Candida - The Opportunistic Bacteria
I’ll be frank. Candida is no fun at all. If you have ever experienced thrush ‘down there’, I am sure you will know what a personal hell it can be. Uncomfortable, embarrassing and very irritating.
Thrush or its proper name, Candida Albicans, is actually a very common complaint among women, with symptoms such as itching, burning, stinging, discharge or redness can develop often affecting your daily life and activities. However, symptoms are often far wider than what is usually believed:
Skin and fungal nail infections
or even worse, suffering from chronic fatigue or fibromyalgia
Joint pain, arthritis
Brain fog – difficulty concentrating, poor memory,
lack of focus and ADHD or ADD
Irritability, mood swings, anxiety and depression
Recurrent infections such as cystitis
Skin issues like eczema, asthmas, psoriasis, hives and rashes
What is Candida?
There are more micro-organisms in the gastro-intestinal tract than there are cells in the whole human body – demonstrating the need to ensure there is a healthy balance between ‘friendly’ and ‘undesirable’ bacteria in the body. At normal levels Candida would be a harmless part of our intestinal flora. However, in situations such as stress, which of course leads to a weakened immune system, diabetes, antibiotic use and poor diet, there may be an overgrowth of this opportunistic yeast-like fungus.
How does Candida become a problem?
The fungus can rapidly multiply and outnumber the friendly bacteria in the gut flora, growing long branches which invade the cells of the intestinal lining. This overgrowth then produces toxins which can irritate and damage the cells of the gut wall, creating inflammation and triggering intestinal permeability (leaky gut), leading to a variety of health complaints. A similar thing happens in the vagina, mouth, and other areas where it can occur.
Your GP may give a prescription for an anti-fungal medication; this can be a tablet you take, a tablet you insert into your vagina (pessary) or a cream to relieve the irritation. The problem with Candida overgrowth is that it often reoccurs with greater strength and severity once treatment stops – because the underlying cause has not been addressed.
That is why going to your GP is not the only thing you should be thinking about. Look deeper into the reasons why your body allowed this overgrowth to occur in the first place. If you’re lucky, your GP will give you some pointers.
What can you do for yourself?
An anti-Candida diet is worth considering. There is evidence that some foods can help Candida thrive, and others make it harder to thrive. Some people find the diet helps. But proper evidence for the diet being able to cure Candida is just not there. So I recommend letting your GP do the heavy lifting, but put yourself on a sustainable regime to help stop it happening again.
The body is great at telling you when something’s not right, but not so good at telling you what the underlying problem really is. Candida has such a wide range of symptoms, it’s often not clear what’s going on. But anyway, things you can do in your diet include:
Supporting the immune system.
Nurturing your gut flora with probiotic & prebiotic foods, and supplementation.
Cutting out or reducing antagonistic foods like gluten, sugar and starchy foods.
Building up on friendly foods such as non-starchy vegetables, lean proteins and non-gluten grains.
Introduction of foods, herbs and nutrients with anti-fungal properties, such as Garlic, Oregano, Berberine, Grapefruit Seed Extract and Caprylic Acid.
What if that doesn’t work, or it keeps coming back?
Help is at hand. With lab tests, such as stool, blood or urine tests you can avoid putting yourself through diet hell without knowing what imbalance you’re trying to fix. Tests can uncover what is really going on inside and a protocol for your specific needs can be put together.