“All disease begins in the gut” - Hippocrates
Candida alblicans are symbiotic (diverse organisms that live together) microbes which has co-evolved with humans.
Candida albicans in particular, is a yeast that we all have living in our intestines, urinary tract and vagina (for you girls). It is the most common yeasts in the human body. It is usually kept under control with the friendly lactobacillus and bifidobacteria in our gut. When it gets out of control and overgrows, it can overpopulate the bowel and other parts of the digestive tract such as oesophagus, mouth and genito -urinary tract and also can become systemic, which is known as candidiasis.
“When allowed to proliferate, candida alblicans has the ability to change from its normal yeast- fungal form to a mycelial – fungal form. The mycelial fungal form of candida produces rhizoids, which are long, root like components that are able to pierce the walls of the digestive tract and break down the protective barriers between the intestines and the blood. Penetration of the intestinal wall by fungal candida contributes to increased intestinal permeability and systemic candida infection.” (1)
Candida produces alcohol and acetaldehyde, which are toxic by-products, and cause the ‘hung over’ feeling and fatigue that many people experience. This can cause an extra burden to the immune system and liver.
Symptoms will vary from person to person and depend on how long the person has been suffering and where their inherent weaknesses are. They can include;
Gastrointestinal disturbances such as diarrhoea, bloating, flatulence, constipation, nausea
Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
Fibromyalgia or chronic fatigue sydrome
Joint aches and pains
Anal and/or vaginal itching
Carbohydrate and/or sugar cravings
Sensivity to mould can be related to candidiasis
How does candida overgrow?
There are many factors that let candida overgrow. Common causes of candida overgrowth are;
Oral contraceptive pill use and changes in hormones
Poor diet, high in sugar processed foods and carbohydrates
Decreased or poor immune function
Low stomach acid
Decreased gut motility and poor digestive function
Altered intestinal pH
It is also seen in some disease states such as;
Grave’s disease (auto immune hyperthyroidism)
Diverticular disease/ diverticulitis
Chronic skin disorders
This what candida looks like in your blood;
The candida buds are white. The other larger round circles are red blood cells.
Leaky gut or intestinal permeability.
Candida can lead to intestinal permeability or ‘leaky gut’. We have a protective intestinal barrier and when it becomes damaged, it becomes leaky, where the mucosal surface lets pathogens, toxins, proteins and antigens through the intestinal wall into the blood stream with detrimental effects.
Leaky Gut could be implicated as a primary contributor to asthma, food allergies, chronic sinusitis, eczema, hives, migraines, irritable bowel syndrome, fungal disorders, fibromyalgia, and inflammatory joint disorders including rheumatoid arthritis. It also contributes to PMS, uterine fibroid, breast fibroids, chronic fatigue syndrome and pediatric immune deficiencies.
Candida can be difficult to treat as it can become resistant to treatment, either conventional medical or naturopathic. This is because its produces a ‘biofilm’ to protect itself against invasion, like antibiotic resistant bacteria does.
To Diet or not to diet…
The “anti candida diet” should not be used alone. This is because candida needs to be killed, and cannot be starved just by simply changing your diet.
An anti candida diet along with the suitable treatment plan for the individual is very important.
The most important foods to avoid are sugar (including honey, and other natural sugars), wheat, processed foods and dairy products. Alcohol contains sugar and needs to be avoided and so does coffee. Some people with Candida infections can also develop an intolerance to yeasts, and find avoiding yeasts and fermented foods helpful. These include bread, vinegar, pickles, alcohol, vegemite, mushrooms, cheese, processed meats, peanuts, and old nuts which can be rancid and mouldy.
Kill off that nasty yeast…
Natural anti fungal agents include herbs such as, garlic, andrographis, olive leaf, golden seal, phellodendron, and Pau D’arco . For resistant biofilms oregano, thyme and rosemary oils are effective. Caprylic acid and lauric acid found in organic coconut oil can help kill candida. Adding liberal amounts to your diet and if needed, using coconut oil vaginal pessaries can give great welcome relief.
Healing the leaky gut and restoring a good balance of bowel flora is imperative. Healing a leaky gut can take time and a change in lifestyle and diet. There are many substances to use such as cucurmin and L- glutamine.
Correcting the terrain
To inhibit candida overgrowing, your ‘internal terrain’ needs to be improved as candida can only overgrow in an unhealthy one. Normalising your bowel habit is a great start. You should have at least one complete bowel movement a day.
Probiotics (the beneficial bacteria) come in many strains and some are more beneficial for people with candida overgrowth than others. Prebiotics such as arabinogalactans and slippery elm (these are both barks) help us produce good bowel flora and eating a high fibre diet (from vegetables) will help promote beneficial bowel bacteria. If leaky gut is a known, then there are certain D-lactate producing probiotics and fermented foods that should be avoided as they can further enhance the leaky gut. Green tea and grapeseed extracts inhibit the growth of organisms in the gut.
Low stomach acid or hypochlorydia can contribute to candida overgrowth. A good digestive enzyme complex with betaine hydrochloride will ensure you are digesting foods properly. Correcting the pH in the stomach, intestines and blood is important. A good diet and a good probiotic will influence this pH. Avoiding antacids (for example Quik–eze) and stomach acid blockers (such as Nexium or Losac) is imperative also as these will inhibit proper digestion of foods and alter the digestive pH.
The immune system needs to be supported to help fight candida. This may include taking vitamin C, vitamin D, zinc and herbs such as Astragalus and Echinacea and maybe bovine colostrum, if tolerated. Reducing or avoiding stress and getting plenty of rest help your body fight the infection further.
As fighting candida needs a holistic and aggressive approach to be successful, I would recommend the help of a knowledgeable naturopath. I can be of such help. This also means you can monitor your progress and know how long to continue your treatment plan for. I have helped my patients with candida of over 15 years now with great success.
If you would like help, please book a phone or Skype consultation or if you are in South Australia you can visit me at my clinic in Glenelg South.