A yeast infection is a very common infection of the vagina that affects most women at some time in their lives, sometimes recurring over time, according to MayoClinic.com. Also called vaginitis and candidiasis, a yeast infection develops when the fungal microorganism candida becomes too prolific in your body. While it's not the only contributing factor in the development of yeast infections, the amount of sugar in your diet can play a role.
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Normally, candida — a type of yeast — exists in your vaginal canal with no problem; your body's natural healthy bacteria keep it in check. Occasionally, however, changes in your body's bacterial balance can stimulate the overgrowth of candida and develop into a yeast infection. Although generally not harmful, yeast infection symptoms can be unpleasant and annoying. Symptoms generally include inflammation of the vulva and vaginal opening; itchiness, pain and burning sensations; pain upon sexual intercourse; and creamy, white vaginal discharge, according to the College of Charleston Student Health.
Yeast and Sugar
It might seem strange that your diet could contribute to yeast infections but it can. Any disruption to the normal, healthy bacterial environment inside your vagina can trigger the excessive growth of yeast and that includes some of the types of food you eat. High sugar intake is one of the conditions that promotes yeast overproduction, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center. That's because yeasts like candida feed on sugar; therefore, a high-sugar diet creates the ideal environment for candida to proliferate. This may be especially worth considering if you tend to experience stubborn, recurring yeast infections.
Adjusting your diet to inhibit candida overgrowth is one of the most important steps you can take to combat recurrent yeast infections, according to TheYeastDiet.com. An anti-yeast diet encourages the avoidance or severe limitation of sugar and foods comprised of simple sugars and starches, such as baked goods, refined bread products, sugary drinks, potatoes, corn and honey. Instead, it emphasizes more vegetables, beans and legumes, lean proteins, nuts and whole grains.
Several other factors besides sugar intake can contribute to recurrent yeast infections, such as antibiotics use, sexual activity, pregnancy, an impaired immune system and uncontrolled diabetes. Therefore, it is imperative to consult a physician if you suffer from yeast infections. Your physician can provide a full evaluation and recommendations for treatment, which may include medication and lifestyle changes, in addition to dietary adjustments.