? If they came back clear then here are some options:
  2. Repeat the swab. Lab tests aren’t fool proof, sometimes mistakes are made and sometimes yeast fails to show up on a particular swab but does show on the next one.
  3. Itching, burning, irritation and discharge signify vaginal irritation, but not necessarily from yeast. Such vaginal irritation and inflammation can also be caused by bacterial overgrowth (bacterial vaginosis), food sensitivities, allergies to latex condoms or spermicides, vaginal dryness, hormone imbalances and even allergies to semen. Of these, food sensitivities are extremely common and often something that women don’t realize they have. Vaginitis, inflammation of the vagina, may be the only obvious symptom. Gluten and dairy are common triggers for this.
  4. Vaginal swabs did show yeast and symptoms improved with yeast treatment but yeast came back. Then we have to ask, why is your system so receptive to yeast?
  5. Pregnancy1 – Since hormones influence yeast susceptibility and pregnancy is an altered hormonal state, you might be more susceptible to yeast infections while pregnant. Also during pregnancy, immune function is somewhat lower in order to protect the developing baby from rejection by the immune system.
  6. Birth control pills1and HRT2 – Many of my patients have told me that they got frequent yeast infections while on birth control pills. Estradiol (estrogen), down-regulates the immune system response to Candida albicans.9
  7. Antibiotics1 – antibiotics kill not only the bacteria that is causing your infection (bladder infection, strep throat etc), but also the beneficial bacteria that reside in the digestive tract and in the vagina. These good bacteria create an environment that is inhospitable to yeast growth and produce a vaginal biofilm that hinders persistent yeast infection7. This is why we always recommend taking a good quality probiotic any time that you have to take antibiotics.
  8. Inadequate progesterone production3 – Progesterone has been demonstrated to reduce the capacity of C. albicans strains to form biofilms and to colonise and invade vaginal epithelium.
  9. Disordered glucose metabolism6and diabetes4– What would diabetes have to do with Candida? Lots. Higher blood sugar levels mean that sugar is being transported via the blood stream to the vagina and feeding yeast. Sugar also suppresses the immune system. So if you’re consuming lots of sugary or refined carbs, you make a perfect environment for yeast to thrive.
  10. A weakened immune system – HIV positive women have been found to be at much greater risk of vulvovaginal Candidiasis5, which would be expected given their low resistance to infection. You may not be as extremely immune compromised as an HIV patient, but if you’re under high amounts of chronic stress, not sleeping enough, not exercising and eating junk, your immune system will be weak and incapable of fending off yeast.
  11. Use of vaginal hygiene products, such as douches and bubble bath that alter the vaginal pH6. The normal vaginal pH in menstruating women is about 4.0, rising to 4.5 at menstruation. Beneficial bacteria like Lactobacillus acidophilus produce and thrive in an acidic environment. When the pH is shifted even slightly toward a more alkaline state, Candida converts from a mild yeast form into a more virulent, infection-causing form.10
  12. Iron Deficiency Anemia – Some research suggests that iron deficiency anemia shifts the balance of the two arms of the immune system, Th1 (the microbe killing portion) and Th2 (the allergy portion), away from Th1 and more toward Th2. Meaning the immune system defenses don’t work as well to kill the yeast and create more of an allergic response.8
  13. Anti-fungal resistance – the anti-fungal treatment worked to reduce the yeast numbers temporarily; however, some of the yeast was resistant to the treatment and bounced back once the course of treatment was complete.
  14. Changes in vaginal pH throughout the menstrual cycle. Some women will get a yeast infection around their period every month. The vaginal pH does increase around your period and may be allowing yeast overgrowth. Probiotic bacteria help maintain a healthy vaginal pH and balancing hormones will also help maintain a normal vaginal pH throughout your cycle.
  15. Sexual transmission – If a woman suffers from repeated vaginal yeast infections, the possibility of transmission from her partner needs to be considered. Research on recurrent vulvovaginal Candidiasis has suggested no association between recurring infection and Candida infection in her sexual partner, however, the limitation of this research is that yeast culture was obtained superficially11, where yeast infection has been found in males as high as the prostate12.

A naturopathic physician can help balance hormones, restore healthy vaginal and digestive tract flora, correct iron deficiency and improve immune function for lasting improvement from recurring yeast infections.

