In the healthy person, Candida albicans is considered a harmless organism. It is normally present in the digestive tracts and in the vaginal areas of healthy people. But when it occurs in increasing numbers this yeast puts out toxins which weaken the immune system. Evidence for this was first detected by a Japanese researcher almost 30 years ago.
The main culprit is the great overuse of the broad spectrum antibiotic drugs for minor infections, including viral infections which are self-limited. Using these antibiotics, which supposedly destroy enemy germs, actually kills friendly germs. In so doing, the balance of normal bacteria in the intestinal tract is upset. As a result, Candida albicans multiplies. So do a number of other bad bacteria, including Clostridum difficile.
Candida thrives in a weakened immune system and produces a vicious cycle of sickness. Overgrowth in the intestines disturbs the normal intestinal membrane and a "leaky gut" develops. This allows toxins and food allergens to be absorbed which normally would remain in the gut. A major cause of symptoms for candida patients is multiple food allergies and sensitivities. The corticosteroid drugs, taken for an extended period, encourage the growth of candida. So does the birth control pill. Diets rich in sugar and other simple carbohydrates also promote yeast overgrowth.
Other things than weaken a person's immune system are nutritionally deficient diets. These include diets that contain too many fabricated foods, too much sugar, hydrogenated fats and oils and insufficient amount of vegetables, including those that contain the important phytopharmaceuticals.
Still another factor that weakens the immune system is the increase of toxic chemicals in the environment. Such chemicals are permeating our water and are found in food supplies and the materials in many of our homes. Moreover, because of the high cost of heating, many homes are airtight and poorly ventilated. Chemicals are then trapped indoors.
Animals are being loaded with antibiotics so even individuals who do not take prescription antibiotic drugs have changes in their gut flora. Animal products, especially beef, pork and lamb, contain lots of fat and the fat contains insecticides.
People should make sure they have good essential fatty acids, like omega-3, which is found in flax seed oil and salmon, and to a lesser extent in walnuts and vegetables.
To summarize what you need to do for prevention:
Change your diet. Especially cut down on sugar and junk food and eat more nutritious foods.
Re-populate your intestinal tract with probiotics. I also recommend caprylic acid and garlic.
Yeasts, Moulds and Fungi
Yeast and moulds live all around us. They commonly grow on fruits and vegetables, like dried fruits and grapes. They're also found in the soil, air and water. Some outdoor moulds die when snow covers the ground. Yet, even in the wintertime, mould spores live in the soil. They float in the air like pollen so when you breathe them in they are deposited in your lungs, nose and throat. Some moulds are found on decomposing plants, leather, cloth, rubber, wood and paper products or grow outdoors on vegetation.
Conditions that promote mould growth can be summarized in two words: dampness and darkness. To control moulds, change the conditions that favor their growth. Use a dehumidifier in damp basements or closets.
Destroy moulds by applying a boric solution. A low-wattage bulb burning in a closet will lessen the mould population. Some electric heat lamps are designed to dry out damp closets.
If you are sensitive to moulds, get rid of old books, upholstered furniture and flower pots. Washing, airing and sunning will help retard mould growth on your bed clothing, pillows, mattress pads and rugs.
Besides candida and airborne moulds, other yeasts and fungi are found in foods you eat everyday. Among the more obvious of these foods are mushrooms, aged cheeses and alcoholic beverages. Yeasts are also found in fermented beverages and in baked goods that ferment easily.
Yeast growth in your body is also encouraged or stimulated by medications of various types, including antibiotics, birth control pills and the corticosteroid group of drugs.
Diet is a process. It is not a project that can be "accomplished" in one visit. We work on it, build on it, modify it and change it with the ultimate goal of improving health.
Restricted diets do not last forever. Sugar and foods that are loaded with yeast should be avoided. You can incorporate vegetables, lean meats, chicken, fish, whole grains and grain alternatives. As your health improves and you get the "yeast beast" under control, you can eat some of the foods that initially you needed to avoid.
Yeasts and moulds are found on the surfaces of all fruits, vegetables and grains. The yeast we deal with in most foods and beverages are the saccharomyces. They're found in beer, wine and breads, as well as dried, primary-grown baker's yeast. These nutritional yeasts are excellent source of enzymes, B vitamins and amino acids. Many people with candida-related health problems may not need to avoid them. Moreover, complete yeast-free diets are impossible to come by.
Do a yeast "challenge." Here's how it works. After you've avoided all yeasty foods for 10 days, eat one of them when you aren't changing anything else in your treatment program. This will usually give you the answer. If you're sensitive to yeast, you'll develop symptoms within a few minutes to 24 hours.
Many people lose their sensitivity to yeast and other foods as the candida yeasts in their intestinal tract decrease in number. So repeat your yeast challenge every one to two months. If you still develop symptoms, you may be desensitized to food yeasts by a physician who practices environmental medicine.
After you've finished the yeast challenge and have been on the diet for about three weeks, experiment with fruits if you're doing well. But only have a small portion once a day. After a month or so, some people seem to be able to eat one or two fruits every day without experiencing problems. Yet, occasionally, fruits must be avoided completely for many months. To determine your tolerance, just do as you do with yeast -- experiment. (Avoid the juices, except for freshly squeezed juice. They are loaded with yeast.)
Go very slowly in trying the simple sugars. Wait many weeks before you experiment with corn syrup, honey and maple syrup. They all feed yeast. You can take natural sugar in limited quantities after you've really gotten your health and your life back on track. Sugar promotes the multiplication of yeasts in the digestive tract. You might compare it to putting kerosene on the glowing embers of a barbecue grill!
To sweeten your beverages, try the South American herb stevia. You can find it in most health food stores. For use on cereals and cookie recipes, try Jerusalem artichoke flour. Do not use artificial sweeteners.
As your health improves, your own immune system will control candida overgrowth in your intestinal tract or vagina. And there are many things you can do to strengthen your immune system. Eating a more nutritious diet is an important first step. Eat at least five vegetables a day. Research studies coming in from many different sources during the past decade show that broccoli, cabbage, carrots, yams, tomatoes and many others are loaded with important phytochemicals. Fruits also contain these important nutrients and -- as we've already discussed -- you can probably eat more fruits as the months go by.
Limit your exposure to toxic pollutants, and take supplemental vitamins and minerals, flax seed oil and probiotics. I also recommend other antioxidants, including coenzyme Q(10) and the bioflavonols.
The Yeast Connection Handbook
W Crook/M Jones 379 pp(sc) $22.50
Who Killed Candida?
V Glassburn 255 pp (sc) $29.95
Complete Candida Yeast Guidebook
JM Martin/Z Rona 438 pp (sc) $25.95
Canadian Health Reform Products Ltd.
By William Crook