What is Candida?

Candida albicans is a single celled fungus, sugar fermenting yeast that lives in the intestinal microbiome in normal healthy amounts. It thrives in environments that are dark, moist, and warm. It can be found in areas of the body, such as the skin, mouth, throat, gastrointestinal tract, and vaginal area. Candida grows in colder, wetter climates and typically does not thrive in hot, dry climates. This makes Vancouver a great area for candida to thrive as we experience a lot of moist, muggy weather. 

Candida serves our body well by helping our immune system identify and eliminate pathogenic bacteria. However, there are certain diet and lifestyle factors that can contribute to an overgrowth of candida albicans, which is also referred to as candidiasis or candida. When the normally harmless candida albicans gets a chance to proliferate it can release immune suppressing toxic waste products within the body. These toxins get absorbed into the bloodstream, which can create an array of symptoms and body system imbalances to its host. At this point the candida albicans is now considered a pathogen, which will continue to colonize, feed off the human body, and upset the ecological balance of the gastrointestinal tract until eradicated.

When candida albicans gets a chance to thrive in the human body for long periods of time it is given the opportunity to turn into its hyphal form. For the reason being that, candida is a polymorphic organism, meaning it has the ability to take on different morphologies and forms. It can form long filaments that are root like and rod-shaped. This allows Candida to travel and spread to other areas of the body, penetrating deep into the epithelial layer (innermost layer of the gut) and other tissues or organs. It can change back and forth between forms, which can make candida extremely difficult to eradicate.

Candida can produce estrogen-like substances, which can contribute to estrogen dominance. Candida can also metabolize progesterone, which further contributes to a higher amount of estrogen circulating within the body. When estrogen is not opposed by progesterone, the unopposed estrogens can exacerbate PMS symptoms and stimulate the growth of cysts, fibroids, and tumors. Candida can play a role in endometriosis, ovarian and uterine cysts, and breast cancer. 

Candida can flood the system with a mycotoxin, acetaldehyde, which can poison the nervous system, joints, and muscles. Acetaldehyde can affect metabolic function, immune system function, and endocrine system function. It can also interfere with a neurotransmitter, acetylcholine, which is associated with memory. These mycotoxins can suppress liver function and increase blood alcohol levels, which is the reasoning behind the candida overgrowth symptom of brain fog. Lastly, candida can stimulate histamine release, which can make allergies and inflammation worse. 

Symptoms

  • Chronic fatigue

  • Cravings for sugar, sweets, fermented foods, alcoholic beverages, and carbonated beverages

  • Constipation, diarrhea, bloating, gas, abdominal pain, indigestion

  • Rectal itching

  • Food sensitivities

  • Access phlegm in nose and throat

  • Weird noises coming from the GI tract

  • Dry, itchy skin, skin rashes, eczema

  • Feeling vaguely unwell

  • Recurrent vaginal, prostate or urinary tract infections (painful urination)

  • Feeling spaced out or having difficulty with memory (brain fog)

  • Hormone imbalances, PMS

  • Lack of libido (sex drive)

  • Mood swings

  • Anxiety

  • Depression

  • Inability to sit still

  • Bladder and kidney infections

  • Yeast infections

  • Headaches, migraines

  • Oral thrush or white tongue, bad breath

  • Dandruff

  • Hyperactivity in children

  • Infected sinuses

  • Muscle tightness, joint pain

Contributing Factors

Antibiotics wipe out all of the good and bad bacteria in our gut. It can take up to 5 years for the gut microbiome to recover after a dosage of antibiotics For some, there can be permanent death of healthy microbes. Without a healthy army of gut bacteria, we are left susceptible to bacteria or fungus overgrowth because we have nothing to fight off the bad guys.

 

What also favours the death of microbes is frequent episodes of diarrhea, whether it be from a pathogen or toxin found in food / water, this will flush out healthy microbes. If you are regularly experiencing loose stools, I highly recommend consulting a Holistic Nutritionist, such as myself, who can assess for candida or parasites.

 

Our diet and lifestyle play a major role in how well our gut microbiome is functioning. A diet high in processed foods, refined carbohydrates, and alcohol contributes to the death of healthy microbes and favours the growth of candida. 

 

Candida overgrowth can also arise from the way that we eat. This can result from eating a higher volume of food than our digestive capacity can handle. Remember, whatever you don’t eat, your gut bugs will! So this can look like overeating at each meal or eating one large meal a day. This can create symptoms of gas, bloating, and indigestion due to the microbes fermenting.

 

If you have a reduced capacity to digest a small amount of food due to the exhaustion of digestive enzymes or stomach acid, this can favour the growth of bad microbes too. We need stomach acid and digestive enzymes for healthy digestion and absorption of nutrients. If you feel extremely full after eating a small amount of food or if you feel like the food you've eaten is just sitting in your stomach and not moving, this can be an indication of low stomach acid. A simple questionnaire or at home test can be useful for assessing stomach acid levels.

Stress is another major contributing factor in the development of candida overgrowth. For the reason being that, stress shuts off our parasympathetic nervous system (rest and digest) and turns on our sympathetic nervous system (fight or flight response), thus impairing digestion, leaving the food in our gut for the microbes to eat. It is important to note that stress can be both internal and external.

  • External being from outside of us → work, bills, deadlines, 

  • Internal being from within us → inflammation, caffeine, past unresolved trauma, processed food diet, etc.

Birth control pills can also favour the overgrowth of yeast. For the reason being that, the liver has to work extra hard to detoxify the extra load of estrogen, which often depletes many crucial nutrients, such as B vitamins (folic acid), magnesium, zinc, iron, beta carotene, vitamin C, and antioxidants in general. The drop in these nutrients can comprise the immune system and liver detoxification. These nutrient deficiencies imbalance gut function as well. We have hormone receptors everywhere in the digestive tract and the added hormones in the body from the pill can affect those receptors, often favouring yeast overgrowth. 

On my Instagram I share an IGTV video about candida. I talk about what candida is, some of the common symptoms, and how it can be diagnosed. As well as, my personal experience with battling candida. Feel free to clink the link below to watch.

https://www.instagram.com/tv/CAIsc_GJCGA/

If you have any questions about candida or if you are interested in learning more about my candida program feel free to send me an email at holisticseedlingnutrition@gmail.com, I would be happy to help you on your healthy journey!

Disclaimer: This is not a substitute for medical advice from a qualified doctor. It is important that you check with your physician before embarking upon any health changes to your diet and lifestyle. It is not within my scope of practice to diagnose, treat, prevent, cure or prescribe remedies for any disease.

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