The Causes of Candida and Yeast Infection

Learn how to recognize yeast infections caused by Candida albicans, and what causes them.

  • Living Candida Free cover
    "Living Candida Free," by Ricki Heller and Andrea Nakayama, includes helpful information on symptoms of candida infection, as well as a collection of candida-free recipes.
    Cover courtesy Da Capo Press
  • People eating together
    Candida albicans is a common yeast that, through external environmental factors including diet, can cause yeast infections in your body. Some symptoms of candida infection include eczema and depression.
    Photo by Fotolia

  • Living Candida Free cover
  • People eating together

In Living Candida-Free (Da Capo Press, 2015), authors Ricki Heller and Andrea Nakayama discuss in detail the causes and symptoms of yeast infections from Candida albicans, as well as recipes and diet suggestions to lessen this fungus’ presence in your body. This section comes from the chapter “Candida-Related Complex.”

Candida has gotten a lot more attention in the last decade or so, and with good reason. As noted earlier, Candida—specifically, Candida albicans—is a yeast, a kind of fungus. We’ve always had some of the yeast present in our bodies at any one time, and everybody has some—regardless of age or gender. Candida doesn’t discriminate. And Candida isn’t the problem; the environment is.

In a healthy person, Candida is a harmless agent. Yet fluctuations in the internal bacterial environment that influence immune health enable the yeast to grow past its tipping point, past the point where its actions are kept in check by the host climate. In these circumstances, the same harmless strains of Candida can become pathogenic, invading the mucosa and causing significant damage.

Candida is an intelligent and networked organism. It’s considered a dimorphic fungus—meaning it can change shapes, oscillating between a bud and hyphae (the latter looking more like a little sperm), depending on its surrounding habitat. Dimorphic literally means “with two shapes.” It’s the longer filaments, the hyphae, that can burrow their roots through the mucosal barriers and into your tissues to initiate so-called leaky gut—a situation where one of the body’s most important boundaries and barricades between the inside and outside world has been breached. Without suitable restraint, any number of elements, including improperly broken-down constituents from the food you’ve eaten, can make their way into your bloodstream and wreak further havoc on your health. This may appear as inflammation, allergies, asthma, eczema, food intolerances, headaches, joint pain, and mind challenges, such as depression, anxiety, mood swings, and problems with memory or focus.

Within a suitably compromised mucosal atmosphere, Candida is tailored to gain power and proliferate. The environment that will support its growth is one where there’s a lot of undigested sugar and starch for it to feed on as well as a climate that has a lower pH, meaning that it is more acidic. Sugar, starches, and simple carbohydrates in the diet contribute to both of these generative factors, which is why diet is such an important part of an anticandida protocol—and why we’ve put together this food-based plan for you.

Because the yeast is a part of the microflora lodged in the mucosa, and much of this mucosa is situated in the gut, we’re brought right back to my very first belief: you are not what you eat, but what your body can do with what you eat. When a favorable environment for yeast overgrowth exists in the microflora, then what you do with that pie à la mode is make more yeast. And as you make more yeast, you put more strain on your immune system to try to gain back some balance. This leaves you tired and inflamed and can cause confusion among your immune cells as they try to discern “self” from “other.”

12/10/2015 4:09:31 PM

I have a disorder called trimethylaminuria. It is a genetic disorder where I can't digest cholines and lecithins due to a lack of lthe liver enzyme FMO3. The treatment I have been using for years has been the use of the antibiotic Flagyl 500mg for 10 days each month which is supposed to take care of the undigested residue that has fermented in my gut causing a fishy body odor. It also has caused wear and tear on my gut, overgrowth of candidas, inflammation, wear and tear on my immune system and much more. They say I am diabetic but I believe the elevated blood sugarr is also related to inflammation. If I were to live without cholines and lecithin, my diet would be sparse. I watch my carbohydrates but I am also limited on proteins due to kidney disease. I am also limited on my vegetable intake as many health ones are high in cholines. I feel like I am lucky to have lived to be 62!! But now I am to the point where my body is simply wearing out. Margaret

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