Although, thankfully, I've always had pretty good health, something that I constantly have to stay on top of is my fungal sensitivity. It's the reason why I am more vulnerable to getting yeast infections. It's why I once got tinea versicolor on one of my feet. It's even how I end up with mild cases of eczema behind the back of both of my ears when either my immune system is worn out or I've been eating more sugar than I should. And you know what all of these things actually have in common at the end of the day? Candida.
While there is a lot that I could say when it comes to explaining all of what candida is, the most basic explanation I can probably offer is it's a kind of yeast that's considered to be a fungus. All of us have it. It lives both outside and inside of the body. And, when it's not off the chain, it's perfectly harmless. However, when one's immune system is low or compromised (or we've got too much sugar in our system), this fungus/bacteria can grow out of control and cause all kinds of health issues.
That's what we're gonna talk about today. Eight telling signs that candida could very well be overtaking your body and what you should do if that is indeed the case.
1. Yeast Infection
When it comes to the signs that you've got some sort of a candida overgrowth, a yeast infection is probably what tops the list. In fact, it's been reported that a whopping 3 out of 4 women will get at least one infection over the course of their lifetime. If you've never had one, first of all, lucky you. Yeast infections can be pure madness! Anyway, it's when a fungal infection takes over your genitals (and sometimes other places on your body; I've had one underneath my breasts before because yeast likes to grow in warm and damp areas) which leads to irritation, itching, burning and/or really thick discharge. Some yeast infections are mild in the sense that an over-the-counter medication can treat it. Other times, it's more complex (like if you're pregnant, you've got diabetes or you get more than four a year) and requires a prescription like Diflucan (also known as Fluconazole) to treat it.
Although yeast infections are relatively harmless, the itching can be so unbearable that you won't want to ignore it. So, if you do think that you've got one and you've never had a yeast infection before, make an appointment to see your doctor or even go to a local clinic to get it confirmed. The reason why this is an important step is because, if you self-diagnose and it's not a yeast infection, sometimes stuff like Monistat can make what you've really got a lot worse. On the other hand, if you have had a yeast infection before, you can usually treat it with an over-the-counter medication.
Just make sure that you also amp up on probiotics (so that "good bacteria" can take over the bad that has led to the infection). You might also want to eat more fresh garlic (it's a powerful antifungal food), soak in the tub with a cup of apple cider vinegar in it (it contains properties that kill yeast) and apply some organic coconut oil to the infected area; it actually fights C. albicans which is the specific kind of yeast that tends to be present in yeast infections. Oh, and since tea tree oil is a potent antifungal and anti-inflammatory essential oil, it can't hurt to add a drop or two of it to your coconut oil as well. If all goes well, you should start to feel noticeable results within 48 hours or so.
2. Sugar Cravings
Last fall, I wrote an article for the platform entitled, "Ever Wonder If You've Got A Low-Key Sugar Addiction?". I've actually read many articles that say the top addiction in this country is indeed the white sweet stuff. Anyway, one of the reasons why it's a sign that you could have some candida overgrowth going on is because something that candida thrives off of is sugar (and starch). The more that you eat, the greater the yeast becomes. It's actually kind of a vicious cycle. So, if you're out here constantly drinking soda, eating bread, and having a couple of servings of dessert, not only are you putting yourself on the path to becoming diabetic, you very well could have too much candida in your body.
One way to test this out is to go without sugary foods for a couple of weeks. Drink water. Consume more protein (it can help to curb cravings). When you do desire something sweet, go for a fresh piece of fruit. Take a multivitamin (it can balance out some nutrient deficiencies that you might have). De-stress (we oftentimes run to sugar as a way to cope with our triggers). Get some rest.
Sugar detoxing isn't easy yet once your system recalibrates a bit, you may notice that it's easy to go without some of the foods that you once longed for. You'll also start to feel better because candida isn't overtaking your body.
