Here are the exposures which most often cause Candida, in clinical experience. They are listed from most common or frequent to least. Keep in mind that the earlier in life one is exposed, the more frequent the exposure, and the more categories one can identify, the worse the Candida will generally be. Again, an example: a person who received antibiotics for ear infections several times as a young child and who had a chlorinated pool in the backyard growing up would almost definitely have more Candida symptoms as an adult than a person who never swam much and seldom received antibiotics during childhood and adolescence.
Antibiotics. Used to kill disease-causing bacteria, antibiotics also kill normal, protective bacterial flora throughout the body. Most antibiotics are derived from fungal chemicals, chemicals the fungi make to protect themselves from bacteria. This is why antibiotics work so well. However, their function in nature is to allow fungi to grow, and this is the unavoidable secondary effect of antibiotic use — that fungi will grow.
Swimming in chlorinated pools. Chlorine is a chemical in the halogen class that is used in swimming pools and Jacuzzis to kill bacteria and algae. Just as chlorine kills bacteria in the water, it also kills the body’s normal bacterial flora. However, it appears chlorine is not strong enough to kill yeast at pool water concentrations, so yeast growth in and on the body is encouraged when the competing bacteria are cleared out of the way. While chloride is a very abundant and necessary ion in the body, chlorine exposure is not at all natural for us.
Alcohol use (most often beer, wine and vodka). Alcohol is a fermented product, and therefore it encourages the growth of yeast in the body. A person with some yeast excess often is drawn to alcohol, and then finds that he or she rather quickly develops a steady habit or craving for it. The regular use of alcohol cultivates a fungal liver and changes brain neurotransmission, both of which can lead to addiction to alcohol — the fungal liver calling for alcohol for nourishment, and the brain calling for alcohol to artificially stimulate damaged neurotransmitter receptors.
Regular use of Candida-promoting foods. In the same way as alcohol fosters Candida growth, fermented, aged and sugary foods can first be craved, and then become the regular food source for a growing and deepening Candida infection. Typical culprits are bread, chocolate, sugar, alcohol, cheese, milk, vinegar, pickles, nuts and peanuts, apples, grapes, bananas and coffee. Antibiotics and hormones used in the production of meat and dairy also contribute.
Alcoholism in either parent. Alcoholic parents of young children will have abnormally fungal flora on their bodies to share through contact with their children. They will also probably have more sugar and other fungal feeders in their families’ diets than other people. Either or both of these may explain why we observe more Candida problems in children of alcoholic parents.
Birth control hormones. During the years of menstruation and fertility, a woman’s body produces a carefully orchestrated pattern of ups and downs of the female sex steroids (hormones) estrogen and progesterone. This balanced cyclic pattern happens monthly, and produces fertility and menstruation. Birth control hormones, given by pills, injections or otherwise, alter this pulsing hormone secretion pattern completely by providing a steady level of hormone, which prevents eggs from being released by the ovaries. Fungal growth appears to be favored by this unnaturally even level of hormone, whereas the naturally oscillating pattern would not sustain fungal growth.
Mother was always ill. When a person’s mother was chronically ill since the person’s childhood, mother’s longstanding immune suppression (evidenced by her inability to regain health) appears to have fungal overgrowth either as a cause or consequence of the illness. Due to the intimate physical contact with mother from birth through early childhood, it appears that mother confers some of this excess fungus to the child. (Note: Don’t blame your mother! The true culprit is cultural and professional ignorance of this disease.)
Consistent exposure to mold. Long-term daily or regular exposure to mold is a major suppressor of immune function, and gradually but surely establishes a fungal overgrowth in the body. One cannot inhale mold spores for several hours on a regular basis without being affected, especially when Candida growth has already been helped along by other previous factors, such as lots of antibiotic use or swimming in the past. The most common scenario posing this problem is that of walls or carpet that are exposed to leaking water through a plumbing problem, creating either a constant leak or a one-time flood. If the area is not quickly and properly dried mold takes hold and continues to live in the carpet, wall or floor, constantly sending spores into the air. This is most concerning if it happens in the bedroom, as sleeping under this influence is very risky. Certainly if black mold is visible or if there is a musty smell, there is a significant mold problem. However, it's not always so obvious. In addition, people who live in ocean beach communities or coastal overcast areas often find that they cannot overcome their Candida problem while living in that consistently wet environment.
Mercury and mercury fillings (silver amalgam fillings). Mercury has antibacterial, fungal-promoting effects. Dental silver fillings are about 50% mercury by weight. As used in vaccines, mercury works as an antibacterial preservative. Both mercury particles (from the grinding action of chewing) and mercury vapor are consistently produced from fillings, and this mercury enters the digestive system and other tissues of the body. Mercury appears to continue its antibacterial effect in these areas, effectively promoting the growth of yeast. Mercury from vaccinations also appears to contribute to this problem (mercury in the form of the preservative thimerosal started being removed from vaccines in the U.S. in 1999).
Use of corticosteroids. Corticosteroids are agents such as prednisone, hydrocortisone, dexamethasone, fluticasone, and many other forms with names usually ending in –lone, –sone, –cort or –ase. They are used as pills, inhalers, injections or creams to stop the inflammation of asthma, allergies, skin rashes, painful joints, psoriasis, poison oak and ivy, autoimmune diseases and many other conditions. It is well-known, however, that because they turn off normal immune reactions they leave a person without their natural defenses against fungi and other microbes. Fungal infections are a common side effect of their use.
Exposure to pesticides. Exposure to significant levels of pesticides and other agents sprayed in farm fields has brought on Candida symptoms for many people. These agents appear to have an antibiotic-type effect on normal flora. This is quite possible, as their purpose is to inhibit growth of certain organisms. People who live near or work in farm fields, people whose homes are built on soil that was farmed with heavy chemical use, and people who had wanton exposure to pesticides in their youth in the era before the dangers of pesticides were publicized all may trace Candida symptoms to this exposure.
Most people with Candida symptoms can identify one or more of the above exposures in their past. However, some people with several symptoms indicative of Candida cannot clearly identify which things in the past brought on the Candida overgrowth symptoms.