Candidiasis (can di di’ a sis) is a systematic overgrowth of a naturally occurring yeast called Candida albicans (Candida). Under normal circumstances, Candida lives in our intestinal tract along with at least 160 other species of bacteria and yeast. Collectively, these are known as our microbiome. The number of cells in our microbiome (one hundred trillion) vastly outnumber our human cells (ten trillion). We may be outnumbered, however this microbiome is vital to our survival constituting as much as 80 percent of our immune system.
Our microbiome is initially inoculated as we travel through the birth canal. Human breast milk has a high concentration and diversity of sugars called oligosaccharides, which are known to feed our healthy bacteria and yeast. Children who are born via caesarean section and then raised on commercial formula start life with a disadvantage. These children may suffer more often from thrush and diaper rash, both of which are the result of a Candidiasis.
Our microbiome is responsible for activating genes that allow us to digest our mother’s milk and later the complex sugars and starches in plants. These bacteria also produce vitamins and break down unusual and diverse chemicals. People from different regions of the world have different strains of bacteria that help them adapt to their unique environments and the foods that they traditionally eat. As adults, our microbiome becomes relatively stable, but its composition depends on the food we eat.
As long as there is a good variety of species, the beneficial bacteria and yeast keep everything in balance and our microbiome remains in homeostasis. Problems occur when Candida is not kept in check and it grows out of control.
Candida albicans is a dimorphic lifeform, which means it has two stages in its life cycle.
Stage One: Candida begins as a simple sugar-fermenting, budding yeast which plants itself inside your body, robbing you of vital nutrients, while poisoning you with metabolic toxins.
Stage Two: If allowed to spread, Candida morphs into a deadly fungus. This fungus sends tendrils out into the walls of your digestive tract and causes irritation that leads to leaky gut syndrome. These yeast colonies, which I call Yeasty Beasties, release powerful toxins into the bloodstream and become the root cause of many disease states, such as everything from debilitating brain fog to cancer and multiple sclerosis.
Dr. Tullio Simoncini, a board certified oncologist, believes that cancer is caused by an overgrowth of Candida and other yeasts. He successfully treats patients with a solution of sodium bicarbonate (baking soda). His book, Cancer is a Fungus, is a very enlightening read.
Ann Boroch writes about curing her multiple sclerosis with an anti-Candida diet in Healing Multiple Sclerosis: Diet, Detox & Nutritional Makeover for Total Recovery.
Once the second phase of the Candida cycle is triggered, it spreads like the plague, destroying your immune system one day at a time.
“Candida especially loves sugar, which comes in many forms. Even too much fruit can become high-sugar impact and feed candida. Other strategies include reducing stress levels (stress especially impacts your gut), eating fermented foods as well as garlic, and taking a few key supplements include a high-dose probiotic, berberine, and a synergistic formula that includes glutamine, quercetin, and other gut-healing nutrients.” says J. J. Virgin, celebrity nutrition and fitness expert.
Top lifestyle choices that can help prevent Candidiasis:
- Avoid long term exposure to antibiotics.
Broad spectrum antibiotics taken for respiratory, urinary or ear infections are especially harmful because they destroy the Candida-controlling bacteria, as well as the targeted disease-causing bacteria. Overuse of pharmaceutical antibiotics is a major factor in Candida taking hold; in fact, some sources say that it can take one year to rebuild beneficial flora in the intestines after one round of commonly-prescribed antibiotics.
If you must take a prescribed course of antibiotics, follow it with at least three to six months of supplementation with the best probiotic supplement you can afford. Using a probiotic containing Lactobacillus Acidophilus along with a diet high in naturally fermented foods will repopulate your microbiome with healthy bacteria.
Dietary exposure to antibiotics occurs when we eat a diet high in conventionally raised or factory farmed animals. Animals in confined feedlots are given antibiotics preventatively. These antibiotics remain present in the meat we consume. If you choose to eat meat, pork, dairy, or poultry, switch to Certified Organic humanely raised meats and wild caught fish from sustainable fisheries.
- Avoid long term use of birth control and steroids.
Steroids such as Cortisone, or any other cortisone-type drugs, suppress the immune system’s ability to fight Candida overgrowth. Hormone imbalances caused by birth control pills or frequent pregnancies also favour Candida overgrowth.
- Eat a nutrient-rich diet.
Boost your immune system by eating a balanced diet rich in vitamins, minerals and essential fatty acids (Omega 3-6). Eat lots of fruits and vegetables, which nourish you along with the good bacteria. Candida reduces the absorption of certain nutrients such as: vitamin D, B12 and Zinc.
- Drastically reduce dietary sugars.
Candida feeds on sugar. Eliminating simple sugars, highly processed starches and grains, alleviates inflammation and starves out the Candida. Reduce processed foods which contain lots of high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) and other simple sugars. Give up the soda pop for good. Try probiotic rich water kefir or kombucha tea instead.
- Eat lots of naturally lacto-fermented foods or take a probiotic supplement regularly.
Adding the friendly bacteria Lactobacillus Acidophilus is a must. Whether from natural antifungal supplements proven to treat Candida or from foods rich in Lactobacillus Acidophilus, you need a constant input of the friendly bacteria to keep the harmful bacteria and yeast under control, to heal the gut lining and help you absorb nutrients. Studies suggest that keeping a ratio of 85 percent good to bad bacteria will prevent an occurrence of Candidiasis.
Include lots of naturally lacto-fermented (non-pasteurized) foods such as sauerkraut, kimchi, plain yogurt, milk kefir, water kefir, and kombucha tea to keep your healthy bacteria happy.
- Reduce stress.
Chronic stress contributes to a suppressed immune system. A weakened immune system cannot handle its job and gets overrun with pathogens very quickly. This increases overall gut inflammation leading to increased permeability of the intestinal lining which can result in leaky gut and Candidiasis.
These simple steps will not only reduce your chances of a Candidiasis, but they are the foundation of healthy habits that can improve all areas of your life.
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