If you have an interest in taking greater responsibility for your health, candidiasis is a condition you should be aware of, as it often goes undetected. Candida or yeast, as it is commonly known, usually lives in our gut where it is kept under control by the beneficial bacteria (acidophilus) that live there as well. However, if the friendly bacteria in the body diminishes through the use of antibiotics, or if they diminish for some other reason, then an overgrowth of yeast may invade the body, at which time many health problems can develop.
In recent years there as been an alarming increase in yeast related problems and opportunistic infections caused by different Candida species, especially candida albicans. Patients with weakened immune systems are especially at risk for developing infections from this fungus, which initially colonizes the intestinal tract but may then spread to other organs.
What is Candida
In today's world, we hear considerable talk about candidiasis from the natural health community, yet for the most part it's a condition that often goes undetected. What exactly is this condition and is there something that can be done to either alleviate the symptons or rid the body of it entirely?
Often referred to as yeast infection or thrush, the simplest way to explain this is to say that candida is a fungal infection, with the most common variety being called candida albicans. This fungus is generally present on the skin, but it is also found in mucous membranes including the vagina, mouth, intestines or rectum. Generally speaking, Candidiasis is not a critical health issue, but if not controlled, this insidious fungus can find its way into the blood stream and infect critical organs. If this yeast overgrowth goes undetected and is left without treatment, it can lead to very severe illness.
Candida on the Rise
Although Candida can be found in nearly all people, in recent years, several serious categories of Candidiasis have become more widespread. The condition may seem to occur without any obvious reason, although many people find that after taking antibiotics prescribed by their doctors, candida multiplies and proliferates. This is because antibiotics tend to kill the positive bacteria in our intestines that usually keeps the candida in-check. This is why many knowledgeable individuals will begin taking acidophilus capsules during the time they take their antibiotics, and for a length of time after.
Causes of Yeast Overgrowth
As a society, our physical bodies are constantly under attack by the pollutants in the air, through toxins in our water and through pesticides and chemicals in our food. Add to that stress hormonal imbalances, frequent infections, food allergies, antibiotics, poor nutrition or substance abuse and yeast overgrowth can become rampant. Simply stated, candidiasis occurs because our defenses have been greatly compromised. In other words, when our immune systems have been weakened from any of the above, an overgrowth of yeast can occur.
In a healthy biological system with an appropriate pH and beneficial bacteria inhabiting the gut, yeast fights to survive. For various reasons, however, if the system becomes unstable, Candida grows very quickly under the following conditions:
- repeated rounds of antibiotics
- radiation therapy
- diets high in processed food
- poor digestion
Some of the general symptoms of a person suffering from Candida overgrowth might be fatigue, or a sense of feeling ill with the inability to pinpoint exactly what is wrong. For others, symptoms may include difficulty concentrating or feeling irritable for no obvious reason. Other individuals may feel a sense of drowsiness, muscular weakness, pain in the joints and even tightness in the chest. For some it may be bloating, abdominal cramps, diarrhea or excessive mucus in the stool.
Some patients with candida overgrowth report symptoms such as a recurring sore throat, dry mouth, bad breath, nasal itching, coated tongue, congestion, coughing, fluid in the ears, burning or tears in the eyes and possibly not hearing well. Others may find they're having frequent bladder infections or a burning sensation when urinating. For women, there might be vaginitis or vaginal discharge. Still other patients develop a surprising increase in food related allergies and intolerance. Some alternative health practitioners attribute this to a condition called leaky gut.
There seems to be a wide constellation of symptoms and conditions that can occur due to yeast overgrowth. One of these conditions is called Leaky Gut Syndrome. How does leaky gut syndrome occur? In theory, this controversial condition is caused when candida albicans starts to proliferate in the human body. When this happens, it can change into a mycelia fungal form. In this form, the candida will grow roots called rhizoids that borough deep into the intestines. With their rhizoids in place, toxins and potential allergens can easily be pumped into the blood of unsuspecting individuals. Two of the more potentially damaging toxins produced by candida are ethanol, which can lead to symptoms of intoxication when blood levels are high, and acetaldehyde, which can impede numerous body functions.
As seen above, now that the rhizoids have created a vast checker board of holes in the intestines, tiny particles of protein and toxin can pass through and enter the bloodstream. Foods, nutrients, and proteins are of course meant to be confined to the gastrointestinal system. When they “leak out” through a damaged gut, a host of problems can begin. For example, if your immune system spots food proteins in your bloodstream where they don’t belong, it may begin to attack those proteins as though they were other dangerous invaders like viruses or bacteria. Moreover, the immune system will then remember these otherwise neutral substances as being a threat, so the next time you ingest the given protein, your body attacks it. Hence, a new food allergy is born.Click here for more information on leaky gut caused by candidiasis
In order to properly identify this condition, a full and complete medical history needs to be taken and it is imperative that patients begin a healthy diet. In order to take this approach it is often necessary to see an alternative health care doctor. This is because all too frequently conventional doctors fail to make a connection between candida and a patient’s illness. This is most likely due to the fact that candida can masquerade as a variety of other illnesses. For example, a patient may show symptoms of a disease such as fibromyalgia for several months or even years and be diagnosed and treated as such. After no improvement, another more knowledgeable physician may order a stool sample and find elevated levels of candida. The patient’s illness may then be treated properly.
Ironically, healing may begin with you telling your doctor that you suspect candida as the source of your health problem. Although many doctors are skeptical of candidiasis, they will listen to your concerns as they try to pinpoint your health problem. After you have your physician’s attention, a stool sample may be ordered in which the presence of yeast can be identified. Finally, your doctor may decide that an anti-fungal medication is warranted.
There are several pathways that lead towards the healing of Candidiasis. One very important way for a person dealing with yeast overgrowth is through the avoidance of certain types of foods. Avoiding sugar and junk foods is imperative since that is what yeast needs to flourish. Remember, you want to feed yourself and not the yeast.
An anti-yeast diet can include foods such as: yogurt containing live acidophilus cultures, meats, vegetables, whole grains, and fresh garlic. Foods to be avoided would include yeast containing products like cheese, mushrooms, bread, and beer.