A visual image of the #candida cycle and the damage it causes by WholeIntentions.com.

 

Do you seem to suffer from a malady of symptoms, yet no one can tell you what the problem is? Have you ever been told it’s all in your head? Has anyone ever told you that you might have candida?

Yep. Been there – done that.

When Travis and I were told we had candida, we had no idea what our naturopath was talking about. But if you’ve read our health journey, you’ll recall that we eventually discovered how it played a much bigger role in our health than we realized.

What is candida?

Candida is a fungus, which is a form of yeast, that everyone has. It’s a normal part of our gut flora that’s harmless if kept in check. It usually lives on the skin and mucosal surfaces, like your digestive tract, mouth, urinary tract, gastrointestinal tract, etc. [1, 2, 3, 6, 24, 42]

There are several species of candida yeasts, and currently 20 are known to cause infections in humans. [1]

What are the symptoms of candida?

Genital/Urinary

•rectal itching
•prostatitis
•vaginal infections
•menstruation difficulties and PMS
•fibroids
•endometriosis
•yeast infections
•bladder infections (UTI’s)

Skin

•ring worm
•jock itch
•rough skin
•athlete’s foot
•psoriasis
•skin rashes
•hives
•dry skin
•itchy skin
•dry scalp
•acne
•eczema
•toenail fungus

Respiratory

•chest pain
•hay fever
•ear aches and ear infections
•low immunity
•common viral or bacterial infections
•mucous in throat
•oral thrush
•chest and nose congestions
•asthma
•bronchitis
•postnasal drip
•upper respiratory infections
•sinus infections
•frequent colds and flu

Allergy

•food allergies
•airborne chemical allergies
•allergies

Gut

•gastrointestinal complaints
•bloating
•gas
•indigestion
•heartburn
•constipation
•diarrhea

Neurological

•fatigue
•headaches/migraines
•poor memory
•poor concentration
•depression
•dizziness
•confusion
•vision impairment
•slurred speech
•mood swings
•irritability
•paranoia
•lack of muscular coordination
•disorientation
•brain fog
•anxiety
•lethargic
•numbness
•tingling
•muscle weakness

Pain

•arthritis-like
•joint pain
•MS
•fibromyalgia

Other

•weight loss
•weight gain
•inflammation
•hypothyroidism
•hypoglycemia
•sugar crashes
•sugar cravings
•carb cravings
•general weakness
•symptoms are aggravated by tobacco smoke, perfumes, diesel fumes, and chemical odors
•symptoms flare on damp days or in moldy places

Associated with autoimmune diseases

•fibromyalgia
•lupus
•autism
•mental illness
•cancer

Candida is seriously under-rated. While some wave it aside as a fad, or aren’t convinced it exists. Other doctors, naturopaths, and herbalists believe it is the root of many hard-to-diagnose chronic illnesses as well as a pre-cursor to auto-immune diseases. [37, 38, 41, 43, 44]

What contributes to candida?

What all this boils down to is that when conditions are ripe – due to lowered immunity, gut bacteria imbalance, lack of sleep, processed and sugary foods, toxins, stress, antibiotics, etc. – candida can become invasive.

•a weakened immune system
•antibiotics (antibiotics are only good for bacterial infections, not viruses (cold and flu) but it kills both good and bad bacteria and is useless against candida)
•alcohol
•birth control pills
•chemotherapy
•estrogen replacement therapy
•hormonal changes
•obesity
•pregnancy
•processed foods (poor diet, junk food)
•radiation
•recreational drugs
•steroids
•stress
•toxicity (metals and chemicals)

[37, 38, 41, 43, 44]

An opportunistic pathogen

Candida is what’s called an ‘opportunistic pathogen,’ which means that as soon as your resistance is lowered, it’s ready to make its move and cause disease. [6]

A 2014 article in Trends in Microbiology states, “alterations in host immunity, physiology, and/or microbiota can lead to the inability to control candida albicans colonization on mucosal surfaces and the development of disease.” [7]

In plain English that means anything that lowers our immunity, disrupts our normal body functions, or causes our gut bacteria to get out of balance can encourage candida growth.

