The link between yeast infections and diabetes

The link between yeast infections and diabetes

By: Shona Wilkinson

Yeast infections and diabetes are two health concerns that seem unrelated but are actually more intertwined than you would think. Women with diabetes have a higher risk of developing yeast infections than those without. We explain the common causes, symptoms and prevention tips for yeast infections and reveal the intriguing connection between yeast infections and diabetes.

What are yeast infections?

Yeast infections, also known as candidiasis, are fungal infections caused by the overgrowth of the Candida yeast species. Candida is naturally present in small amounts in the body, but various factors can cause an imbalance, leading to an infection.

Common causes

  • Poor diet
  • Stress
  • A weakened immune system
  • Antibiotic use
  • Hormonal changes
  • Warm, moist environments

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Symptoms

Yeast infections can manifest in various ways, depending on the affected area. Common symptoms include:

  • Itching
  • Burning
  • Redness
  • Discomfort
  • Thick, white discharge from the vagina

One particularly notable form of yeast infection is oral or vaginal thrush, which affects the mouth, throat and vagina. It appears as white patches on the tongue, inner cheeks, roof of the mouth and vagina. Thrush is often seen in infants, older adults and individuals with compromised immune systems.

Discover the difference between yeast infections and urinary tract infections. You may also be interested in learning about Bacterial vaginosis (BV), a common vaginal infection affecting approximately 30% of women at some point in their lives.

The connection to diabetes

Research has unveiled a strong connection between yeast infections and diabetes. People with diabetes, particularly uncontrolled or poorly managed diabetes, have a higher risk of developing yeast infections. The relationship lies in elevated blood sugar levels. Yeast thrives on sugar and excess glucose in the bloodstream provides an ideal environment for yeast to multiply rapidly. Studies have shown that yeast infections are more than twice as common in people with diabetes compared to those without the condition.

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Does the type of diabetes make a difference?

While the connection between yeast infections and diabetes applies to type 1 and type 2 diabetes, the risk is often more pronounced in individuals with uncontrolled blood sugar levels. Proper diabetes management, including monitoring blood sugar and following a balanced diet, can help mitigate the risk of yeast infections.

What is sugar's role in yeast infections?

The link between sugar and yeast infections extends beyond diabetes. Consuming excessive amounts of sugar can promote yeast overgrowth, creating an environment conducive to infections. While cutting out all sugar is neither necessary nor advisable, moderation is key to preventing an overgrowth of candida.

Tip: Ensure you look out for plant-sweeteners, such as stevia, stevia derivatives and xylitol, which are up to 350x sweeter than sugar and can have just as serious health consequences as sugar, as highlighted by the WHO.

Can yeast infections have an impact on blood sugar?

Interestingly, the relationship between yeast infections and diabetes isn't entirely one-sided. Severe yeast infections, especially when widespread, can increase blood sugar levels. The body's immune response to the infection can lead to insulin resistance, making it harder to control blood sugar.

Preventing yeast infections

  • Maintain proper diabetes management: Keeping blood sugar levels within a healthy range is crucial to reducing the risk of yeast infections. GlucoBalance® is the most comprehensive plant-based formula for managing blood glucose levels, protecting against the highs and lows of blood sugar levels and your insulin function. 
  • Eat a diet low in processed foods and refined sugars: Minimising blood sugar spikes with whole, unprocessed food is a great way to decrease risk.
  • Practice good hygiene: Keep the affected areas clean and dry, particularly in warm, moist areas prone to yeast growth.
  • Choose breathable fabrics: Opt for cotton underwear and breathable clothing to minimise moisture accumulation.
  • Avoid harsh soaps and douches: Use mild, fragrance-free products to cleanse intimate areas, avoiding disruption of the natural balance.
  • Probiotics and supplements: Probiotics, like pH Hero®, an advanced natural formula of clinically studied probiotics and botanicals for vaginal flora, can help maintain a healthy microbial balance against candida in the digestive tract and the vagina.

The connection between yeast infections and diabetes is a reminder that one health condition can influence another. By understanding these relationships and taking proactive steps to manage diabetes and promote good hygiene, you can reduce the risk of yeast infections and ensure better overall wellbeing.  

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