Candida is a type of yeast infection that is commonly associated with affecting the mouth and the intestinal tract. However, if the immune system is not working as it should this type of yeast infection has the potential to reach other areas of the body and can lead to long term candida overgrowth problems. In this post, I am going to answer the question can candida affect the thyroid?
If you have been suffering from chronic fatigue, hormonal imbalance, chronic allergy issues, thyroid issues, and a weak immune system keep reading to learn about how candida may play a role.
What is Candida?
As mentioned before, candida is a yeast infection. Candida Albicans is the most common type of yeast infection and is commonly found in the mouth, vagina, as well as GI tract and the infection is rarely a major cause for serious concern. However, if you suffer from any type of immune system imbalance or your immune system is not working properly this is where issues can come in, including issues with your thyroid. We will talk about this more later, but for now, I want to talk a little bit more about what candida is.
Candida is a fungus and it helps with nutrient absorption as well as digestion. The key is that it needs to be in the appropriate amounts in the body in order to be beneficial. When candida levels are too high, symptoms can arise.
What Causes Candida?
There are a number of different things that can lead to a chronic candida infection. Here are just some of the causes I commonly see in my practice.
- Out of Balance pH: When your pH balance is thrown off, candida has the chance to grow and populate into larger amounts than what’s beneficial. When the body does not have good strong healthy gut bacteria or the pH balance is out of whack, it can make it very difficult to fight off a candida infection.
- Certain Medications: When talking about medications, I am specifically talking about antibiotics and oral corticosteroids. The problem with antibiotics is that they take the good with the bad. While they kill off the harmful bacteria, they also rid the body of the healthy bacteria it needs to help with digestion as well as keeping things like candida in a healthy range. If you are frequently prescribed antibiotics then there is a chance that your intestinal bacteria is out of balance. This can lead to candida overgrowth. With oral corticosteroids, there is a chance that someone can develop a candida infection in the mouth. These medications are used to treat conditions like asthma and when these corticosteroids are inhaled it is so important to follow the directions and swish your mouth out after each use.
- A Weak Immune System: Anyone who is immune compromised is more likely to suffer from an infection like candida. This includes anyone who has an autoimmune condition such as Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis.
There are also a number of other things that can cause candida such as:
- A diet high in sugar
- Chronic stress
- Being diabetic
- Being overweight
When candida has reached a point where it is out of control in the body it can be difficult to diagnose without working with someone who has lots of experience detecting it. Here are some of the symptoms I commonly see patients present with who have a candida overgrowth problem:
- Exhaustion or chronic fatigue
- Brain fog
- Anxiety, irritability, depression, mood swings
- Vaginal and urinary tract infections that occur frequently
- Oral thrush (white tongue)
- Chronic sinus infections
- Digestive issues
- Skin infections
- Hormonal imbalances
- Vaginal yeast infections
How Candida Affects the Thyroid
Candida can affect the thyroid for a couple of reasons. For one, I often see many of my patients who suffer from Hashimoto’s come to my practice with a yeast overgrowth. It is quite common, so resolving the infection is one of the key steps I take to helping my patients get into remission and start to feel better.
Let’s take a look at how candida affects the thyroid and then what steps you can take to control a candida infection if it is something you are suffering from.
#1 Candida can Lead to Leaky Gut
Candida overgrowth can lead to leaky gut by breaking down the walls of the intestines and then getting into the bloodstream if this fungus is found in large amounts in the GI tract. (1) When not addressed, leaky gut can lead to autoimmune conditions such as Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis as it taxes the body’s immune system and the immune system may begin attacking its own tissue and in certain circumstances, this is the thyroid gland.
#2 Candida can Lead to Food Sensitivities & Intolerances
Now, you may be wondering how these have anything to do with thyroid health, but the gut and the health of your gut bacteria is directly connected to thyroid health not to mention every other system in your body. Having Candida Overgrowth Syndrome is when candida has reached a level in the body where it has become completely out of control. This is a very serious condition and can lead to food sensitivities as well as allergies. When someone consumes a food that they are sensitive to for a period of time there is a good chance that leaky gut can develop which you now know can then lead to autoimmunity.
Consuming reactive foods time and time again also causes your immune system to go haywire and triggers inflammation. Any time your body is in a chronic state of inflammation, you are at a higher risk of developing disease, and when your immune system is in overdrive it can begin attacking your own body tissue. This is especially true for anyone dealing with a gluten sensitivity.
When you consume gluten, the immune system can actually mistake gluten and the thyroid gland for one another meaning that the immune system can attack the gluten once ingested but it will also target the thyroid gland. This is why it is so important to address candida at its source to prevent food sensitivities from developing and potentially even thyroid disease.
#3 Unhealthy Gut Microbes Affect the Thyroid
There is more and more research out there that states the connection between gut health and the overall health of our body. The balance of bacteria in our gut is so important to our health as any type of imbalance can cause pathogenic bacteria from overgrowing and can prevent the healthy bacteria from doing what they need to do to keep us healthy.