  1. Anis Ahmad, Asad U. Khan “Prevalence of Candida species and potential risk factors for vulvovaginal candidiasis in Aligarh, India” European Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology and Reproductive Biology, Volume 144, Issue 1, May 2009, Pages 68–71.
  2. Fischer G1, Bradford J., “Vulvovaginal candidiasis in postmenopausal women: the role of hormone replacement therapy”. J Low Genit Tract Dis. 2011 Oct;15(4):263-7.
  3. Alves CT, Silva S, Pereira L, Williams DW, Azeredo J, Henriques M, “Effect of progesterone on Candida albicans vaginal pathogenicity Int J Med Microbiol. 2014 Jul 25. pii: S1438-4221(14)00086-1.
  4. Gunther LS, Martins HP, Gimenes F, Abreu AL, Consolaro ME, Svidzinski TI “Prevalence of Candida albicans and non-albicans isolates from vaginal secretions: comparative evaluation of colonization, vaginal candidiasis and recurrent vaginal candidiasis in diabetic and non-diabetic women.” Sao Paulo Med J. 2014;132(2):116-20.
  5. Apalata T, Longo-Mbenza B, Sturm A, Carr W, Moodley P, “Factors Associated with Symptomatic Vulvovaginal Candidiasis: A Study among Women Attending a Primary Healthcare Clinic in Kwazulu-Natal, South Africa” Ann Med Health Sci Res. 2014 May;4(3):410-6.
  6. Donders GG1, Bellen G, Mendling W., “Management of recurrent vulvo-vaginal candidosis as a chronic illness.” Gynecol Obstet Invest. 2010;70(4):306-21.
  7. Murina F1, Graziottin A, Vicariotto F, De Seta F, “Can Lactobacillus fermentum LF10 and Lactobacillus acidophilus LA02 in a Slow-release Vaginal Product be Useful for Prevention of Recurrent Vulvovaginal Candidiasis?: A Clinical Study”, J Clin Gastroenterol. 2014 Nov-Dec;48 Suppl 1:S102-5.
  8. Naderi N1, Etaati Z, Rezvani Joibari M, Sobhani SA, Hosseni Tashnizi S, “Immune deviation in recurrent vulvovaginal candidiasis: correlation with iron deficiency anemia”, Iran J Immunol. 2013 Jun;10(2):118-26.
  9. Lasarte S, Elsner D, Guía-González M, Ramos-Medina R, Sánchez-Ramón S, Esponda P, Muñoz-Fernández MA, Relloso M., “Female sex hormones regulate the Th17 immune response to sperm and Candida albicans” Hum Reprod. 2013 Dec;28(12):3283-91.
  10. C Monteagudo, A Viudes, A Lazzell, J P Martinez, J L Lopez-Ribot, “Tissue invasiveness and non-acidic pH in human candidiasis correlate with ‘‘in vivo’’ expression by Candida albicans of the carbohydrate epitope recognised by new monoclonal antibody 1H4” J Clin Pathol 2004; 57:598–603
  11. Lisboa C, Costa AR, Ricardo E, Santos A, Azevedo F, Pina-Vaz C, Rodrigues AG. “Genital candidosis in heterosexual couples.” J Eur Acad Dermatol Venereol. 2011 Feb;25(2):145-51.
  12. Mayayo E, Fernández-Silva F. “Fungal prostatitis: an update”. Anal Quant Cytopathol Histpathol. 2014 Jun;36(3):167-76.

*****

Pamela Frank, BSc(Hons), ND has been in practice as an ND since 1999 and previously worked for 20 years as a
medical laboratory technologist. She is Clinic Director of Forces of Nature Wellness in Toronto and was twice voted “Best Naturopath in Toronto”. Pamela maintains a busy, diverse practice with particular expertise in naturopathic treatment of PCOS, PMS, menopause, acne, infertility, uterine fibroids and endometriosis. Pamela’s interests include fitness, triathlons, yoga, healthy cooking, tennis and volleyball.

