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Sugar cravings, bloating, brain fog, fatigue, anxiety, and depression are common symptoms that many people experience. While these symptoms are often dismissed as general health complaints, they are often related to an overgrowth of Candida.
Candida is a type of yeast normally found in small amounts in the gut, respiratory, and genital tracts. Small amounts of Candida can be beneficial but become problematic when it grows uncontrollably. It is associated with numerous health issues… including cancer.
It is important to test for Candida to determine if it is an underlying cause of your symptoms. In this article, we’ll go over why Candida occurs, what health issues it can cause, and how to heal naturally.
What Is Candida?
Candida is a fungus, which is a form of yeast. Normally found in the mucous membranes of the intestinal tract, mouth, throat, and genital areas, Candida lives in harmony with other microorganisms and performs important functions in the body. Levels are kept low by healthy bacteria in the gut and immune system.
When the microflora is imbalanced due to lifestyle factors, Candida can overpopulate your digestive system and spread throughout your body. This overgrowth can cause an infection called Candidiasis, which can damage your organs and tissues.
Systemic candidiasis is serious and can affect the blood, heart, brain, eyes, bones, or other parts of the body. The most common form of systemic candidiasis is when Candida enters the bloodstream.
Other types of Candidiasis include thrush (from Candida in the mouth and throat), genital yeast infection, and diaper rash.
What Causes Candida Overgrowth in the Body?
There can be many causes of an overgrowth, including a weakened immune system from chemotherapy or corticosteroids and microbial imbalances in the gut. Taking antibiotics can deplete healthy gut bacteria, which can also lead to an overgrowth of Candida.
Yeast feeds off sugar, and a high-sugar, high-carbohydrate diet can cause Candida to overproduce. Refined sugar and alcohol also weaken the immune system and alter the gut microbiome, which can contribute to Candida overgrowth.
Additionally, the use of oral contraceptives has been linked to recurrent yeast infections in women, and high levels of stress and lack of sleep may also be contributors. Chronic stress causes inflammation, which can weaken the immune system as well. It’s very important to address these diet and lifestyle factors to prevent an overgrowth of Candida.
Common Symptoms and Health Problems
Because symptoms of Candida are common to many health issues, it can easily go undiagnosed. Fatigue is one of the most common symptoms, but others include:
- Sugar cravings
- Brain fog
- Poor memory
- Trouble focusing
- Mood swings
Skin issues like eczema, psoriasis, hives, rashes, athlete’s foot, or toenail fungus are common with Candida, as well as yeast infections and urinary tract infections.
Many people with Candida have digestive issues, and when Candida is overproduced, it can cause leaky gut syndrome. With leaky gut, holes develop in the lining of the gastrointestinal tract, allowing harmful substances to pass through the gut wall and into the bloodstream. Bloating, constipation, and diarrhea are common digestive symptoms of Candida. Overgrowth can even lead to diseases of the gastrointestinal tract, including ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease.
In addition to cancer, systemic Candida infections may cause the development of autoimmune conditions such as:
- Hashimoto’s thyroiditis
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Ulcerative colitis
- Multiple sclerosis.
Let’s take a closer look at the connection between candida and cancer.
Does Candida Cause Cancer?
Candida can promote cancer by several different mechanisms, like producing carcinogenic byproducts, triggering inflammation, inducing the Th17 response, and bimolecular mimicry.
Studies have established a strong connection between Candida infections and rates of cancer. A recent study found that men with Candida infections had a significantly higher risk of all cancers, hematologic malignancy (a form of cancer that affects the blood and lymphatic system), head and neck cancers, and oral cavity cancers. Women with Candida had significantly higher risks of hematologic malignancy and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
Toxic Metabolites of Candida
Once Candida enters the bloodstream, overgrowth can occur in almost every tissue in the human body. Candida releases over 70 different toxins into the bloodstream and body6 which protect it against the body’s immune system.
The liver is responsible for detoxification, and high levels of Candida can affect the liver’s ability to remove various toxins, reducing immune activity and promoting autoimmunity. This can result in whole body toxicity and immune dysregulation.
Two of the most potent toxins released by Candida are acetaldehyde and gliotoxin [Note: Gliotoxin is an immunosuppressive mycotoxin], which are released when it is alive and even more during the die-off process.
Acetaldehyde is a carcinogen that can damage cellular DNA. It is also a byproduct of alcohol metabolism and 10 to 30 times more toxic than alcohol. High levels of acetaldehyde lead to oxidative stress and inflammation.
Gliotoxin is a major toxin that suppresses the immune system and kills key immune cells, including liver cells. It has been found in high levels in individuals with multiple sclerosis, which affects the nervous system and brain.
Acetaldehyde and gliotoxins are just two of the 70 highly toxic metabolites released by Candida. These toxins can increase once Candida forms a biofilm, or protective matrix, around itself. To avoid toxic effects, it is critical to determine if you have Candida and employ healing strategies. Here are some testing options and five steps to heal Candida naturally.
How to Test for Candida
It is crucial to test for Candida so that you can take measures to reduce an overgrowth in the body. The best lab tests for Candida are organic acids testing, stool testing, and food sensitivity testing.
While there are several “DIY” tests that you can perform at home, the best way to confirm a Candida overgrowth is through laboratory testing. Here are the 3 lab tests most commonly used to accurately detect Candida overgrowth:
1 | Organic Acids Testing
One of the best testing methods for Candida is organic acids testing. Organic acids are chemical compounds excreted in our urine, and are more easily detectable in urine because they are present at 100 times their blood concentration.
