Candida Albicans: This is a topic that has become very important to me the more I read about it. Candida is a type of yeast that is all around us, on us, and inside our bodies.
The human body is covered inside and out by tiny microorganisms that help sustain life. You may have heard the popular term being used to market yogurt: Probiotics. Probiotics are beneficial bacteria and yeast that live on our body and especially within our gut. They contribute to our health by "crowding out" bad bacteria growth, producing B vitamins and vitamin K, helping our digestion by breaking down some carbohydrates, and much more. The beneficial bacteria in our gut play a vital role in regulating and assisting our immune system.
Candida albicans is a type of yeast that is a natural part of a healthy person's inner ecosystem. However, when someone's load of beneficial bacteria and subsequently their immune system becomes weakened, the candida yeast along with other parasitical organisms can overgrow and cause an overwhelming variety of symptoms. These symptoms are caused by toxic excretions that place an unnecessary burden on our body and our elimination systems.
But why would candida overgrow in our systems in the first place? It overgrows when the beneficial bacteria in our gut diminishes and our immune system is weakened. The top 5 "killers" of beneficial bacteria are: antibiotics, prednisone (or other steroids), birth control, stress, and a diet high in sugar and refined carbohydrates.
Here are two quotes from The Body Ecology Diet book that may help explain this situation further:
"Candida overgrowth is a vicious cycle. Our diets are full of sugars that feed the yeast. In women, pregnancy and the use of birth control pills create hormonal changes that encourage yeast overgrowth. Antibiotics, found extensively in our food supply [think meat and farmed fish] and prescribed by doctors, kill not only bad bacteria but also the friendly bacteria that normally inhabit our tissues, so this sets up an environment where yeast can multiply uncontrollably. A normal, strong immune system can keep yeast under control. But when yeast do overgrow, they release toxins, which weaken the immune system. At this point, the weakened immune system can no longer defend against germs, bacteria, and viruses, so these organisms multiply and quickly invade tissues and organs, causing infections. If you take antibiotics to get rid of these infections, the cycle starts all over." (The Body Ecology Diet)
"Candida floods your body with a toxic by-product called acetaldehyde. Acetaldehyde is the compound that produces the symptoms of an alcohol hangover. This serious toxin poisons tissues, is not easily eliminated and accumulates in your brain, spinal cord, and muscles. Remember your heart and your intestines are muscles. You can now understand your symptoms of brain fog, muscle weakness and even pain." (The Body Ecology Diet)
When I first heard the list of symptoms caused by candida overgrowth I felt like I was reading out the symptoms of my own illness. Here is the list of symptoms (I took the liberty to bold the ones that I have heard other RA bloggers complain of and that I myself have complained of): "anxiety, allergies, asthma, acne, bloating, cystitis, chemical sensitivities, coughs, cramps, constipation, chronic fatigue syndrome, confusion, trouble concentrating, depression, diarrhea, emotional problems, eczema, fatigue, fuzzy thinking, food cravings and sensitivities, gas, gastritis, headaches, hypoglycemia, hives, hyperactivity, heartburn, irritability, indigestion, intestinal pain, irrational fears, lethargy, low self-esteem, memory loss or poor memory, migraines, sore muscles, nausea, panic, puffiness, PMS, psoriasis, quick anger, skin rash, sexual problems, skin infections, stiffness, sleep disturbance, sinus pressure, sore throat, thrush, vaginal yeast infections, and/or weight gain." (The Complete Candida Yeast Guidebook). Phew, I need a break from typing.
"If you have been suffering from a chronic illness and especially if that illness has "no known cause" (which, by the way, is a common phrase used by doctors and medical textbooks), consider yourself infested with parasites until proven otherwise." (The Complete Candida Yeast Guidebook)
Now this may sound scary, but something like candida albicans is considered a parasite. Not all parasite are big worms!
"From time to time in your life, you've almost certainly had fevers, stomach upsets, ear problems, headaches, skin rashes, aches and pains...If they do recur, and you go to your doctor with one or several of these complaints but there is no apparent explanation or cure, then you may have a yeast-related condition" (The Body Ecology Diet)
"A prominent University of California immunologist, Alan Levin, estimates that one out of three Americans is adversely affected by candida." (The Body Ecology Diet)
Look for a post on how to recover from Candida albicans overgrowth and a book give-away coming up on Friday!