What causes Candida?
It has been stated that up to 25% of the western population has some form of candida ranging from mild to severe. Given the state of our food chain and the unhealthy processed foods we are accustomed to and our “always on” lifestyles, it’s no wonder this figure is so high.
What triggered your Candida? Was it chronic and continued stress, your diet, a course of antibiotics or too much refined carbs?
There are a number of causes including, a high sugar diet, antibiotics, chronic stress, the high inflammatory diet and alcohol. And it can take just one of these to trigger it. As mentioned, we all have naturally Candida in our digestive tract already. It is a microorganism that is naturally present in your digestive tract and has been part of our evolutionary eco-system, and when we speak about Candida in the term of been a problem, we are referring to simply the overgrowth that has occurred. The good news is that our gut is kept in check with healthy bacteria for most of the population.
One of the unfortunate problems with Candida is its recognition within the medical community and its still not seen, or more importantly recognized and been able to test properly which is why alternative treatments/testing are being sought after.
Causes of Candida
- Taking a round of antibiotics. Antibiotics as we know kill the bad stuff, but unfortunately kill the good stuff and this is a breeding ground for Candida to thrive. Saccharomyces boulardii should be taken with antibiotics. It’s a beneficial yeast that help to keep candida at bay while taking antibiotics
- Taking oral contraceptives. Use of the birth control pill can disrupt the bacterial balance in our sensitive microbiome. Once hormones decide to go on a rampage, causing physical upheavals, what they affect as well are emotional and mental aspects of one’s being. Having female health and changes in hormone levels in mind, candida has the likelihood to be an issue. With elevated blood sugar levels coming to the fore, This, in return, is known to provide quite a good nutritional basis for yeast, and exceptional grounds for the candida infestation. Quite a number of women who have had candida issues have come to realise, in order to avoid its recurrence, they needed to put the pills completely aside, for the purpose of both alleviating and putting candida manifestations in complete check.
- Consuming a lot of alcohol. Nearly all alcohol ferments and its sugars feed candida. Most people with a candida infection drink alcohol regularly. The guilty ones are the beers, wines and spirits. The big problem with spirits or the mixers who are full of sugar and feed the infection. These will include all tonics, cokes and their diet forms as Candida will still feed on them. If you were to absolutely have to have one drink to limit feeding Candida, it would be vodka/gin soda water with fresh lime/lemon.
- Eating a diet high in refined carbohydrates and sugar. This is simply fuel for candida and what they thrive on for survival and growth. All the stuff you crave and more accustomed to eating will have a negative impact. The list is very long and most likely staples in your household including most cereals, white rice and potatoes. Even those ones who are labelled whole grains and the so called “healthy granola” will affect candida. The main problem is the grains are high GI and it doesn’t matter if its a simple or a complex carb, the impact is in its high GI status which essentially turn into sugar into your body. Your diet needs to be completely overhauled into a whole foods diet,where you shouldn’t need to look at a label to see what the ingredients are. Did you ever have to look at the ingredients of an avocado or eggs? Processed food are often the source of hidden sugars and many addiditves/preservaties. Admittedly the standard of ready made meals have improved over the last few years, but most will use cheap cuts of meat which have been raised with the use of antibiotics.
- Prolonged periods of stress. Stress can also sorts of disruption to our gut and immune. We are all exposed to stress in our lives, some more than others and it’s a good thing to have a small amount of stress. However, continued stress will deplete our adrenal glands to be able to make enough cortisol (stress hormone) and this will affect our immune system and leave it open to open to, you guessed it, candida infections. With cortisol levels seesawing up and down, this will affect candida. Alleviating stress is something that should be looked at in the treatment of any candida infection.
- Taking corticosteroids. Commonly prescribed drugs used to treat severe allergies, skin problems, asthma, or arthritis are know to cause an overgrowth of yeast. Inhaled steroids central role in the treatment of bronchial asthma however, oral adverse effects can occur. In a study to compare the frequency of oral candidiasis in asthmatic patients treated with Inhaled steroids was done to the inhalation flow rate on candidiasis.The result showed that the amount of isolated Candida was significantly greater in asthmatic patients treated with steroids than those that were not.
- A weakened immune system Some people catch everything that is going round, so to speak and others are never sick and always full of life. Everyone is different and that’s the same for our immune system. Our immune system is how we fight off infections, germs and candida. Sometimes the immune system does not work properly and these people are extremely susceptible to infection and candida. One thing to note that our immune system is highly complex and important to our well-being. Did you know that approximately 70% of our immune system resides in our gut? A compromised immune system puts you at a higher risk for gut imbalances and candida infections. A strong immune system is your first line of defense against a Candida overgrowth, but its also one of the first systems in your body that Candida attacks. So not only do you need to repair your immune system from the damage that the Candida has caused, but you also need to make it even stronger to keep your Candida in check over the long run.
You may need to look no further than your teeth to see the source of your ills. A study from Marshall university in the US revealed that the digestive tract is a major target for dental amalgam fallout.The study showed that when ingested up to 95% of mercury is absorbed through the digestive tract and so begins to wreak havoc with the gut as it inhibits the production of certain digestive enzymes who help break down food.
Aside from messing up digestive enzymes, mercury also impacts intestinal flora. The friendly bacteria amongst many of its other jobs is to aid digestion and if not digested properly large molecules of undigested food enter the bloodstream and cause a host of immune-mediated reactions, resulting in a range of allergic-type reactions.
As a result, people who have high mercury levels typically suffer from chronic indigestion, bloating, IBS and other gut disorders.
Other factors to consider
When we are looking at causes, it should be noted, that anything that causes our gut to get disrupted will have any effect and yeast, amongst other issues can start to be a problem.
If your body is constantly inflamed by eating a standard processed diet with no exercise, little sleep and no relaxation time, chances are it can lead to a continuous cycle of medications which will disrupt the gut. Curing a cold with an antibiotic is just complete madness, especially given cold is caused by a virus and not bacteria. We are over using them and they should only be used with a severe infection. It weakens our immune system and causes havoc to our gut. One of the most important things to overcome taking an antibiotic is take probiotics for a good few months after and using prebiotic fibres and food to bring back the diversity that we had before taking antibiotics. Unfortunately the conventional system is way behind the times on this.
Chronic stress leads to chronic production of cortisol. Cortisol is good in small amounts. Under prolonged some stressful conditions larger, continuous amounts are produced, where it becomes harmful allowing continuous immune-suppression. Continuous immune-suppression predisposes a person to candida infection. This is where candida can take advantage of the situation and cause the infection to get hold of someone.
Stress can cause all sorts of issues to the environment of the gut. This in turn can inhibit the growth and adhesion of lactobacilli. This particular bacteria keep the candida population in check and if lactobacilli cannot stay in the gut, candida will overtake.
Stress can reduce of IgA antibodies. Because our IgA provides us defence against disease causing organisms, and so any reduction in IgA will make us more susceptible to these organisms.
The role of stress can be undermined with Candida infections. It really needs to be addressed to give your body and your immune system to strenght to fight back against the infection, otherwise the time period to overcome Candida will be lengthier and more prolonged.
- The American Academy of Oral Medicine. Oral Yeast Infections (Thrush or Candidiasis)
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Oropharyngeal/Esophageal Candidiasis (“Thrush”)
- Akpan A, Morgan R. Oral candidiasis. Postgraduate Medical Journal. 2002;78(922):455-459. doi:10.1136/pmj.78.922.455. ncbi.nlm.nih.gov