Nov. 1, 1999 (Cleveland) — A team of Italian researchers has found that a bacteria, Helicobactor pylori, may play a role in some cases of iron-deficiency anemia. The researchers, writing in the Nov. 2 issue of the Annals of Internal Medicine, suggest that eradicating H. pylori with antibioticscan lead to recovery from anemia and eliminate the need for iron supplementation.

Bruno Annibale, MD, and colleagues from the Policlinico Unversitario Umberto I in Rome, analyzed 30 patients with iron-deficiency anemia to try to find out what was causing the condition. H. pylori infection and stomach inflammation were discovered after the patients were examined. The patients were treated with three medications — Prilosec (omeprazole), Amoxil (amoxicillin), and Flagyl (metronidazole) — to knock out the bacterial infection.

At six months after treatment for H. pylori, 75% of the patients had recovered from the anemia and after one year, the anemia was gone in 90% of the patients.

In 80% of the patients the H. pylori bacteria was causing inflammation in a very large area of the stomach. Annibale’s team writes that such extensive inflammation could be a characteristic particular to patients with iron-deficiency anemia linked to H. pylori infection.

Although elimination of infection appears to reverse anemia, it is not a rapid recovery and the build-up of iron reserves is slow. In these patients it took 1-2 years to increase the storage of iron.

According to Annibale and colleagues, one explanation for the slow recovery of iron reserves may be that most of the patients were younger women. Blood loss during the menstrual cycle is the most common cause of anemia in premenopausal women. H. pylori infection may therefore “unbalance an already unstable equilibrium and lead to the development of iron deficiency anemia,” they write.

The researchers also note that H. pylori is known to reduce the amount of vitamin C in the stomach, which can prevent iron absorption. In addition, they speculate that since H. pylori needs iron to grow, it could deplete iron in the stomach.

Within the last five years the treatment of peptic ulcer disease has undergone a revolution as physicians have learned that it is often caused by H. pylori and can be treated with antibiotics.

Anemia: The Surprising Cause

If you’ve been feeling tired, irritable, depressed, cold, and maybe even a little short of breath lately, listen up: this post is for you! (especially if you’ve been writing it off)

I get blood work every year and recommend my clients request the same from their doctor or naturopath. Ask for a CBC with a metabolic panel, a lipid profile, iron/ferritin, vitamin D, thyroid panel, and hemoglobin A1C to start. I also request B vitamins and sex hormones. This gives you a good idea about your blood cell counts, blood sugar levels, organ function, signs of infection, possible deficiencies, and even clues about how to adjust your diet.

I recently had my yearly blood work and was shocked to see my severely low iron levels!

I had requested serum iron, ferritin (not pictured here but also low), and total iron binding capacity (TIBC). Serum iron measures the levels of iron in your blood, while ferritin measures the amount of stored iron. TIBC measures the amount of transferrin, a blood protein that transports iron from the gut to the cells that use it.

What does this mean? And more importantly, what is causing these low levels?

There are more than 400 types of anemia, which are divided into three basic groups: Anemia caused by blood loss, anemia caused by decreased or faulty red blood cell production, and anemia caused by destruction of red blood cells.

Iron deficiency anemia is the most common form, especially in children menstruating women. It means there is not enough iron in the blood (red blood cells).Your bone marrow needs iron to make hemoglobin, which is a protein molecule in the red blood cells that carries oxygen to tissues. The problem is it often goes undetected in people, as symptoms may be minor or vague. Many won’t know they have it until it shows on lab work.

Vitamin-deficiency anemia occurs when your diet lacks enough folate, vitamin B12 and other key nutrients. The body needs folate and vitamin B12 to produce enough healthy red blood cells.

Hemolytic anemia develops when the red blood cells are destroyed faster than the bone marrow can replace them. Hemolytic anemia can be inherited or develop later in life.

Sickle cell anemia is an inherited condition in which the body makes sickle-shaped red blood cells. These irregularly shaped red blood cells die prematurely, resulting in a chronic shortage of red blood cells.

Anemia may also occur as a result of chronic disease such as cancer, HIV/AIDS, rheumatoid arthritis, Crohn’s disease and other chronic inflammatory diseases.

Iron Deficiency Anemia: The Surprising Cause

I am experiencing iron deficiency anemia and will be focusing on it primarily in this post. I also had my vitamin B6 & B12 levels tested and both are over the optimal range (which is fine and good because I supplement with a B complex), so we knew it wasn’t vitamin deficiency anemia. Aside from iron deficiency, B vitamin deficiency is the other main cause of anemia I see in women in my practice.

