The holidays are fast approaching and that means family, fun and foodÃ¢Â€Â”lots and lots of food. You may spot one or two veggie platters at your gathering, but more than likely the tables are strewn with sweets, breads, cheeses and high-fat, high-calorie dishes. These are the lifeblood of our least-favorite guest: yeast.
Candida albicans is a unicellular fungus that lives in approximately eighty percent of the human population. Under normal circumstances it is kept in check by all the other bacteria in out GI tract and does not bother us. When the good bacteria are out of balance due to a change in our diet, environmental irritants or excessive stress, yeast cells multiply and take over. The two most common ways yeast infections appear in healthy humans is a mouth infection called "thrush" or vaginal infections, known as Candidiasis vaginitis.
Rather than fasting while everyone around you is feasting, there are a few things you can do in order to avoid throwing your body out of balance this coming fall and winter season:
Things You Will Need
You don't need special products or spend a lot of money to keep yeast-free during the holidays, just following these four steps should keep you healthy well into the new year.
First of all: eat yogurtÃ¢Â€Â”lots and lots of yogurt. But before you go buying shares of your favorite brand, be wary. Many yogurts contain a very high amount of sugar, which can counteract the healthy benefits it is supposed to be delivering. If you are looking to keep yeast in check, look for a yogurt without all the extras such as the fruit bottom, creamy delight, etc. Also, make sure it contains active bacterial cultures, especially Lactobacillus acidophilus, which is the good bacteria women carry in their vagina. If you don't mind the tartness of plain yogurt, it is your best bet.
Second of all, include garlic in your diet. Garlic has been deemed the wonder food of our time, and it really does have great preventative properties. It is an antioxidant, an anti-inflammatory, and has the ability to assist in lowering cholesterol levels. But what we are interested in is its potent anti-fungal chemical, allicin. The best way to get the most allicin into your system is to eat the clove raw, but because this can cause some social awkwardness, another way to get a healthy dose of allicin is through odorless garlic supplement you can find in the vitamin and supplement section of your pharmacy.
So that is what you should be eating, but there are foods that, if you can avoid, you should. Yeast lives on sugar, so in order to prevent their overgrowth we need to cut off their food supply. All types of sugar, such as glucose-fructose and high fructose corn syrup, will encourage yeast growth. Don't forget that many fruit drinks and raw fruits like bananas, strawberries, and pears also contain a vast amount of sugar. Pastas, pastries, and breads like white bread, dinner rolls, and pita bread are made with wheat, which in the end, break down to yeast's favorite dish: sugar. That does not mean you have to skip out on Aunt Mae's famous pasta salad, just keep it to two helpings. Another thing we don't think of is that alcohol can also aggravate the situation, so if you drink, do so in moderation.
Finally, what you wear has just as much impact on the growth of yeast as what you eat. We all want to look our best for that upcoming Christmas party, but if you're planning on stepping it up at the gym, make sure to change out of your damp clothes as soon as possible. Yeast tends to thrive in warm, moist environments. Also, make sure your undergarments are made of a breathable material, like cotton. This can be difficult, considering some of the eveningwear we may have chosen for ourselves, but one night with a cotton substitute can help you avoid a week's worth of misery.
Yeast infections are much more common than we actually want to admit. About three quarters of women will unfortunately experience the woes of a yeast infection some time in their life and it is not something any of us ever want to go through again. Yeast has been known to resist treatment and in some cases can be very difficult to get rid of. The best way to avoid these sorts of complications in the first place is to avoid getting one. Prevention is key when it comes to our inner microbial balance so the more yeast-savvy we are, the less aggravation we will experience down the road.
Tips & Warnings
If this is your first yeast infection, it is recommended you see a doctor.
If your symptoms persist even after treatment, or if they are abnormal (foul odor, grey or green discharge) you may not have a yeast infection and should go see your doctor.