Tired of dealing with symptoms like bloating, abdominal pain, diarrhea, constipation, or low-grade allergies? If your digestive health has been lacking for a while, yeast could be the hidden villain. Yeast overgrowth can be a difficult condition to manage, but fortunately there are things you can do to help. The first step is to understand what yeast overgrowth is and how it may be affecting your gut health. Listen as Dr. Carolyn Dean describes how the gut works, the evolution of our digestion, and ways to reset and support the rebuild of a malfunctioning microbiome.
What Is Yeast Overgrowth?
Our gut consists of a large variety of microscopic organisms, which make up a complex system that helps with digestion, absorption and elimination. In the stomach live trillions of bacteria and yeast, both good and bad, that help maintain a balance in the gut. Yeast (Candida albicans) is a type of fungus, and we all have small amounts of it in our bodies. But when gut balance is thrown off, yeast can begin to grow out of control. Yeast overgrowth, or candidiasis, is a condition that occurs when the yeast in your gut multiplies too much. It’s a common problem that can cause a variety of gut-related symptoms.
Signs & Symptoms
If you're experiencing any of the following symptoms, it could be the result of yeast overgrowth:
- Chronic fatigue
- Digestive issues like bloating, constipation, or diarrhea
- Skin problems like rashes or eczema
- Mood swings or brain fog
- Joint pain or muscle aches
- Recurring vaginal infections or urinary tract infections
- Nutrient deficiencies
What Causes Yeast Overgrowth?
A healthy digestive system is filled with different strains of good bacteria, including Lactobacillus acidophilus, Lactobacillus bifidus, Bifidobacterium lactis and L. rhamnosus — all of which encourage yeast organisms to starve so they can't grow or out-compete other bacteria in your gut. When this delicate balance is thrown off, yeast can take off like wildfire. Anything that upsets the natural balance of our body can cause candidiasis.
Gastrointestinal disorders, like leaky gut syndrome, can cause yeast overgrowth because it allows proteins from food to enter into the bloodstream, which triggers an immune response from the body. Other Conditions that affect the normal function of the gastrointestinal tract, such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) or gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), can also disrupt the balance of gut microorganisms and potentially contribute to yeast overgrowth.
Your Diet Choices
Yeast thrives on sugars and simple carbohydrates. A diet high in sugar and refined carbohydrates can provide an abundant food source for Candida, promoting its growth. Excessive alcohol consumption and certain drugs can weaken the immune system and disrupt the gut's microbial balance, creating conditions favorable for yeast overgrowth. And a poor diet will also weaken your immune response, potentially leaving you susceptible to an overgrowth.
Another factor is a lack of good bacteria in the gut, which can happen if you take antibiotics or manage other illnesses with medications that wipe out all bacteria, good and bad. This creates an environment where yeast flourishes. This imbalance, often referred to as dysbiosis, can create an environment that allows yeast like Candida to proliferate. Biological toxins, such as pesticides and heavy metals, can also alter our internal chemistry.
Other gut health disruptors like chronic stress can have a negative impact on the immune system and alter gut motility and secretion, potentially creating an environment that encourages yeast overgrowth. This includes hormonal changes where fluctuations, such as those seen during pregnancy, menstrual cycles, or hormonal therapies, can influence the growth of Candida in the gut.
4 Things To Consume For Gut Health
There are a lot of ways to improve your gut health, but one of the most important things is to make sure that you're eating the right foods. And while there are many different opinions out there about what the best gut-healthy diet looks like, there are some general principles that everyone can benefit from following.
The first step is to reduce sugar and refined carbs in your diet. This includes white flour products like bread and pasta, as well as sweets, alcohol, and sugary drinks. Yeast loves sugar, so eliminating it from your diet will help to starve the Candida. In general, you want to focus on eating plenty of vegetables and whole grains. These foods contain key nutrients that are important for keeping your digestive system functioning properly.
Fiber is a key part of a gut-healthy diet because it helps to keep your intestinal tract healthy and functioning properly. Good sources of fiber include vegetables, beans, nuts, whole grains, chickpeas, and lentils, to name a few.
Less Processed Foods
Sugary foods and processed foods can lead to an imbalance with your gut bacteria. Try to stick to clean sources of energy like nut butter, fresh fruit, and whole grains instead.
Fermented foods are teeming with beneficial bacteria that can help combat yeast overgrowth. In addition to a daily probiotic supplement, it's important to make sure that you're getting enough probiotics through your diet as well. Probiotic-rich foods include kefir, yogurt with live active cultures, sauerkraut, miso, and kimchi.
Protein is essential for maintaining strong gut muscles and keeping your gastrointestinal tract healthy. Good sources of protein include lean meats, poultry, seafood, eggs, legumes, tofu, plant-based proteins (such as chia seeds), and Greek yogurt.
What Should You Consider For Gut Health?
If you are struggling with gut issues, it is worth considering if yeast overgrowth might be the root cause. The good news is, there are lots of things you can do to naturally manage yeast and restore balance to your gut microbiome. By following the tips in this article, you'll be well on your way to a healthy gut.