Things like:

Lack of sleep

Your immune system relies on sleep to stay healthy. The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute tells us that “ongoing sleep deficiency is linked to an increased risk of heart disease, kidney disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, and stroke” and “can change the way in which your immune system responds.” [15]

Sugar, processed foods, and over-eating

In the backs of our minds, we all know that too much sugar isn’t a good thing. But it really hits home when you read books like William Dufty’s Sugar Blues, which explains how eating sugar promotes chronic inflammation. Dufty states that in the long term “inflammation disrupts the normal functioning of your immune system.” [28]

Sugar also affects our brains. In a 2015 article in Harvard Health Publications, Dr. Eva Selhub wrote that diets high in refined sugars are harmful to the brain and promote inflammation and oxidative stress and worsen mood disorders like depression. [13]

Dr. Ian Myle’s warns: “our over abundance of calories and the macronutrients that compose our diet may all lead to increased inflammation, reduced control of infection, increased rates of cancer, and increased risk for allergic and auto-inflammatory disease.” [11]

Toxins such as GMO’s, pesticides, and food additives

Glyphosate is the active ingredient in Roundup®. It is undeniably the most popular herbicide used worldwide. A 2013 article in Entropy found that “life-long exposure in rodents have demonstrated liver and kidney dysfunction and a greatly increased risk of cancer, with shortened lifespan”. . .as well as “clear evidence that glyphosate disrupts gut bacteria.”

The article ended with their conclusion that “gut dysbiosis, arguably resulting from glyphosate exposure, plays in inflammatory bowel disease and its relationship to autism.” [12]

Even if we avoid GMO’s, common food additives can cause immune issues as well. An article in SciMed Central cites research that shows exposure to certain food additives in processed foods can result in both allergic reactions or immunological hypersensitivities. [39]

Stress

Stress is a big one. And we’re not only talking about mental stress, but the stress your body goes through trying to stay in balance amid unhealthy habits and lifestyles.

Otolaryngology surgeon Dr. David Volpi wrote about four studies from the University of Gothenburg, Sweden, which revealed that intensive use of cell phones and computers can be linked to an increase in stress, sleep disorders, and symptoms of depression. [14]

An article in the Journal of Physiology and Pharmacology found that exposure to stress resulted in alterations of the brain-gut axis which lead to gastrointestinal disorders including IBD, IBS, and GERD. They found that stress increased intestinal permeability (leaky gut) and had negative effects on intestinal microbiota. [16]

Even more concerning is the 2001 study published in Neuroimmunomodulation, which found “during infection with candida albicans, the exposure to chronic varied stress contributes to the spread of the fungus and downregulates critical functions of phagocytic cells involved in the control of this opportunistic pathogen.” [36]

Antibiotics, NSAIDS, and steroids

Your gut flora keeps candida in check. It maintains a proper balance and doesn’t allow candida to proliferate. When you take antibiotics, it creates a massive disruption to your gut flora.

Medications, antibiotics, NSAIDS, and steroids are grossly overused which results in them being a major contributor to candida.

A 1985 study done on hamsters showed that antibiotic treatment decreased their gut bacteria and predisposed 86% of the hamsters to “systemic spreading of candida albicans.” [8]

Two more studies showed that mice treated with antibiotics “allowed C. albicans to proliferate in the gut”. [9]

A study published in Infection and Immunity in 2011 examined the gut microbiota and candida of mice after antibiotic use. The results demonstrated that candida albicans cannot establish colonization in the gut without broad-spectrum antibiotic treatment. They stated that “the bacterial microbiota of the stomach is vital in promoting gastric colonization resistance.” [45]

A similar study found that, “an intact indigenous microbiota is required for effective resistance against candida albicans colonization in the intestinal tract.” [46]

Besides the fact that NSAIDS can cause vomiting, nausea, constipation, diarrhea, reduced appetite, headache, dizziness, rash, drowsiness, swelling of the arms and legs, ulcers, bleeding, kidney failure, and liver failure, a 2013 article in Mycopathologia states that “associations between NSAIDs and candida albicans caused significantly more severe necroinflammatory injuries.” [30, 32]

Another study found that patients who’d used inhaled steroids for long periods of time increased their frequency of esophageal candidiasis. [31]

And when you’re also concerned about weight gain, articles like one in Frontiers in Cellular and Infection Microbiology bring to our attention that excessive use of steroids can enhance the risk of developing obesity. [33]

What all this boils down to is that when conditions are ripe – due to lowered immunity, gut bacteria imbalance, lack of sleep, processed and sugary foods, toxins, stress, antibiotics, etc. – candida can become invasive.