Anemia is difficult to diagnose without a blood test because the symptoms can be pretty vague and may seem like other conditions (adrenal fatigue, depression, hypothyroidism). I’d been feeling more tired than usual (a main symptom) and incredibly irritable and depressed, 2 symptoms I wouldn’t have linked to anemia. But as soon as I began supplementing with iron, the symptoms immediately lifted (thank goodness).

Anemia Symptoms

  • Feeling tired, fatigue
  • Poor circulation
  • Feeling cold
  • Weakness
  • Dizziness
  • Pale skin
  • Headache
  • Rapid heartbeat or palpitations
  • Shortness of breath
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Brittle nails, hair loss

Blood Markers for Anemia

  • Serum iron below 85
  • Iron saturation below 20
  • Low ferritin
  • Low MCV (mean corpuscular volume), below 82. MCV tells you how big your red blood cells are. Low numbers mean small red blood cells, a sign of iron deficiency.
  • Low mean corpuscular hemoglobin, MCH (below 27) and low MCHC (below 32).
  • Low hemoglobin & hematocrit
  • High TIBC

Most doctors, when they see low iron, will send you packing with iron pills. While this will make you feel better (soooo much better) and is necessary to bring up low levels, it’s not addressing the underlying cause. So, the big question:

What causes iron deficiency anemia?

  • Dietary insufficiency: vegetarian or vegan diets, insufficient intake of iron-rich foods
  • Heavy menstrual cycles
  • Blood loss from internal bleeding (ulcers, GI bleeding)
  • Pregnancy (iron needs increase)
  • Inflammation in the digestive tract, preventing absorption of nutrients. Present in celiac or with other GI infections such as candida, parasites, SIBO, h pylori.
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Insufficient production of stomach acid, which prevents iron absorption

Diet is the first place to look, and obviously I have my diet pretty well curated. I eat plenty of leafy greens and supplement with B vitamins. It is true, however, that I’m not a huge fan of red meat. I prefer lighter proteins such as chicken and fish. Those do provide some iron, and I get plenty of protein and iron-rich foods. So what gives?

First off, my thyroid levels aren’t ideal. My TSH at this time was 3.5, and the ideal is around 1.5. I’ve been working on correcting my hypothyroidism, and this indicates I need some adjustments. Secondly, when your thyroid is sluggish, everything slows down, including digestion and production of HCl, stomach acid that helps you break down food for absorption. Lightbulb moment: I’d noticed increasingly nagging digestive symptoms such as a lot of belching and fullness after meals, an indication that digestion is slow and not moving through your intestinal track quickly enough. I ran a stool test on myself, and lo and behold: H pylori showed up, and that can be a huge cause of anemia.

So in my case, h pylori, sluggish thyroid, and poor stomach acid/digestive function (from the h pylori) were causing my anemia. I don’t have heavy periods, so I knew that wasn’t a cause. Low iron stores also slow the conversion of T4 to T3, the main thyroid hormone in your body, and that further worsens hypothyroidism.

If you think about it, you’re only as good as what you digest and absorb. You could have the perfect diet, but if you’re not breaking down and absorbing everything you’re eating, deficiencies will develop.

Did your doctor ever tell you poor digestion is a main cause of anemia?

With intestinal inflammation, you won’t be absorbing nutrients from your food. What causes that inflammation?

  • Dysbiosis (when your bad bacteria outweigh your good),
  • candida overgrowth,
  • parasites,
  • h pylori,
  • SIBO
  • inflammatory foods such as gluten, dairy, sugar, processed food
  • Antibiotic use
  • Alcohol
  • OTC drugs such as acid blockers and NSAIDs.

The resulting inflammation also affects HCl (stomach acid) production, meaning your ability to break down food is compromised, and the inflammation prevents nutrients from being properly absorbed.

