When most people think of inflammation, they associate it with conditions like arthritis and allergies. But there is also a strong connection between imbalances in your gut flora and the level of inflammation in your body. Candida albicans is connected to inflammation in a couple of ways. Firstly, the toxic metabolites released by Candida albicans (byproducts like acetaldehyde and uric acid) can lead to inflammation in the gut and elsewhere. Second, gut inflammation can actually worsen conditions like intestinal permeability (leaky gut), and the overgrowth of yeast or bacteria in your intestines.
As you can see, inflammation is closely linked to Candida, both as cause and effect. This means that reducing your levels of inflammation is a great step towards restoring balance in your gut and improving your overall health. You should make it a part of your Candida treatment program. In this article I will discuss the different types of inflammation, how inflammation is related to the gut flora, and some simple tips to reduce the inflammation in your body.
What is Inflammation?
Inflammation is a natural response of the body to harmful stimuli. More specifically, it is the result of vascular tissue being damaged in some way. In most cases, despite the fact that inflammation is associated with pain, it is actually a good sign. It shows that the body has already begun the healing process by increasing white cell production in that particular area in order to regenerate the damaged tissue. Besides pain, other symptoms often associated with inflammation include redness, loss of function and, above all else, swelling.
As the Linus Pauling Institute at Oregon State University (1) explains, several things happen as the result of inflammation: the blood vessels will dilate, the blood flow will decrease, vascular permeability will increase, and leukocytes such as monocytes and lymphocytes will arrive at the damaged area in order to being the healing process.
Inflammation is often used wrongly as a synonym for infection. This is not entirely accurate for two reasons: inflammation is often the result of an infection (they’re not the same thing), and inflammation can appear without an infection. Although initially there was much debate regarding the extent of the role of inflammation in the human body, recent research suggests that it is much more important than initially thought, and may play a role in a variety of different maladies. This is why it is important to distinguish between the two main types of inflammation.
Types Of Inflammation
The first type of inflammation is also the most common: acute inflammation. It is the response of the immune system to tissue damage, and occurs immediately after the initial trauma. It is not usually an issue of concern, and in fact is quite the opposite. It signals that the body is healing itself and it only lasts for a few days until the tissue is regenerated or repaired. It is often the result of an infection by a bacterial pathogen, but more often than not it is the result of a physical action which results in damaged tissue. Common examples would be falling off a bike or stubbing your toe. In most cases of acute inflammation, the outcome is a complete resolution with no signs of damage or only a minor scar. However, it is possible that it might turn into the second kind of inflammation: chronic inflammation.
Chronic inflammation is a much more serious problem, as it represents a response to a much more prolonged stimulus. If chronic inflammation is caused by a pathogen, it is likely to be a virulent one (like Candida) that has proven capable of fighting off the immune system. If the inflammation is the result of an autoimmune reaction, it could be caused by a number of factors present over a long period of time such as a poor diet, smoking, alcohol consumption, and even a sedentary lifestyle. In these cases, the inflammation can last for a very long time, even months or years. It may not be immediately possible to trace the cause of the inflammation as its onset may be delayed. If left untreated, the inflamed tissue will continue to be damaged. Chronic inflammation has also been linked to a number of diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, periodontitis, intestinal permeability (leaky gut), allergies, atherosclerosis, hay fever, and even certain forms of cancer.
The Link Between Inflammation And Gut Flora
Research performed by Japanese researchers at the RIKEN Center (2) suggests that the gut flora has a direct effect on how the immune system responds to inflammation, specifically its role in reducing it. Various bacteria, which occur naturally in the gut flora, can cause a reduction in inflammation by producing a fatty acid called butyrate through fiber digestion.
There was already a correlation between butyrate and inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) – previous research found an absence of butyrate in patients with IBD. However, this new research makes that link even stronger, because it shows how butyrate production actively calms the cells that cause inflammation.
In this study, which was performed on mice with inflamed colons, the addition of butyrate to their diet caused a significant improvement in their inflammatory symptoms. It appears that the butyrate triggers the immune system to produce more regulatory T cells in the gut flora. This technique has potential for future use in humans as butyrate is a natural part of our gut flora which would likely be well tolerated. It could potentially be used to treat not only inflammatory bowel diseases such as Crohn’s disease, but also allergies and autoimmune diseases.
So what does your body need to produce butyrate? Butyrate is produced when your gut flora digests dietary fiber, so your body needs two things: a healthy gut flora, and a diet that contains plenty of fiber. If you maintain a healthy gut flora, then you have a great chance of avoiding or reducing chronic inflammation. Following a low-inflammatory diet like the Candida Diet, which is full of high fiber vegetables, is another important step.
