Candida is a yeast infection.
Candida albicans is an organism that is already in our bodies. We all carry this organism on our skin, in our mouth, in our gastrointestinal tract (gut), and, in the case of women, in the vagina. It is a necessary yeast that helps our bodies to function correctly.
A number of factors increase the chance of this yeast growing out of control. These factors include stress, poor diet, a suppressed or compromised immune system, toxicity and the extended use of anti-biotics, alcohol, steroids and birth control pills.
Each of these factors can produce an imbalance of microorganisms in the intestinal tract by killing the “good bacteria” and leaving an overabundance of “bad’ candida cells. The cells that normally keep candida in check-the NK and puffer cells, which can kill a yeast cell in 1/100th of a second, are overwhelmed, and the candida then takes over. It proliferates in the gut, penetrates the intestinal wall and is carried by the circulatory system throughout the body. At this point, the candida becomes systemic: it infects organ and muscle tissues and compromises the entire immune system. Once the immune system is compromised, it may no longer be able to sufficiently repel invaders. This can result in allergies to chemicals, pollens and foods. Also, it is believed that toxins from candida cells and protein molecules develop an antigen/antibody reaction, which can cause even more allergic reactions. Interestingly, immune deficiencies can be either caused by candida (as stated above), as well as result in candida. People with immuno-deficient diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes, chronic fatigue syndrome and psoriasis, find themselves even more susceptible to candidiasis. This is because their weakened immune systems have difficulty keeping the balance of the ‘good bacteria’ which is the first line of defense against candida overgrowth.
With his research beginning in the 1970’s, Dr. William Crook later estimated in his book, The Yeast Conection, that 80% of the population has an overgrowth of Candida albicans (candidiasis). Often, it can be a very deep-seated soft tissue condition that can affect virtually every organ of the body as well as muscle tissue. Men, women, children and even babies can have candida. Authorities who speak about the problem of Candida albicans overgrowth, point to factors such as stress, poor diet (especially those high in simple sugars and refined carbohydrates) toxicity, alcohol, steroids and birth control pills, and the extended use of antibiotics as being leading culprits in the epidemic.
The modern diet is like a feast for Candida, since it is a yeast that needs sugar to thrive and multiply. That includes sugar itself, foods containing sugar and also anything that converts to sugar. Refined carbohydrates like processed food made with white flour, other refined grains and alcohol can all contribute to Candida growth.
A healthy immune system should be able to keep Candida at bay. However, a diet rich in sugar actually depresses your immune system, leaving it vulnerable and allowing the Candida yeast to proliferate. Moldy and yeast-containing foods must also be avoided, as they can aggravate symptoms of Candida too. This means some vegetables, condiments, sauces, coffee, tea, and packaged and processed foods.
The most common culprit in an outbreak of Candida is antibiotics. A full course of antibiotics kills the harmful bacteria for which it is prescribed, but it also destroys beneficial and friendly bacteria that live in your gut. This can leave your body defenseless to harmful bacteria and fungi, such as the fast-growing Candida yeast that quickly dominates the small intestine and causes problems.
Stress affects your body in two ways, both of which can lead to excess Candida. One of your body’s first reactions to a stressful situation is to release Cortisol, a hormone that depresses your immune system and raises your blood sugar level. The Candida yeast feeds on the extra sugar, while your weakened immune system is powerless to stop it. Quickly it overpowers the balanced mixture of microorganisms in your small intestine.
Prolonged stress can also weaken your adrenal glands, which are an important part of your immune system. These small organs release hormones that regulate several different systems within your body, and they are responsible for production of the ‘fight or flight’ hormone adrenaline. If your adrenals become drained you will feel constantly tired, and probably find yourself drinking cup after cup of coffee. Your immune system becomes similarly drained and unable to respond properly to pathogens like the Candida yeast.
In other sufferers, an outbreak of Candida can be traced to the contraceptive pill. The stomach is a delicate organ, containing a precise mixture of microorganisms and yeasts that help process and digest food. They depend on the right balance of chemicals to support them, but this equilibrium can be thrown off by the hormonal imbalances caused by the Pill.
By disturbing this balance, the Pill opens the door for Candida to once again outgrow its competitors in the gut. Estrogen, the major ingredient in the Pill, is known to promote the growth of yeast. If you need evidence of how this can happen, see how many women get regular yeast infections while on the Pill, its exactly the same principle.