Here's the deal about this one. 80 percent of your immune system is in your gut and when there is an overgrowth of candida in that part of your body, it can slow down the production of serotonin in your system. When that happens, oftentimes the result is irritability, mood swings and even low-grade depression. So, if you've been in a foul mood, you can't fully pinpoint why and yet there are some French fries, ice cream or a glass of wine in your hand, even as you're reading this, you might want to do the same things I mentioned when it comes to sugar cravings. Because, while you could be moody due to some sort of circumstance, it might be that candida is wreaking havoc…without you even knowing it.
4. Joint Discomfort
OK, so say that you've had a yeast infection for a while that you've ignored because the itching has been tolerable. While it is true that yeast infections, for the most part, are harmless, one thing that you do need to keep in mind is sometimes, when they are left untreated, the infection can hit your bloodstream. When this happens, it can actually result in hospitalization. Or, you could end up feeling some level of joint discomfort. As a matter of fact, there is actually something that exists called candida arthritis that can result in pain and stiffness in your joints; it can even lead to bone infections.
While this is actually more common than people might think, once yeast has hit your bloodstream, it can be really difficult to get rid of. So, if your joints have been bothering you lately and you can't attribute it to anything specific, please see your doctor. Out of all of the things on this list, joint discomfort that's related to candida overgrowth isn't something that should be self-diagnosed or DIY treated. Not even a lil' bit.
5. Sinus Infections
Allergy season is definitely upon us. Well, when it comes to sinus infections, did you know that while many of them are due to some form of bacteria, there are some that are actually fungal infections that are triggered by the overgrowth of candida? And here's the real clincher—if you do have a candida-related sinus infection, the antibiotics that are given to treat a bacterial one won't even work; it could even make the infection worse.
So, what's a sign that you have a sinus infection that could be brought on by candida? If it happens to last for four weeks or more. Whew. I'm not sure how anyone is able to endure that but if that's you, you need to see your doctor. You might want to consider a homeopath as well so that you can get on a regimen that holistically cleanses you of candida, so that you're not constantly treating the symptoms without getting to a core cure.
6. Oral Thrush
Oral thrush is kind of like having a yeast infection in your mouth (because again, you can get a yeast infection in other parts of your body; for the record, men can get yeast infections too). The main symptom of oral thrush is your tongue will typically have a white coat and/or white bumps on the tongue, inner cheeks, tonsils and/or throat. While this kind of infection is most common in babies and seniors, it can still happen to anyone, so make sure to periodically check your mouth to see if anything looks (or feels) abnormal. (By the way, a healthy tongue is pale pink and has no sores or discomfort.)
If it looks like you could have a bout of oral thrush, it's important that you see your doctor, just to be sure. If they agree, they will usually prescribe some sort of antifungal medication. If you're someone who would prefer to see if you can treat oral thrush at home, first, get some fresh toothbrushes to brush your teeth (and throw them away once the infection is gone). Do sea saltwater rinses twice a day (yeast doesn't fare well with salt). Eat some sugar-free probiotic yogurt; the coolness of the yogurt will soothe your mouth and the good bacteria will help to health the infection. If there are no cuts or sores in your mouth, drink some fresh lemon juice. Lemons contain antiseptic and antifungal properties that kill this kind of fungus. Also, create an oral mix out of clove oil. Clove oil is one of the most potent antiseptics around when it comes to treating oral thrush and anything that ultimately leads to oral decay.
7. Skin/Nail Fungus
Remember how I said that I got a yeast infection underneath my breasts before? I am currently sitting at a 36H. Yep, these girls ain't playin'. And while I do lift them up to clean up under there, I don't always lift them all the way up to look around. Well, a couple of years back, the skin started to feel so raw underneath my left one that I did and chile—there was a purple damp semi-circle and it was indeed a yeast infection. Between the sweating from the summer weather and my breasts being held hostage in my big ass bras, candida had indeed taken over. That's why it's important to keep in mind that you can get a fungal infection in any spot that might be warm or moist (even your armpits, if you're not careful). The main reason this is able to happen so easily is because again, candida lives both outside and inside of the body. This is why it's so important to keep your skin clean and dry, so that you can avoid things like ringworm, athlete's foot or nail fungal infections.
