Are there any dietary changes I could make to prevent my frequent yeast infections?

Are there any dietary changes I could make to prevent my frequent yeast infections?

Question:
Tanya Edwards, M.D.
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Tanya Edwards, M.D.

A family physician, Dr. Tanya Edwards is passionate about using nutrition for the prevention and treatment of chronic illness.  She... Read more

I'm assuming you're talking about vaginal yeast infections, which are most unpleasant. The itching, irritation and burning can be relentless and is due to an overgrowth of a yeast called candida, which is found all over the body in small amounts, including the vagina. But under certain conditions, such as in moist areas or when taking antibiotics (which kills off protective bacteria), the yeast can multiply and lead to these uncomfortable symptoms. Other common areas for overgrowth of yeast include under the breasts, under the nail bed and baby's diaper area.

Since yeast feeds off sugar, it can't hurt to try decreasing the amount of sugar you eat. This includes sweetened drinks, cereals and yogurts, for instance. Alcohol is another big source of sugar. Although there isn't a proven connection between lowering intake of yeast-based foods and reduced incidence of yeast infection, you might try to limit foods that are high in yeast, such as overly ripe fruit, bread, cheese and beer, to see if there's any effect. Unsweetened yogurt, such as plain Greek yogurt, can actually help since it contains probiotics. Probiotics are helpful in combating yeast. You can also use a probiotic intravaginally to try to prevent yeast infections from recurring. To start, insert one probiotic capsule every night for a week at bedtime. After the first week, insert a probiotic in the vagina once a week. After two to three months, stop and see if the yeast infections continue to occur. This has been shown in many studies to help the recurrence of bacterial vaginosis, and in a few studies to reduce recurrent yeast infections.

You should also let your doctor know if you're experiencing frequent yeast infections — more than two or three per year — which could indicate diabetes. And while an over-the-counter treatment will often provide the relief that you're looking for when you have an active infection, it's important to also mention to your doctor/gynecologist how often you need to use them.

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