How to Correct Iron Deficiency Anemia

  • Diet: are you getting enough iron rich foods (liver, leafy greens/spinach, grass fed meat, beans/lentils, oysters?) Are you eating enough in general? Are you vegetarian/vegan? Maybe time to rethink that. Note that animal proteins contain the most absorbable forms of iron. Liver and oysters are the best sources of iron. Hmmmmm, no wonder I crave oysters.
  • Take a digestive enzyme to help your body break down and absorb food. I started taking this one and all my nagging digestive symptoms disappeared.
  • Take an iron supplement to bring your levels back up. Ferrous glycinate or iron bysglycinate are the best, most absorbable and non-constipating forms. Once your levels are back up, I like FloraVital liquid to keep them up. If you don’t like liver, you can take liver capsules.
  • Get stool testing to see if there are GI issues causing inflammation and malabsorption. You can order your own labwork here. I use and highly recommend the GI MAP stool test.
  • Address female hormone issues: if you are soaking a tampon every 2 hours or more often, you are bleeding too heavily. This can occur because of fibroids, hypothyroid, estrogen dominance, endometriosis, and more. Talk to your doctor.
  • Eat vitamin C rich foods with your iron rich foods (or supplement) to increase absorption.
  • Limit coffee or tea before an iron rich meal. Both can inhibit iron absorption.
  • Get your thyroid tested. (you can order a thyroid panel here).

If you have iron deficient anemia, the cause may be more complex than just not getting enough iron in your diet. If you’re eating enough animal protein, you likely have some malabsorption issues present so you’re not absorbing all the nutrients in your food. Or you may not be secreting enough stomach acid to break down food. Request a stool test to check gut function, and take a look at your blood work to see if other deficiencies are present: B vitamins, hypothyroid. Nothing in the body malfunctions in isolation!

Resources

Hypothyroid & low iron
All about anemia: signs & symptoms

Please share and +1!

Mary Vance is a Certified Nutrition Consultant and author specializing in digestive health. In addition to her coaching practice, she offers courses to help you heal your gut and kick nagging digestive issues for good. Mary lives in San Francisco and Lake Tahoe in Northern California. Read more about her coaching practice here and her background here.

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The moist, dark areas of your body-the mouth, vagina, and rectum-are full of beneficial bacteria that help protect against infection, as well as fungi that normally cause no problems. But certain conditions change that balance, killing off beneficial bacteria that keep yeast populations in check. Common culprits include pregnancy and diabetes, both of which can change the acidity of the vagina, making it more vulnerable to infection, and antibiotics, which can wipe out the good bacteria that protect the body from more harmful bacteria. The result? Fungus of the Candida variety, the type behind most yeast infections, can take over. Oral thrush, a white, itchy, sensitive rash in the mouth, and vaginal yeast infections, with their burning itch and discharge, commonly crop up as a result.

Yeast infections can be stubborn, recurring even after successful treatment with medicines and antifungal creams. For that reason, prevention is the best option, and you can start with that yogurt in the refrigerator. Eating foods that strengthen the immune system is also smart because they may help fortify your body against many types of infection, so you might avoid the antibiotics that make you vulnerable to yeast infections.

YOUR FOOD PRESCRIPTION

Garlic

Garlic’s a powerful bacteria fighter-in fact, it was used to help wounds heal back in World War I. But the “stinking rose” also fights fungi. When scientists in Iran added extracts of pure garlic and onion to samples of C. albicans, the fungus that causes most yeast infections, the garlic and onion kept it from growing.

Only recently have scientists discovered that garlic’s little bulbs are packed with antioxidants, so eating plenty of garlic should also help keep your immune system running at full steam.

Aim for: Two cloves per day. Garlic is most effective when eaten raw, so chop some and add it to salads, salsa, and pasta dishes, or simply chew the cloves if you can bear it.

Yogurt with active cultures

This fermented dairy product is chock-full of “good” bacteria. When more of these bugs take up residence in your body, there’s less room for yeast to multiply and cause trouble. In one study on women with recurring yeast infections, yogurt proved particularly helpful. For six months, the women ate a daily 250-millilitre (8-ounce) serving of yogurt with the active culture Lactobacillus acidophilus. For the next six months, they ate no yogurt at all. During the yogurt period, the women experienced 30 percent fewer yeast infections.

Aim for: 250 millilitres (8 ounces) of plain yogurt a day. Make sure you choose yogurt with live, active cultures, particularly L. acidophilus. Avoid sweetened yogurts because sugar can worsen a yeast infection.