There are drug store remedies for skin and nail fungal infections. You might want to also apply the coconut and tea tree oil combo that I mentioned earlier to where your skin is irritated. Or, if it's your nails that are giving you grief, some folks would do commercials for the effectiveness of soaking nails in Listerine (thanks to the high amount of menthol, thymol and eucalyptus that's in it). If an at-home treatment doesn't clear up in about a week, see your doctor. Sometimes, by the time the infection has set in, it needs medication that you can't get without a prescription.
One way that I know when candida is trying to overtake my system is when I feel constantly drained, no matter what I do. While some medical professionals do not believe that the two things are directly linked, what most can agree on is when there is too much of this fungus in the body, it can weaken one's immunity (which would make you tired) and it can result in some nutritional deficiencies such as B vitamins and magnesium (which can also make you tired).
As we close this article out, I'm pretty sure you can guess what you need to do to deal with candida overgrowth that is causing you to feel like you're gonna pass out all day long. Build up your immune system (check out "Ready To Try 10 Quick & Easy Immune-Boosting Hacks?"). Consider taking a B-complex and magnesium supplement (or eat B foods like poultry, eggs and dark leafy greens along with foods high in magnesium such as dark chocolate, avocados and nuts). Stay away from foods that feed candida such as sugar, fermented foods, dairy, alcohol and caffeine. Eat foods that actually starve candida such as coconut oil, ginger and salmon. And put your body on a sleep schedule so that you can see if the "candida diet" is actually working.
I wouldn't be surprised in the least if you read all of this and was like, "Damn. I just might have a candida infection." That's the bad news. The good news is now you know the steps to take to do something about it. Please make sure that you do.
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Different puzzle pieces are creating bigger pictures these days. 2024 will mark a milestone on a few different levels, including the release of my third book next June (yay!).
I am also a Professional Certified Coach. My main mission for attaining that particular goal is to use my formal credentials to help people navigate through the sometimes tumultuous waters, both on and offline, when it comes to information about marriage, sex and relationships that is oftentimes misinformation (because "coach" is a word that gets thrown around a lot, oftentimes quite poorly).
I am also still super devoted to helping to bring life into this world as a doula, marriage life coaching will always be my first love (next to writing, of course), a platform that advocates for good Black men is currently in the works and my keystrokes continue to be devoted to HEALTHY over HAPPY in the areas of holistic intimacy, spiritual evolution, purpose manifestation and self-love...because maturity teaches that it's impossible to be happy all of the time when it comes to reaching goals yet healthy is a choice that can be made on a daily basis (amen?).
If you have any PERSONAL QUESTIONS (please do not contact me with any story pitches; that is an *editorial* need), feel free to reach out at firstname.lastname@example.org. A sistah will certainly do what she can. ;)
This article is in partnership with Sensodyne.
Our teeth are connected to so many things - our nutrition, our confidence, and our overall mood. We often take for granted how important healthy teeth are, until issues like tooth sensitivity or gum recession come to remind us. Like most things related to our bodies, prevention is the best medicine. Here are five things you can do immediately to improve your oral hygiene, prevent tooth sensitivity, and avoid dental issues down the road.
1) Go Easy On the Rough Brushing: Brushing your teeth is and always will be priority number one in the oral hygiene department. No surprises there! However, there is such a thing as applying too much pressure when brushing…and that can lead to problems over time. Use a toothbrush with soft bristles and brush in smooth, circular motions. It may seem counterintuitive, but a gentle approach to brushing is the most effective way to clean those pearly whites without wearing away enamel and exposing sensitive areas of the teeth.
2) Use A Desensitizing Toothpaste: As everyone knows, mouth pain can be highly uncomfortable; but tooth sensitivity is a whole different beast. Hot weather favorites like ice cream and popsicles have the ability to trigger tooth sensitivity, which might make you want to stay away from icy foods altogether. But as always, prevention is the best medicine here. Switching to a toothpaste like Sensodyne’s Sensitivity & Gum toothpaste specifically designed for sensitive teeth will help build a protective layer over sensitive areas of the tooth. Over time, those sharp sensations that occur with extremely cold foods will subside, and you’ll be back to treating yourself to your icy faves like this one!
