Candida – Do you have a Yeast Infection?
Scientist estimate that 70 percent of our population (men and women) suffer from candida albicans overgrowth. Candida albicans is a yeast that normally lives in the mouth, throat, intestines and genitourinary tract of humans and is considered to be a normal part of the bowel-flora.
In a healthy person candida happily co-exists with other good bacteria in our lower digestive tract. Candida yeast in a healthy gut typically number in the millions; without it we would be defenceless against many bad bacteria. It is controlled by a properly functioning immune system and ‘friendly’ or good bacteria.
However, if the number of friendly bacteria is decreased or weakened (generally because of antibiotics, alcohol, poor diet, high amounts of sugar and refined carbohydrates in the diet, or a stressful lifestyle), then the immune system becomes weakened. This, together with an overly acidic ph in the digestive system, can cause an imbalance in the loading of candida albicans in our digestive tract.
Under these circumstances candida albicans can shift from being yeast to a fungal form, which starts to invade the body. In the yeast state, Candida is a non-invasive, sugar fermenting organism, while in the fungal state it is invasive and can produce very long root like structures called rhizoids. That’s when it turns into a problem and the person can develop chronic Candidiasis.
What happens if chronic Candidiasis is left unchecked?
In the fungal form, candida rhizoids spread out of the digestive tract into the body. Rhizoids can penetrate mucosa or intestinal walls, leaving microscopic holes and allowing toxins, undigested food particles and bacteria to enter into your bloodstream. This condition is known as Leaky Gut Syndrome (LGS) and can be indicated in the many food and environmental allergies people experience today. LGS allows toxins to leave the digestive tract and move right into the bloodstream. The spreading of candida in the body can lead to unexplained discharge, digestive problems, poor energy, sinus problems, depression, excessive skin irritation and more.
Some signs and symptoms of a candida overgrowth:
- Powerful sugar cravings
- Frequent bloating and gas
- Nail fungus
- Brain fog, difficulty concentrating
- Frequent urinary tract infections
- Yeast infections
- Feeling moody & irritable
- Acne, skin issues, rashes, itchy skin
- Poor immune health
- Poor energy
- Bad breath
The good news is that candida can be treated. But first let’s find out if you do have a candida problem and maybe Candidiasis. Here are some simple tests you can do at home.
1. The Itch Test:
Become much more acutely aware of your body for two days. Do you have an itchy scalp, itchy eyes, and itchy patches anywhere in or on your body? Do your ears need a good scratch on the inside? Do your feet itch? Write down when you need to scratch ANY part of your body and when. You will be amazed at how often you touch your body without even being aware, particularly if you have a Candida problem and are itchy. You become so used to the itching that you can become totally unaware of its presence. Look for recurrent itching anywhere and record it for two days. Itching skin is a classic symptom.
2. The Craving Test:
The candida yeast overgrowth likes to be fed and so it makes us crave sweet foods.
Become more aware of what you eat, but particularly what you like to eat, how often and when. Those with yeast infections, and especially a fungal overgrowth, may well crave sweet foods without even knowing it.
Do you want something sweet routinely after your evening meal or between meals? Be aware that bread, muffins, biscuits, muesli bars, fruit drinks and even wine all contain sugar. Check your food labels, especially on packaged and processed foods. Then try to cut out any added sugar in food for 3 days and see how this makes you feel. Fruits and vegetables are okay, but avoid citrus. This test will make a candida sufferer feel terrible – the stronger the craving and the worse you feel, the bigger the candida problem. Three days is long enough – but you have to be very strict and just focus on fresh vegetables, meats, whole grains, nuts, seeds and water.
3. The Spit Test:
This is a saliva test you can easily do at home. First thing in the morning, before brushing teeth and before you put anything into your mouth, spit into a clear glass of water. Check the water every 15 minutes for an hour. If you have a candida problem, you will either see strings (like legs) dangling down into the water from the saliva, “cloudy saliva” will sink to the bottom of the glass, or cloudy specks will seem to be suspended in the water.
If the saliva is unchanged and still floating at the top of the jar after one hour you might not have a yeast problem. Some say that this test is not so accurate but combined with the other three tests it gives a good indication.
4. The Smell Test:
Check your tongue in the mirror, is it always coated and your breath offensive? Your breath should not smell in the morning (unless you have a teeth, gum or sinus problem) this could be a key sign of things being out of balance in your intestinal tract. If you have lots of flatus, burping, bloating and digestive discomfort, you are probably fermenting bugs in your gut and producing gas as a by product; in this case a Candida control program could be well indicated.
If you tested positive with all or most of these four tests it could help to talk to a practitioner. Blood tests can also give an indication of candida. More info on this here.
Candida is a major problem, due to the sugar many of us consume in our diet. Proper diagnosis can put you on the road to recovery and feeling and being well.
Be well, Stay well!
– Healthy Options Magazine – November 2009