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The Nutrition Behind Candida and Cutaneous Candidiasis

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Face and Body Midwest spa conference and expo began its advanced education day with a wellness speaker that answered many questions surrounding cutaneous candidiasis. Ginger Downey, clinical nutritionist and co-owner of DermaMed Solutions, discussed how understanding nutritional management can help you help your clients who suffer from this condition.

Candida and Cutaneous Candidiasis

Candidiasis is caused by an overgrowth of candida, specifically candida albicans. Commonly, the bacterial overgrowth feeds off of sugar and causes yeast infections, diaper rash and, if it causes an infection beneath the surface of the skin, candidiasis.

One of the most common symptoms of cutaneous candidiasis is skin rashes. However, estheticians should be aware that clients may have other symptoms without the rash, Downey noted. Weight gain, fatigue, brain fog, yeast infections, oral thrush, joint pain and digestive discomfort are other signs that a client is suffering from this condition.

This overgrowth of candida bacteria can come in two different forms: yeast and fungal. Yeast is able to survive in acidic conditions while fungi thrive in neutral alkaline pH conditions. However, as dynamics in the intestines change, candida is able to switch between the two different forms to survive in the body. Candida can also have an effect on the neuro-transmitters in the body, causing clients to crave sugar.

What Causes Candida to Thrive?

A common cause of candida proliferation can be antibiotic use. Side effects of antibiotic use can include yeast infections, which can jump-start the overgrowth of candida. However, much of what causes and fuels bacterial overgrowth has to do with the client’s diet, said Downey.

A high-sugar diet only continues to feed the bacteria allowing it to grow and thrive. Chronic stress, toxic chemical exposure and diabetes are also factors that can cause candida bacteria growth in the body. Birth control’s connections to creating an estrogen-rich environment has also been shown to increase blood sugar and can be seen as a possible cause as well.

Treatments for Candida

With the causes of candida taking place from inside the body, the treatment for candida is much the same way. Downey suggested altering diet as the best treatment for this bacterial growth.

The goal of the diet change is to cut off the sugar supply that the bacteria is thriving off of as well as managing good bacteria in the body. In some instances, a die-off reaction can occur, warned Downey. However, this reaction typically will last no longer that a few days to a week.

  • Diet Phase One: Cut out the bad. This means cutting out all sugars, not just processed or added sugars but all forms of sugar to eliminate the bacteria’s feeding supply. It is also key to cut out all carbohydrates that help the candida bacteria to build up its walls. It is beneficial to send your client to a trusted nutritionist to help him or her learn how to manage this dietary change.
  • Diet Phase Two: Add in the good. Some examples of foods that are good to add back into the diet are resistant starches, berries, avocados and prebiotic foods. Prebiotic foods help to feed the good bacteria, or probiotics. Also, beginning to implement anti-fungal or microbial dietary foods and probiotic supplements are great to add back into the diet. However, Downey emphasized that anti-fungal foods and probiotic supplements should not be taken at the same time.
  • Topically Applied Probiotics: These act as a protective shield on the skin, have antimicrobial properties and offer a calming effect to counter the itchy rash that often occurs with candidiasis.
  • Maintenance: Once the condition is under control, it is essential to help your client set up a maintenance diet. Doing so will help keep the body from allowing candida bacteria to grow and spread again. A diet rich with probiotic and prebiotic foods are great for helping to keep this bacteria at bay.

Downey emphasized that the most important aspect of treating candida and cutaneous candidiasis is acknowledging that everyone is unique. Unfortunately, this means that there is no easy fix or one-size-fits-all kind of treatment. Understanding the biochemistry of your client is essential for a specified treatment plan. However, estheticians should be mindful of staying within their professional scope and refer clients to a medical professional when necessary. 

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