Candida overgrowth is a common fungal infection that many people suffer from. In fact, it is one of the most common infections in the United States, affecting an estimated 9 out of every 100,000 people.
Candida is a type of yeast, a single-celled fungus, that normally lives in our gut and on our skin in small amounts. This yeast is harmless at normal levels, and is kept in balance by healthy bacteria that also live in our gut and on our skin. If the population of beneficial bacteria is reduced, however, it can allow Candida populations to grow beyond normal levels, leading to a Candida infection.
Certain dietary, lifestyle, and environmental factors can reduce the beneficial bacteria in our bodies. One such factor is alcohol consumption. Alcohol is a potent substance, and it can kill the friendly bacteria in our gut, which can allow Candida to thrive.
That’s not all though. When we have a Candida infection alcohol consumption can make the infection even worse. In this article, we are going to talk about alcohol and Candida overgrowth and discuss why consuming alcohol is a bad idea if you want to clear up a Candida infection.
7 Reasons To Avoid Alcohol When Fighting Candida
1. Alcohol Weakens Immune System Function
Your immune system plays a critical role in fighting off infections—including Candida infections. Alcohol consumption can weaken your immune system’s response to infectious pathogens like Candida, allowing these opportunistic microorganisms to quickly grow out of control.
A recent study measured the effects of alcohol on the immune system. Participants were instructed to consume vodka and were then tested for levels of three different types of white blood cells — leukocytes, monocytes and natural killer cells.
Unexpectedly, the study showed that drinking alcohol actually caused an immediate rise in immune system activity. Twenty minutes after peak intoxication, levels of all three immune cells were higher. However, this effect did not last long, and quickly immune activity dropped significantly. At the 2 hour and 5 hour stage, the levels of white blood cells were significantly lower, signaling a weaker immune system.
The study found that alcohol increased immune system activity for a brief period, but was then quickly followed by a significant drop in immune system function. With a weakened immune system, Candida has a better chance of surviving and reproducing. For this reason, it is recommended to avoid consuming alcohol if you are currently fighting a Candida infection.
Some Alcohol Products Are High In Yeast
Most alcohol drinks are fermented products in which the yeast is converted to alcohol. However, with drinks like beer it is a different story. Both wines and spirits have most of the yeast brewed out of them and some are distilled so any remaining live yeasts are killed, but often with beer much of the live yeast remains. This means that every time you have a drink of beer, live yeasts are being added to your digestive tract which is already full of yeast. Essentially, you are just adding fuel to the fire. If you are trying to get rid of a yeast infection like Candida, then drinking alcohol with live yeast in it is a terrible idea.
Alcohol Can Damage Your Liver
The liver is one of the most important organs in the entire body, responsible for processing and eliminating numerous toxins—including the metabolic byproducts of Candida. The liver is constantly processing toxins that we consume, and toxins from Candida only add to its workload.
With the liver constantly working hard to process toxins, consuming more toxins may overload it and cause it to fail at this very important task—or at least become much less efficient. Alcohol is one such toxin that is especially harmful to the liver.
Drinking alcohol is widely known to weaken liver function and prevent the liver from operating effectively. Each time your liver filters alcohol, some of the liver cells die. The liver can develop new cells, but drinking too much alcohol over many years can reduce its ability to regenerate. This can even result in serious and permanent damage to your liver.
If you are fighting a Candida infection you need your liver function to be as optimal as possible. Consuming alcohol, especially on a regular basis, will only hinder the liver’s ability to do its job.
Alcohol Puts Stress On Your Adrenal Glands
Your adrenal glands, which are the small organs located on top of your kidneys, also get stressed out by alcohol consumption. Adrenal fatigue is a common issue that many people suffer from, and it is typically caused by chronic emotional stress and anxiety. Physical stressors can negatively impact the adrenal glands as well. Chronic health conditions, like Candida overgrowth, can also put stress on your adrenal glands.
Alcohol consumption typically reduces your blood glucose levels. As your blood sugar drops, the adrenal glands produce the stress hormone cortisol. Among other things, this stress hormone raises blood sugar back to normal levels.
Healthy adrenal glands are essential to hormonal balance, immune system function, controlling inflammation levels, and defending the body from a candida infection. Alcohol dysregulates your blood glucose levels, which forces the adrenal glands to produce extra hormones, and consequently depletes the adrenal glands. Cutting out alcohol will give your adrenal glands a chance to recover and restore your energy levels, and will help your body better fight off a Candida infection.
