Smorgasbord Health Column – Project 101 – Resilience – The importance of a healthy gut (part one) by Sally Cronin

Project 101 – Resilience is aimed at developing a strong  immune system and a body that can fight off disease at any age. One of the key factors in achieving that level of robust health is being a healthy weight. There have been a number of risk factors identified that put certain groups of the population at a higher risk of a critical outcome from being infected with the virus or being unable to manage the severity of the resulting infection.

One of the cornerstones of our health is based in the lower half of our body in the intestines. Our gut health determines the efficiency of many of our operating systems, including our immune system. Although I have posted on Candida Albicans and the Digestive system in the past, I would like to being the two together to emphasize how important eating fresh food ‘cooked from scratch’ is to our health and resilience to not just Covid-19 but other diseases too.

My experience with Candida Albicans

Whilst I could pinpoint an hormonal imbalance from puberty, and a cycle of crash dieting as contributors to my eventual morbid obesity. It was the more important discovery that I had likely been suffering from Candida Albicans since the age of ten that set me on the road to recovery.

It is not just my health that was compromised, many millions of the population, particular in developed countries also have been put at risk, with an estimated 70% of us with a candida albicans overgrowth, seriously undermining our health.

Overweight people often look for a physical problem to blame for their condition, such as their glands, so it was a revelation to learn that there might indeed be a physical reason for my excessive weight gain.

Before I look at Candida in more detail… I am often asked the difference between probiotics and prebiotics. This difference is important as diet is the key element of keeping a healthy balance of bacteria in our gut, and our modern diet, that includes far more industrialised foods, does not provide the elements needed to maintain this balance.

Probiotics are the bacteria and yeasts that are classified as ‘friendly’. They inhabit our digestive tract and are a vital part of the process of digesting food and turning it into something that the rest of the body into a form it can utilise. Without a healthy balance of these probiotics, systems such as the immune function, can be compromised, as well as the health of other operating systems and the major organs. If you eat live dairy products, including Kefir, or fermented foods such as sauerkraut, it will encourage the essential bacteria such as Lactobacilli and Bifidobacteria to flourish.

Prebiotics are processed from insoluble carbohydrates in most fruit and vegetables including Apples (skin on) bananas, beans, artichokes etc (which is why we need to eat several portions of vegetables and fruit daily) This survives the stomach acid and digestive process that some foods such as yogurts might not do, and reaches the gut where it acts like a fertiliser for the existing probiotics and maintains a healthy balance.

As far as Candida Albicans is concerned this balance in the intestinal flora is crucial and I will explain that as we move through the next posts.

We are all familiar with the concerns about the rain forests and their devastation and long lasting consequences for our planet. Well our gut is an eco-system too – teeming with life that is as varied and as exotic as in any rain forest. And, like the many species that are at risk in the wider world, our bacteria that populate our gut and keep us alive, are under threat too.

All humans contain Candida Albicans in small amounts in our gut and urinary tract. In those amounts it is harmless – however – advances in medical treatment, and our modern diet, have given this opportunistic pathogen all it needs to develop from harmless colonies to massive overgrowths. It is also referred to as Monilia, Thrush, Candidiasis and Yeast Infection.

The most at risk are those with an already compromised immune system, but because of our high sugar, white carbohydrate and processed foods in our diets, most of us are now at risk.
We have also been treated with broad spectrum antibiotics for the last 65 years, as well as newer drugs that we take long term, that manipulate our hormonal balances. We as yet do not know the long term impact on our bodies of the modern drugs we take, and it may be generations before we do. Which is why there is now great concern that the pathogens are becoming more and more resistant to drugs such as antibiotics.

The eco-system which is our gut.

Our intestinal tract, like our hearts, brains, livers, kidneys etc is a major organ. Some refer to it as the ‘gut brain’ – How many times do you mention your gut feelings?

Without it there would be no way to process the raw ingredients we eat to keep our immune system healthy enough to protect us from pathogens. The good bacteria or flora in the gut, two of which are, Bifidobacteria bifidum and Lactobaccillus acidophilus normally keep the Candida in balance.

In most cases antibiotics are broad spectrum, not specific, because, without a lab test it is difficult to tell the specific strain of bacteria responsible for an infection. The use of broad spectrum drugs usually guarantees that the bacteria in question will be killed off.

• Unfortunately, not only the bad bacteria are killed off but also the good bacteria in your gut.
• Candida remains unaffected because it is not bacteria it is a yeast and this is where it takes full advantage.

What happens to Candida to allow it to take over?

