Evidence-Based, Simplified Nutrition and Lifestyle Strategies


Candida: Causes, Symptoms & Supports



An Introduction to Candida: What is it?

In this article, we will explore the details of what Candida is, how it can become a problem, why it can negatively affect your health, what to look for, and how to determine if you have it.


Candida albicans can regularly underly

  • yeast infections
  • external fungal infections (think toenails)
  • intestinal overgrowth
  • ear and sinus infections
  • urinary tract infections.


While these symptoms might be giving you trouble, the persistence of multiple symptoms may be a warning sign that you’re dealing with Candida overgrowth.


Candida is the name of a family of yeasts that typically inhabit the human body.


Candida has several species known that regularly infect humans, like Candida albicans, Candida tropicalis, and the ultra-resistant superbug Candida auris.


Candida Albicans

The most common species for persistent infections is Candida albicans. 


Species of the Candida family typically reside in mucosal membranes.


Mucosal membranes are found regularly in the

  • gastrointestinal tract
  • sinuses
  • esophagus (throat)
  • nasal passages
  • urinary tract
  • vagina


An overgrowth of Candida in one or several of these environments is known as candidiasis.


In more severe cases, Candida can become systemic, especially if it makes it into the bloodstream and leads to conditions that can be life-threatening.



Diet word on the plate with spoon and fork


The warm and moist environment of the human body is a hospitable place for microbes like parasites in the form of bacteria, yeasts, protozoa, and other opportunistic pathogens like worms.


Depending on the concentration and balance, these can turn good or bad. For someone in a good state of health, dependent on the microbes, they are usually not a problem because they co-exist in balance.


But for someone whose immune system is weakened from:

  • poor lifestyle habits
  • stress
  • environmental toxins
  • pre-existing conditions that affect the immune system
  • the use of certain prescriptions


These opportunistic pathogens can become persistent and result in many conditions.


Candida regularly inhabits healthy humans. Most of us have residual amounts of Candida that reside within our bodies.


However, they are buffered by other good strains of bacteria living within our microbiome and a well-functioning immune system. Together, these maintain Candida and keep it from becoming pathogenic.


When the immune system is not functioning ideally and/or the microbiome is out of balance, Candida has the potential to overgrow.


A few factors that can contribute to a compromised immune system that inherently leads to the onset of Candida overgrowth include:


1.  Eating a highly-processed diet low in nutrients.

Fries, burger, pizza, and soda


Consuming a processed, packaged-food diet exacerbates the risk of candida overgrowth.


A standard American diet with processed and packaged foods is very low in micronutrients.


Without enough raw materials and nutrients, the immune function can become compromised.


A standard American diet is typically high in refined carbohydrates and sugars, which also feed pathogens.


These pathogens thrive on a standard American diet.


2.  Having other pre-existing conditions that lower immune function.


List of diseases


If you’re living with one or multiple chronic illnesses like autoimmune conditions, cancer, diabetes, AIDS, lowered white blood cell counts, or other conditions that affect the immune system, immune function may be suboptimal.


As a result, the body cannot mount a response to stave off other opportunistic pathogens like Candida.


Other factors that can suppress immune function are chronic viral, bacterial, protozoal, or fungal infections, mold toxicity, and prolonged sleep deprivation.


3.  The use of certain pharmaceuticals.

capsules and tablets


The use of medications that alter immune status or digestive function can predispose someone to an infection like Candida.


Antibiotics have been linked to cases of Candida, as they eliminate healthy strains of flora that balance out pathogenic ones.


This can allow Candida to overtake the microbiome. Because antibiotics are regularly prescribed for yeast infections, urinary tract infections, and sinusitis that Candida may cause, sufferers may fall into a vicious cycle of illness and antibiotic use.


The use of proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) also negatively affects the microbiome as they decrease the production of stomach acid.


Stomach acid creates a hostile environment from bacteria and functions as the body’s antimicrobial. Other drugs that fall under the categories of immunosuppressants, oral steroids, or chemotherapy also can inhibit the immune system from responding correctly to control pathogens.


Finally, studies have shown that artificial hormones in birth control pills can propagate an environment for Candida to flourish.


4.  Excessive levels of stress.

A guy in front of his laptop having an excessive stress


Stress is a known immunosuppressant.


It is common to get sick more often when you are stressed.


During times of chronic stress, the body releases cortisol.


