What Is It?
The presence of Candida albicans, a benign sugar-fermenting yeast, in various parts of the body—the skin, the genitals and especially the intestinal tract—is entirely normal. In small amounts, this yeast is an integral part of the intestinal ecology and, when kept in balance with other microorganisms, does no harm. Candidiasis, however, is a complex medical syndrome resulting from an overgrowth of Candida albicans. This yeast (or single-celled fungus) is one of 600 strains of Candida, and is among the minority that can become pathogenic (disease-causing).
With candidiasis, normally harmless yeasts proliferate and change into a mycelial or hyphal form where they take root in tissues and colonize. This upsets the ecological balance in the gastrointestinal tract. When the friendly gut bacteria that normally control Candida die off and Candida gains an upper hand, local problems can result—in the vagina (yeast infection), throat (thrush), nails (fungal infection), bladder (candidal cystitis), etc. When Candida colonizes in the gut, it can cause problems throughout the entire body due to the fact that potent, immune-suppressing toxins are absorbed into the bloodstream. Candida is actually a form of parasite, an organism that feeds off of the human body and can pollute the system with its toxic waste products if it is present in disproportionate quantities.
What Causes It?
• Immune dysfunction
• Disruption in ratio of good to bad bacteria in the gastrointestinal tract
• Upset in intestinal pH
Immune dysfunction is caused by a number of factors:
• Ingestion of certain drugs (acid-blocking medication, antibiotics and corticosteroids)
• Exposure to toxic metals
• Internal toxins from poor digestion
• Consumption of refined carbohydrates
All of these factors create an imbalance of gut flora called dysbiosis, which can result in reduced or dysregulated immunity leading to candidiasis.
An alteration of the ratio of good to bad bacteria in the GI tract is a very common cause of candidiasis. In fact, the prolonged—and sometimes inappropriate—use (and overuse) of antibiotics is perhaps the most widespread cause of chronic candidiasis today. These drugs suppress not only pathogenic or bad bacteria, but also the friendly bacteria whose job it is to prevent yeast overgrowth. The net result is proliferation of Candida. As Candida proliferates, the fungus releases toxins (waste products called mycotoxins) that further weaken the immune system.
A by-product of Candida digestion of protein is beta-alanine. Beta-alanine is absorbed through the intestinal lining and secreted by the kidneys. It competes for reabsorption with the amino acid taurine in the kidneys and this lowers taurine levels. This is a significant problem because taurine enhances the intracellular uptake of magnesium and potassium. In addition, it helps to bind toxins and remove them from the liver. Thus, it has been clinically observed that patients with candidiasis of the intestinal tract may have problems absorbing magnesium and potassium, despite oral supplementation. (Personal communication with Dr. David Quigg, nutritional biochemist at Doctor’s Data Laboratories.)
While the sources of heavy metals are many and varied, one of the most important with regard to candidiasis is the dental use of mercury. The silver amalgam dental filling routinely used by dentists is actually composed of from 50 to 53 percent mercury. It will be extremely difficult for the person with amalgam fillings to rid the body of Candida because mercury has an antibiotic effect, killing off the friendly bacteria so they cannot control yeast overgrowth.
Yeast-connected illness affects people of all ages and, although both sexes are affected, women are eight times more likely to experience the yeast syndrome. Women may develop vaginal yeast infections following a course of antibiotics, during pregnancy, or while using oral contraceptives. Progestin from birth control pills changes the vaginal lining to make it more hospitable to yeasts, and also causes the release of yeast-feeding sugar into the bloodstream. Candida may be transmitted sexually, and a mother may pass it on to her newborn. Candidiasis in the form of oral thrush and/or diaper rash is common in babies.
Factors that might predispose one to candidiasis include:
• Use of antibiotics
• Use of corticosteroid drugs (which suppress the immune system and permit the overgrowth of yeast)
• A compromised immune system (evident in people with AIDS, cancer and autoimmune diseases, as well as those taking immunosuppressive drugs and those with a heavy body burden of toxins)
• A damp, moldy environment
• A diet high in refined carbohydrates and other yeast-promoting foods
• Presence of mercury-containing silver amalgam fillings in the teeth
• Stress (which suppresses immune function)
• Decreased digestive secretions
• Nutrient deficiency
• Impaired liver function
Also at increased risk for developing yeast infections are patients who have undergone surgical interventions, catheterizations or dialysis, as well as burn victims and those with diabetes mellitus and hypothyroidism.
What Are the Signs and Symptoms?
