Understanding Candida overgrowth in the gut!


Candida albicans is an opportunistic pathogenic yeast that is a common member of the human gut flora. In most individuals it resides, harmlessly, living inside the mucous membrane of the intestinal tract. However, under specific conditions, it can overgrow, compromise this fragile barrier and make its way into the bloodstream. Let’s understand it in depth here.

Several factors and activities have been identified which contribute to the pathogenic potential of this fungus. When we are given antibiotics, especially when taken repeatedly, many of the friendly bacteria are “wiped out”. Since yeasts are not harmed by antibiotics, as they are not bacteria, they will spread out and colonize. Yeast such as candida becomes attached to the intestinal wall, compromising the fragile lining and creating holes through the cell membranes. This allows toxic waste products into the system, creating an immune response.

Yeasts contain decarboxylases which are enzymes that convert or putrefy amino acids into vasoactive amines. This causes alterations in the permeability of the blood vessels and other tissues, creating an impermeable gut otherwise known as leaky gut syndrome. Candida albicans can produce over 400 mycotoxins which can cause systemic illness.

Acetaldehyde is one of the byproducts of candida. High levels of acetaldehyde are toxic to the body and cause DNA damage. This may contribute to an increased risk of cancer. Acetaldehyde is also a byproduct of alcohol consumption. This is likely why some people often report feeling “drunk” all the time when they have a particularly bad case of candida overgrowth.

Gliotoxin is another toxin produced by Candida Albicans suppresses the immune system and impairs liver detoxification.  This creates conditions to protect and enhance candida growth even more. Once this yeast forms a protective mucosal lining, called a biofilm, these toxins are found in higher levels.

Apart from antibiotics, there are many other factors that encourage the growth of this fungus. Things like high sugar & processed food diet, stress, alcohol consumption, high yeast diet, diabetes, birth control pills, hormonal changes, low stomach acid- hypochlorhydria, impaired liver/ Gallbladder function or altered bowel flora, among many others.

Symptoms of Candida overgrowth:

  • Feeling brain-fog and spaced out
  • Muscle aches
  • Digestive problems/distress- bloating, belching
  • Sugar cravings
  • Unusually sensitive to tobacco, perfume, and other chemicals
  • Food sensitivities
  • White tongue or bad breath

Additionally, candida albicans can lead to alterations in the gut and brain that contribute to irritability, mood swings, anxiety, and depression. Extreme brain fog can also contribute to attention deficit disorders.

Women usually experience recurrent vaginal yeast infections, PMS, recurrent urinary tract infections, sexual dysfunction, dyspareunia, vulvodynia, endometriosis, interstitial cystitis and infertility.

Men usually experience fatigue, headache, digestive symptoms, muscle and joint pains, chemical sensitivities, food sensitivities, sugar cravings, memory loss, sexual dysfunction and depression.

Children usually experience constant colds, irritability, skin rashes, ear problems, sleep problems, digestive issues, hyperactivity, poor school performance, food and chemical sensitivities.

How to Kill Candida Naturally:

  • Avoid any kind of sugar and starchy carbs- Candida feeds on sugar and eliminating the foods it survives on help starve it to die


  • Avoid foods which promote yeast growth. The liver needs to be supported as when yeast die off they release an endotoxin. This endotoxin release often makes the patient feel like they have the flu after the start of treatment. Yeast die off may start several days after the initiation of treatment and repeat itself about three weeks later. Herbal remedies include caprylic acid found in coconut oil, garlic, berberine, and essential oils such as oregano, peppermint, rosemary, thyme and tea tree oil. Boric acid may be used to treat vaginal infections naturally.


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Functional Nutritionist & Functional Medicine Practitioner

Smriti is a leading Health Coach and Functional Medicine Practitioner, based out of Gurgaon, India.