If Candida yeast is allowed to grow unchecked, it changes from its normal yeast fungal form to a mycelial fungal form that produces rhizoids. These long, root-like components are capable of piercing the walls of the digestive tract and breaking down the protective barriers between the intestines and the blood. This breakthrough allows many allergens to enter the blood stream causing allergic reactions. Mucus is also formed around major organs and in the lining of the stomach. This prevents your digestive system from functioning efficiently. The result is poorly digested food and wasted nutrients. Your body begins to suffer a deficiency of these nutrients and it leads to chronic fatigue, an impaired immune system and disease.

There would appear to be a strong link between this overgrowth of Candida Albicans to a huge list of symptoms and illness. Here is a snapshot.

• People who are suffering from Chronic Fatigue Syndrome or ME usually test positive for Candida although there are also other issues involved in this complex condition.
• Numbness, burning or tingling in fingers or hands.
• Insomnia,
• Abdominal pain,
• Chronic constipation or diarrhoea,
• Bloating,
• Irritable Bowel Syndrome.
• Thrush and Cystitis,
• Sexual dysfunction and loss of sexual drive.
• Endometriosis or infertility
• PMS and heavy and painful periods.
• Depression and panic attacks
• Irritability when hungry.
• Unexplained muscle or joint pains often diagnosed with arthritis.
• Headaches and mood swings.
• Chronic rashes or hives
• Food intolerance.
• Liver function due to build up of toxins leading to chronic fatigue, discomfort and depression.

The list is virtually endless – which just adds to the confusion at the time of diagnosis.
If you are experiencing any of these symptoms then you may have a varying degree of overgrowth.

Next week – the effect of sugars on your gut health… followed by the eating programme to re-establish a healthy gut flora.

©Sally Cronin – Just Food for Health – 1998 – 2020

I am a qualified nutritional therapist with twenty-two years experience working with clients in Ireland and the UK as well as being a health consultant on radio in Spain. Although I write a lot of fiction, I actually wrote my first two books on health, the first one, Size Matters, a weight loss programme 20 years ago, based on my own weight loss of 154lbs. My first clinic was in Ireland, the Cronin Diet Advisory Centre and my second book, Just Food for Health was written as my client’s workbook. Since then I have written a men’s health manual, and anti-aging programme, articles for magazines and posts here on Smorgasbord.

If you would like to browse my health books and fiction you can find them here: My books and reviews 2020

Your feedback is always welcome and if you do find that following any of the programmes that I have shared are beneficial then it would be great to hear about it.. you can email me on


37 thoughts on “Smorgasbord Health Column – Project 101 – Resilience – The importance of a healthy gut (part one) by Sally Cronin

    • I couldn’t say without going into a lot of detail about diet and also background Alex. Your doctor clearly feels that you should be on this prevention level of antibiotics. However, there are side-effects associated with long term use and if you are going to talk to your doctor about it then rather than quote a nutritional therapist (most think of us as witch doctors!.. here is WebMD with a post that you can refer to

      Please do not stop taking the antibiotics without consulting your doctor first.

      My personal recommendation would be to take a probiotic if the recommendation to take the antibiotic is to be continued. I suggest that you go to a Holland & Barrett who have a wide range of probiotics.. I personally take their pro-ven range which comes in differing strengths. This is in addition to including fermented foods in my diet such as Kefir (live yohurt) Sauerkraut again from a health food shop and usually in the chiller as off the shelf in jars are not as effective. I hope that helps.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Trish, my son, Michael, has no immune system and has to be on a preventative antibiotic for six months of the year (winter and change of seasons). His health has improved greatly since we started giving him a strong probiotic. It is one you have to keep in the fridge and is expensive but it has made the world of difference.

      Liked by 2 people

  1. Thanks for this Sal. Yep, my intestines are definitely my ‘gut brain’, lol. I was going to ask the difference between a yeast and fungal infection, but as you’ve described above, you’re saying Candidas is fungal? ❤

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Pingback: Smorgasbord Blog Magazine – The Weekly Round Up – July 5th -11th 2020 – Josh Groban, Mango, Pigeons, Dublin 1944, Books, Health and Laughter | Smorgasbord Blog Magazine

  3. Pingback: Smorgasbord Health Column – Project 101 – Resilience – An opportunity to get fighting fit – Round Up – Sally Cronin | Smorgasbord Blog Magazine

  4. Pingback: Smorgasbord Health Column – Family Health A-Z – Arthritis (Rheumatoid) by Sally Cronin | Smorgasbord Blog Magazine

I would be delighted to receive your feedback (by commenting, you agree to Wordpress collecting your name, email address and URL) Thanks Sally

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.