Smorgasbord Health – The Digestive System – Candida Albicans an opportunistic pathogen.


Smorgasbord Health 2017

It is not possible to do a series on the digestive system without spending time covering our intestines and the delicate balance of bacteria that populate it. More and more research is showing that an imbalance has a profound effect on our overall physical and mental health. There are many diseases that have their root cause in the gut brain of our body.

It is not my intention to lay the blame for all diseases at the feet of Candida Albicans but it is I belief important to understand how an overgrowth of this pathogen can result in a lifetime of health issues. I will share how this impacted me later in the post.

Over the next few posts I will be repeating the Candida series and I hope that those who have already read two years ago will still find something of interest.

Recently I was asked about the difference between Probiotics and Prebiotics and will explain that now before we get into the issue of this rogue gut inhabitant.

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 functionn 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 mover through the upcoming posts.

I am 42, 330lbs/150kilo and with severe health problems in 1994

My acquaintance with Candida Albicans was back in the mid 90’s. I was determined to lose my additional 10 or 11 stone and so began studying nutrition and in the process I decided to create a timeline to identify events and activities in my life from childhood that might have triggered weight gain.

At age 10 I suffered a number of bouts of tonsillitis and was given penicillin at least five times before the tonsils were removed. Before these infections I was a normal size child – three months after the operation I was three stone overweight. Something had changed.

It took me a while once I began to study nutrition, but slowly over a period of about five years I began to join the dots and came to the conclusion that this first trigger and subsequent thrush and cystitis infections, crash dieting, sugar and bread cravings were linked in some way. Candida Albicans began to get more publicity and I compared my symptoms with those described and I experienced at least 80% of them.

My first book that I originally wrote as a journal,was published in 2001.Size Matters  was the story of my journey of my weight loss from 330lbs to 180lbs, and how this most common human fungal pathogen was largely responsible for my weight and health problems.

Before I cover the scary bit – because it is overwhelming to think that there is this predatory pathogen inside the majority of us (mainly living the western world and our high sugar diet!) There are steps we can all take to ensure that our diet and lifestyle support our immune system by keeping the intestines in balance with plenty of beneficial bacteria to maintain Candida in its proper proportions.

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.

70% of 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 also have 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
  • Irritablity 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.

©sallycronin 1998 – 2018

Next time I will be looking at ways to feed the body but starve the fungus…

 

 

Smorgasbord Health A-Z of common conditions – Athlete’s Foot


smorgasbord A - ZThere is nothing quite as embarrassing as having smelly feet. There is a billion pound industry built around foot care, and large proportion of that is down to the sales of foot deodorants. Many of which mask the smell but do nothing to cure the condition.

smelly-feetAthlete’s foot is the common name for the problem since it is associated with locker rooms, communal showers and swimming pools.  However, anyone can get Athlete’s foot as it is a fungal infection and very easy to pick up if you share the same space with someone suffering from the condition. Certainly sharing socks or shoes with someone else is not always a good idea.

You can also develop the fungal infection following damage to the foot or toes or by not washing and drying your feet and between the toes carefully after bathing or showering. Also if your feet sweat a lot and you wear enclosed shoes for long periods of time your risk increases.

The problem becomes more difficult to eradicate when it spreads to your toenails and sometimes to your hands and fingernails.

Other causes of fungal infections include an overgrowth of Candida Albicans (which is a fungal infection) in your gut that compromises our immune system and also can enter the bloodstream when the cells change shape and escape the intestines. The elderly and those who have been chronically ill can also find that their immune system is unable to prevent the fungus taking hold. (check out the posts on Candida here: https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/smorgasbord-health-directory/)

There are a number of over the counter products that say that they will treat Athlete’s Foot but this is one of those health issues that requires your participation in curing it.

First and foremost invest in flip flops that you can use in public areas where feet play a prominent role!  Never share anyone else’s socks and shoes and this applies in particular to bowling alleys….If you play regularly then an investment in your own shoes is a good move. If you have to wear shoes that other’s have worn before you I suggest you wear an anti-fungal barrier cream, or as I do a Tea Tree lotion or oil rubbed into my feet and toes.

If you are suffering from Athlete’s Foot, then three times a week soak your feet in warm salty water for about ten minutes. Carefully dry your feet, especially between the toes, and make sure you keep that towel separate from everyone else.

Then separate your toes individually and sprinkle some ordinary baking powder between them. Keep them apart by using small wads of cotton wool and relax for half an hour.

I have tea tree oil on hand for a lot of health issues and certainly I have found that when I was walking several miles a day, in very hot weather, that applying tea tree between the toes and then around the whole foot certainly helped clear up any minor fungal infections.

Letting your feet out of jail often is a good thing and particularly in winter where your feet might have been enclosed all day and then slipped into those cosy fleece lined slippers! A perfect environment for fungus.  I wear flip flops in the house summer and winter and that certainly helps keep them free of infections. Also if possible stick your sneakers in the washing machine and dry outside in sunlight.. you can also rub some tea tree into the innersoles, particularly around the joints near the toes.

 As far as nutrition is concerned

garlic

  • Good old garlic does not only keep vampires away.. A clove a day can also help boost your immune system and prevent fungal infections.
  • You also need to look at how much sugar you have in your diet as fungus are not into other fungus.. they thrive on sugar.
  • Eat lots of fresh vegetables, lean proteins, healthy fat, moderate wholegrains and certain fruits.
  • Keep hydrated and also make sure you use a good quality skin lotion as over dry skin can crack, especially around the heel areas and let in infections.
  • You might consider taking Echinacea drops daily for a few weeks as that might help boost your immune system.
  • Coconut oil has anti-fungal properties and is also super hydrating. Whilst I have only recently started using it in my porridge and cooking… I have used a coconut oil and tea tree oil combination on my skin.

Image of kipper feet – Pinterest.

Thank you for dropping in and I hope you have found useful… your feedback is always appreciated.  Sally