Is Candida affecting the way that you live your life? Could a gut imbalance be making you unhappy, causing uncomfortable symptoms like diarrhea or yeast infections, and ruining your energy levels? Let’s take a look at how this pathogenic yeast might be making your life more difficult.
Your digestive tract is a complicated system that can be affected by many internal and external influences. When conditions allows Candida albicans to change the balance of microorganisms in your gut, it can seriously affect the way that many of the organs in your body operate. These microorganisms can influence your health in a number of ways.
The combination of bacteria and yeast that we have in our guts today is likely quite different from our ancestors, who were less diligent about cleaning their produce and living in germ-free environments. However, most of us still enjoy a healthy gut flora that helps to keep us in good health. The microorganisms in our gut promote good immunity, aid in proper nutrient digestion, and much more.
If you manage to go through life without taking lots of antibiotics, undergoing long periods of stress, or eating a high sugar diet, then your gut flora will likely stay healthy. The problem is that most of us don’t do that. Incredibly, by the age of 20 the average American has received 17 courses of antibiotics. And the ‘Standard American Diet’ is packed full of sugars that weaken immunity and can promote conditions like Candida.
So what happens when that healthy balance of microorganisms is disturbed, and turns into an unhealthy overgrowth of Candida or some other pathogen?
The bacteria and yeast in your gut are there to perform several very important tasks. One of the most crucial is nutrient extraction and absorption. They help to break down and process the food that leaves your stomach and enters your gut. As they do this, they release many of the macronutrients and micronutrients that you need to survive and thrive.
Even if you eat the healthiest diet in the world, you are largely dependent on your gut flora to extract the health-affirming vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients from that food. A good example that I’ve written about before is Magnesium.
For example, malnourished kids tend to have fewer types of microorganism in their guts, and the types that they have are more likely to be opportunistic pathogens rather than healthier probiotic bacteria.
If your body is unable to extract the right nutrients from your food, there can be a number of consequences. You might feel constantly tired; your immune system might be weakened and susceptible to regular viruses; and you might experience food cravings. All can be symptoms of an underperforming, compromised digestive system.
Physically, these imbalances might manifest as obvious digestive problems. Just as IBS can result in diarrhea (IBS-D) or constipation (IBS-C), a disturbance in your gut flora can have unpredictable results. Your bowel transit time may increase or decrease. You may experience digestive symptoms like stomach cramps, bloating, or excess gas. Candida sufferers are more likely to suffer from diarrhea than constipation, but individual experiences can vary considerably. The important thing is to recognize that something is wrong with your digestion, and identify what may be causing it.
I’ve already mentioned low energy levels as a result of poor nutrient absorption. Very simply, if your body is not getting the nutrients it needs then you are likely to feel tired and run down. However, there are a couple more reasons why an overgrowth of Candida albicans can lead to tiredness and fatigue.
The Candida colonies are not just sitting there idly in your gut, taking up space. They are constantly trying to grow, creating biofilms, and metabolizing sugar to give themselves the energy they need to expand.
When Candida albicans processes its food source, sugar, it produces a number of byproducts. These include acetaldehyde, uric acid, and ammonia. Many of these byproducts are harmful to your health, and so your body needs to go through some kind of process to neutralize or expel them. These processes typically require some combination of energy and nutrients.
For example, acetaldehyde is a neurotoxin that can cause symptoms like headaches and brain fog. In fact, you may recognize it from the last time you had an alcohol-induced hangover! To eliminate it from your body, your liver converts it first into acetic acid. Then, it is ultimately transformed into carbon dioxide and water.
The more Candida albicans you have in your gut, the more acetaldehyde your liver has to process. And as it does that, it uses energy and nutrients that might be employed elsewhere.
There is another way that Candida can contribute to lower energy levels. Your gut flora is tied inextricably to your immune system. So a weakened gut flora can cause you to suffer from repeated viral infections that you might otherwise be able to fight off. Combatting these infections requires lots of energy and nutrients, and can lower your energy levels in the long run.
Anxiety Or Depression
Research has shown that probiotics can affect your mood. So it makes intuitive sense that so called ‘bad bacteria’, or a pathogenic yeast like Candida, can affect your mood too.
So important is the connection between your gut flora and your brain, that there is now a term for it. The gut-brain axis comprises the relationships and feedback loops between what happens in your gut and what happens in your brain.
This is the focus of lots of research now. And there is some hope that probiotics may be able to play a role in reducing depression.
My previous comments on poor digestion and low energy come into play here too. Very simply, if you are nutrient-deficient and exhausted, you are far more likely to feel anxious, depressed, and low. The chronic headaches and brain fog that can be caused by Acetaldehyde won’t help either.
How To Get Your Life Back On Track
Do you recognize some or all of these symptoms from your own life? Could they be caused by a gut imbalance like Candida?
Before paying for expensive tests and making wholesale changes to your life, take the time to learn more about Candida overgrowth. Our Ultimate Candida Diet program has detailed information on recognizing the symptoms of Candida and diagnosing a Candida overgrowth. I wrote it with Dr Eric Wood, and it’s a great starting point to getting your life back on track.