A lot of people hear “yeast infection” and automatically think of the vaginal yeast infection women tend to suffer from. Yeast infections, caused most frequently by the Candida albicans organism, can actually impact men and children as well as women, and they can manifest in many forms. While things like athlete’s foot, oral thrush, and fungal skin irritations are pretty common, the chronic infections that plague a lot of my patients aren’t as easy to diagnose – especially since they often mimic other conditions.
What Exactly is Candida?
To clarify, Candida albicans is a yeast organism that lives naturally in the body. There are actually almost 20 different strains of Candida, but the albicans variety is the one that most often causes chronic yeast infections. Candida usually lives naturally in your intestines, within mucous membranes, and on your skin. It’s normal, and it’s usually kept in balance by the good bacteria that also lives in your intestines.
Candida Infections are More Common Than You Think
Believe it or not, up to 70% of the population has suffered or is currently suffering from some form of yeast. Infections are a lot more common than you would initially want to believe, and the percentage of the population suffering has definitely risen over the past 50+ years.
Why are infections so much more common? I believe the main reason stems from the overuse of antibiotics. Back in the 50’s, when only 15% of the population had a yeast problem, antibiotics weren’t as popular. Now, they’re used regularly. Since antibiotics can’t tell the difference between good and bad bacteria, killing them both, the natural balance within your body is disrupted every single time you use them, allowing the Candida organism to thrive.
It’s not just prescription antibiotics that are the problem, either. We also feed antibiotics to the chicken, pigs, and cattle in their feedlots. This means we’re getting small doses of the antibiotics that were absorbed by the animals every time we drink milk or eat meat. We’re chronically dosing ourselves and slowly but surely reducing the amount of good bacteria in our intestines.
Other factors include the chronic use of other drugs (including birth control and steroids), chemicals, pesticides, and even our increased consumption of refined sugars and refined carbohydrates.
Treating the Cause and Not the Symptoms
I can’t give you a full list of the ways a Candida infection can manifest itself, as it would go on for pages. But consider this – conditions like chronic fatigue syndrome, irritable bowel syndrome, anxiety, depression, food allergies, and urinary tract infections aren’t always what they seem. They have their own set of symptoms, but what if they are the symptom of another condition? If you have these conditions, and others, and they don’t seem to respond to treatment – or come back frequently – you have to start asking yourself the right questions. Are you treating the symptom or the cause?
Candida can cause all of these conditions, and many others. Not only that, but you can have a primary cause and a maintaining cause. Let’s say, for example, you have a urinary tract infection. Your doctor treats you with antibiotics and those antibiotics cause a Candida overgrowth within your body. The antibiotics are the primary cause of your overgrowth. Not knowing you have a yeast problem, you continue to eat your normal diet of processed food, coffee with sweet cream, sweets, and snacks. These foods, which feed Candida, are your maintaining cause – the reason it’s not going away or the reason it’s getting worse.
At the end of the day, the only way to really, truly crush the Candida in your body is to follow a strict Candida diet. The diet is designed to kill off the Candida, restore natural balance to your body, eliminate allergens, and rehab your overall lifestyle. Curing yeast infections can take months, but they’re months you’ll never regret – and you’ll definitely never look at antibiotics, medications, refined foods, and chemicals the same way ever again.