Organic acids testing is a simple at-home urine test that looks at key metabolites of bacteria, yeast, and mitochondrial metabolism. Yeast and fungal markers included in organic acids testing are Citramalic, 5-Hydroxymethyl-2-furoic, 3-Oxoglutaric, Furan-2, 5-dicarboxylic, Furancarbonylglycine, Tartaric, Arabinose, Carboxycitric, and Tricarballylic. High levels indicate elevations in yeast and fungal compounds in the body. Organic acids testing is a great way to evaluate Candida.
2 | Stool Testing
Stool testing is one of the most reliable and accurate testing methods for determining if you have Candida overgrowth. Stool testing looks at yeast DNA in the stool. It measures whether there is Candida in the colon or lower intestines and can analyze levels of yeast, the species of yeast, and which treatment will be effective.
Yeast is not uniformly dispersed in the stool, so it is important to use a stool test that examines both cultured and microscopic yeast. Yeast may appear cultured but not microscopically or vice versa. Stool testing is a reliable method for determining Candida overgrowth.
3 | Measuring Antibodies to Candida
When your body is faced with a foreign substance such as bacteria, viruses, or yeast, it triggers an immune response that produces antibodies (or immunoglobulins) to fight the foreign substance. Testing for antibodies can measure your immune system’s response to Candida.
Three antibodies that can be tested are IgG, IgA, and IgM. These antibodies reflect either an immediate or delayed response to Candida.
IgM is an immediate responder and is produced when Candida first becomes systemic. IgG is the largest circulating antibody and is found in all bodily fluids. IgG is a delayed response and indicates a long-term Candida infection. High levels of these antibodies indicate that your immune system is reacting to the presence of Candida in the body.
Candida antibodies may trigger autoimmune disease and can react with virtually all human organs. They are elevated in Crohn’s disease, cystic fibrosis, and cancer.
5 Steps to Heal Candida Naturally
There are five crucial steps to heal Candida overgrowth naturally. These steps include nutrition, anti-microbial support, improving liver function, strengthening the immune system, and restoring the gut lining.
1 | Anti-Candida Nutrition Plan
To grow and proliferate, yeast needs fuel, so to overcome Candida, you must starve it to death by eliminating sugary foods.
Consuming a low-carbohydrate, low glycemic diet that consists mainly of phytonutrient-rich, non-starchy vegetables, antioxidant-rich herbs, healthy fats, and clean protein is the best anti-Candida diet. Sources of healthy fats include coconuts, olives, nuts, seeds, avocados, and grass-fed ghee. Wild-caught fish, grass-fed meat, free-range chicken, turkey, and eggs are excellent protein choices.
2 | Antimicrobial Support
Supporting the body with antimicrobials is necessary to heal Candida. There are many foods and herbs with antimicrobial properties.
Coconut oil is rich in lauric acid, which is a natural antifungal. At least 4 tablespoons of coconut oil a day should be part of your anti-Candida protocol. Substantial amounts of powerful, antioxidant-rich, anti-inflammatory herbs such as cinnamon, turmeric, green tea, and ginger should also be used daily.
3 | Improve Liver Function
Reducing toxic exposure, enhancing immunity, and rebuilding glutathione levels, sulfur compounds, and methylation can all support liver detoxification. Bitter herbs are especially good for the liver and the body’s detoxification process.
Consuming liver-healthy foods and using detoxification techniques can strengthen the liver. Foods that are great for the liver include cruciferous vegetables, eggs, citrus fruits, leafy greens, avocados, fatty fish, olives, beets, coffee, nuts, spirulina, and liver from organic, pasture-raised animals. Detox methods that support the liver include intermittent fasting, infrared saunas, coffee enemas, Epsom salt baths, oil pulling, dry brushing, and water flushing.
4 | Strengthen the Immune System
An overgrowth of Candida weakens the immune system. To recover from Candida, you must support the gut immune response and take other steps to strengthen the immune system.
Secretory IgA (SIgA) is the main immunoglobulin found in mucus secretions. It is the first line of defense against pathogens such as bacteria, parasites, viruses, and Candida. Supporting healthy SIgA levels is important for healing Candida. Supplementing with vitamin C, olive leaf extract, and beta glucan can strengthen the immune system.
5 | Restore the Gut Lining
Candida destroys the gut lining, which can lead to food sensitivities and leaky gut. It is critical to take steps to restore the gut lining once the Candida population is under control.
Following the anti-Candida nutrition plan is a great start, but you should add nutrients that can help restore the gut lining. Bone broth, aloe Vera, slippery elm tea, and L-glutamine are vital for rebuilding the gut lining. B vitamins, glutathione precursors, ginger, turmeric, MSM, quercetin, zinc, and other anti-inflammatory compounds can support liver detoxification and the gut healing process.
- Candida is a yeast naturally found in the gut.
- A healthy microbiome will keep opportunistic Candida in check.
- Candida can contribute to systemic inflammatory and immune-related conditions, including cancer.
- Candida releases over 70 toxins into the bloodstream and body. The body reacts with an immune response causing higher levels of inflammation.
- It is important to test for Candida to determine if you have an overgrowth.
- Two at-home methods for Candida are the Candida Questionnaire and the Spit Test.
- Methods for testing Candida through a lab are more reliable.
- Options for lab testing include organic acids testing, stool testing, and antibody testing.
- There are 5 crucial steps to heal Candida naturally.
- Implementing an anti-Candida nutrition plan that starves Candida
- Anti-microbial support with foods and herbs
- Improving liver function
- Strengthening the immune system
- Restoring the gut lining
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