There are a massive amount of microorganisms on our body, around 10 times more than there are human cells.
The surface of our body, both inside and out, is warm and moist and this is where these microorganisms love to hang out. Favourite hangouts are our gut, skin, mouth, nose, intestines, vagina, urinary tract and between the toes and toenails.
These microorganisms are mainly made up of bacteria and yeasts both beneficial and non-beneficial. Collectively they are known as the human microbiota.
Ideally the beneficial microrganisms far outnumber the non-beneficial.
Why do we have so many microorganisms?
Our body needs microorganisms in order to survive and the microorganisms need our body to survive – it is a symbiotic relationship. Our body acts as a host to the microbiota and it is constantly trying to keep the balance in favour of the beneficial microorganisms by providing it with nice luxurious real estate sites to live on and a nourishing food supply. In return the beneficial microorganisms have many important jobs in the body such as digesting carbohydrates, producing both vitamin K and some B vitamins, keeping the non-beneficial microorganisms under control and they are responsible for a large part of our body’s immune response.
Because sites are limited, there is a battle for space between the beneficial and non-beneficial microorganisms. Each area of the body provides different conditions, some more desirable than others, and will therefore attract its own unique community.
In a healthy body where conditions are favourable for the beneficial microorganisms to thrive, and the immune system is strong, then beneficial microorganisms generally win the battle for real estate and food. But when conditions change the tables can turn and non-beneficial microorganisms such as Candida can easily spread and secure their spot in the neighbourhood by planting down their long roots. Normally Candida are resident in small numbers which is fine but when they start to thrive and take over the neighbourhood then problems can occur.
What makes conditions favourable for Candida to thrive?
Anything that feeds Candida (mainly sugar and yeast), weakens the immune system or changes the fine balance in the body’s microbiota will create favorable environments for Candida. This increases the chances of it taking up residence. Here are some things that create favourable conditions for Candida:
- Antibiotics – Antibiotics kill off both the beneficial and non-beneficial microorganisms. Yeast such as Candida can then flourish and spread without opposition from the beneficial microorganisms.
- Stress – Stress releases a hormone called cortisol. Cortisol weakens your immune system and raises your blood sugar level.
- Poor diet – Consuming an excessive amount of sugary foods, beverages and refined carbohydrates (which easily break down to sugar). Sugar is the best source of nutrition for Candida.
- Alcohol – has the ability to kill off bacteria and change the balance of the microbiota. All alcohol has the ability to disrupt the balance but beer is particularly bad as it has high yeast content also.
- Steroid or Corticosteroids use – depress the immune system and increase blood glucose levels
- Hormone imbalance – an abnormal monthly cycle, pregnancy, menopause or oral contraceptive pills change the bodys hormone balance and therefore upset the delicate balance of the microbiota.
- Diabetes – especially type 2 diabetes. When elevated sugar levels go unchecked this provides a great food source for Candida.
- Mould – inhaling mould spores triggers the immune response which overtime can weaken your immune system.
- Chlorinated water – a powerful disinfectant that disrupts the natural balance on the microbiota.
- Immune deficiency – e.g AIDS and cancer
How do I know if I have Candida?
Below is a list of symptoms that those with a Candida overgrowth can experience. The problem is that the symptoms related to Candida overgrowth are so varied and may appear to be unrelated. They can also be symptoms that may well be related to any number of other conditions. If you feel sick all over, have been exposed to any of the conditions that help Candida thrive and seem to have a large number of symptoms from the list below then it may be possible that you have a Candida overgrowth.
- Itchy Anus
- Mucous in stools
- Abdominal Pain
- Alcohol intolerance
- Food intolerance’s
- Strong sugar and refined carbohydrate cravings
- Bad breath
- Recurrent urinary tract infections
- Vaginal itching
- Recurrent vagina thrush
- Fishy smell from privates
- Painful intercourse
- Bladder infections
- Interstitial cystitis
- Low libido
Integumentary System (your skin)
- Athlete’s foot or toenail fungus.
- Dark circles under eyes
- Recurrent colds and coughs
- Sensitivity to light heat, noise and strong smells
- Poor memory
- Brain fog
- Mood swings
- Loss of balance
How do I get rid of Candida?
Getting on top of a Candida over growth can be a challenge. Changing the conditions that allow Candida to take up residence in your body is the key to controlling Candida overgrowth. Just like our gardens we need to take care of the soil, make sure the weeds are pulled out, plant seeds and nourish and feed the plants. The same goes for our body’s. To take control of Candida the steps that need to be taken are:
- Weed – Starve and kill off Candida by eliminating its food source and by using antimicrobial herbs. Care must be taken to do this step slowly as the die off effect can put strain on the liver and immune system and cause inflammation.
- Seed – Introduce beneficial microorganisms and boost the immune system.
- Feed – Nourish the beneficial microorganisms and ensure that the gut pH is at the correct level.
- Heal – The gut lining needs to be healed. Candida causes damage to the gut lining (“leaky gut”) which puts pressure on the immune system and the liver.
Even when all the above steps are followed Candida can be stubborn and is sometimes very difficult to get rid of. New research is finding that communities of Candida can sometimes band together and protect themselves behind a shield called a biofilm. These biofilms protect the Candida from antimicrobials which can make them very resistant to eradication.
There are products and processes that can be taken to break down this biofilm layer. It is best to work with a qualified practitioner to guide you through the process. This will ensure that Candida is eliminated properly, conditions for beneficial micro organisms are enhanced and if there are any biofilm issues that these are addressed.
If all steps to control Candida overgrowth are not completed then the next time you are feeling stressed, run down or you start eating crappy food then you may find Candida snapping up the next available property on the block …. and the whole cycle starts again.