Is Candida Causing Your Tummy Troubles?

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Brain fog and difficult concentration, mysterious skin rashes, bloating, constipation and you’re always ready to eat something sweet? You could be suffering from fungal overgrowth.

What is Fungal Overgrowth?

There are many types of yeasts in our intestines that can overgrow. The Candida species is the most common kind of yeast that co-exists with humans. For this article, I’ll use “candida” as the term for all types of fungal species. . Under optimal conditions, candida plays a valuable role in our digestive systems, and when the intestine is healthy, with a preponderance of beneficial bacteria, lack of inflammation, few antibiotics, excellent diet, candida stays the simple fungus that doesn’t cause problems. When circumstances are ideal, our gut bacteria keeps intestinal yeast growth in check, creating a harmonious balance between bacteria and yeast.

The delicate balance between gut bacteria and yeast

This delicate balance is, however, easily disturbed. For example, we can lose beneficial bacteria after taking a round of antibiotics, or power candida’s growth by bingeing on sugar or alcohol. Estrogen dominance, birth control pills, food sensitivities, and factors that cause intestinal lining inflammation can all allow the amount of yeast in our system to grow and proliferate.

Is systemic candida the same as a yeast infection?

Most people are familiar with the different kinds of yeast infections. A fungal infection in the mouth is called oral thrush, and is marked by white, bumpy patches in the mouth and on the tongue, as well as difficulty swallowing. A vaginal yeast infection causes redness, swelling, and itchiness, and produces an unpleasant white discharge. These reactions are typically immediately noticeable – and very irritating.

In contrast, an intestinal candida overgrowth can be much more subtle – although it’s impact may be more troublesome. When beneficial gut bacteria decrease and yeast multiplies, the overall effect on our gut and systemic body and mind can be far-reaching.

How does systemic candida overgrowth work?

When candida grows unchecked, it can permeate into the lining of your intestine leading to “leaky gut” syndrome. As the name suggests, leaky gut syndrome causes food proteins, bacteria, and toxins to “leak” from your intestine into your bloodstream.

When the immune system is faced with these unknown invaders, it kicks into overdrive trying to neutralize the threat in any way it can. This can lead to a number of symptoms ranging from inflammation to autoimmune diseases.

Candida overgrowth is often overlooked or misdiagnosed because the symptoms vary so greatly. If you’re experiencing autoimmune symptoms, wondering why your thinking has been foggy recently, or trying to figure out troublesome digestive issues, it’s possible that a systemic candida overgrowth could be the underlying problem.

What are the symptoms of systemic candida?

  1. Despite your best intentions, you have strong cravings for sugar and carbohydrates. When we make bread, we have flour, water, yeast and sugar that feeds the yeast. We find in people, a fungal overgrowth in the gut can cause an increase desire for sweets, particularly refined sugar.
  2. You have a history of athlete’s foot, vaginal yeast, jock itch, hives, ringworm, or oral thrush.
  3. You have a lot of bloating after you eat, and may have flatulence.
  4. Particularly after eating, you find have “brain fog,” difficulty concentrating. You may also get very sleepy or need to nap.
  5. You experience mood swings and frustration for no obvious reason – or you frequently feel anxious or depressed, even though you are doing your best to look after your emotional well-being.
  6. You may have muscle or joint pains, or develop headaches.

Diagnostic testing for gut bacteria and yeast

There are two main ways to diagnose fungal overgrowth. One is through stool testing, which can help diagnose candida overgrowth in the colon. (Stool tests tell us nothing about our small intestine). There is also a two page, comprehensive candida questionnaire based on “The Yeast Syndrome” book by Dr. William Crook. Dr. Crook was the first physician who noted that fungal overgrowth could occur in the intestinal tract.

Dr. Morstein has expertise in diagnosing and treating fungal overgrowth.   Treatment consists of a particular diet to weaken the candida, anti-fungals orally, and probiotics, fiber and or prebiotics to help the beneficial bacteria develop to keep the candida in check and not overgrow again. Generally the treatment lasts for 1-2 months in most people, but in some, a longer time is required to fully heal the gut.

Dr. Morstein has a very clear handout she goes over with patient to fully explain the entirety of the diet so success can be achieved in following it.   It’s not a hard diet overall, but does restrict some foods most patients have been eating regularly.

The anti-fungal medications can be supplements or an incredibly safe medication called Nystatin, which is not absorbed by the human body and only kills fungus, not bacteria. A patient may need one or the other or a combination.

Given the frequency of antibiotic use, and the common intake of refined sugar, intestinal fungal overgrowth is common. The good news is that we are experts in treating digestive issues.

If you suspect that you may be experiencing an overgrowth of candida, give us a call at 480-284-8155. Together we can make an effective plan to get you back on track.

 

Sources:

https://www.cdc.gov/fungal/diseases/candidiasis/index.html

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26709650

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17083732

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26723514

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17651080

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