One of the main reasons that people get a candida yeast infection is from the use of antibiotics. Keep in mind that candida albicans lives in the intestines, which is where any yeast infection begins.
The term "yeast infection" is most commonly used to describe a vaginal symptom, but any yeast infection begins in the gut, and can express itself in many ways, a few of which include: skin inflamations, rectal itching, allergies, digestive troubles such as IBS, anxiety or depression.
An antibiotic is taken specifically to kill bacteria which have been designated as the source of an illness (hence, the term "anti-biotic").
The problem with antibiotics is that they kill more than just one particular strain of bacteria, which upsets the normal balance of micro-organisms in our mucous membranes.
This, in turn, allows the yeast (which is antibiotic-resistant since it's a fungus, not a bacteria) to grow out of control.
That’s why its so common for a candida yeast infection to occur after taking antibiotics.
"And what are probiotics, anyway?"
The most commonly recognised form of probiotic is acidophilus. Probiotics are made from lacto-bacillus strains of bacteria, and are teeming with life (hence, the term “probiotics).
Most health practitioners will advise taking acidophilus, or a probiotics blend of live bacteria) after a round of antibiotics, because it's a supplementary form of the friendly bacteria that get killed off when we take antibiotics. When those friendly bacteria, like acidophilus, get killed off is when candida can grow out of control.
Taking probiotic pills or capsules (dairy & sugar free) can be helpful in restoring healthy gut flora. And there are some excellent foods which are rich in lacto-bacillus bacteria as well. As we help re-populate the friendly bacteria by eating probiotic foods supplement, we begin to crowd out the candida yeast infection.
Yogurt is common “prescription” for a candida yeast infection (usually for a vaginal yeast infection). We are told either to eat yogurt, or to use it topically. It’s the same probiotic principle at work. The “live cultures” found in a good quality yogurt are what help repopulate those friendly bacteria in the intestines.
Plain unsweetened yogurt and kefir made from pure, unadulterated dairy (as in full-fat, non-homogenized, non-pasteurized fresh, raw milk) will be fine for some people following an anti-candida program. Some folks will even do well eating yogurt cheese made from raw yogurt by straining out the whey.
Others are going to find better relief cutting out all dairy products.
Even though they're considered probiotic foods - pasteurized yogurt, kefir, and other pasteurized dairy foods are not the best choices to take internally when someone has a candida yeast infection, whether it is a localized infection (such as vaginal), or a systemic infection (where it can cause numerous symptoms throughout the body).
Actually, pasteurized milk products and low fat dairy products are not the healthiest choices for anyone. Raw, unadulterated, full fat milk and dairy products, the way nature intended them, are the best.
Two important reasons to avoid most commercial brands of yogurt and kefir for candida sufferers:
1) They aren’t cultured long enough for the lacto-bacillus bacteria to ferment all the milk sugars. Candida loves sugar in any form, so we don’t want to give it anything to eat, not even milk sugars.
2) They're made from pasteurized, homogenized, and in some cases low-fat dairy, all of which alter the original whole food - fresh, raw milk - to such a level that it becomes more difficult to digest.
The enzymes naturally present in whole, fresh, raw milk (for instance; lactase to digest lactose, and galactase to digest galactose) are destroyed by the pasteurization process, making these foods difficult to digest and assimilate.
Homogenization is a process which was created solely for aesthetic marketing purposes, it alters the molecular structure of the milk so that it never separates. If you've ever had the pleasure of enjoying fresh, raw milk you know that the cream naturally separates and floats to the top.
Low fat varieties of milk and yogurt have non-fat dried milk powder added for flavor and body. Non-fat dry milk is an unhealthy substance as the healthy cholesterol naturally present in fresh milk is oxidized, thereby creating harmful effects within our bodies.
We can make yogurt and kefir from raw milk at home, and ferment it longer than commercial preparations, or we can look for dairy products made from goat milk or sheep milk, which are naturally lower in lactose (milk sugar) than cow milk.
And then, as an alternative, there are other probiotic foods made from vegetables - also called “live cultured foods” - which have no milk sugars at all, and they're easy to make at home!
Sauerkraut, kimchi and cucumber pickles are my three favorite vegetable probiotic foods.
They’re both made from cabbage, which is naturally high in lacto-bacillus bacteria and so, in turn, very easy to ferment.
I always have a crock or two of these on hand.
They’re tasty additions to almost any meal, and they help with digestion too, especially when eaten just before the meal.
You can ferment many vegetables into probiotic wonder-foods, including cucumbers, radishes, and chile peppers.
Raw, unfiltered apple cider vinegar is another great food that has some probiotic qualities as well. It can be taken diluted in a small glass of water before a meal to facilitate good digestion. But my favorite way to have it is in a salad dressing… yum!
The benefit of probiotic foods for the treatment of a candida yeast infection are truly superb. Soon you'll discover a few favorites of your own, and you'll be happy to eat some every day.
Many health food stores sell one or more brands of live, cultured foods in their refrigerated section.
Lacto-bacillus fermented cucumber pickles are even found in many regular grocery stores! Look for a refrigerated variety that doesn't have vinegar in the ingredients and there's a good chance you've found some. Make sure there are no artificial additives or preservatives before you buy.
Ask at your local shop to see what probiotic (live cultured) foods they might have for you to try.
I like to experiment with fermenting my own probiotic foods at home. It's easy to make your own sauerkraut, kim chi and other tasty foods.
And yes, when I get the cookbook available on this site there will indeed be some of my favorite cultured recipes included!