• Chronic fatigue
• Brain fog
• Food cravings (especially for sweets, fermented foods, alcoholic and carbonated beverages)
• Hyperactivity and learning disabilities in children
• Lack of libido
• Suppressed immune activity or autoimmune disorders
• Muscle aches
• Bladder and kidney infections
• Gas and bloating
• Bad breath
• Rectal itching
• Clogged sinuses/sinusitis
• Burning tongue
• White spots on tongue and in mouth
• Nail infections
• Diaper rash
As mentioned, Candida releases toxic waste products when it proliferates. One mycotoxin produced by Candida is acetaldehyde. Acetaldehyde is toxic to the central nervous system. It also interferes with normal hormone metabolism, affecting the pituitary, thyroid and adrenal glands. Additionally, it has been shown that abnormal gut fermentation by yeast or bacteria can produce increased blood-alcohol levels. These processes explain how Candida can produce “brain fog” symptoms.
It is important to note that Candida is an underlying factor in many, if not most, diseases and conditions. Candida infection must be ruled out when addressing other health conditions.
The development of allergies and other autoimmune disorders is viewed by many progressive physicians and alternative practitioners as a consequence of mycotoxins entering the bloodstream. Normally, the semi-permeable lining of the intestinal tract will prevent contamination of blood with these and other toxins, microorganisms and undigested food particles. However, when the roots of Candida (known as rhizoids) burrow into the intestinal lining, they leave microscopic holes through which these contaminants may pass and enter into the bloodstream traveling throughout the body. The body sees undigested food particles as foreign substances and therefore launches an immune reaction that gives rise to autoantibodies that promote allergic responses, or even worse, autoimmune disease.
Candida toxins are carried through this leaky gut via the bloodstream to the liver. From there, they proceed to other organs of the body—the brain, nervous system, joints, skin, etc. If the liver’s detoxification ability is impaired due to inadequate nutrition and toxic overload, these toxins will not be eliminated and can initiate states of chronic disease.
In addition to suppressing the immune system, Candida also disrupts the endocrine (glandular) system, which has a regulating effect on the body. Leaky gut and dysbiosis, also contribute to the development of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). This condition is becoming more prevalent and can lead to the development of diabetes and even liver failure. These effects make it possible for Candida to cause, or contribute to, virtually any disorder anywhere in the body.
Brenda's Better Way
Candida overgrowth is a condition that I began working with in 1990 when I realized what a massive problem it was. Today the problem is even bigger. After 20 years of saying the same thing again and again to so many people who have issues with Candida, I am amazed at the scope of the problem.
Candida overgrowth is at the base of so many health conditions. To heal from it, a commitment must be made. People who follow an anti-Candida Diet and do some sort of herbal Candida Cleanse for at least three months, and sometimes for as long as a year, get well. Once the Candida is controlled, following a Candida Cleanse for 30 days two times a year is the best maintenance for this condition.
Candida overgrowth in the gut degrades the protective mucosal lining of the GI tract. What many people don’t understand is that the mucosal lining of the intestines needs to properly heal in order for the beneficial bacteria to be able to adhere to its lining. This can take some time, and is why Candida overgrowth can recur. Rebuilding and balancing the gut is essential for the digestive tract to heal properly.
The emotional component of chronic health conditions like Candidiasis is often overlooked. Many cases of declining health are triggered by an emotional event such as a divorce, job loss, or the death of a loved one. Taking care of emotional issues that may underlie poor health is an important aspect of healing.
I also want to clarify the difference between a yeast infection (Candida overgrowth in the vagina) and Candidal dysbiosis (Candida overgrowth in the intestines). Women who have yeast infections very likely may have Candidal dysbiosis as well. But even if a woman does not experience yeast infections, the Candida may still be flourishing in the digestive tract! Candida can grow in many different places, some of them obvious, as with yeast infections and oral thrush, and some of them not so obvious, like in the digestive tract, and even the bloodstream in the most severe cases.
The following anti-Candida guidelines will help to bring the body back into balance:
• Food sensitivity, especially to gluten or dairy
• Mercury toxicity
• Oral infection
• Hormonal imbalance
• Comprehensive stool analysis (CSA)
• Follow the Get Lean Phase of the Skinny Gut Diet for at least 30 to 90 days. This is critical to the success of any anti-Candida program. (For many people, 30 days may not be enough, and for some people it may need to be followed for up to a year.)
• Switch to the Stay Lean Phase of the Skinny Gut Diet, which keeps simple carbohydrates and sugar to a minimum, after the anti-Candida program is completed.
• Clean out your kitchen, getting rid of temptations and replacing them with more appropriate food choices.
• Exercise daily, at least walking.
• Stop drinking alcohol at least until through the program and, after that, only in moderation.
Complementary Mind/Body Therapies
• Colon hydrotherapy is excellent for removing waste from the colon.