What You Should Know About Candida and Drinking 

Cheers to a Healthier Mardi Gras 2022! 

After taking last year off due to covid concerns, Mardi Gras in New Orleans is back.  

Mardi Gras, the final day of carnival season, is also known as Fat Tuesday. This originates from being the last day of indulgence before the fasting period of Lent.  

Traditionally, it’s a day to celebrate and “let the good times roll.”  In the United States, New Orleans is at the heart of this holiday and is home to several parades and parties. In Chicago, we also honor the day as “Paczki Day” and indulge in a jelly donut type of Polish pastry. 

For most of us, this significant date marks a trot towards spring. Wherever we find ourselves on the map, we may be inclined ready to raise our drinks with a cheers. 

While Mardi Gras is fun, it’s often celebrated with heavy drinking.  

As with any large celebration, this is a great reminder to drink in moderation.  

Heavy alcohol consumption can bring many adverse health effects – including the colonization of candida, which will quickly put a damper on your festivities. 

What is Candida? 

Candida is a type of yeast fungus that lives in the human body, typically found in small amounts around the mouth, intestines, and on the skin.   

When at normal levels, this yeast lives in peace.   

When candida begins to grow uncontrollably it causes an infection known as Candidiasis. Candida is the most common cause of fungal infection in humans and can spur harmful symptoms if allowed to go on for too long.    

Symptoms of Candidiasis 

Candida overgrowth can cause a variety of symptoms in the body, which include:  

  • White, bumpy patches on the tongue, cheeks, gums, or throat  
  • Redness or soreness of the tongue or mouth   
  • In extreme causes, pain or difficulty swallowing  
  • Tiredness and fatigue  
  • Recurring genital or urinary tract infections  
  • Constipation  
  • Diarrhea  
  • Nausea  
  • Gas or bloating  
  • Sinus infections  
  • Skin and nail fungus   
  • Joint pain  

What Causes Candida and How Drinking Can Make it Worse  

Candida overgrowth can occur anytime healthy bacteria levels are disrupted or the immune system is compromised. A few common factors that lead to overgrowth are taking antibiotics, eating a diet high in sugar, high alcohol intake, a weakened immune system, oral contraceptives, diabetes and high stress levels.  

Heavy drinking can be a leading cause of candida overgrowth as it can alter the microbe of the esophagus. When alcohol is the culprit, symptoms will likely be experienced in the mouth, esophagus and throat area.  

Weakened Immune Defense   

Alcohol weakens the immune system, which is crucial in keeping candida cells in check. Without a strong immune system, microorganisms can quickly get out of control.   

Studies show that 2 hours after drinking alcohol, white blood cell levels are significantly reduced, leaving the immune system vulnerable to candida. Excessive drinking prevents the body from recuperating and managing possible infections.  

Lagging Liver  

Indulging in drinks also damages the liver, which is your body’s primary defense against symptoms of Candidiasis. 

The liver eliminates and processes toxins in the body, including the byproducts of Candida cells. Acetaldehyde is a produced by candida and is a known neurotoxin. If it’s not processed by the liver, you can be left with headaches and brain fog.   

Drinking can send the liver into overdrive, limiting its ability to fight off candida. In extreme cases, the liver can run out of the nutrients and cells necessary to process toxins, meaning they will be left in your body to cause harm.   

Cutting back on your alcohol intake this Mardi Gras can promote a healthy liver and help you stay healthy into Spring.   

Stressed Adrenal Glands   

You may not think of your adrenal glands often, but they are crucial in your body’s daily process. The adrenal glands are small organs located above the kidneys that produce hormones that regulate bodily processes.   

Adrenal glands get overworked in times of emotional stress or fatigue, but also play a large role in fighting Candida, as the fungus causes stress on the body.   

When drinking lots of alcohol, blood glucose levels are reduced. As sugar levels drop, adrenal glands produce the hormone cortisol. Cortisol is a stress hormone that raises our blood sugar, but tires out adrenal glands.   

Healthy and strong adrenals are key in maintaining your immune system and preventing Candida overgrowth. Cutting back on alcohol will give these organs a break and let them focus on more important tasks such as body regulation.   

Cut Back on Alcohol – Try a Different Drink!  

Mardi Gras is a fun time of celebration with friends and family. While drinking is a traditional part of this experience, it doesn’t have to be. There are plenty of delicious alternatives to replace and limit alcohol intake at your celebration this year.   

Mocktails are a popular option to get the delicious and refreshing experience of consuming a cocktail without the side effects. We’ve compiled a list of some of our favorite mocktails to try here.   

If you are looking for a simpler drink, such as a replacement for a Vodka Soda, there are plenty of alcohol alternatives available.  

Ritual Zero Proof   

Ritual offers non-alcoholic Rum, Gin, Whiskey, and Tequila alternatives that can easily be swapped out in your favorite drink. Ritual allows you to experience the taste of your alcoholic beverage of choice without the alcohol intake.   

Dry Goods Beverage Company   

Dry Goods Co. Is a 100% non-achoholic spirits store based in California. They sell a variety of non-alcoholic wines, spirits and cocktail mixers on their online shop… you’re sure to find something that fits your fancy!   

Don’t hold back on your Mardi Gras celebration—just hold back on your alcohol intake! Spend this time celebrating all that’s to come in 2022 and cheers (a non-alch beverage) to health and wellness this year!   

Think you have Candida- Our Team is Here to Help!  

If you think you may be experiencing the symptoms of Candidiasis or are looking to develop strategies to avoid heavy drinking, our team of Functional Medicine Providers and Clinical Nutritionists are here to help. Fill out the form below to get in touch with our patient scheduling team to book your appointment today!