5. Alcohol Can Affect Your Mood
One of the major symptoms of a Candida infection is fatigue. Candida can also affect your mood, as Candida can create an imbalance in the gut, and many of our hormones are produced in the gut. When you are already dealing with fatigue, irritability and potentially depression from an imbalance in your gut microbiome and the byproducts of Candida, drinking alcohol will only make this worse.
While alcohol has a reputation for bringing life to the party, it is actually a central nervous system depressant that works by slowing down parts of the brain and results in impaired cognitive function. Alcohol alters your brain chemistry. While it may seem to improve your mood at first, it actually is known to intensify mood swings and depression.
Regularly drinking alcohol lowers the level of serotonin in your brain. Serotonin is a very important chemical that affects your mood. This can lead to anxiety, stress and a low mood, which can worsen these effects that may already be caused by an underlying Candida infection. Alcohol consumption and Candida can both affect your mood, and together, can lead to some pretty severe mood swings. This is another reason why it is best to avoid drinking alcohol when you have a Candida infection.
6. Alcohol Effects Your Blood Sugar
Alcohol can destabilize your blood sugar. For example, diabetics need to be cautious about what they drink because alcohol can cause their blood glucose levels to drop dangerously low. Conversely, other alcoholic drinks like cocktails, beer or wine contain a large amount of sugar and may cause blood glucose levels to rise short term.
This is an issue not only for diabetics, but for anyone suffering from a Candida infection. Candida, being a type of fungus, feeds on sugar as their primary fuel source. This is why those following an anti-candida diet (link article) are encouraged to cut out all high-sugar foods and foods with added sugars from their diet.
High blood glucose levels can change the delicate balance of bacteria in your intestines and can encourage pathogens like Candida to proliferate. Low blood sugar levels can lead to food cravings and dietary choices like late night snacking which can also encourage Candida to grow. These rapid changes in blood glucose can also deplete the adrenal glands.
Alcohol Can Interfere With Sleep
Our bodies are truly fascinating and complex, and the human nervous system is perhaps the most complex system in the body. The nervous system is divided into two parts, the central nervous system, which consists of the brain and spinal cord, and the peripheral nervous system, which includes all of the nerves that branch out from the brain and spinal cord and extend to other parts of the body including muscles and organs.
The autonomic nervous system is a part of the peripheral nervous system, and is responsible for regulating involuntary body functions, such as blood flow, heartbeat, digestion, and breathing. In other words, it is the autonomic system that controls aspects of the body that are usually not under voluntary control.
This autonomic system is further divided into the the Sympathetic Nervous System (the ‘fight or flight’ system) and the Parasympathetic Nervous System (the ‘rest and digest’ system). At night, your body is supposed to switch off the sympathetic nervous system and activate the parasympathetic nervous system so that it can engage the organs and systems that recover and repair during sleep.
If you drink too much alcohol, however, it will prevent the body from activating this “rest and digest” system and will keep the “fight-or-flight” system active. While alcohol may help you go to sleep initially, much like the initial spike of immunity mentioned earlier, this quickly wears off, and the sympathetic nervous system reengages to wake you up.
Put simply, drinking too much alcohol disrupts your sleep patterns, and sleep is essential for the health of all your body’s systems, especially your immune system which fights Candida. Good, restful sleep is one of the most important factors for healing from any illness or infection, as it severely impacts immunity, hormonal balance, and mood. If you are fighting Candida, and you want to win the fight, it is not a good idea to drink alcohol.
So, what alcohol can you drink with Candida? The ideal answer is none. Alcohol has many detrimental effects on your health, and it can be particularly detrimental to the success of your Candida cleanse. However, alcohol is a big part of many people’s social lives, and having a small amount on rare occasions is not the end of the world, especially if you consume the right alcohol and don’t drink too much. So, if you do choose to consume alcohol, avoid alcohol with live yeasts like beer, and alcohol with high sugar content like wine. Do your best to also ensure that it is something you do not do frequently.
Candida can be a difficult infection to clear, and you want to give yourself the best chance to beat it that you can, so ideally, avoid consuming alcohol while you do your candida cleanse (link product to article). When it comes to alcohol consumption and candida, cutting it out completely is the best way to ensure success of getting rid of the infection.