There are many dietary factors that play a role in developing Candida overgrowth, but stress can also be a major contributor because of its effect on the immune and digestive systems.
The Effect of Stress on the Immune System
When you experience any kind of stress, including physical, mental, or emotional, your body swiftly kicks off a response via your adrenal glands. Your adrenal glands’ response is to release a cascade of stress hormones, chief among them cortisol. Cortisol is highly inflammatory, its purpose is to activate your immune system so that you can respond to a wound or injury (since this was the type of stress we were created to face, like a tiger).
But, after this initial rise in inflammation to boost immunity, cortisol actually works to suppress the immune system. This is because your body knows that a high level
of inflammation is not sustainable, it stresses the immune system and can lead
to autoimmune disease. To make up for the wave of inflammation it produced initially, cortisol returns your immune system to anywhere from 40 to 70% below the baseline, leaving you with a suppressed immune system.
The Effect of Stress on the Digestive System
A secondary effect of stress is that it temporarily shuts down your digestive functions, something that also goes back to what stressors we were created to face. If you’re running from a tiger you want all of your blood flow concentrated in your limbs for fleeing and your brain for quick thinking, not being wasted in your gut.
Candida – The Opportunist Typically, your body can keep Candida under control all on its own. This is because your immune system and your healthy gut bacteria are both actively working to keep it from multiplying too quickly. But, when your immune system is suppressed and your digestive systems keeps being temporarily shut off, Candida has the opportunity to multiply unchecked and becomes too entrenched for your good bacteria and immune system to get it back under control.