Candida overgrowth can be a difficult condition to treat. If you’ve visited your doctor, you’ve probably been given a prescription antifungal medication. That can be helpful – but it can also have some unpleasant side-effects. Worse, the effect may be only temporary, as the Candida yeast is known to mutate and become resistant to different medications. (1)
That’s why it’s absolutely vital to attack your Candida overgrowth from several angles. The most important of these is with probiotics. Let's take a look at what causes Candida, how probiotics can help, and how to choose the best probiotic for Candida.
Although Candida yeast is always present somewhere in your body – on your skin, in your gastrointestinal tract and mucous membranes, and in several other places – it can get out of control.
When your healthy bacteria in your gut are unable to maintain the balance of Candida yeast, dysbiosis occurs, resulting in a number of uncomfortable symptoms.
Intestinal Candida overgrowth is often associated with gastrointestinal problems, inflammation, itching, weakened immunity, and genital rash.
Getting your system back in balance means going right to the root of the problem: your gastrointestinal microbiota. Supporting the health of your ‘good’ bacteria can help to overcome Candida overgrowth and prevent it from returning.
Candida albicans is the most common strain of yeast infections, causing around 65-75% of all systemic Candidiasis infections. In many cases, it develops as a result of:
Candida overgrowth is even more likely to occur after antibiotic use due to the effect that antibiotics have on your microbiota.
Antibiotics literally mean “anti-life” – that is, they are designed to kill all bacteria, including the healthy types! The depletion of healthy bacteria in the gastrointestinal tract means that pathogenic yeasts are able to take hold more easily.
Reducing the risk of Candida overgrowth – or treating a current infection – is a crucial step in restoring your health and wellbeing.
Antifungal medications can be helpful, but relying on them alone to overcome a fungal infection can allow the yeast to become resistant. Because fungal infections are so complex, treatment needs to be complex as well.
There’s plenty of evidence to support the efficacy of probiotics in overcoming different forms of Candida infection. Overwhelmingly, it’s been found that supplementing your daily diet with these beneficial bacteria helps to fight off the Candida infection and prevent it from recurring.
Lactobacillus probiotics have been found to produce lactic acid, which has some antifungal activity. Some strains of lactobacilli also produce antimicrobial substances that can directly kill off Candida or at least inhibit its growth. Researchers have shown that these substances include bacteriocins, hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) and other antifungal substances. (2)
However, it’s important to note that the species and strain of probiotic can make all the difference.
Studies involving the use of Lactobacillus probiotic strains that some are certainly more effective than others.
One study in particular investigated how a variety of Lactobacillus strains performed against treating Candida albicans. The researchers found that the most effective antifungal activity was exhibited by L. paracasei and L. rhamnosus. These strains also helped to prevent Candida biofilms from forming. (3)
Each of these strains produces different bacteriocins that can fight off Candida albicans. One review even showed that when premature babies were given probiotic supplements, their risk of infection was reduced by 57%. They were also less likely to develop fungal sepsis.
Treating vaginal Candidiasis is also best done with probiotics. One Korean study showed that women with recurrent vaginal candidiasis benefited significantly from probiotic supplementation.
The participants were treated with oral fluconazole (a prescription antifungal medication) and then randomly given either a placebo or probiotic supplement containing multiple strains of Lactobacillus. Over six months, 35.5% of the women receiving placebo suffered recurring bouts of their Candida overgrowth, compared to only 7.2% of those taking probiotics. (4)
There are hundreds of probiotic supplements out there – but not all of them are good! Cheap doesn’t mean that you’re getting a good deal, especially if you’re not getting any benefits.
When you’re trying to find a probiotic for Candida, go with a product that contains multiple strains and a high CFU count (colony-forming units). This means that the bacteria are more likely to establish themselves in the gut upon ingestion.
Most importantly, choose a probiotic that will actually deliver its bacteria to your gut. Most probiotics use vegetable capsules that are quickly destroyed by stomach acid. Choose a probiotic, like our Balance ONE Probiotic, that uses time-release tablets to get its bacteria to your gut.
It’s also worth knowing that some probiotic foods can help in your battle against Candida, particularly in the case of oral thrush. One study found that when older adults included a certain probiotic cheese in their daily diet for 16 weeks, they showed a 32% reduction in the presence of Candida in their saliva (compared to the participants who ate ordinary cheese). The probiotic cheese contained a variety of probiotic strains, including L. lactis, L. helveticus, and L. rhamnosus.
The numerous benefits of probiotics extend well beyond treating Candida overgrowth. Clinical evidence has shown that probiotic supplements are a vital step in reducing the ability for this nasty yeast to take hold. Even better, probiotics help to prevent Candida infections from recurring.
At the same time, these helpful bacteria will be supporting your overall digestive function and boosting your immune system, helping you to ward off other pathogenic bacteria.
No matter what age you are, or what stage of life you’re at, probiotics are hugely important to your health and wellbeing. Investing in a probiotic-rich diet and/or a quality supplement could mean improved brain function, better energy levels, stronger immunity, and more!