Candida albicans is a common fungus (yeast) found to inhabit the intestines, mouth, throat, and skin. While once presumed to be relatively harmless, Candida is now being considered a significant health concern, even in people with strong immune systems. Not only does Candida affect the superficial (topical) layers of the skin, but research shows that it can penetrate the epithelial (skin) cells of the mouth. By extension, Candida is likely to damage the epithelial cells that line the gastrointestinal tract and gain access to the entire body via the bloodstream. Research suggests that about seven in ten people have a systemic fungal infection caused by Candida albicans. Furthermore, people with compromised immune systems, even if temporarily compromised, have a significant risk of death if the fungus gets into the bloodstream. Candida infections are responsible for about one in three deaths when the patient’s immune system is compromised, often due to cancer or AIDS.
If you’re someone who is relatively healthy and doesn’t succumb to bacterial or viral infections easily, you may still have a chronic, low-grade Candida infection. Then, if your immune system begins functioning at a sub-par level, the Candida could essentially take over and cause a full-blown infection. As more attention is brought to the importance of gut health and the microbiome (microorganisms inhabiting the gastrointestinal tract), we must realize that ensuring good gut health is critical to overall health, particularly in the case of Leaky Gut Syndrome and the myriad of allergies and autoimmune conditions it initiates. Thus, preventing and even reversing damage to the epithelial cells lining the G.I. tract is vital to keeping any Candida colonies confined to the G.I. tract. And better still, is to destroy the Candida colonies before they can do damage.
So, what exactly is Candida albicans?
Candida albicans is a single-celled organism responsible for causing yeast infections of the skin, mouth, genitals, and the digestive tract. In the gut, small amounts of Candida albicans assist the digestive process; large colonies (groupings of the yeast) are unhealthy. Candida thrives and colonizes by feeding on sugars in food. An abundance of dietary carbohydrates and simple sugars could possibly be contributing to a low-grade Candida infection within the gut. The “perfect storm” occurs when your immunity is compromised (by stress, poor nutrition, lack of sleep, illness, etc.), your microbiome is overwhelmed by Candida colonies, and your gut lining is leaky. When Candida infects the G.I. tract, a significant overgrowth can produce a wide range of symptoms.
How is Candida diagnosed?
Diagnosing Candida can be difficult because the symptoms it produces are often caused by other medical conditions. In fact, many of these are indicative of Leaky Gut Syndrome and systemic inflammation.
- Abdominal pain
- Autoimmune diseases (Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, rheumatoid arthritis, ulcerative colitis and multiple sclerosis)
- Bloating and belching
- Cognitive disorders (poor memory, concentration problems, and brain fog)
- Craving sugar and refined (simple) carbohydrates
- Flatulence (intestinal gas)
- Halitosis (bad breath)
- Joint pain and swelling
- Low libido
- Muscle aches, weakness and paralysis
- Mood swings
- Rectal itching
- Skin conditions (athlete’s foot, fungal nail infections, eczema, psoriasis, scleroderma, and systemic lupus erythematosus)
- Vaginal itching, burning and discharge
Why are Candida infections on the rise?
Candida and other fungal infections are becoming more common due to modern lifestyles and modern medicine which have impacted gut health. First, biodiversity of the microbiome has changed. Overall, there are fewer different species of bacteria, and more pathogenic (“bad”) bacteria than beneficial (“good”) bacteria. This upsets the normal balance and weakens the immune system. Fewer beneficial bacteria are often the result of oral antibiotics and antibiotics in food; the antibiotics kill both good and bad bacteria, but lead to the development of antibiotic resistant bacteria (“superbugs”). Glyphosate-contaminated foods also impact the microbiome by killing off beneficial bacteria. Second, the typical American diet, high in processed foods, simple sugars, and alcohol, creates a smorgasbord for yeast, allowing them to thrive. A lack of mineral-rich foods and an increasingly prevalence of GMOs contribute to an undesirable blood environment (more acidic). Third, and perhaps most important, is the explosion of Leaky Gut Syndrome. When the intestinal wall is “leaky” or permeable, Candida and other microscopic pathogens can escape and enter the bloodstream.
How is Candida treated?
Currently, Candida is treated with anti-fungal medications, yet these drugs have side effects, one of which is creating an acidic environment in the body. As with antibiotics, anti-fungal medications are becoming less effective due to the yeast’s ability to mutate and outsmart our modern drugs. In light of this, it makes more sense to take the dietary approach to treating Candida. Since we know that Candida thrives on sugar, you need to eliminate it from your diet as much as possible. That means avoiding bread, pasta, rice, deserts, soda, alcoholic beverages, and high-sugar fruits. A very strict sugar-free, gluten-free, and casein-free diet for approximately three months is necessary to get the Candida under control. After which, a somewhat less stringent eating plan can be adhered to. Green vegetables (for fiber, vitamins, and minerals) and fermented foods, kefir, and unsweetened yogurt (for probiotics) should also be included along with omega3-rich foods to help balance the gut microbiome.
During this entire time, the diet should be supplemented with powdered bovine colostrum. Colostrum-LD® is a proven source of lactoferrin, lysozyme, and lactoperoxidase. These substances have anti-fungal and anti-microbial properties which allow them to destroy pathogens and prevent infection. Daily supplementation will help keep Candida in check and heal the gut lining so that no microbes crossover in to the bloodstream. Some have even suggested that managing the microbes in the gut, including yeast, is more realistic than the nuclear option of trying to eliminate absolutely every pathogenic microbe. Such an approach utilizes Colostrum-LD® and a healthy diet with minimal high-carb or high-sugar foods. Once you get your yeast under control, the unpleasant symptoms will go away, and you’ll experience more energy and vitality with less pain.
- Wächtler B, Citiulo F, Jablonowski N, Förster S, Dalle F, Schaller M, Wilson D, Hube B. Candida albicans-epithelial interactions: dissecting the roles of active penetration, induced endocytosis and host factors on the infection process. PLoS One. 2012;7(5):e36952.
- Biologists Id Defense Mechanism of Leading Fungal Pathogen: Knowledge of Candida’s Defenses Could Lead to New Yeast Infection Therapies. EurekAlert! June 25, 2004. https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2004-06/ru-bid062504.php