Many people have yeast overgrowth in their bodies and don’t even know it. Candida albicans is a type of fungus or yeast which naturally occurs in the human body, and especially in the digestive tract. Candida levels are normally kept in check by microbes found in the digestive system. Each person normally has some yeast and other potentially negative microorganisms in the intestinal area. In ordinary circumstances, this situation is harmless.
Amongst people in the food/sustainable communities, implementation of the GAPS diet – created by Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride is becoming a more and more common method of detoxification in the body to regain health. Before I knew about GAPS, I put myself through what I still call a candida cleanse protocol in 2006 that lasted about two years total in length. While this was going on, I ate lots of meat, poultry, fish, some cheese and lots of butter, olive oil, coconut oil, eggs, vegetables, and almonds and fruits now and then. I did eat grains occasionally – perhaps once a month or less, but they were always sprouted.
During this time, I didn’t know anything about the value of super-foods like cod liver oil, bone broths, or fermented foods like home-made yogurt and kefir or cultured vegetables. I was taking therapeutic-grade probiotics daily, digestive enzymes, and bile salts to make sure I was digesting my food. Because I lack both a gallbladder and an appendix, this was essential. Although not everyone is short these important organs, many people do have compromised digestive function (which can adversely affect these and other organs) due to poor dietary habits which can lead to their failure and ultimate removal.
I thought this cleanse was the way to regain health. But without following a protocol that heals and seals the gut such as the GAPS protocol, healing of the mucosal lining in the gut is incomplete. When this occurs, you will still likely experience symptoms of candida overgrowth.
This is why I highly recommend this protocol as well as using super-foods like cod liver oil, cultured vegetables, and home-made broth from the bones of animals during any type of detox you undertake, whether it be what is termed “candida cleanse” or some other protocol such as GAPS because these foods are highly nutritious, containing many minerals, vitamins, and amino acids which assist the body not only in healing but detox to be able to regain health.
An overview of candida overgrowth
When the immune system function becomes overly-reactive and its ability to effectively function, defend, and maintain a normal environment becomes compromised, that is when yeast have grown out of control in the body. In this type of environment, unfriendly microorganisms multiply rapidly, causing deterioration in digestion and elimination function. Continued growth of harmful microorganisms and parasites, including toxins they produce enter the bloodstream. This causes damage to surrounding tissue and organ systems become involved, and the body is further weakened.
When a yeast overgrowth becomes excessive or reaches a chronic condition, its ability to trigger disease and illness can easily overwhelm the body.
What are the causes of candida yeast overgrowth?
When you experience a yeast overgrowth, the result can be a variety of unpleasant, and some seemingly unrelated symptoms. One of the most common causes of yeast overgrowth is the use and overuse of antibiotics – both directly and indirectly. Antibiotics do not discriminate – besides wiping out harmful bacteria, they also eliminate beneficial or ‘friendly’ micro-organisms (probiotic flora) in the intestinal and vaginal areas, as well as other locations. Beneficial bacteria strains keep yeast levels in check. Without them, yeast can overtake tissue and organ systems.
Sources of antibiotics are not limited to the prescriptions we get from our doctors – a huge amount of the antibiotics we ingest actually come from our own food supply – from commercially-raised meat and dairy products. According to the Union of Concerned Scientists, approximately 70 percent of all antibiotics sold in the U.S. are used on healthy livestock to “prevent” disease. Here’s my question – What exactly is being prevented by raising animals on feedlots in filthy conditions, with mandatory antibiotic use to “control” diseases created by the very conditions in which the animals are made to live? The continued use of antibiotics in the food supply only adds to the resistance of super-bacteria, which will continue to add pathogenic yeast to your digestive tract and increase the risk of inflammation and disease.
If you have ever taken the following medications/drugs:
- Anti-ulcer medications and steroids/cortisones
- Birth control pills
Or if your diet regularly includes the following:
- Diet lacking in nutrition and including high sugar and refined carbohydrates – including grains
Or if you experience the following conditions or symptoms:
- Compromised immune function
- Hormonal imbalance – thyroid, reproductive, endocrine, etc.
- Chronic stress
- Intestinal parasites and worms
you may have a candida yeast overgrowth.
How do I know if I have candida overgrowth?
Some of the symptoms experienced by patients with yeast overgrowth include:
- Chronic fatigue and malaise
- Compromised immune system function
- Chemical sensitivities
- Recurring yeast infections such as fungal nail infections, vaginal, athletes foot, thrush, athletes foot, etc.
- Depression, mood swings, panic attacks, and other mood disorders
- Inability to focus or concentrate
- Headaches, poor memory skills
- Chronic or recurring allergic reactions, sinus issues, UTI infections, asthma and chronic chest congestion
- A variety of digestive disturbances such as cramping, bloating, gas, indigestion, heartburn, diarrhea, constipation, etc.
- Cravings for sugar and carbohydrates
- Dry and/or itching skin
These are just a few of the symptoms people may experience if they have a yeast overgrowth. It is also entirely possible to have a Candida overgrowth or candidasis and not be aware of it.
If you ask a typical doctor to help with a candida overgrowth, the most likely response will be either that you don’t have a yeast problem or you will be placed on anti-fungal medication to treat the condition. Many doctors simply disagree that candida overgrowth is a problem or can be the culprit of such a variety of health issues. But the fact is, most people in developed countries do have a yeast overgrowth problem due to eating a highly processed diet replete with sugar, carbohydrates, and grains. For the most part, there are no tests conventional doctors perform to determine how much of an overgrowth existed, or if they do treat it with drugs, there is usually no way for them to tell whether the overgrowth had been fully removed.
You can find a variety of candida-self tests in books and on the Internet, but here is a good, self-assessment test available from Jigsaw Health to help figure out where you are at in the likely possibility that a Candida yeast overgrowth being the cause of your health issues, and also how much overgrowth exists in your body. And, here’s a questionnaire specially designed for children too. The questionnaires were created by Dr. William Crook, author of The Yeast Connection Handbook.
You may be wondering: “If these tests are useful, why hasn’t my doctor ordered them?” Because most conventional doctors either lack the experience, knowledge, or simply don’t believe enough scientific evidence exists to prove that Candida actually is the cause of many degenerative health issues for many people. The good news is that many individuals who have been unable to get help from conventional doctors have succeeded in using the self-testing method recommended above as a way to gauge where to begin to improve their health.
Be sure to check back tomorrow to read Part II of Dietary Changes and Supplements for Candida Overgrowth Removal. I’ll talk about foods to avoid and foods to include, the importance of probiotics (beneficial bacteria), quality supplements to assist in candida overgrowth removal for those who wish to use them, and how long you can expect to maintain a candida or yeast control diet.