Dr. Joseph Pizzorno, ND, author of Textbook of Natural Medicine, states that restoring proper immune function is one the of the key goals in the treatment of chronic candidiasis. He validates my belief that “chronic candidiasis is a classic example of a ‘multifactoral’ condition” and “effective treatment involves much more than killing the yeast with anti-fungal agents, whether synthetic or natural.” [40]

When candida becomes invasive

Candida is unique in that it can change form – from round and harmless to filamentous and invasive. When our bodies develop that ‘perfect storm’ from the issues just mentioned above, candida morphs into its hyphae form, where it grows branches or ‘roots’ that invade cells and cause tissue damage. [3]

Sugar (glucose) plays an important role in the ability of candida to change form. Candida is “exquisitely sensitive to glucose”, even responding to 0.01%. Testing showed that glucose in the blood also helped it to become more resistant to the anti-fungal compound researchers tested with. When following our candida diet, it’s important to remove as much sugar as possible. [23]

As well as forming invasive roots, candida creates closely packed communities of cells called biofilms. The biofilms are safe from antibiotic treatment and can create a source of persistent infection. [29]

They can adhere nearly anywhere, and are especially known for forming on implanted medical devices (e.g. dentures, catheters, pacemakers, etc.), and are largely resistant to conventional anti-fungals. [2]

Once a biofilm forms on an implanted medical device, it can lead to bloodstream infections and invasive infections of tissues and organs. Each year, over 5 million catheters are used. Biofilm infections occur in over 50% of them, and are responsible for an estimated 100,000 deaths. [2, 22]

A 2005 issue of Medical Mycology stated that candida albicans is “a major cause of morbidity and mortality in blood stream infections,” and that the biofilm formation “is believed to contribute to invasiveness of these fungal species.” [10]

In a study of 109 fatal cases of systemic candida, 88% had more than one deep organ affected. Once candida progresses into systemic candida, it can become life-threatening. It has an estimated mortality rate of 40%, even with the use of anti-fungal drugs. [4, 5]

Leaky gut and candida

Leaky gut (intestinal permeability) occurs when gaps develop between the cells of the intestinal membrane lining. When that happens, undigested food, bacteria, and wastes can escape into the blood stream.

Once food, particles, and candida and its mycotoxins enter the bloodstream, the body sees these particles as foreign invaders and responds with inflammation, food sensitivities and intolerances, autoimmune diseases, and other symptoms. [18, 19, 20]

The question then comes up, ‘does candida cause leaky gut?’

Leaky gut can be attributed to factors such as gut imbalance, alterations in mucus layers, and lifestyle factors like alcohol. Since gut imbalances can be caused by the same issues that encourage candida growth – lack of sleep, sugary and processed foods, toxins, stress, and antibiotics, etc. – it ends up being a ‘which came first, the chicken or the egg?’ question. [16, 17]

It’s almost a Catch-22 because results from animal models argue that candida colonization delays healing of inflammatory lesions and that inflammation promotes candida colonization. [20]

Dr. David Marquis writes, “The presence of inflammation is what makes most disease perceptible to an individual. . .” [21]

The Kicking Candida Program addresses both candida and leaky gut, creating a better approach to balancing gut microbiota than if you addressed just one issue alone.

Gut health, weight gain, and your liver

Another issue we address with this program is the struggle with food cravings and weight loss. So many times we feel like we must not have enough self control, or that we just have to try harder, exercise more, and eat less.

There’s a fine line between the woman who doesn’t watch her portions, gives into cravings, and, if she asked herself honestly, would say she doesn’t put in long-term effort, and the woman who legitimately works hard to eat right, exercise, and watch her portions, but still can’t lose weight.

I’ve been in the shoes of both.

If you can look back over your struggle to lose weight and say that yes, you’ve put in hard work and effort, yet you still don’t see results, then your gut bacteria imbalance could be a factor.

