How Candida Can Affect Your Health and How To Help Control It
It has been said that the immune system is housed in the gut.* If you’ve ever suffered through a gastrointestinal illness, you know this is a reality. Gut health is essential to overall health and it can quickly become a source of illness.
Within the gut lives a colony of bacteria known as friendly bacteria which can be responsible for digestion and helping keep intestinal health in check.* When these bacteria aren’t fed what they need to live in a welcoming environment or when they become overran with bad microorganisms, they may begin to die off and our health might begin to decline.
Candida albicans are a group of bad microorganisms which are yeast that may grow rapidly in gut environments that welcome them. This yeast is present in small amounts on a normal basis, but candida overgrowth may cause a host of issues.
Candida Overgrowth Symptoms
Overgrowth of candida can take place in just about any area of the body. On the skin it may appear as a rash or skin infection. Other candida albicans overgrowth may appear as nail fungus, athletes foot, yeast infections, and oral thrush. As it pertains to gut health, it might cause many more issues with widespread side effects.
Candida albicans releases metabolites like ammonia and acetaldehyde as the colonies grow and spread in the gut. They then may create a wide range of symptoms which can include fatigue and brain fog.* As it becomes the dominant microorganism in the intestines, it may weaken the intestinal walls.
This weakening of the gut walls may cause chronic inflammation and allergies and may then spread to appear as topical infections in other parts of the body. This weakening also can allow candida, metabolites, and food particles to exit the intestines and enter the bloodstream resulting in food allergies.*
Causes of Candida Overgrowth
We all have naturally occurring levels of candida albicans in our intestines. This low level can cause no adverse health reactions until it is able to outgrow the good microorganisms in our gut. We may be more susceptible to overgrowth of candida during times of high stress, poor diet, or while taking antibiotics that may kill off the good bacteria that work to keep candida levels in check.
While diet might impact our gut health, some medications we take in can also cause a negative balance between good bacteria and yeast. Oral contraceptives, antibiotics, proton-pump inhibitors (PPI’s), and even topical corticosteroids may decrease the body’s good bacteria to a point where candida is able to grow rapidly.
Sources of probiotics include: yogurt, kefir, buttermilk, kimchi, miso and more.
The Candida Diet Guidelines
Diet can play a larger role in our overall health than we give it credit for, even in the twenty-first century where science is able to show more effectively how diet can influence our health. A diet high in refined carbohydrates, alcohol, sugar, and low in probiotics is more likely to be a breading ground for candida overgrowth to occur.
Nutritionists and researchers are finding the growth of candida albicans can be controlled to an extent by diet. A diet called, The Candida Diet, and it gives 11 simple guidelines to follow when you are attempting to kill off the candida in your body.*
Those 11 steps include:
1. Avoid added sugars - sodas, candy, processed foods, etc.
2. Eat non-starchy vegetables – leafy greens, broccoli, and cauliflower.
3. Eat low sugar fruits – apples, pears, avocados.
4. Eat lots of fermented foods – sauerkraut, yogurt, kefir, kombucha, kimchi
5. Decrease your caffeine intake
6. Eat gut-healthy foods – bone broth, coconut oil, cabbage juice.
7. Eat healthy proteins and fat – eggs, wild caught fish, beans, quinoa, nuts.
8. Avoid gluten
9. Decrease your alcohol intake
10. Eat nutrient rich foods – foods that are high in nutrients and low in calorie.
11. Drink lots of water – at least half your body weight in ounces of water.
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Candida Albicans: An Opportunistic Microorganism
Candida is opportunistic meaning it adjusts and adapts to environments in order to survive. It is able to change forms depending on the pH of the intestines which it lives. It CAN also release metabolites to change the pH of its environment to better support its survival.
Candida albicans is able to protect itself through biofilms. These protective coverings are formed around the microorganism and keep it from experiencing the harsh effects of our immune system.
Candida albicans existence is normal but is by no means useful, especially when overgrowth occurs. Following a low refined carbohydrate and sugar diet may help you to avoid unnecessary candida overgrowth leading to poor health outcomes.