Have you ever noticed that the symptoms of a hangover are similar to those of a Candida overgrowth? Symptoms like brain fog, headaches, nausea and fatigue are present in both alcohol-induced hangovers and chronic Candida. For any readers still recovering from their Fourth of July celebrations, now is a great time to look at the connection between these two conditions.
The common factor that we see in both hangovers and Candida overgrowth is an organic chemical named acetaldehyde. It is actually all around us – there is acetaldehyde in polluted air, tobacco smoke, synthetic fragrances and many of the foods we eat. However, the amounts that we get from environment exposure alone are pretty low. Acetaldehyde usually only becomes a problem during a Candida overgrowth or when we drink alcohol.
Why does it matter if our levels of acetaldehyde become elevated? For starters, it is a known neurotoxin and possibly carcinogenic. But you’re probably more familiar with the more immediate effects of acetaldehyde – headaches, fatigue, brain fog and nausea.
In today’s article I’m going to examine how alcohol and Candida can both lead to higher levels of acetaldehyde, and look at what you can do to prevent this from happening.
Alcohol and acetaldehyde
Higher levels of acetaldehyde are often caused by one of two things – alcohol metabolism and Candida overgrowth. Let’s take a look at the alcohol first.
The metabolism of alcohol is a multi-stage process that happens in your liver. First, the alcohol is oxidized into acetaldehyde by an enzyme named alcohol/dehydrogenase. Second, the acetaldehyde is broken down again into acetic acid, a harmless substance that is ultimately broken down further into carbon dioxide and water.
When this process is running efficiently, the acetaldehyde exists only for a short period of time before being broken down. So it doesn’t have any time to circulate through your body and cause unpleasant symptoms like headaches and nausea.
However, when the liver runs out of the substances and enzymes that it needs to complete this metabolic process, large amounts of acetaldehyde can remain. This is what happens when you drink too much, and it’s one of the major causes of your hangover.
Candida and acetaldehyde
Candida overgrowth is another significant contributor to elevated acetaldehyde levels, but through a very different process. If you are suffering from a Candida overgrowth, the Candida colonies in your gut continually produce a number of toxins as metabolic byproducts. Among these toxins are uric acid, ammonia, and (you guessed it) acetaldehyde.
According to a team of researchers looking at the link between Candida overgrowth and Parkinson’s disease, “Patients with chronic polysystemic candidiasis exhibit significantly elevated levels of acetaldehyde in the gastrointestinal (GI) tract. This phenomenon is a direct result of the metabolic processes of the invading organism – Candida Albicans.”
Now you can see why many of the same symptoms regularly associated with hangovers (fatigue, nausea etc) frequently appear in Candida sufferers too. The toxic chemical that contributes to bad hangovers is the very same toxin that is released by the Candida Albicans living in your gut.
Reducing your acetaldehyde levels
Cutting back on your alcohol intake is one sure way to reduce your acetaldehyde levels. But if you’re suffering from chronic Candida, your body is going to need a little more assistance.
Supplements like molybdenum and milk thistle can help your liver to process the acetaldehyde into acetic acid and remove it more efficiently. This is certainly a useful way to get relief from your symptoms, but it’s only a short term fix.
To achieve a long term reduction in your acetaldehyde levels (and relief from those annoying Candida symptoms), you need to attack your Candida overgrowth. As I describe in my Ultimate Candida Diet program, the best way to do this is through a low-sugar diet, some natural antifungals and a good probiotic. If you regularly suffer from symptoms like fatigue, headaches and brain fog, a good Candida treatment plan could offer relief.