Candida Albicans is a fungal yeast that is present naturally in the human gut; everyone has Candida albicans living within them to some extent. Our gut is also full of natural bacteria that feed on the yeast and so keep levels to a low number and stop it from becoming a problem.
The yeast becomes problematic when it grows beyond normal levels and spreads throughout the gastrointestinal tract, into the bloodstream and from there throughout the body. The yeast then does something remarkable and changes into fungus.
This fungus now settles itself into the tissue and a fungal colony quickly spreads. The fungus is protected from the environment as it has now left the gut and does not have the challenge of the gut bacteria trying to consume it. The risk for the Candida fungus is the human immune system. The immune system would normally identify and fight off this fungal intruder without too much effort.
Sadly more and more people suffer from low immune systems due to stress, bad diet or general ill health. This means the immune system is not as strong as it needs to be to fight the Candida fungus colony.
The Candida fungus is protected from the immune system attack by its cellular membrane. This membrane is comprised of a layer formation called chitin. Your own cells when the immune system is strong and healthy fight Candida by producing an enzyme called chitinase which breaks down the yeast cell wall exposing it and making it vulnerable to attack by the body’s immune system. In a system-wide infection there is simply too much of the yeast for the body to fight and it is at that point we begin to see more severe symptoms of the candida overgrowth.
In simple English – imagine the fungus is wearing a suit of armour that your immune system cannot punch through if it is weak.
|Types of |
Also called: candidiasis
|A fungal infection typically on the skin or mucous membranes caused by candida.|
An infection in which the fungus Candida Albicans accumulates in the mouth.
|Vaginal yeast infection|
A yeast infection of the vagina and tissues at the opening of the vagina (vulva).
|Candidiasis of skin and nails|
An infection of the skin and nails caused by the candida fungus.
How Do You Get Candida
There are several reasons for Candida to spread and become problematic.
Poor diet & too much sugar
Over the past few decades the diet in the west has changed dramatically. We now consume far more sugar and refined food than we ever have before. Even those of us that have strict diets do succumb to fast food and sugar treats!
Candida thrives on sugar. With a diet high in sugar and refined food it will grow exponentially, it is almost as if our diet in the western world is a super food for the yeast. Items such as sugar, alcohol, chocolate, bread, pasta, coffee, tea, fast food and any refined food all contribute to Candida overgrowth.
No one is disputing the need for antibiotics – they are one of the greatest medical discoveries made and without them we would be in a lot of trouble! However,
broad spectrum antibiotic use does have a profound effect on our natural defences against Candida infection.
These antibiotics kill all bacteria, including the good bacteria in our gut that maintain a healthy balanced state.
Without these bacteria the yeast is free to grow and spread within the body.
Immune Compromised system
Our cells naturally produce a substance called chitinase. This enzyme breaks down the protective layer around the yeast and allows our immune system to attack the yeast if it is growing out of control. When an immune system is in a weakened state then it does not have the capability to attack the yeast and so its growth is not regulated.
Any single or combination of these elements provides the Candida yeast with the perfect breeding ground within the human body and results in you becoming sick.
“Mental clarity, better balance, no rashes, and my guts are healing.”
Dolores from USA
How do I know if I have Candida Overgrowth?
Candida is a controversial diagnosis and some conventional doctors don’t recognize it, except in people with seriously reduced immunity, such as those with HIV. Plus, as symptoms are varied, it can be hard to pinpoint.
If you suspect a Candida infection and recogonise some of the common symptoms it may be worth seeing a medical practioner, nutritionist or naturopath. They can carry out a test to check for candida infection, and a urine test for leaky gut syndrome, and may then recommend diet changes and supplements to help.
See more on how to test for candida infection
How to treat candida
If you think you have an overgrowth of candida, it’s important to tackle it before it progresses to a more advanced stage. Not only are the symptoms unpleasant and debilitating, but it is also linked to leaky gut syndrome.
Leaky Gut is when the yeast overgrowth can cause small holes in the gut, which allows tiny food particles to escape into your blood stream. Your immune system doesn’t recognise them and goes on the attack, which may cause you to become intolerant to a range of foods. Over time, you may miss out on important nutrients because you find it hard to tolerate many different foods.
“By doing a combo of the gaps diet with CCWS, I do not have inflammation anymore. Nothing has worked this well for me before!! Feel like it’s actually getting to the root!”
Anna from USA
An anti-candida diet can help but it’s restrictive and can be difficult to follow. You have to starve the yeast, which means avoiding all the foods and drinks it feeds on.
Certain supplements are also thought to help naturally fight yeast overgrowth and probiotics build up your levels of friendly bacteria
When undertaking any treatment for Candida it is important to also address the underlying causes, and make any necessary changes to diet or lifestyle to prevent a reinfection of Candida.