NUTRITIONAL SUPPLEMENTS

Garlic. If you don’t want to risk the scent-ual side effects of garlic, consider a no-odor garlic supplement. A word of warning: Theoretically, garlic may increase the risk of bleeding and should be used under a doctor’s supervision by anyone taking a blood-thinning medication, such as warfarin (Coumadin). Garlic can also irritate the gastrointestinal tract and should be used with caution by people with infectious or inflammatory GI conditions. DOSAGE: 500 milligrams three times a day for up to six weeks.

Probiotics. If you can’t eat enough yogurt, or if it doesn’t seem to be working as quickly as you’d like, try supplementing with probiotics, the very bacteria found in yogurt. Probiotics teem with live, active cultures that aid digestion and keep the body’s population of good bacteria at healthy numbers. They have shown such promise in fighting yeast infections in both the vagina and mouth that some doctors recommend taking them whenever you start a course of antibiotics that may make you vulnerable to yeast infections.

Several studies have found particular benefits from the probiotic L. rhamnosus, often listed on labels as Lactobacillus GG, which can survive the digestive acids in the gut better than others. L. acidophilus, which is more common and much less expensive, has also shown promise.

A study on premature babies found that when their breast milk was supplemented with probiotics for the first six weeks of life, the infants’ risk of yeast infections in their mouths, a common problem, decreased by 20 percent. DOSAGE: Usually 1 tablespoon (15 millilitres) of liquid probiotic culture or one or two capsules a day. Take the dose between meals when digestive acid production is at its lowest and be sure to follow the product’s dosing instructions for best results. Check with your pediatrician before giving your infant probiotics.

Probiotics should be taken for at least two weeks after finishing a course of antibiotics to ensure that your good bacteria reach effective levels.

OFF THE MENU

Sugary foods, sugary drinks, and alcohol. Yeasts love sugars-in fact, they thrive on them. To starve the troublemakers, make a conscious effort to cut back. That means avoiding fruit juices, sweetened breakfast cereals, ice cream, and desserts as well as anything made with high-fructose corn syrup, like soft drinks and packaged cookies or candy. Try to satisfy your sweet tooth with fruits like cherries, grapes, and fresh apricots or, better yet, have some sweet, crunchy carrots.

You should also avoid alcohol if you have a yeast infection, because yeasts feed on it.

White bread, white rice, and white potatoes. Refined grains and starches raise the level of blood sugar (glucose) in the body, and yeasts feed on glucose. Switch to high-fiber foods like whole-wheat bread, brown rice, and whole-grain pasta and cereal. Choose sweet potatoes over white potatoes whenever possible because they have less effect on blood sugar.

Yeasty foods. Mushrooms and yeast breads contain yeast that may cause yeast fungi to flourish in the body. Avoid them if you’re on antibiotics, under stress, sick, or pregnant-all conditions that make you more vulnerable to a yeast infection.

Three out of four women will experience a yeast infection in their lifetime, and of those women, nearly half will have recurring cases. What’s more surprising is that even though yeast infections are so common, many people don’t understand what they are, what causes them, and the proper way to treat them.

A yeast infection occurs when the ratio of bacteria and yeast in the vagina is off balance. Once the yeast — a type of fungus called Candida — starts multiplying, women may begin to experience uncomfortable itching, burning and irritation in the vulva, and they may also start to produce thicker discharge.

Here’s a four-step plan for preventing and treating this common condition.

Prevention

1. Keep your immune system strong

Certain health conditions can increase your risk of recurring yeast infections. Diabetes is a common example, because the yeast feeds off the higher blood sugar levels in the body; another is pregnancy, because of the increased level of estrogen (birth control pills can also spark an estrogen increase). The most common cause of yeast infections is having a weakened immune system.

“Anything that decreases your immune system — whether it be medications, an underlying medical condition, or extreme stress — can increase your risk of yeast infections,” says Dr. Gabrielle Cassir, a Toronto-based gynecologist. Ways to strengthen your immune system include getting enough sleep, having a healthy diet, exercising, maintaining a lower stress level, and being aware of which medications can be weakening — for example, corticosteroids used to treat asthma and autoimmune diseases. Gynecologist Dr. Elin Raymond also recommends avoiding antibiotics when fighting a yeast infection, because the antibiotics will kill the bacteria that help balance the level of yeast in your system.