Things that can throw your gut flora out of balance include antibiotics and an unhealthy, high-sugar diet. To restore that balance, eliminating the majority of sugar from your diet is a good first step. That includes the sugars found in fruit juices, most fruit, processed foods, and elsewhere. You should also consider a good probiotic supplement and add some probiotic foods to your diet. Good examples of fermented foods are kefir, kimchi, sauerkraut, and more. A healthy, regular digestive system also helps by allowing waste to be quickly eliminated from your intestines. That means eating a healthy diet full of whole foods and rich in dietary fiber.
A Healthy Diet to Reduce Inflammation
Probably the easiest way to a reduction in inflammation is a healthier diet. As mentioned above, whole foods that are rich in nutrients should constitute the bulk of your diet. Other foods that are really good for this purpose include foods that are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, such as wild salmon. On the other hand, you should cut back on foods that are rich in omega-6 fatty acids such as dairy, grains and flour products.
The average American has a heavily pro-inflammatory diet. The imbalance in omega-3 and omega-6 consumption is a big part of this. It is thought that ancient humans consumed roughly the same amounts of these two fatty acids, but the modern Western diet contains roughly 15 times as much omega-6 as omega-3. While they are both essential for healthy brain function and other aspects of our health, this imbalance can lead to inflammation. This is because omega-3 fatty acids are anti-inflammatory, while omega-6 fatty acids tend to be pro-inflammatory.
If the body is not getting enough omega-3 fatty acids from foods, taking omega-3 supplements is a great option. In addition to these, supplements rich in plant enzymes are also recommended because they contain bromelain, which will help the body to repair damaged cells faster. (3) These supplements are best taken on an empty stomach as they will begin the breakdown of inflammation by-products faster. Another good anti-inflammatory supplement is curcumin, a compound found in turmeric.
Another simple principle to follow is making sure that you are properly hydrated at all times. Water is the basis for all the chemical reactions that occur in the body, and it is also essential in order to flush out waste and toxins. If you’re confused about how much water to drink, simply take your weight in pounds and divide it by two. This gives you the approximate amount of clear fluids, in ounces, that you should be drinking each day. For example, if you weight 130 pounds then you should drink 65 ounces of clear fluids, which is roughly equivalent to 8 medium-sized glasses.
Formulating a diet that is both healthy and capable of reducing inflammation is not difficult. Some Western diets are actually much better than others. For example, Dr. Christopher Cannon, associate professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School, points out that the popular Mediterranean diet is most likely the closest to an ideal anti-inflammatory diet. (4)
Hidden Causes Of Inflammation
It’s often fairly easy to determine the lifestyle or dietary choices that might be causing inflammation. However there are other causes of inflammation that might not be so obvious. These are food sensitivities/intolerances, latent infections, and environmental toxins.
If food sensitivities/intolerances are relatively mild, they often go unnoticed for years. This can leave your body continually fighting inflammation, and unable to respond appropriately when another source of inflammation presents itself. Blood tests are a simple way to determine which foods you might want to avoid, although it should be said that food allergy testing can be quite unreliable. Common allergens include dairy, gluten, soy, and eggs. An alternative to testing is to follow an elimination diet, where such allergens are all removed from the diet and then slowly reintroduced one by one. The Candida treatment program that I created with Dr Eric Wood minimizes inflammatory and allergenic foods.
Undiagnosed chronic infections are another issue that could be leading to inflammation. This can be the result of a virus, bacteria, yeast (i.e. Candida) or parasite, and it can potentially go on undetected for years. A combination of blood or stool tests is usually the best way to determine if an underlying infection could be causing your health problems.
Lastly, remember that food is not the only source of toxins that can be harmful to the human body, and especially the gut flora. Many products that are used for home or personal care contain harmful substances. Make sure that your cleaning products and cosmetics do not contain toxic ingredients. This is particularly true in the case of products that are in direct contact with the skin.
(1) Linus Pauling Institute, “Two faces of inflammation”, http://lpi.oregonstate.edu/ss07/inflammation.html.
(2) Medical News Today, “Gut bacteria’s fatty acid boosts immune system, reducing inflammation”, http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/268786.php.
(3) Dr. Robert A. Kornfeld, “Five Ways To Reduce Inflammation Naturally”, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/dr-robert-a-kornfeld/5-ways-to-reduce-inflamma_b_271640.html.
(4) WebMD, “Anti-inflammatory Diet: Road to Good Health?”, http://www.webmd.com/food-recipes/features/anti-inflammatory-diet-road-to-good-health.