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Candida: What is it?
It sounds a little scary, but in simple terms, Candida is a yeast organism (normally found on the skin, in the mouth, gut, and other mucus membranes) that causes infection when our natural resistance to its overgrowth is reduced. You may be more familiar with the terms thrush, oral thrush, yeast infection, fungal infection – these are all Candida infections, just with slightly less attractive names! However you may not necessarily see visible signs of an infection, many symptoms can easily go undiagnosed such as ‘brain fog’ or simply feeling lethargic, in fact, it is estimated that 70% of people have Candida overgrowth in their intestines, mouths or on their skin. (A comprehensive list of Candida symptoms is outlined below.)
Luckily Candida can be easily managed. However it becomes more serious in immunocompromised patients, such as those with cancer, serious burns, or AIDS, where infection by Candida of internal organs can occur.
So, what causes the imbalance?
The Candida organism can become capable of causing illness when your body’s ability to contain it proves ineffective and consequently allows the yeast to spread, causing an overgrowth. This can happen either internally or externally, such as on the skin and in and around the oral and vaginal cavities. Many health practitioners agree that internal Candida infection is very common, often left undiagnosed, and possibly the cause of many external infectious Candida conditions.
The following factors might increase the likelihood of a Candida overgrowth occurring:
- Ingestion of antibiotics from meat and animal products
- Excess consumption of sugar and sugar containing products
- Diabetes mellitus
- Mercury from mercury amalgam dental fillings
- Chlorine from drinking and bathing/swimming water
Recognising Candida Symptoms
Do you feel unwell and lack energy, but doctors tell you that your tests are all ‘fine’? Well then listen up! Candida may be affecting millions of people in a very dramatic way – so could this be the explanation you’ve been looking for?
Listed below are common symptoms which may be your body’s way of signalling Candida overgrowth, but, let’s get something straight, while some of these symptoms scream OVERGROWTH! not all of them are ALWAYS attributed to a localised or systemic fungal infection.
- Fungal skin infections like Jock Itch, ring worm or athletes foot
- White coated tongue / Oral thrush
- Food and chemical sensitivities
- Feelings of anxiety, panic attacks, feeling “blue”
- Hyperactivity, attention problems (Candida is not the cause of ADHD – but it can certainly make things worse. )
- Brain fog, poor concentration, feeling ‘spacey’
- Poor memory
- Irregular bowels; diarrhea or constipation
- Chronic flatulence
- Abdominal cramps alleviated by bowel movements
- Irritable Bowel Syndrome ( Note: some have had amazing results with IBS after dealing with Candida / Yeast Issues )
- Heart burn / Indigestion
- Dry mouth, bad breath
- Extreme lethargy, fatigue
- Eye fatigue, spots in front of eyes, burning or tearing eyes
- Frequent ear infections, pressure, swelling or tingling or ears
- Irritability, mood swings
- Dandruff, dry, itchy skin
- Acne or other skin problems
- Frequent urination
- Frequent vaginal yeast infections, persistent vaginal itching
- Irregular menstruation, endometriosis, PMS
- Poor libido
- Rectal itching
- Symptoms worse after high sugar foods
- Numb, burning or tingling sensations
- Fungal Sinusitis
- Inflammation of the hair follicles (candidiasis folliculitis) of various parts of the body (feet, legs, arms)
- Muscle weakness and pain
- Joint swelling and aches
- Obsessive behaviour
- Sinus problems, post nasal drip
- Swollen lips/face
- Symptoms worse after waking
- Allergy symptoms
No doubt you’ve been putting up with many of these symptoms without realising it could be due to a yeast imbalance. Candida imbalances put a big load on your immune system, and consequently they send your healthy body on a downward spiral, burdening it with many of these symptoms which you may be putting down to other issues such as diet or lifestyle choices. The good news is, getting yeast imbalances under control can make a huge difference on the climb back to optimum health.
The solution to Candida Overgrowth – Candida Cure? Diets?
It’s important to remember that Candida, in its correct form, is actually beneficial to our body, so there is no such thing as being ‘rid of Candida’ or a Candida “cure” – it’s all about getting the yeast back in balance!
You’re probably expecting that this is the part where we tell you to follow an impossible diet to rid you of your Candida overgrowth. Here’s the good news – there’s no need to eat like a rabbit! While you will need to eliminate certain foods which cause you sensitivities, most people will get results with a sensible diet and with the help of a good quality yeast imbalance product.
( Also see our page on Candida Diet Guidelines )
Probiotics are friendly bacteria which can be taken as part of your Candida programme to re-balance the natural flora in the large intestine.
Common probiotic supplements usually focus on a few strains of good bacteria from the Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium families. They are beneficial for restoring balance to the intestinal flora once a yeast overgrowth has been brought back under control and they can also help to prevent a future relapse of candida overgrowth.
Other less well-known strains of friendly bacteria often used in the treatment of a yeast imbalance have the ability to compete for space with the yeast in the digestive tract thus crowding it out and slowly but surely killing it off. These types of good bacteria include the Enterococcus family and the spore-forming bacteria belonging to the Bacillus family. These spores are dormant until they reach the right environment; like a seed that only begins growing when the conditions are right (soil, sun, water). This makes these probiotics a lot more robust to withstand higher temperatures and more easily survive the harsh environment of the stomach. Because these types of bacteria also aid the other strains of good bacteria residing in the body to reestablish, they are effective in re-balancing the gut environment as well as crowding out the yeast.
Enzymes are handy little workers who can assist with keeping a candida overgrowth at bay in a number of ways:
Digestive Enzymes can be taken at each meal and will help breakdown food entering the digestive system more effectively, meaning that more is absorbed, leaving less available to feed the yeast cells.
Systemic Enzymes, also known as proteolytic or protein digesting enzymes, are taken on an empty stomach so they can be absorbed into the bloodstream. Here, they help by circulating and then digesting the numerous toxins released by the dying candida cells. The also assist the immune system indirectly by cleansing the blood so the immune system can get to more important tasks!
Note: Digestive enzymes and systemic enzymes can be taken together as they work in different areas of the body, but they must not be taken at the same time of the day (digestive enzymes with food and systemic enzymes away from food).
Good bacteria? Bad bacteria? Still a little confusing?
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