Candida overgrowth, sigh… This has been an issue I have had, I now realise, for probably a couple of decades with a few respite periods. There are many symptoms of candidiasis and because I have no serious health concerns I have ignored the on and off niggling little things like background fatigue, bloating, brain fog (my mind definitely used to be sharper!), skin rashes, in particular a sort of eczema in my ears and a vague not as healthy or vigorous as I could be. Except when I worked up in the North of Scotland, outdoors throughout the winter, for nine months – I think the daily ongoing contact with nature in a setting that just felt right made this condition go into remission. The other clue to having candida overgrowth is that everytime I’ve done a cleanse of some sort I get a flu type cold – congestion, sneezing, could sleep for 12 hours, total brain fog. I’ve had three of these in the past year, all classic symptoms of toxin and candida spores die-off.
What is Candidiasis?
Candidiasis is when the balance between good bacteria and healthy yeasts in the digestive tract breaks down, causes what is known as leaky gut syndrome and spreads throughout the bloodstream. As a result many systems and organs of the body are affected. The most obvious for most people is thrush, oral, genital or in the fingernails. But what happens when you don’t have these obvious and irritating conditions but many other symptoms that are attributed to something else? Or as is usually the case in allopathic medicine, symptoms that are treated as a lone condition? As for thrush, for the most part by the time one does get this ailment the candida is fairly systemic.
What is Candida Albicans?
Candida Albicans is part of the healthy flora of our gut biome, it’s function is to keep harmful bacteria in check, without it we would be defenceless against many pathogenic bacteria. Our gut is also home to several strains of good, or “friendly”, bacteria and these good bacteria help to keep yeasts such as candida in balance and our digestion working optimally. When candida yeasts get out of balance they turn into mycelial fungi, the state known as candidiasis, and begin to invade the body as noted above. The entire digestive tract is a system with a fairly precarious balancing act to keep. The fungal overgrowth known as candida albicans has been well known for several decades and the subject of a vast library of books, articles and research papers; however in the past few years I’ve noticed a move away from focussing solely on yeast overgrowth and an emphasis on the health of the gut biome, the balance of gut flora.
Of course years ago this got commercial with the advent of at first reasonably healthy (but largely useless) products such as Yakult, then all the flavoured, sweet yogurt drinks hit the market with their promises of healthy intestines and digestion… Worse than useless!
It is reckoned that about a third of the population suffer from candida overgrowth and intestinal imbalance which is hardly surprising given the average person’s diet and lifestyle. Most people assume that candida overgrowth is merely characterised by oral or vaginal thrush and itching or rashes in various places. The danger with this assumption is that one may have full blown candidiasis without thrush or itchiness, in fact this is probably more likely and would explain why candida carries on being a problem without the person being aware of it. The list of conditions candida overgrowth contributes to, and perhaps causes, is staggering, I will simply provide a link to one fairly comprehensive list here https://eliciamiller.com/systemic-candida-symptoms-causes-cures/
The main causes of candida overgrowth:
A diet rich in sugars, this includes artificial sugars, these actually kill off good bacteria or cause imbalance to the gut microbiome, which in many will also lead to weight gain and difficulty losing weight. Apart from the obvious sources of sugar there is sugar in so much of what we take for granted such as toothpaste, medications, convenience foods and ready made meals. Sugar is used as a a preservative in most processed food, so just avoiding obvious sweets won’t do it. We over consume sugar on a massive scale and as it’s highly addictive can be a hard habit to break. Drinking a lot of fruit juice can also contribute as this, although natural, is a concentrated form of fruit sugars.
Antibiotics – like sugar this isn’t as clean cut or obvious, there is of course antibiotic use for infections but what most don’t realise is that we are consuming antibiotics through meat and dairy, and in our water supply as all that goes into agriculture enters the water table.
Pesticides – these contribute to gut imbalance and are in virtually all that we eat unless strictly organic.
Typical Western diet – all of the above of course but add to that the low consumption or fresh fruit and vegetables. Vast research over the past few decades has proven that a predominantly plant based diet is what keeps our gut healthy and functional. The absence or low consumption of what is called “resistant starch” leads to poor gut function. Resistant starches are foods such as potatoes, pulses, slightly unripe bananas, green beans, wholegrains. As these starches travel through the small intestine they don’t fully digest so by the time the colon is reached they ferment and serve as a prebiotic; prebiotics feed the healthy bacteria. I will write more about plant based eating in later posts as the newest findings are incredible.
Excessive alcohol – alcohol of course is rich in sugars and yeasts
Medication – Particularly steroids and the contraceptive pill
Now for two other causes of candida overgrowth we rarely see in the literature; these are the absence of certain nutrients and certain emotional issues. First the nutrients, candida is kept in balance not only by a healthy diet but through a sufficient amount of a trio of minerals, these are zinc, selenium and chromium picolinate. As far as I know there are no scientific studies on this though of course it’s well documented that zinc and selenium are needed for healthy immune functioning which is needed to keep the gut balanced and that chromium is indicated in maintaining blood sugar balance and insulin control. It has been found that a candida overgrowth greatly adds to or perhaps mimics diabetes or diabetic like symptoms.
Candida, as with all health issues, often has an emotional cause, which diet will usually worsen. What this illness is is often unique to the sufferer but there a few general indications – one (this comes from Theta Healing) is that resentment is a trigger, according to Louise Hay, frustration and anger (similar to Theta) but also being scattered and demanding. Unworthiness and feeling as if you are being taken advantage of, a victime type mentality – from several sources. That’s quite a lot to start with and it’s important when dealing with emotional causes to not be too prescriptive. How do you feel about the candida, what specific emotion do you feel; this could be a clue as to cause. If it’s been with you for a long time then what else has been a part of your life for a long time? A sense of unworthiness, of not deserving a full life? Or long standing anger about something? (resentment is anger that has gone cold) Or do you feel as if there are “parasites” in your life? That is things, people, events/ongoing situation or institutions that are sucking the life out of you?
How do you know if you have candidiasis?
This post is about candida overgrowth itself and it’s symptoms, I will write about dealing with it in another post. If you suspect you have it after looking at the list of possible symptoms then there is a simple at home test you can do for free known as the spit test. Here’s the link to the symptoms list again – https://eliciamiller.com/systemic-candida-symptoms-causes-cures/
The spit test
Many people will say this test is unscientific but if coupled with several symptoms it may be a pretty certain indication of a candida problem.
First thing in the morning, rinse your mouth with water only, let saliva gather (not mucus) and spit into a glass of water. After a few minutes, if you have candida overgrowth, you will see one or more of the following:
If within two to three minutes after spitting into the water, you see “strings” hanging down, cloudy particles in the water, or “debris” sinking to the bottom, you most likely have an extensive overgrowth of candida.
If it takes longer than five minutes for anything to show up, the candida is not likely as extensive as it could be and will be easier to treat
The reason for the Spit Test is, if you have candida overgrowth, it will show up in the saliva which is a friendly environment for yeast.When you spit into the glass, the aerated saliva is lighter than water. However, as candida is heavier than either then signs of an overgrowth will begin to show up. Whether it sinks as “legs”, falls to the bottom, or floats around in the water, all are indications of candida. The more you see, and the faster you see it, the more systemic the infection. Candida concentrates in saliva overnight hence it being most accurate first thing in the morning.