The Yeast Connection – Diabetes and Yeast Infections

Pictured here, is the yeast Candida albicans. Photo from Wikipedia article on Vaginal Yeast Infections*
Disclaimer:

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Having high blood glucose from diabetes can have effects on the whole body. I’ve written previously on how diabetes relates to gum health (oral health, mouth health), and now it’s time to discuss another topic: yeast infections.

Vaginal yeast infections are also known as candidiasis because it’s caused by the candida fungus. Yeast infections can also develop in other body parts, such as your mouth, throat, and tongue, but this is usually called “thrush.” (See Cleveland Clinic’s page on Thrush.)

Recurrent yeast infections may be a symptom of diabetes. The yeast thrives on sugar, so having high blood glucose provides an atmosphere that may cause a yeast infection.

This also may be a sign of pre-diabetes as well. I certainly encountered this issue years before being diagnosed with LADA Diabetes. It’s quite possible that my blood glucose was going high, maybe higher than normal, after meals and eating refined carbohydrates. Perhaps it spiked and contributed to the yeast infection. I had someone advise me to “avoid refined carbohydrates” and generally eating less sugar and less carbohydrates is good advice if you are coping with a yeast infection issue. Since things like muffins, white bread, cakes, deserts, potatoes, etc, are all likely to cause a glucose spike. (See “Refined and Complex Carbs: How to Make the Right Choice“)

Preventing Yeast Infections

Managing your diabetes — whether through diet, exercise, medication such as metformin, or insulin — may help to reduce yeast infections. One interesting thing is that yeast does usually live in your body at a normal level, but it’s when they overgrow that they cause an infection. Because yeast thrives on sugar, high blood glucose can cause it to overgrow.

Additionally, one thing I’ve found helpful is taking a probiotic supplement on a daily basis. Probiotics are live bacteria that are beneficial to keeping a good balance of the microorganisms that live in your body. There are a lot of different kinds of probiotics. I’ve had the most success with probiotics that contain acidophilus. Probiotics can also be found in yogurt.

*The wikipedia article on vaginal yeast infection has a section on alternative treatments which says that there is no evidence that probiotics help with preventing recurrent yeast infections, but I have to disagree. I’ve been buying and taking a probiotic with Acidophilus in it for 18 years and it’s personally been hugely beneficial for me.

One thing to keep in mind is that the probiotic strength can vary dramatically between brands. Look for ones that have many billions of CFUs and make sure that they are refrigerated or explicitly say that no refrigeration is necessary. I find the TruNature Digestive Probiotic Capsules, which have 10 billion live cultures, to be good ones.

Yogurt also often has live cultures (probiotics) in it, and can be an easy way to get your probiotics through food, although some brands have a lot of sugar too, so keep that in mind! Both the amount of live cultures and the amount of sugar are on the nutrition label.

Further Reading

Can Diabetes Cause Vaginal Yeast Infections? (Healthline)

Diabetes and yeast infections (candidiasis) (Medical News Today)

Yeast Infections and Diabetes: What you need to know (Beyond Type I)

Type 2 Diabetes and Yeast Infections (Very Well Health)

The Interplay Between Sugar and Yeast Infections: Do Diabetics Have a Greater Predisposition to Develop Oral and Vulvovaginal Candidiasis? (National Library of Medicine)

Diabetes and Thrush (Web MD)

How Women With Diabetes Can Reduce Risk of Yeast Infections (Health Grades)

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