Candida yeast. We all have it in our intestines, so what’s the problem?
If allowed to dominate the gut’s environment, dysfunction, symptoms, and disease will not be far behind.
The imbalance of gut flora is called dysbiosis. Dysbiosis can be fixed.
Who would have thought such a small organism could wreck such havoc in (and on) our bodies, but that is just what the yeast known as Candida albicans does: create problems. This one-celled organism often makes its first appearance when we are young in the form of thrush or diaper rash. As we grow older, the yeast may show up as skin infections or even vaginal yeast infections.
The favorite place for Candida to grow is anywhere where there is a steady supply of nutrients and is moist, dark, and warm. Of course, the best place for it to grow is in our digestive system – because that is the warmest, darkest place in our bodies. Everyone has Candida in their digestive system and that is not a problem, but the yeast sometimes start to grow out of proportion to the rest of the bacteria in our gut and that is when they start to affect our health.
The bacteria and yeast that inhabit our digestive systems are known collectively as our gut flora. Most people are unaware how important, complicated, and diverse our gut flora is and how it impacts our health. There are a lot of bacteria in our digestive system; in fact they outnumber the cells of our body ten to one. These microorganisms do a lot for us, they help us digest foods, provide us with additional nutrients that we would otherwise not obtain, and they act with and as part of our immune system, helping to keep out unwanted infections.
Normally there is a balance between good microorganisms and bad microorganisms in our digestive system (each keeping the other in check). But, when we are not eating well, are under stress (both obvious and obscure), or have taken antibiotics, we can destroy the natural balance of our gut ecosystem. The term that describes this imbalance is dysbiosis. In a state of dysbiosis: we are not digesting food as well, we are not getting the nutrients we need, and our immune system is not functioning well.
Candida thrives in a state of dysbiosis and is a big consumer of the simple sugars and foods that act like sugars that we put in our bodies. Consumed breads, grains, fruits, alcohol and other simple carbohydrates all end up feeding the yeast and other harmful gut flora in our system. There is a feedback loop where the more Candida you have the more sweets you crave, the more sweets you eat, the more Candida you have…
How do you know if Candida is a problem?
Here are some of the symptoms commonly thought to be associated with Candida:
- Bad breath
- Chemical sensitivities
- Cold hands and feet
- Constipation or Diarrhea
- Difficulty concentrating
- Digestive disturbances, including gas, heart burn, indigestion, bloating, pain
- Immune system malfunction
- Muscle aches
- Nasal congestion and sinus problems
- Rectal itching
- Recurrent vaginal yeast infections1
- Skin rashes
That is a lot of symptoms to pin on a small little yeast, but here is the problem with an overgrowth of Candida: When the yeast feeds off of sugars in your digestive tract, they grow and reproduce, and then grow and reproduce even more. The fact that the yeast is there is really not a problem except that Candida does two things that cause us a problem when there are a lot of them around. The first is that it has long tentacles that tend to reach in between the cells of our intestines and disrupt the normal gut barrier (which can create a whole host of problems). The second problem is when the yeast grows, it produces waste products, which some people are very sensitive to and can show up in a wide variety of symptoms. While Candida is probably not associated with every known disease, it has been shown to play a role in many diseases.
What to do about Candida
The medical community does not acknowledge Candida overgrowth to the same degree that integrative doctors do, but they do treat thrush and Candida infections in immunocompromised people (such as AIDS) with the following:
- Oral Antifungals: These include Nystatin, Flucytosine, Amphotericin, Caspofungin
Integrative Approach to Candida
The integrative approach is to first create an environment where the yeast have a hard time growing and then use supplements that are known to create a more balanced gut flora.
- Eliminate Gastrointestinal Infections: Pathogens such as bacteria and parasites disrupt the balance of flora in the intestines. Once they are identified and treated, supplemental good bacteria (also known as probiotics) can be introduced to establish a balance.
- Anti-Candida Diet: A typical anti-Candida diet includes avoiding all sugars and foods that act like sugars (including all grains, except those in whole-form, such as rice). Some forms of the diet suggest avoiding alcoholic drinks, dairy foods (including cheeses), dried fruits, anything with yeast, and peanuts and any foods the individual might be allergic to.
- Healthy Bacteria: The good bacteria, called probiotics, can be supplemented and include Lactobacillus acidophilus, Bifidobacterium longum, Bifidobacterium bifidum, among others. Visit our store to buy the most potent high-quality maintenance probiotic available direct to thje public.
- Natural Antifungals: There are many natural substances that are antifungal, including: Caprylic acid, garlic oil2, oregano oil3, Tea tree oil4, Neem oil.5