Candida, what is it? To answer that, let’s take a look at a piece of the human digestive system. Your ‘stomach’ is really made up of three main areas.
- The stomach, this is where food first ends up after the esophagus.
- The small intestine which both digests food and absorbs nutrients
- The large intestine which absorbs nutrients and moves waste
It’s the large intestine we’re interested in. This organ contains hundreds of different types of bacteria. At birth, our gut is sterile and as soon as we take our first breath we begin the process of populating the gut flora, its first job being to build the immune system for our entry into planet earth. Life in general and breastfeeding help to populate the intestinal flora further. The functions of this gut flora include digesting certain carbohydrates, increasing the growth of intestinal cells, preventing the growth of pathogens in the gut, assisting in the operation of the immune system, synthesising various vitamins, metabolising dietary carcinogens and assisting in preventing allergies and inflammatory bowel diseases. We can totally function without our gut flora, but life would be very different and not very pleasant.
10% of us are human cells. 90% of us are microbial cells. We are literally walking bacterial beasts!
Among the flora we also have fungi and yeasts, and among them is one called Candida, the most common being Candida Albicans.
Flora, fungi and yeasts co-habitate perfectly well throughout our lives and we remain well when this happens, it’s a happy state of symbiosis. Problems arise when the balance is disrupted to create a not so happy state of dysbiosis. If the balance is tipped in favour of the proliferation of Candida Albicans, then we end up with Candidaisis.
But how do we end up in a state of dysbiosis?
- Usually a compromised immune system puts us at risk. Seriously immunocompromised persons such as those with cancer, HIV or transplant are at very high risk, and an abundance of C.Albicans can be life threatening.
- Antibiotics are another cause of dysbiosis. Antibiotics kill good and bad flora and when the numbers of good dwindle then C.Albicans is left to proliferate more freely. And don’t forget, some meat also contains antibiotics which will also affect the balance.
- Other medications like anti-inflammatories and the contraceptive alter the state of the flora in the gut.
- Stress will damage your gut
- Poor food consumption, and consuming foods containing antibiotics (like cage fed chicken, eggs etc) will also disrupt the bacterial balance
Usually C.Albicans will pop up in localised areas as thrush (oral, genital, dermal) but what we’re interested in here is the concept of C.Albicans overgrowth in the gut resulting in ‘generalised illness’.
Before we continue any further, it’s important to note that Candidaisis is a serious medical condition for some people, any symptom I describe forthwith deals with theories and concepts that are somewhat debated.
C.Albicans live in their own waste. They feed from the sugars, yeasts and fungi that we consume and also feed off our own cellular proteins. Then they eliminate the waste into our bodies as toxins. The whole environment is acidic, and devoid of oxygen, which is the perfect environment for C.Albicans to thrive in. Things like stress, caffeine, and acid forming foods also add to this acidic environment.
There are a huge range of symptoms hypothesised and reported: Fatigue, PMS, depression, irritability, IBS, urinary problems, asthma, allergies, muscle pain, foggy brain, dizziness, craving sugar, bread or alcohol, headaches, tiredness, weight gain...and the list goes on. These are also symptoms of an overly acidic body, and relief can be found through an alkalising diet. Remember that C.Albicans produce acidic waste and thrive in this environment. In general, these waste products invade our healthy tissue and C.Albicans basically eat our food, which you could imagine is going to leave us not feeling so great. It is reported that fat cells increase with an increase of toxins in the body, they do this to package up the toxins and keep them away from our organs. Many people have found weight loss relief by releasing their body from the toxic build up without ‘dieting’
Typically, people report feeling generally unwell with no relief from repeated visits to doctors.
Search for Dr Crooks Candida Questionnaire for a great place to start assessing your body. Or contact me for an appointment.
So now we know what it is, how it lives and what it can do to us. How do we fix it?
- Starve it. Eliminating its food source is a great start, and the main things are sugars, yeasts, fungi and fermented products.
- Kill its environment. Eliminate acid forming foods and emotions such as caffeine, drugs, stress etc and feed the body with alkalising foods, supplements and emotions.
- Bomb it. There are a number of herbal remedies available which are anti-fungal and assist the starving process.
- Elminate it. Lots of water and fibre will help with the elimination process.
- Repopulate the area. A good quality probiotic will help repopulate the good flora in the gut. You will also be wanting to repair the damage to the gut lining.
It’s a process that requires dedication and consistency. You cannot do a half-pie job on this one, you need to completely rebalance the good and bad in the gut before you can go back to eating your ‘normal’ diet. This is not a diet that you can cheat on or have ‘just a small treat’. The great thing is, that you don’t need to follow portion sizes, you are less likely to overeat on a diet like this as it is nourishing your body with the nutrition it has been craving.