The bottom line is that unhealthy gut bacteria can affect the thyroid gland. When there is an imbalance in the bacteria in the gut, T4 to T3 conversion can be disrupted. Amazingly enough, roughly 20% of T4 to active T3 conversion takes place in the GI tract. (2) Gut microbes are able to do a large part of the work here by converting inactive T4 into T3 sulfate. When the bacteria in the gut is imbalanced or there is an overgrowth of harmful bacteria, this process can become disrupted.
The gut is also essential for nutrient absorption so when there is an imbalance in the gut, nutrient absorption may decrease which could ultimately lead to a vitamin or mineral deficiency. A deficiency can then cause a thyroid imbalance. Health truly starts and ends with the gut. We have to take care of our gut health and support the healthy bacteria through dietary and lifestyle changes to be sure that the gut does not affect the thyroid in a negative way.
Lastly, candida overgrowth in the gut can put stress on your adrenals as well as the HPA axis. The adrenal glands work with our bodies stress response and also help with regulating the immune system. When dealing with candida overgrowth and even potentially nutrient malabsorption due to the overgrowth, hormonal imbalances can occur along with adrenal health issues and imbalances in stress hormones. Any type of hormone imbalance can ultimately lead to thyroid health problems and dealing with a thyroid condition on top of adrenal health issues can cause your symptoms to be much worse than they already are.
Testing for Candida
Testing for candida is something that you will want to do with a functional medicine practitioner. Different gut infection panels can be very helpful to determine if there is a candida infection present. I like to use stool and urine tests to help uncover the source of the infection which helps set up an appropriate and individual plan tailored to you.
If you are dealing which chronic candida yeast infections or you suspect there may be some type of infection present consider setting up a consultation to talk about the root cause testing I can offer to get to the bottom of the candida infection to help prevent it from causing further complication in the body.
How to Address Candida
If you suspect that candida may be an issue that you are dealing with, the first step is to work with a functional medicine practitioner to uncover why the infection may be occurring, get the proper testing, and then set you up on a specific candida diet.
It is also important to know that this condition can be easily misdiagnosed especially when your symptoms may appear to be affecting different areas of the body. It is very common for doctors to view your symptoms as being depression, sinus infections, or any other type of infection that would prompt them to prescribe an antibiotic. As you now know, this is one of the worst offenders for candida overgrowth so you definitely want to work with someone who has experience with candida as to not prescribe medications that could make this condition worse. Diagnosing candida takes a holistic approach to get a patient on the proper healing plan.
If candida is something that you have been suffering from or something you suspect, there are also some other steps that you can begin to take:
- Eliminate sugar, alcohol and refined carbs from your diet
- Remove processed foods from your diet
- Include more fresh vegetables in your diet
- Add coconut oil and garlic to your diet
- Take a probiotic supplement
If you know my story, then you know that I battled thyroid disease and reversed my own thyroid condition. This is why I wanted to create a book where people could do the same and get the best support for their thyroid health as well. I wanted people to understand that there is hope and that they could live a full, symptom free life, even with thyroid disease.
I wanted to make this book as interactive as possible, so I have included:
- A 30-day easy to follow meal plan
- Weekly grocery lists to simplify your shopping
- 39 thyroid supporting recipes
- A plan that walks you through step by step what to do after the 30 days.
- Cheat sheets to make your path to health easier
This book walks you through the different types of triggers, like candida and more, that may be affecting your thyroid health. I give you a step by step guide on what you can do to give your thyroid the best support you can. This plan is how I start all of my thyroid patients, so order yours here to get started.
If you are suffering from weight gain, fatigue, hair loss and more, click here to schedule a phone call with me, so I can find out where you’ve been, where you want to get to, and how I can help you get there.
I know exactly where you are because I’ve been there myself…I remember being so tired that I could barely function. I gained 30 pounds out of nowhere and had a severe case of brain fog. I also started to get severe anxiety and panic attacks. I was driven and motivated…until I wasn’t. I didn’t know what was happening to me. All I wanted was to get my life back…
Finally, I learned about functional medicine and found a practitioner that I hoped could help me. They ran specialized tests that were far different than I had ever had before. When I got the results back, it turned out I had candida, parasites, high cortisol, the Epstein Bar Virus and many food intolerances. I also had an issue with my thyroid that no one found before because they were using the conventional medicine lab ranges which are way too broad….which I now know is one of the leading causes of hypothyroid misdiagnosis.
I went through treatment of all of these things and it completely changed my life. I immediately lost the 30 pounds I had gained plus more, I had a lot more energy, and my brain fog was gone. I felt amazing and knew that I wanted to help people find the underlying causes of their symptoms and disease.
(1) Axe. 9 Candida Symptoms & 3 Steps to Treat Them
(2) Chris Kresser. (2016) Your Gut Microbes and Your Thyroid: What’s the Connection?
The Candida Diet. 11 Common Symptoms of Candida