The interaction between Candida and your immune system is an important part of your Candida treatment plan. A strong immune system is your first line of defense against a Candida overgrowth, but its also one of the first systems in your body that the Candida attacks. So not only do you need to repair your immune system from the damage that the Candida has caused, but you also need to make it even stronger to keep your Candida in check over the long run.
A weak immune system is often associated with illnesses like adrenal fatigue and leaky gut syndrome. In addition to your probiotics and antifungals, there are a number of ways to help your body cope with these illnesses and rebuild your immune system. If you take the right supplements, make a few changes in your daily routine and adopt a healthier lifestyle, your body will be able to do much of the work in beating your Candida infestation.
How does Candida affect your immune system?
Your immune system is not just one organ like you liver or heart. Its a collection of different organs and systems that work together to kill pathogens and protect your body. Almost every part of your body contributes something to your immune system, so if one piece starts to function below par, your health is at risk.
Candida affects your immune system in a few different ways – it imbalances your gut flora, causes Leaky Gut Syndrome and results in Adrenal Fatigue. Here is a brief explanation of each one.
The imbalance in your gut flora happens when the Candida yeast starts to take over your digestive tract. It is a little know fact that your intestines are a crucial part of your immune system – studies have shown that a healthy balance of bacteria helps to fight off disease and infection, although scientists are not yet sure of the reason. So when the ‘good’ bacteria are outnumbered by the harmful and fast-growing Candida cells, this directly affects your immune system. This is one reason why probiotics are such an important part of any Candida treatment.
Leaky Gut Syndrome is a weakening and inflammation of the intestinal wall, which is often caused by Candida overgrowth. The Candida yeast cells attach themselves to your intestinal membrane, penetrating through into your bloodstream and provoking inflammation and a strong immune response. These allergic responses put pressure on your adrenal glands and immune system, the very parts of your body that you need to fight off the Candida.
Adrenal fatigue occurs when your adrenal glands are placed under stress for long periods. We’re not just talking about a high-pressure job either – prolonged use of caffeine and insufficient sleep are more than enough to weaken your adrenals. A lengthy Candida infestation will do exactly the same. These important glands are responsible for maintaining hormone levels in the body, which regulate things like your metabolism and your cardiovascular system. Overworked, fatigued adrenals will weaken your immune system and give you a feeling of tiredness that just won’t go away.
Supplements to boost your immune system
Probiotics are mentioned a great deal on this site, and for very good reason. A course of good probiotics will help to crowd out the Candida in your stomach, in addition to releasing small amounts of lactic and acetic acid that maintain your stomach acidity. But that’s not the only way in which they can help you beat your Candida overgrowth. They will also give your battered immune system a welcome helping hand.
A 2009 study at the University of Pennsylvania (read the report here) found that a healthy balance of bacteria in your gut will actually boost your immune system. They showed that normal levels of bacteria actually increase the effectiveness of the immune system and help your body to fight off pathogens.
Vitamin C helps with Candida overgrowth in three ways. First, it provides support to your adrenals, two small organs that are crucial for your metabolism and blood sugar regulation (as well as your body’s production of things like anti-inflammatories and antihistamines). Second, Vitamin C boosts your immune system and gives your body the best chance possible to fight off the Candida yeast. Lastly, it helps boost your stomach acid, which slows the Candida overgrowth.
Other vitamins you can try are vitamins A and E, as well as pantothenic acid (Vitamin B5). Vitamin A helps your body defeat infection by influencing the cells in certain mucosal surfaces, while studies on Vitamin E have shown it to be effective in boosting immune response after vaccinations.
You can try some herbal remedies to reduce stress on your immune system too – ashwagandha and licorice root are good examples. Ashwagandha in particular is a remarkable herb that has stress-relieving properties as potent as some medicinal drugs. Remember to check with your doctor before you start a herbal treatment program.
Cat’s Claw is also a good supplement for your immune system – it contains alkaloids that strengthen your white blood cells, allowing them to attack pathogens such as the Candida yeast, as well as other fungi, viruses and bacteria. Alternatively, taking Echinacea will stimulate the production of white blood cells and boost your resistance too. Red Reishi is also a fantastic immune booster.
Other ways to boost your immune system
Cut out the caffeine
Caffeine is one of the biggest causes of adrenal fatigue, and therefore immune system weakness. Its not easy to quit coffee, so take a few weeks to wean yourself off. Start by cutting out your afternoon coffee, then gradually reduce the weakness of your morning cup too. You can try chicory coffee as an alternative – it tastes similar, contains prebiotics to promote the rebalancing of your gut flora, and stimulates the production of healthy digestive enzymes.
Some light exercise will improve your circulation and support your immune system. Don’t overdo it though – a strenuous workout will place your body under stress and weaken your adrenals further.
Sauna is a way to increase the elimination of toxins from your body and take some pressure off your immune system. This works in a couple of different ways. Firstly, remember that your skin is the largest organ in your body, and is responsible for up to 15% of all toxin elimination. An effective sauna opens your pores and allows a larger quantity of toxins to be expelled. Secondly, it improves your circulation and helps your liver to remove toxins and pathogens from your blood.
Physical and emotional stress are major contributors to immune system failure, so you need to find a way to cut some of the stress out of your life. Take a week or two off work and go on a relaxing holiday if you can. Don’t just think in the short term either – if you can reduce your stress levels long term that’s even better.
One of the most important things you can do for your adrenals is take a good rest. If you can’t get away on holiday, at least make sure that you go to sleep reasonably early. Staying up late is actually quite stressful on your body, so do your adrenals a favor and make sure you get your 8 hours of sleep.
If you want to learn more about boosting your immune system, my Ultimate Candida Diet treatment program recommends a list of immune boosting supplements.