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 (GI) tract and gain access to the entire body via the bloodstream. Research suggests that about seven in 10 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 a 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 subpar level, 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 and the myriad of allergies and autoimmune conditions it initiates. Thus, preventing and even reversing damage to the epithelial cells lining the GI tract is vital to keeping any Candida colonies confined to the GI tract. And better still, it is important to do everything possible to destroy any 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; conversely, 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 contribute 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.). In this instance, your microbiome is overwhelmed by Candida colonies, and your gut lining is leaky. When Candida infects the GI tract, a significant overgrowth can produce a wide range of symptoms.
Is Candida a Fungus?
The fungus Candida is one of many fungi that live in the body. It generally lives in the mouth or belly or on the skin, and in most instances, does not cause any health problems. But in certain environments, Candida multiplies rapidly and can cause candidiasis.
What Is Candidiasis?
Invasive Candidiasis is an infection caused by the fungus Candida. There are over 20 species of Candida yeasts that can affect various areas of the body, including:
- Mouth: Causes an infection known as thrush. This condition is prevalent in newborns, elderly individuals, and those who have weakened immune systems. It also may affect adults who are receiving cancer treatments, have diabetes, take medications such as corticosteroids or antibiotics, or wear dentures.
- Genitals: Occurs when too much yeast grows in or on the genitals. Candidiasis that affects the genitals is referred to as a yeast infection. It may occur due to diabetes, pregnancy, lubricants, spermicides, or a weakened immune system. Approximately 75% of women experience at least one yeast infection during their lifetime. Rare instances of genital candidiasis have been reported in men as well. A genital yeast infection can be transmitted during sexual activity.
- Bloodstream: Occurs when candida enters the body through the bloodstream; this may happen due to medical equipment or devices. The condition, called invasive candidiasis, enables Candida to travel to the brain, eyes, and heart. It may result in a life-threatening infection, and as such, must be addressed immediately.
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 and systemic inflammation.
Common Candida symptoms include:
- 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
If an individual experiences any of the aforementioned health problems, medical professionals may use a series of tests to identify Candida colonies. These tests include:
- Scrapings or smears from the skin, nails, or oral or vaginal mucosa
- Potassium hydroxide smear or Gram stain
- Endoscopy with or without biopsy
Is Candida Common?
Candida is one of the most common fungi associated with immunocompromised individuals. According to Medscape, oropharyngeal colonization of Candida affects between 30% and 55% of young healthy adults. Additionally, Candida may be found in 40% to 65% of normal fecal flora.
Why Are Candida Infections on the Rise?
Candida and other fungal infections are becoming more common due to modern lifestyles and modern medicine that 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; 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 and allows them to thrive. A lack of mineral-rich foods and an increasingly prevalence of GMOs contributes to an undesirable blood environment (more acidic).
Third, and perhaps most important, is the explosion of LGS. 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 Candida’s ability to mutate and outsmart modern drugs. In light of this, it makes more sense to take a dietary approach to treat 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-, gluten-, and casein-free diet for approximately three months is necessary to get Candida under control. After which, a somewhat less stringent eating plan can be used. 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, you should consider supplementing your diet with powdered bovine colostrum. Colostrum-LD® is a proven source of many powerful bioactives that possess anti-fungal and anti-microbial properties. The substances include:
- Cytokines: These proteins help modulate the immune function and boost cell communication. They also can be anti-inflammatory.
- Immunoglobulins: Colostrum-LD® contains immunoglobulins A, D, E, G, and M, all of which have been shown to neutralize bacteria, toxins, and viruses in the lymph nodes and circulatory system.
- Interleukin: This class of glycoproteins produced by leukocytes helps regulate immune response and inhibit the effect of natural killer (NK) cell activity.
- Lactoferrin: Studies show this iron-binding protein delivers therapeutic benefits for patients dealing with chronic diseases.
- Lysozyme: This hydrolyzing agent acts as an immune system booster that destroys bacteria, viruses, and other harmful pathogens on contact.
- Lactoperoxidase: This enzyme is naturally present in fresh, raw milk and combines with thiocyanate ion and hydrogen peroxide to create a chemical compound that has an antibacterial effect on the body.
- Colostrum Polypeptides (CPs), aka Proline-Rich Polypeptides: These proteins regulate the thymus gland and modulate immune response
- Leucocytes: These white blood cells help stimulate the production of interferon, a group of signaling proteins that respond to bacteria, parasites, and viruses, and reduce the risk of viral reproduction and penetration of cell walls.
Daily supplementation of Colostrum-LD® may help the body keep Candida in check and support a healthy gut lining so that no microbes crossover into 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 should go away, and you’ll likely experience more energy and vitality with less pain or discomfort.This article was brought to you by Sovereign Laboratories, a world leader in the development of liposomal delivery to maximize the bioavailability of our dietary supplements.