Candida overgrowth is one of the most common conditions I see in my clients and also people around me, especially those suffering with autoimmune disease, Lyme disease and digestive issues. Systemic Candida overgrowth (which is usually accompanied by parasitic overgrowth) can trigger a host of symptoms; the main ones being fatigue, brain fog, skin issues such as acne or eczema, itchy skin, gas and bloating, constipation, mood swings, recurring fungal infections (including vaginal yeast infections), and many more!
When I work with clients to improve their dysbiosis HUGE improvements in their health (and the symptoms mentioned above) are seen and many times, even a complete reversal in their conditions!
So what is Candida? It is a fungus (yeast) that normally, in healthy individuals, lives in our mouths and digestive tracts to help aid in digestion and absorption of nutrients. However, when antibiotics are taken, bad food is eaten, chronic stress is experienced, etc, our healthy microflora is altered, and candida is allowed to overgrow and multiply. When this happens, it changes to its parasitic form (grows long roots called ‘rhizoids’ that puncture the intestinal lining) and actually burrows into our intestinal lining (literally tearing it apart) creating the condition known as intestinal permeability (aka leaky gut). When this happens, candida is able to enter our bloodstream and travel throughout our body releasing toxic byproducts that can pass the blood-brain barrier causing mood swings, depression, anxiety, etc. candida, quite literally, can change our personality and the way we react to situations when it is given the proper environment (cold, damp, sugar laden body).
- High carb diets which fuel yeast and parasites
- Fermented foods (Kombucha, sauerkraut, kimchi) which feed current fungal infections. *These foods are nutritious when you have a healthy balanced gut*
- Excessive alcohol consumption which strains our liver and weakens our immune system
- Chronic stress which leaves our body in an acidic, high cortisol state and suppresses the immune system and hinders digestion
- Antibiotics and medications (especially Birth control and NSAIDS) kill off beneficial bacteria in our gut that prevent Candida from overgrowing. Immunosupressants given to those with autoimmune conditions prevents our immune system from fighting fungal and parasitic infections, allowing candida to overgrow in the body.
Candida is an opportunistic yeast and can change shape in order to protect itself from harsh environments. It responds to a shift in temperature or acidity levels by transforming from a rounded yeast cell into an elongated hyphal cell. Once candida penetrates the gut lining (as mentioned above) it is able to invade other tissues. So what does this mean for you? It means that Candida can quickly transition from a minor gut or digestive issues to a full-body issue as it colonizes the skin, mouth, ears, thyroid, genitals etc. Because candida can travel to any part of the body, symptoms can be seen anywhere as well and are therefore wide-ranging and may present as the following:
- Skin issues such as eczema, psoriasis, acne, hives, redness/itching on eyelids, itchy skin, dry and flaky skin, etc
- Nail fungal infections such as athlete’s foot, ringworm, and toenail fungus
- Fatigue, especially chronic fatigue or fibromyalgia
- Digestive issues such as bloating, constipation, or diarrhea (IBS, IBD, Chrons, celiac, etc)
- Autoimmune disease such as Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, rheumatoid arthritis, ulcerative colitis, lupus, psoriasis, scleroderma, or multiple sclerosis
- Difficulty concentrating, poor memory, lack of focus, ADD, ADHD, and/or brain fog
- Irritability, anger, mood swings, anxiety, or depression
- Vaginal infections , urinary tract infections, rectal itching, or vaginal itching
- Severe seasonal allergies or itchy ears
- Strong sugar and refined carbohydrate cravings
What is the connection between Candida and Autoimmune? LEAKY GUT! Once candida destroys the gut lining, undigested food particles, toxins, bacteria, and parasites, are able to enter bloodstream and trigger and immune response as an attempt to fight off these foreign “invaders”. Overtime, as foods, bacteria and toxins enter the bloodstream, your immune system keeps triggering stronger reactions (inflammations) and attacks against these invaders to protect you. This causes your immune system to become exhausted, weakened, stressed and confused and it becomes dysfunctional and begins to attack “invaders” less accurately. It starts to attack your body’s own tissues as it tries to protect you against invaders and eventually leads to an autoimmune disorder.
How do you test for candida overgrowth? My favourite way is to go by your symptoms since your body doesn’t lie! If you have 1 or more of the symptoms described above, you are most likely dealing with candida overgrowth and should begin a cleanse. If you want confirmation of overgrowth, you can get your doctor to order a comprehensive stool analysis test that checks for candida in the small and large intestines. I rarely recommend blood tests as a measure since often they can come out negative, while stool analysis come out positive. You can ask your doctor to test your total IgG, IgA and IgM levels along with the Candida antibodies. Usually low antibody levels can cause a false negative response to the Candida antibodies, which means you have candida, but your immune system is to weakened to produce a response to its presence in the blood which leads your blood test to come back negative. Many of my clients have suppressed immune systems which is why I recommend stool analysis testing or symptom testing!
How do we treat Candida and correct dysbiosis?
If you’d like to book a consultation today to get started on gut protocol, contact me through the contact page to get started! I have helped dozens of clients beat their candida overgrowth and regain their health, energy, and most importantly, their lives!
Written by: Marla Pietruszko BSc RHN