2. Keep your vagina happy

Your vagina is sensitive, so the best way to take care of it is by keeping the area dry and not messing with its natural pH level with harsh personal hygiene products like creams and wipes. All you need to keep the area clean is water.

Raymond also recommends taking care to stay cool by sleeping without underwear and only using menstrual products while on your period (that means avoiding regular use of panty liners). When using menstrual products, she advises changing them often. You should also avoid staying in wet clothes for long periods of time. “Anything that causes heat or moisture buildup is not good,” she says.

Treatment

3. Get a proper diagnosis

According to Cassir, most people assume that any discomfort or itchiness in the vaginal region is a yeast infection, which isn’t true.

“Sometimes you treat yourself and increase your itching or increase irritation if it’s not the proper diagnosis,” she says, adding that bacterial vaginosis is commonly confused with a yeast infection. “I think it is very important to see your doctor to really confirm that what you have is a yeast infection before beginning treatment.”

For individuals with recurring infections, Cassir recommends they still visit their doctors for a quick test to confirm that it’s a yeast infection before self-treating.

4. Use the right medication

Most yeast infections clear up within a week when properly treated with medication. Options for treatment include ointments, oral pills, and tablets inserted into the vagina. Cassir says she’ll prescribe the appropriate anti-fungal medication based on an individual’s preference. Both vaginal and oral regimens are effective, she says, but topical creams are more rarely prescribed as a one-day regimen because many women will need additional treatment. Most treatment plans are stretched across 3–7 days, but often one oral dose of Fluconazole is effective.

Women who experience recurring yeast infections — defined as four or more per year — should consult their doctor. There are long-term treatment plans that can help, notes Cassir.

And while there are many articles circulating online claiming that modifications in diet can help prevent and treat yeast infections — promoting natural remedies including probiotics, apple cider vinegar and garlic — both Raymond and Cassir warn that there’s no proof these at-home remedies will help.

“When it comes to these different home remedies, like eating yogurt or different probiotic products, there hasn’t been enough evidence to show they work,” says Cassir.

Treating Yeast Infections

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What are yeast infections?
Yeast infections occur when the fungus Candida albicans grows rapidly anywhere on the body from the mucus membranes of the oral cavity, under the nails, on the scalp, in the pelvic area or any other areas of the skin, especially where it can be moist. Candida is found normally on the body, but bacteria and other normal inhabitants usually keep fungal growth in check. However, if the balance of these organisms is altered, Candida can multiply, resulting in overgrowth and potentially severe medical concerns, especially when yeast gets into the blood or lungs.

What are the symptoms of yeast infections?
The first sign of yeast overgrowth is typically an itchy rash. In the case of thrush, white lesions on a red base are seen on the tongue, inner cheeks and occasionally, the roof of the mouth, gums and tonsils. This can cause pain when swallowing as well as a feeling of tightness in the throat, as if food were “sticking” there. Fever can occur if the infection spreads past the esophagus.

Nail fungus typically begins with a white or yellow spot appearing underneath the tip of the nail, which then thickens and distorts as the infection progresses. As yeast grows under and into the nail, crusting, discoloration and darkening begin. Moreover, infected nails can oftentimes separate from the nail bed, which can cause pain in the tips of fingers and toes, as well as a slightly foul-smelling odor.

Yeast likes warm, wet places to grow and prefers to nestle into folds of redundant skin. Fungal overgrowth on skin can appear as ringworm, a ring-shaped, red rash, with a wavy, wormlike border on the scalp, extremities, chest and back. Besides ringworm, the same fungus is also responsible for athlete’s foot, jock itch, diaper rash and vaginal infections. This rash can cause itching, burning, small blisters, inflammation and cracked, scaly skin especially between fingers and toes and within skin folds. Itching and burning may worsen as the infection spreads. Yeast can also spread if you scratch the infection and then touch yourself elsewhere, especially moist areas like the feet, groin and underarms. The fungus can also be transmitted to other parts of the body from contaminated bedding, towels or clothing.

