There’s a growing awareness that Candida may be a much bigger problem than previously thought. We’re not talking about the Candida that causes yeast infections or thrush. No, this is the Candida in your digestive tract. If it gets out-of-control, called Candida overgrowth, you’ve got problems.
In a previous post, we shared 5 ways Candida can destroy your health. Again, it’s not the Candida you can see; it’s the Candida you can’t. And because you can’t see it, you can’t see that it’s becoming a big health problem.
All you have are symptoms. And while symptoms can reflect a wide range of potential health problems, everything about modern life encourages Candida overgrowth and the health problems that come with it. Let’s take a closer look…
Modern Living Encourages Candida Overgrowth
Candida is a fungal yeast. It lives everywhere on the body including in the digestive tract. In fact, Candida even helps with digestion and absorption of nutrients, at least it does when it’s under control.
What keeps Candida under control? Basically, it’s a combination of probiotic bacteria, enzymes and your immune system.
Unfortunately, this system can get thrown out of balance easily by modern living. For example, antibiotics may kill the germs making you sick, but they also kill the probiotic bacteria that aid digestion and keep Candida under control. Oral contraceptives also kill probiotic bacteria.
Diet is also a problem. As a yeast, Candida thrives on sugar. So a diet high in sugars, especially added sugars and processed foods which contain a lot of sugar, feeds Candida. This kind of diet doesn’t help you or your beneficial probiotic bacteria though. It hurts both as probiotic bacteria need fiber, not sugar, and too much sugar taxes your enzymes ability to break it down before the Candida gobbles it up.
In effect, modern living gives Candida plenty of space to grow and plenty of food to eat. And when it does, your health can suffer.
Symptoms of Candida Overgrowth in Your Digestive Tract
If you have a Candida overgrowth in your digestive tract, you could experience any of the following symptoms:
Do you crave sugar? It could be that Candida is eating up the sugar before your body has a chance to make use of it. Unless you’re on a ketogenic diet, your muscles use glucose for fuel. If Candida gets to it first, you could be craving the fuel your muscles need. Of course, if you eat more, you’ll continue to feed the Candida or if you eat a lot, overwhelm your body’s ability to process it and the sugar will be converted into fat.
Candida produces two toxic poisons – acetaldehyde and gliotoxin – that disrupt your liver’s ability to do its job. These jobs include aiding digestion, keeping hormones balanced, breaking down toxins and much more. While the effects of this are wide-ranging, the inability to efficiently process food, hormones and toxins slows the metabolism and you know what that means…weight gain.
An ineffective liver can’t keep hormones in balance. Poor digestion that occurs as a result of a digestive system that’s not working right also affects the availability of vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients needed by your metabolism to build, break down and regulate hormone levels.
Gas, Bloating and Indigestion
When Candida thrives, the probiotic bacteria in your gut that support digestion doesn’t. This leaves a lot of undigested food, but it also results in other harmful bacteria from becoming more prevalent throughout your digestive tract. These “unfriendly” bacteria along with Candida release gases that irritate your intestines and lead to bloating and indigestion and even frequent constipation or diarrhea.
Acne, Poor Skin Tone, or Other Skin Conditions
Healthy, good-looking skin depends on a healthy liver. When your liver is working well, it processes toxins and waste and sends them out through the “preferred” channels, your kidneys and colon. When your liver is overwhelmed, well, then it pushes toxins into the skin for storage and release. And what does your liver rely on to work right? A healthy digestive tract!
Candida’s effect on the liver, from the way it interferes with digestion to the toxins it releases that attack the liver cause the skin to suffer too. Regular skin problems like acne, a poor skin tone to other conditions may be a sign of Candida overgrowth.
Do you have trouble focusing? Maybe you find it hard to concentrate or remember? Candida could be the problem.
Years ago, some researchers referred to the gut as the “second brain.” The reason is that your digestive tract has the second largest number of nerve cells – second only to the brain. They also noted that there appears to be a direct connection between a healthy digestive tract and thinking, mood, memory and more.
For example, researchers at UCLA found that when women supplemented with probiotics, not only did their digestion improve, so do their memory and thinking.[i]
Most of your immune response takes place in your digestive tract. When Candida’s in charge, your immune system is weaker. One of the sugars in the biofilm that forms when Candida gets overgrown actually shuts down immune cells![ii]
Your liver also plays a big role in immune response, supplying antioxidants like glutathione to help attack and break down germs. When Candida interferes with your liver’s ability to do its many jobs, you become more susceptible to illness.
Is Candida Overgrowth Possibly You’re Problem?
If you experience any of these symptoms frequently, Candida could be your problem. Adjusting your diet to focus on fresh vegetables and nutritious plant-based proteins is one way to address the issue. For some people, it may be enough. Candida, however, can be a tough fungus to cleanse.
[i] Tillisch K1, et al. Consumption of fermented milk product with probiotic modulates brain activity. Gastroenterology. 2013 Jun;144(7):1394-401, 1401.e1-4. doi: 10.1053/j.gastro.2013.02.043. Epub 2013 Mar 6. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23474283
[ii] Y Nakagawa, et al. Suppression by Candida albicans b-glucan of cytokine release from activated human monocytes and from T cells in the presence of monocytes. J Infect Dis. 2003 187: 710–713.