“Your body will not lose an ounce of fat if that fat is storing toxins your liver has not yet been able to process.” – Dr. Wendle Trubow

An article in Discovery Medicine stated, “There is clearly more to obesity than simply taking in more energy than is expended. . .obesity appears to be linked to an overall imbalance in ecological configuration or community structure of the gut microbiome, called dysbiosis. [34]

Medical News Today recently reported on a study demonstrating that microbes can promote the absorption of dietary fats. Senior study author John Rawls of the University of North Carolina said, “The results underscore the complex relationship between microbes, diet and host physiology.” [35]

When it comes to breaking down fat, the liver is a unique organ that plays a central role. It’s designed to perform over 500 vital functions, including cleaning your blood, maintaining blood sugar levels, and cleaning out candida’s toxins. [25]

In a healthy person with normal amounts of candida, the liver can keep up with its necessary functions. . .but if the liver has inadequate nutrition or is overloaded with toxins, it has to store them.

And guess where the body’s first and favorite storage space is. . .

Body fat.

Dr. Benkim tells us that “your body will first store ‘excess’ toxins in your fat tissues. Accumulation of toxins in your fat tissues is what can lead to so-called harmless conditions like cysts, lipomas, and other benign tumors.” [26]

If toxins are stored in your body fat, you can eat right, exercise, and do all the ‘right’ things, but it will be nearly impossible to lose it until your liver is working properly.

Functional Medicine Physician Dr. Wendle Trubow emphatically states, “your body will not lose an ounce of fat if that fat is storing toxins your liver has not yet been able to process.” [27]A visual image of the #candida cycle and the damage it causes by WholeIntentions.com.

A vicious cycle

Can you see a cycle here?

Antibiotics, sugar, environmental toxins, stress, etc. gives candida the opportunity to overgrow. . .

Overgrown candida changes to an invasive form and walks hand in hand with leaky gut. . .

Toxins and food particles cause inflammation, food allergies, and other symptoms. . .

The toxins can’t be removed by an overtaxed liver so they’re stored in hard to lose body fat. . .

So what does this mean? It means you have to kick the candida out.

How do you get rid of candida

Whole Intentions is dedicated to treating candida in a safe and effective way. The first step is to test for candida.

Next, browse some of our most popular articles:

Treating Candida With Diet

Treating Candida Naturally

 

Take a peek at our candida-diet eCookbooks:

Or implement a full body kicking candida regime focused on helping you heal your gut and drop the weight.

How long will it take?

This is a common question and the answer varies greatly from one source to another and from one person to another. Most often it depends on how long you’ve had symptoms and their severity. In my experience, it’s not a quick fix and those that attempt to tell you that you can be rid of it in a matter of weeks aren’t addressing the root of the problem and candida will inevitably come back.

Feel free to browse around and join us in our general Facebook group, Kicking Candida if you have questions. 🙂

 

 


References:
[1] “Candidiasis” Fungal Diseases. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 12 June. 2015.
[2] Nobile, C. J., & Johnson, A. D. (2015). Candida albicans Biofilms and Human Disease. Annual Review of Microbiology, 69, 71–92.
[3] Sudbery, P.E. (2011). Growth of Candida albicans hyphae. Nature Reviews. Microbiology. 10. 737-748.
[4] Hughes, W.T. (1982). Systemic candidiasis: a study of 109 fatal cases. Pediatric Infectious Disease. 1, 8-11.
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[7] Lu, Y., Su, C., & Liu, H. (2014). Candida albicans hyphal initiation and elongation. Trends in Microbiology. 22(12), 707–714.
[8] Kennedy, M.J., Volz, P.A. (1985). Ecology of Candida albicans gut colonization: inhibition of Candida adhesion, colonization, and dissemination from the gastrointestinal tract by bacterial antagonism. Infection and Immunity. 49, 654-663.
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[20] Kumamoto, C. A. (2011). Inflammation and gastrointestinal Candida colonization. Current Opinion in Microbiology, 14(4), 386–391.
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[24] Achkar, J. M., & Fries, B. C. (2010). Candida Infections of the Genitourinary Tract. Clinical Microbiology Reviews, 23(2), 253–273.
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[30] Nadăş, G.C., Taulescu, M. A., Ciobanu, L., Fiţ, N.I., Flore, C., Răpuntean S., Bouari C.M., Catoi, C. (2013). The Interplay Between NSAIDs and Candida albicans on the Gastrointestinal Tract of Guinea Pigs. Mycopathologia. 175, 221-230.
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[33] Manco, M. (2012). Gut Microbiota and Developmental Programming of the Brain: From Evidence in Behavioral Endophenotypes to Novel Perspective in Obesity. Frontiers in Cellular and Infection Microbiology, 2, 109. http://doi.org/10.3389/fcimb.2012.00109
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