If something goes wrong with your gut, it’s not as obvious as a broken arm or a twisted ankle. However, what’s inside your gut is actually one of the most important factors in your long-term health. The microorganisms that live within it play a hugely important role in your digestion, your immune system, and your ability to prevent a Candida overgrowth.
It might sounds strange that we should have microorganisms living in our intestines, but the evidence bears this out. In fact, a 2010 review in Nature magazine estimated that a healthy adult might carry as many as up to 100 trillion bacteria, and 500 individual strains! Of course, most of these are ‘good bacteria,’ the ones that play an important role in your immune system and help you to digest food. However, others are pathogenic microorganisms like Candida albicans.
Let’s focus on what exactly these ‘good bacteria’ do. There are actually three very important roles that they play in preventing a Candida overgrowth, and Dr. Wood and I discuss these in detail in our treatment program, the Ultimate Candida Diet. In short: they support your immune system, they compete with Candida for resources and space, and they regulate the acidity in your gut. The combination of these three factors prevents a Candida overgrowth from occurring in a healthy adult.
So what happens when this equilibrium is disturbed? Why does it matter if the ‘good bacteria’ in your gut are destroyed by a course of antibiotics? Well, Candida is what we call an opportunistic pathogen. This means simply that it is quick to take advantage if it is given an opportunity. And destroying the ‘good bacteria’ in your gut offers it a gold-plated opportunity to enlarge its colonies, spread through your digestive tract, and produce the noxious byproducts that lead to the many symptoms of Candida.
When those ‘good bacteria’ are killed and the delicate equilibrium in your gut is lost, three things happen that make it easier for Candida to grow. First, there is much less competition for space and nutrients in your intestines. Second, your immune system is weakened. And third, the pH of your gut begins to change, enabling the Candida yeast to switch to its fungal form.
The good news is that there are ways for us to alter the composition of our gut flora. There are some good commercial probiotics that will deliver huge doses of ‘good bacteria’ exactly where they are needed – right into your intestines. In the Ultimate Candida Diet program we discuss the five factors that you need to consider when you are choosing your probiotic. We also share in detail how to save money by making your own probiotics, all in the comfort of your own home.
Also remember that there are some excellent probiotic foods that you can use in addition to (or in place of) your probiotics supplements. You can make your own kefir at home, or create your own yogurt. Check out this guide to fermented foods for more information on creating your own natural probiotics.