Yeast infections can become life-threatening when they invade the circulatory system and lungs. This is most often seen in people with compromised immune systems. There is also some question whether yeast overgrowth within the digestive tract contributes to chronic gastrointestinal symptoms like gas, bloating, and either diarrhea or constipation.

What are the causes of yeast infections?
Candida infections can occur when the immune system is compromised by disease or suppressed by medications, like antibiotics, which change the normal balance of microorganisms in the body. Prolonged or frequent use of antibiotics can wipe out the “friendly” bacteria that normally keep yeast in check, resulting in overgrowth. Medical conditions related to the incidence of recurrent yeast infections include diabetes, HIV/AIDS, immune suppression in bone marrow transplant patients and those with cancer taking chemotherapy, as well as those who take immunosuppressive drugs. Other medicines besides antibiotics that can wipe out intestinal flora or encourage overgrowth of yeast are steroids and estrogen, either in the form of birth control pills or hormone replacement therapy.

Moreover, yeast skin infections can be picked up by touching a person who already is infected or from walking on damp floors in public showers or locker rooms. It’s also possible to catch a fungal infection from dogs and cats, or from farm animals. A sign that animals are infected is a patch of skin with missing fur.

What is the conventional treatment of yeast infections?
Over-the-counter antifungal medications are often recommended for skin infections. Patients are advised to use drying powders, creams or lotions containing miconazole or clotrimazole, and there are also liquid drops of nystatin available for thrush. Oral antifungal drugs such as itraconazole (Sporanox) or griseofulvin (Grisactin) are most often prescribed for stubborn infections, although these drugs are not without side effects and need monitoring by a physician if prolonged therapy is required. For those with HIV/AIDS, prescription antifungal medications such as amphotericin B may be used when other medications do not prove helpful. Intravenous antifungal therapy is often used for severe systemic infections. Because these drugs can cause serious and possibly life-threatening liver damage, patients who take them should have their liver function monitored regularly.

What therapies does Dr. Weil recommend for yeast infections?

Diet: A diet high in sugar may predispose some people, especially women, to yeast infections. Experiment with cutting back on refined sugars. You may even want to lower carbohydrates as a group for a time. Over a four to six week period, avoid fruits and fruit juices (except green apples, berries, grapefruit, lemons and limes), dairy other than plain yogurt and sour cream, breads and grains, alcohol, peanuts, potatoes and beans. Also stay away from sugary condiments like ketchup, salad dressings, horseradish, and barbecue sauces.

Be sure to eat plenty of fresh vegetables of various colors, as long as they are not starchy or root vegetables like carrots, parsnips, or rutabaga. Eat one to two cloves (not the entire bulb) of garlic per day, preferably raw. Garlic has a long history of use as an effective antifungal agent. You may also want to use thyme in your cooking, which is approved in Europe for use in upper respiratory infections and is effective against oral thrush.

Topical herbal preparations: Dr. Weil recommends tea tree oil, extracted from the leaves of Melaleuca alternifolia. This is a natural disinfectant that works as well or better than pharmaceutical antifungal products. Apply a light coating to the affected area two or three times a day, and continue to apply it for two weeks after signs of the infection have disappeared to make sure the fungus is eradicated. You’ll find tea tree oil products at health food stores – be sure to select brands that are 100 percent tea tree oil. An alternative remedy is grapefruit seed extract used the same way as tea tree oil – twice a day for at least two months.

You can also use topical calendula cream or lotion made from petals of the ornamental “pot marigold” (Calendula officinalis) to soothe the affected areas of skin irritated by yeast. Look for products with at least 10 percent extract of this plant, and you might also try washing the irritated skin with a diluted solution of calendula tincture.

Probiotics: A proven probiotic product such as Lactobacillus GG or Bacillus coagulans (BC-30) may help to help restore normal gut flora. This is also a good preventive strategy whenever you have taken a dose of antibiotics. The dose is one tablespoon of the liquid culture or one to two capsules with meals unless the label directs otherwise.

Other supplements: For yeast infections of the skin, Dr. Weil also recommends taking a good multivitamin plus a supplement of gamma-linolenic acid (GLA) in the form of black currant oil or evening primrose oil. The correct dosage for adults is 500 mg twice daily; half the dose in children.

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