Cortisol is a steroid hormone that is a known immunosuppressant. This is how regular stress can lead to short-term illness (acute) like a cold or flu, or long-term (chronic) like autoimmunity or cancer.


With the immune system down, the body is defenseless to Candida and other pathogens.


5.  Known imbalances in the microbiome.

Functions of Gut Bacteria and microbiome imbalances


If you’ve suffered from a gastrointestinal condition in the past, this may indicate an imbalance in the microbiome.


Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), inflammatory bowel disorders (Crohn’s, Ulcerative Colitis), and food intolerances have known links to bacterial, protozoal, and parasitic infections.


All are telltales that something may be imbalanced within the gut.


One usually does not exist alone, and the presence of one gastrointestinal condition can be a predisposing factor for another.


6.  Persistent alcohol, tobacco, or drug use.

Drinking alcohol and tobacco


The use of alcohol, tobacco, or other recreational substances has multiple impacts on the body that contribute to a Candida infection.


They all contain poisons that suppress immune function.


All substances can cause imbalances within the microbiome. Alcohol, tobacco, and drugs can contribute to nutrient depletion.


It’s ideal to limit these substances, especially if you have imbalances in the body.


7.  Sexual activity with a partner that has Candida.

partners showing their feet on bed with sheets


Candida regularly inhabits mucous membranes of the vagina, urinary tract, and oral cavity.


As a result, exposure to these areas or related bodily fluids in an infected person can result in transmission depending on the state of the immune system of the person exposed.


The gut microbiome is also shared.


The health of your partner matters.


Location, Location, Location – Where is Candida?

magnifying glass showing the map locations


Candida is known to affect several areas of the body.


As a result, it may have unknowingly manifested as one or multiple conditions that you’ve dealt with for a prolonged period.


Some of these symptoms include:

  • Adult acne
  • Discoloration of toenails, toenail fungal infections
  • Frequent urinary tract infections (UTIs)
  • Frequent yeast infections
  • Fungal skin infections (athlete’s foot, “jock itch”, persistent dandruff)
  • Oral thrush (white lesions in mouth, tongue, throat; redness, cracking of mouth)
  • Previously diagnosed candidiasis
  • Sinus infections
  • Small Intestinal Fungal Overgrowth (SIFO), or the overgrowth of fungi within the small intestine


Physical Symptoms

Candida may be behind many unexplained signs and symptoms you’ve been dealing with.


Candida is known to contribute and cause regularly:

  • Anxiety
  • Bad breath
  • Bloating (especially with intake of carbohydrate-rich foods)
  • Bowel changes (diarrhea, constipation)
  • Brain fog
  • Chronic fatigue
  • Cravings
  • Depression
  • Excessive cravings, especially for carbohydrate rich foods
  • Food sensitivities
  • Fungal infections (of the skin, nails, scalp)
  • Gas
  • Headaches
  • Histamine intolerance
  • Hormonal imbalance and PMS
  • Joint pain
  • Loss of appetite
  • Migraines
  • Mood swings
  • Poor digestion
  • Skin manifestations (acne, eczema)
  • Unexplained fever and chills
  • Visibly concerning stools (discolored, fluffy, undigested stools)
  • Weight changes (gain or loss)


Effects on Health – Candida 

Candida effects on health


Aside from the direct symptoms that Candida infections are regularly known to cause, the prolonged presence of this yeast can have other detriments to health.


Candida is a resilient yeast that has three different life phases known scientifically as yeasts, pseudohyphae, and hyphae.


Like a caterpillar transforming into a butterfly, Candida evolves depending on the environment and timing (stage).


All stages have different characteristics and different growth requirements. They also thrive in different environments.


Candida adheres to mucosal membranes in its yeast form during transmission but soon evolves into their pseudohyphae and hyphae stages to continue the infection.


During the last two stages, they are notoriously destructive to human mucosal membranes.


1.  Intestinal Permeability 

The human gastrointestinal tract is lined with epithelial cells one layer thick, known as enterocytes. These cells are linked tightly together by structures known as “tight gap junctions” that serve as mortar between the bricks that are enterocytes.


This system makes up the barrier that separates the contents of your gastrointestinal system from your bloodstream.


Your bloodstream contains essential parts of your immune system.


