Candida is a part of everyone’s normal gut microbiota. It’s a fungus (a form of yeast) that typically lives on the moist, warm areas of our skin and on mucosal membranes like our digestive tract, mouth, urinary tract, gastrointestinal tract, etc. 
If candida is kept in balance with the other trillions of gut flora, it’s harmless. However, once it begins to grow and multiply, it can quickly take over.
That’s when trouble begins.
There are over 80 symptoms of candida overgrowth. The most common I see in clients are:
- yeast infections
- bladder infections (UTI’s)
- ring worm
- athlete’s foot
- oral thrush
- food allergies
- gastrointestinal complaints
- brain fog
- weight gain
- sugar cravings
- carb cravings
Why do these symptoms appear?
Candida releases byproducts called mycotoxins. When candida levels are balanced, the liver can easily remove these toxins from your body. But when candida is overgrown, the liver has a hard time keeping up.
The mycotoxins then settle in other organs and tissues such as your brain, skin, joints, etc. 
Acetaldehyde, one of candida’s major mycotoxins, can cause vitamin B1 deficiency (critical for brain and nerve function), along with a host of other brain-related issues such as:
- impaired memory
- lethargy and apathy
- decreased mental energy
- decreased sex drive
- increased PMS
So, that brings us to the question:
What Causes Candida to Become Overgrown?
It would be so easy if we could say that candida overgrowth is caused by not eating enough broccoli. That would be a quick fix, wouldn’t it!
But unfortunately, our answer isn’t so simple.
Layers upon layers of lifestyle choices weave themselves together to create a gigantic, swirling storm that gives birth to candida overgrowth.
I’ll put it another way: every choice you make either encourages candida to multiply, or it doesn’t.
Let’s talk about some of those choices. . .
Lack of Sleep
Whether your choosing to stay up late, or you suffer from insomnia, the lack of sleep does a number on your immune system.
Chronic lack of sleep produces hormones and chemicals in the body that increase the risk of developing heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure and cholesterol, diabetes, and obesity. 
Professor Francesco Cappuccio from the University of Warwick Medical School, summarizes, “If you sleep less than six hours per night and have disturbed sleep you stand a 48% greater chance of developing or dying from heart disease and a 15% greater chance of developing or dying of a stroke. The trend for late nights and early mornings is actually a ticking time bomb for our health. . .” 
Too Much Sugar
Sugar is everywhere. I can just about guarantee that you’ll find it in the ingredient list of nearly every processed food created. It comes under a gazillion names and causes just as many health issues.
One of the biggest ways we can disrupt our immune system is by eating sugar. Too much promotes chronic inflammation.
It’s often been said that inflammation is the root of all diseases. But really, inflammation is just your body’s way of responding and protecting itself. The CAUSE of inflammation is the root of the problem.
Sugar also affects our brains. Dr. Eva Selhub wrote that diets high in refined sugars are harmful to the brain, promote oxidative stress, and worsens mood disorders like depression. 
Sugar is one of candida’s favorite foods.
Remember the storm I just mentioned? Sugar is one of the big players. That ‘perfect storm’ allows candida to become overgrown. It allows candida to change form - from round and harmless to a network of branches or ‘roots’ that invade cells and cause tissue damage. 
Sugar (glucose) plays an important role in the ability of candida to change form. Researchers have found that it is “exquisitely sensitive to glucose”, even responding to 0.01%. 
When we think of stress we often think of mental and emotional stress - the stress that comes with a commute to work, deadlines, tense relationships, and hectic schedules.
But let’s talk about another kind of stress that plays a big role in your health: environmental stress.
These are things like:
- chemicals in your shampoo, lotion, makeup, tampons, and most personal care products
- chemicals in detergents and cleaning products
- MSG, carrageen, high fructose corn syrup, food dyes, and other additives in your foods
- EMF (electromagnetic frequency) from cell phones, computers, T.V., and electronic devices
Otolaryngology surgeon Dr. David Volpi found that intensive use of cell phones and computers can be linked to an increase in stress, sleep disorders, and symptoms of depression. 
A 2001 study published in Neuroimmunomodulation found that “during infection with candida albicans, the exposure to chronic varied stress contributes to the spread of the fungus . . .” 
What all this boils down to is that when conditions are ripe – due to lack of sleep, lowered immunity, processed and sugary foods, stress, etc. – candida can become invasive.
How Do You Treat Candida?
Just like the cause of candida overgrowth isn’t a simple answer. Treating it is just as complex.
Dr. Joseph Pizzorno, ND, states that restoring proper immune function is one the of the key goals in the treatment of chronic candidiasis.
He validates my belief that “chronic candidiasis is a classic example of a ‘multifactoral’ condition” and “effective treatment involves much more than killing the yeast with anti-fungal agents, whether synthetic or natural.” 
The first, and sadly most ignored advice, is to start removing or changing anything in your lifestyle that can contribute to a weakened immune system.
These steps are very basic, but crucial:
- Drink more water - Drink half of your body weight in ounces of water each day.
- Get more sleep - It’s recommended that adults get 7-9 hours of sleep every night.
- Remove sugar - Remove as much sugar from your diet as you can. This includes natural sugars like honey or maple syrup. Wean yourself from desserts, snacks, and sugary drinks. Try using stevia (an herb) instead. You can find candida friendly desserts in two candida-friendly cookbooks: The Sweeter Side of Candida and Candida on Ice.
- Use natural care products - Your skin absorbs everything you put on it, so products made with natural ingredients are going to be better for you. Natural made products are pretty readily available in health food stores (watch labels carefully), or you can make your own products such as a soothing salve that can be used in place of lotions or massage oils!
These ideas are basic tips from my comprehensive Kicking Candida program which takes you through five stages of healing from detoxing to anti-fungals, and dietary guidelines to fitness.
Effective treatment for invasive candida overgrowth doesn’t have an easy answer, but by putting into practice the suggestions above, you’ll have a good head start and be healthier overall!
 “Candidiasis” Fungal Diseases. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 12 June. 2015.
 Boroch, Ann. (2009). The Candida Cure: Yeast, Fungus & Your Health.
 University of Warwick. (2011, February 8). Sleep deprivation: Late nights can lead to higher risk of strokes and heart attacks, study finds. ScienceDaily.
 Myles, I.A. (2014). Fast food fever: reviewing the impacts of the Western diet on immunity. Nutrition Journal.
 Sudbery, P.E. (2011). Growth of Candida albicans hyphae. Nature Reviews. Microbiology. 10. 737-748.
 Rodaki, A., Bohovych, I.M., Enjalbert, B., Young, T., Odds, F.C., Gow, N.A., Brown, A.J. (2009). Glucose promotes stress resistance in the fungal pathogen Candida albicans. Molecular Biology of a Cell. 20(22), 4845-4855.
 Volpi, David. “Heavy Technology Use Linked to Fatigue, Stress and Depression in Young Adults” The Huffington Post. 02. Aug. 2012.
 Rodriguez-Galán, M.C., Correa, S.G., Cejas, H., Sotomayor, C.E. (2001). Impaired activity of phagocytic cells in Candida albicans infection after exposure to chronic varied stress. Neuroimmunomodulation. 9, 193-202.
 Pizzorno, ND, Joseph E. Textbook of Natural Medicine