Gut health

Candida and SIFO

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Candida and SIFO

Medically reviewed by:
Dr James Freeman

What is candida?

Candida is a yeast that lives in the mouth, intestines, and skin. The fungus is harmless at normal levels.

How does candida overgrowth happens?

Candida is normally kept in check by bacteria and the immune system, but some conditions can allow the yeast to spread uncontrollably, resulting in candidiasis.

Overuse of antibiotics and certain health disorders and therapies that impair the immune system are among the risk factors for candidiasis.

Risk factors leading to candida overgrowth

  • Taking antibiotics
  • Eating a diet high in sugar and refined carbs
  • High alcohol intake
  • A weakened immune system.
  • Taking oral contraceptives
  • Diabetes
  • High stress levels

Why taking antibiotics create risk for candida overgrowth

Antibiotics used to treat infections can potentially destroy beneficial microorganisms. This causes an imbalance in your body, making you more susceptible to candida albicans overgrowth.

Health problems caused by candida overgrowth

  • Oral thrush
  • Tiredness and fatigued
  • Recurring genital or urinary tract infection
  • Digestive issues
  • Sinus infection
  • Skin and nail fungal infection
  • Joint pain

How to fight candida overgrowth

  • Kill off the candida with herbal or medical intervention.
  • Next, address the root cause to prevent recurring infection.
  • Refrain from consuming refined sugars, carbohydrates, and lactose-rich dairy products because too much of these foods can promote candida growth.
  • Consume foods that encourage growth of good bacteria.

Connection of candida overgrowth and SIFO

Research showed that about 97% of the fungi found in SIFO were candida species.

What is SIFO

  • SIFO is a condition when the small intestine is overrun by fungi.
  • SIFO frequently causes GI discomfort.
  • GI fungal overgrowth can occur in healthy people and in those with impaired immune systems
  • 25% of people with unexplained GI symptoms had SIFO
  • Most common opportunistic fungi in SIFO are candida species

Symptoms of SIFO

  • Abdominal bloating or a feeling of fullness
  • Gas
  • Belching
  • Abdominal pain
  • Diarrhea
  • Nausea

Risk factors

Fungi overgrowth, especially candida species, is common in certain groups of people, such as:

  • SIBO (small intestinal bacterial overgrowth)
  • People with impaired immune systems
  • Older adults
  • Young children
  • People suffering from intestinal dysmotility (condition where intestinal smooth muscle contractions are inhibited)
  • Use of Proton pump inhibitors (drugs used to lower acid levels in stomach)

Health problems caused by SIFO

  • Gastric ulcers
  • Crohn’s disease
  • Ulcerative colitis
  • May play a role in irritable bowel syndrome

SIFO Treatment

If your fluid sample has a large level of fungi, you can use either herbal antifungals in supplements or medications depending on your personal preference.

The doctors’ answers

Why can antibiotics cause candida?

Short answer:

The short answer is that any time you alter the microbiome – gut, vaginal, skin – by giving antibiotics SOMETHING not killed by the antibiotics will grow to take up the now free space and food supply.

Candida is a yeast. Yeasts have an entirely different metabolism to bacteria, so antibiotics that target bacteria do not kill yeasts. The opposite also applies. Antibiotics that target yeasts do not kill bacteria.

Long answer:

So, the longer answer…

We are all covered in bacteria and, to a lesser extent viruses, yeasts (like candida) and fungi.

Most of the time, the skin microbiome lives in harmony with itself and with us.

Looking at the vagina specifically, the hormone estrogen both thickens the vaginal lining and causes the production of mucus. This mucus is an excellent food for Lactobacilli, so, in most pre-menopausal women, we find the vagina it well populated with Lactobacilli.

These lactobacilli take up space, and in so doing “out compete” Candida yeast by denying it space to grow and food to eat.

Now let’s add some antibiotics. Almost all of these will kill Lactobacilli. As a result Candida can now grow as it has both the space and the food. This causes vaginal thrush.

We see exactly the same sort of thing in a garden. If you remove all the plants from an area of dirt it won’t be long before weeds spring up. If you plant ground cover plants, they will compete with the weeds to prevent them growing.