Three out of four women will get at least one yeast infection in their lifetime. The burning and itching “down there” is unpleasant but not necessarily harmful. What many women may not realize is the link between too much sugar in their diet and yeast infections.
Yeast Infection Causes
Yeast actually grows naturally all over our bodies. The most common type of yeast found on our bodies and in the vagina is known as Candida albicans, or Candida for short. This fungus thrives in warm moist places like a woman’s vagina and can be caused by a variety of things like:
- Low estrogen
- Wearing synthetic fabric pantyliners
- Vaginal eczema
- Spermicidal condoms
- Synthetic chemicals in feminine hygiene sprays
- Poor diet
Diet and Yeast Infections
Yeast loves sugar as much as you do. Too much sugar in your diet can give yeast a boost causing it to spread and increase, especially if your immune system is depressed from a lack of sleep or stress. If you are prone to yeast infections, or feel one coming on, try avoiding the following:
- Foods with simple sugars
- Starchy foods like white flour products or rice
- Foods fermented with yeast like alcohol
Alcohol is very sugary. A few drinks, some highly refined foods like pretzels or candy at the bar makes for a perfect combination to feed yeast and help it spread.
Probiotics Can Help
Probiotics are living microorganisms very similar to the “good” bacteria in your gut essential for digesting your food. This so-called “good” bacterium is prevalent in your digestive tract and in other places on the body. If you take antibiotics for a bacterial infection, you can inadvertently destroy the good bacteria along with the harmful stuff, paving the way for yeast to overrun your already-battered immune system; and they begin to multiply.
Eating foods that contain probiotics can help keep yeast levels in check. Yogurt with live and active bacterial cultures, fermented foods like sauerkraut and kimchi, or a daily probiotic supplement can help keep yeast infections at bay.
Avoid Acidic Foods
Candida thrives in an acidic environment. Acidic foods to avoid if you are prone to yeast infections are:
- Nuts (cashews, peanuts and walnuts)
- Seeds (pumpkin and sunflower)
- Acidic fruits like blueberries, cranberries and plums
- Corn oil
- Sugar and sweeteners including molasses, maple syrup, honey and especially aspartame
- Condiments like mayonnaise, soy sauce or vinegar