The hyphae of Candida have the primary intent to find more nutrients and to continue reproduction. To do so, they are known to break apart tight gap junctions. This can contribute to a condition known as intestinal permeability, which you may know as leaky gut.


Leaky gut is problematic because bacteria, foodstuffs, and other intestinal contents can make their way into the bloodstream and stimulate the immune system.


Leaky gut can contribute to autoimmunity, food intolerances, and systemic inflammation.


2.  Nutrient deficiency

Candida is a yeast that requires vitamins and minerals for survival.


While they may live in your digestive tract, they do not give your nutrient absorption priority. As a result, unresolved Candida overgrowth can inhibit the uptake of your nutrients while trying to satisfy their demands.


The breakdown of the GI lining that Candida causes also can damage cells of the intestines. In both ways, Candida can contribute to malabsorption.


3.  Suppressed Immune Function

During times of an acute infection, the body puts all of its nutrition reserves to use. It also exerts a large amount of energy to fend off the pathogen.


Once it’s beaten the infective agent, it is then able to replenish these nutrient stores. The immune system can also rest and recalibrate.


However, this is not the case as in times of chronic infection with Candida. Instead, the immune system becomes depleted from a relentless war.


The body’s nutrient reserves are used up, and it becomes prone to a deficiency when nutrient uptake is limited from malabsorption caused by the infection. This can lead to a profoundly immunocompromised state that is difficult to overcome without addressing Candida.


4.  Cancer

Studies have linked chronic Candida infections to conditions like cancer.


Professionals have argued whether Candida is an underlying cause of cancer or if a pre-existing immune system with a suboptimal function created conditions for cancer and Candida to propagate.


Regardless, the two conditions are positively correlated, which should warrant attention.



Saliva candida testing


You can test for Candida. Depending on the resources available to you and where you reside in the world, there are many ways that you can test for Candida.


1.  DIY Saliva Test

You can do a DIY saliva test but these are not always accurate. The first thing in the morning, you can spit into a glass of room temperature bottled or distilled water.


Check the water every 15 minutes for up to an hour.


If you don’t have candida, the saliva should stay together and floating.


If the cup has strand-like tendrils (the fibers), cloudy specs suspended into the water or cloudy saliva that sinks to the bottom, you may have candida overgrowth.


2.  Blood/Tissue

candida blood test


If you’re working with a practitioner, you can order a blood test looking for antibodies (IgA, IgM, IgG) to identify a Candida presence.


Candida can be screened for on a tissue biopsy if an endoscopy or colonoscopy is on your radar or something you’ve discussed with your doctor.


If Candida is suspected to be behind symptoms in specific body regions (yeast infections of the vaginal cavity, skin manifestations), your practitioner may send off samples for analysis.


3.  Stool

candida stool test


Stool tests can also help to identify Candida.


Comprehensive stool analyses can also help identify other potential bacterial, protozoal, fungal, or parasitic infections in the gastrointestinal tract whose symptoms mirror Candida.


Stool tests from Genova Diagnostics (GI Map), Doctor’s Data, or Great Plains Laboratory that specifically mentions that it looks for Candida.


4.  Urine

An Organic Acids Test (OAT) is another way to identify if you have a Candida presence.


An OAT is a urine test that looks for organic acid metabolites unique to Candida, like arabinose.


You can learn more about the Organic Acids Test here.


Closing Thoughts

Candida is an opportunistic pathogen that can arise from poor diet, stress, drug overuse, or an already compromised immune system.


It can contribute to significant health conditions like intestinal permeability, a compromised immune system, further nutrient deficiency, or (and) other health detriments when it exists without control.


Prolonged Candida infections may also underly seemingly unrelated and unexplained signs and symptoms.


Starting the Carnivore Cure elimination diet can help support an overgrowth of Candida. The Carnivore Cure Elimination diet eliminates food that Candida needs to survive (and even thrive).


Once you implement a meat-only elimination diet and work on healing the gut, you can focus on healing. If 60 days pass with a meat-only diet and gut healing supplements, and your symptoms don’t improve, it’s time to do some testing. You can look into the bloodwork I offer and functional testing.


But first, try diet and some gut healing supports. They go a long, economical way.



w️ith ♥ and hope for healing,

DISCLAIMER: The content is for educational purposes only. While I am a nutritional therapy practitioner, I am not providing medical advice. Whenever you start a new diet or protocol, always first consult with your trusted practitioner.


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