3) Floss, Rinse, Brush. (And In That Order!): Have you ever heard the saying, “It’s not what you do, but how you do it”? Well, the same thing applies to taking care of your teeth. Even if you are flossing and brushing religiously, you could be missing out on some of the benefits simply because you aren’t doing so in the right order. Flossing is best to do before brushing because it removes food particles and plaque from places your toothbrush can’t reach. After a proper flossing sesh, it is important to rinse out your mouth with water after. Finally, you can whip out your toothbrush and get to brushing. Though many of us commonly rinse with water after brushing to remove excess toothpaste, it may not be the best thing for our teeth. That’s because fluoride, the active ingredient in toothpaste that protects your enamel, works best when it gets to sit on the teeth and continue working its magic. Rinsing with water after brushing doesn’t let the toothpaste go to work like it really can. Changing up your order may take some getting used to, but over time, you’ll see the difference.
4) Stay Hydrated: Upping your water supply is a no-fail way to level up your health overall, and your teeth are no exception to this rule. Drinking water not only helps maintain a healthy pH balance in your mouth, but it also washes away residue and acids that can cause enamel erosion. It also helps you steer clear of dry mouth, which is a gateway to bad breath. And who needs that?
5) Show Your Gums Some Love: When it comes to improving your smile, you may be laser-focused on getting your teeth whiter, straighter, and overall healthier. Rightfully so, as these are all attributes of a megawatt smile; but you certainly don’t want to leave gum health out of the equation. If you neglect your gums, you’ll start to notice the effects of plaque buildup, which can irritate the gums and cause gingivitis, the earliest stage of gum disease. Seeing blood while brushing and flossing is a tell-tale sign that your gums are suffering. You may also experience gum recession — a condition where the gum tissue surrounding your teeth pulls back, exposing more of your tooth. Brushing at least twice a day with a gum-protecting toothpaste like Sensodyne Sensitivity and Gum, coupled with regular dentist visits, will keep your gums shining as bright as those pearly whites.
Russell and Nina Westbrook are one of those low-key, unproblematic couples we don’t talk about enough. They met in college and got married in 2015. They also have a beautiful family with three kids. While Russell is an NBA star, Nina is a licensed family and marriage therapist and a mental health advocate.
She recently launched the podcast The Relationship Chronicles with Nina Westbrook, and in the latest episode, she had none other than her husband on as a guest. The college sweethearts dived into important topics from marriage to children and how they navigate it all.
One of the topics they touched on was dealing with resentment in your relationship. The former MVP highlighted the sacrifices his wife has had to make in order for him to pursue a career in the NBA, and that’s why it’s also important for him to support his wife whenever he can.
“For me is respecting and understanding what your partner do and the time it takes,” Russell said. “Not kind of downplaying what they do, understanding the time and energy and effort they're doing to make sure whether it’s their job or making sure home is taken care of, and understanding that, I think that is the challenge of not being resentful.”
Nina agreed and also shared her thoughts on resentment. According to her, one of the best things couples should do is have their own identity and passions outside of the relationship in an effort to be fulfilled.
“I also think that when you’re in a relationship, that’s why it’s so important that each individual kinda pursue their own passions and follow their own dreams as I feel like it only becomes or leads to resentment when one person is not feeling fulfilled in what they're doing in their lives,” she explained.
“And so, they will start to look at the other partner who’s happy or excelling or promoting or moving along in their journey, then they’re left feeling stuck like they sacrificed themselves, their happiness, their career, their future and have not pursued it in the name of the relationship or their partner. So, it’s so much easier to avoid those feelings of resentment when you’re each equally pursuing your passions.”
The couple has many passions that they work on together and separately. Outside of basketball and his family, Russell has become known for his eclectic style and started the fashion brand Honor The Gift. Nina has her podcast, and she also started the mental health website Bene. Together, they run the Why Not? Foundation, which works with kids in underserved communities.
“I’m a firm believer that one person can’t be everything to you, so you have to sort of seek out those different friendships or groups or hobbies or activities that help to fulfill you,” Nina concluded.
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