The Yeast Beast
Our digestive system houses reoccurring yeast called candida albicans which helps produce energy and facilitates digestion. It exists naturally on the skin and inside the digestive, respiratory and reproductive organs. However it can affect any organ in the body and is the most common cause of candidiasis often from prolonged of use of broad-spectrum antibiotics, steroids, the oral contraceptive pill, excessive stress and over-consumption of sugar and dairy products, which can exacerbate the production of yeast.
Candida loves sugar and all things yeasty – think fermentation of alcohol or sourdough bread – therefore it thrives in this environment and will send messages to the brain often resulting in uncontrollable sugar cravings – either simple CHO such as fruit, fruit juice, sweets and chocolate or more complex CHO cravings for the starch and yeast found in breads and pastries.
If left unchecked, the yeast overgrowth within the gut colonises and multiplies giving rise to bloating, flatulence, abdominal pain, burping, constipation, diarrhoea, malaise and fatigue. Symptoms may also include dandruff, swimmer’s ear, athlete’s foot, oral and vaginal thrush, fungal rashes, rectal itching, joint pain, and inability to concentrate, brain fog, mood swings and depression. Sound familiar?
For many years candida was a diagnostic buzzword – a trendy name for the umbrella of symptoms that seemed to brand most females within the community. Certainly it has its fair share of authentic diagnosis, however there maybe a differential diagnosis that goes under the radar, so be sure to see your health care professional for an accurate appraisal, blood samples and swabs to test for candida antibodies before embarking on a self-imposed Anti-Candida Diet which can be unnecessarily restrictive.
Mycology is the study of fungus. Candida is a dimorphic (two shaped) fungus that can spread to all parts of the body and manifest in many different ways. This fungus grows in two ways – an ellipsoid bud and in hyphal form – it can switch from being a yeast to hyphal mode where it becomes threadlike filaments called hyphae (pronounced high fee) that form the mycelium of a fungus – where the fungus interconnects to form a greenish blanket on a mouldy orange or piece of mouldy bread. This hyphae spreads from the tips and it’s these tips that are quite penetrable and can permeate into the skin and intertwine with digestive fibres and tracts. Thus when the mould undergoes a pathogenical transformation into the fungal form the hyphae penetrates – or burrows – through the lining of the gut, potentially forming roots and entering the rest of the body causing extensive tissue damage throughout, also known as yeast tissue penetration.
“Hyphae can intertwine into the fibers of the substrate, penetrating the pores. As it consumes the substrate, it can also create it’s own route by dissolving pathways into the material. This is one of the reason it is so difficult to kill/and clean up mould on organic substrates. If you remove the surface growth, those bits of hyphae within the substrate are ready for re-growth upon the return of the moisture.” Simoncini, 2007 p. 237
As the yeast overgrows it creates an increase in the colonisation within the oral, vaginal and intestinal cavities. While not all thrush is candida – it may be parasitical, viral or bacterial or a reaction to humidity, sex, exercise, tight clothing or cyclic discharge. It can also be very common for women in their third trimester of pregnancy and patients with Diabetes Mellitus tend to suffer from bouts of oral thrush.
The Kingdom of Fungus
In his controversial book, Cancer is a Fungus (Edizoni Lampis 2007), oncologist Dr. T. Simoncini discusses the life of the fungi. “Yeast and moulds belong to a broader family of life called fungus, one of the very few “Kingdoms” of life (other Kingdoms include plants, animals and bacteria).” There are over 40,000 types of funghi including mildew, bread mould, mushrooms and toadstools and rusts. Most funghi are decomposers and feed on the remains by releasing toxins to digest.
So here’s a common problem – if we have an overgrowth of candida albicans, possibly fuelled by stress, a course of broad spectrum antibiotics for a flu or unshakeable cold, continue with our diet rich in fermented things (wine, beer, sourdough bread), sugar, add a cup or two of complex carbohydrates like rice and pasta that breakdown into simple sugars. Allow these foods to sit in a sluggish gut, add another serving of stress and watch the yeast rise (expand) and the fungus spread, creating havoc in the body including inflammatory responses such as arthritis and adrenal fatigue.
Is this one of the reasons why we are tired all the time?
Probiotics – Acidophilus & Bifidus
Probiotics stimulate the growth of microrganisms such as the friendly bacteria that help to re-inoculate your gut microflora. This facilitates digestion to create a healthy gastric environment. Three primary bacterial strains are key including lactobacillus acidophilus, bifidus and bulgaricus.
Lactobacillus acidophilus contains powerful antibiotic properties. Milk is inoculated with bacteria to create the process of fermentation, which in turn coagulates the milk into lactic acid to create yoghurt. Friendly bacteria such as Lactobacillus acidophilus and Bifidobacterium thrive in a high fibre environment such as your large intestine, which enhances bacterial growth.
“Lactobaccilus bulgaricus cannot colonise the intestines but L. Acidophilus and Bifidobacterium can if the culture is fresh, but the effect is not permanent so there needs to be constant replenishment of acidophilus culture.” (Zeffertt 1999, p.16)
Interestingly, yoghurt is touted as an all-round health food however it can be contraindicated in those who suffer from arthritis. Also, sweetening your yoghurt with honey – a natural antibiotic – will kill off yoghurt enzymes and bacteria.
The Digestive Detective
The bifido bacteria is like your digestive detective, ready to combat potential pathogenic invaders from moving into your intestine, taking over and unleashing a biological bacteria warfare that can diminish your intestinal functions and create an assortment of disorders.
In addition, digestive enzymes play an important role in facilitating freedom from flatulence and other feisty functions. We make approximately 22 different enzymes in our body. Incomplete digestion may be a contributing factor in the development of many ailments including flatulence, bloating, belching, food allergies, nausea, bad breath, bowel problems and stomach disorders.