What do weight gain, fatigue, recurrent vaginal infections and crazy carb cravings all
have in common? They are all symptoms of a difficult to diagnose and still controversial
disease caused by microorganisms called yeast (Candida albicans) (Matsen 2004).
Yeasts are present in the large intestine at normal non-harmful levels. They are
maintained at these levels by the acidophilus bacteria also present in the large intestine
(Campbell, 2004). Diet, the immune system and many other factors such as antibiotic
use play a large role in the relationship to candida infections.
What are the most common symptoms of Candida?
- Skin fungal infections
- Chronic fatigue, brain fog, and forgetfulness
- Digestive issues such as diarrhea, constipation, or bloating
- Mood swings, irritability, anxiety, or depression
- Autoimmune diseases such as Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, rheumatoid arthritis and more.
When yeast cells reach maximum capacity in the large intestine they desperately
seek out other food sources. The first stop for the yeast to re-establish themselves is in
the small intestine. There, in the small intestine, yeast threads, which developed from
yeast buds in the large intestine, start making holes in the small intestine allowing yeast
chemical by-products to seep into the bloodstream (Dean, 2008). While yeast itself is
not small enough to fit through the holes, many of its toxins do and according to Dean
(2008) may “trigger wide spread inflammatory and allergic reactions”. These toxins can
block proper thyroid function, cause hormone imbalance and cause symptoms of PMS.
Usually when our bodies are healthy, our immune system is in charge of keeping
Candida and our natural bacteria environment in check. As with anything that is
weakened, it becomes subject to invasion by other powerful sources. The same is for
our bodies, when the immune system is compromised; our defenses are weakened.
Some of these factors may come from uncontrollable external sources such as damp
climate or the quality of air we breathe, and some come from controllable ones such as
the overuse of antibiotics, stress, poor diet and lack of proper exercise.
Although both the overuse of antibiotics and stress play significant roles in yeast
overgrowth, inadequate nutrition can contribute the most harm and create an excellent
environment to harbor an abundance of yeast colonies. Diets that are high in
carbohydrates, refined or natural sugars and processed foods contain precisely the
necessary nutrients required for yeast development.
Therapies to treat yeast overgrowth
- Diet Change
Switching to a low carbohydrate diet will help starve candida by depriving it from its main energy source. Antifungals and specific supplements will aid in eliminating yeast.
- “Friendly” bacteria support
Replenishing your gut with probiotics will help keep candida under control.
- Heal your gut
Avoiding inflammatory foods will help heal leaky gut and prevent Candida from exiting your intestine and making its way into your bloodstream.
Some traditional therapies to treat Candida albicans and other mycoses have
become ineffective due to the growing resistance of these organisms. It is imperative to
incorporate permanent lifestyle changes and modifications to help increase the efficacy
of these therapies.