There are so many different perspective on Candida Related Complex. Combine this with the fact that many doctors are still unaware of gut imbalances like Candida, and it can be really difficult to get your head around it all.
In this post, I’m going to look at a few of the myths that you see around Candida. Does it affect only those with severely weakened immune systems? Does Candida albicans live in your gut, and is that always a bad thing? Does it need an acidic environment to survive? Read on to find out!
Here are the top 4 myths about Candida:
- Candida Only Affects Those With Weakened Immune Systems
- Yeast Infections Only Occur On The Skin
- Candida Needs An Acidic pH To Survive
- You Need To Eliminate Candida Albicans Completely To Feel Better
Myth #1: Candida Only Affects Those With Weakened Immune Systems
One of the most frequent responses from doctors, when asked about a gut imbalance like Candida, is to say that, ”It only affects immunocompromised patients. You have nothing to worry about.” Unfortunately, this is only half the truth. Let’s first examine where this misunderstanding comes from, and then take a look at how Candida can still affect people with relatively healthy immune systems.
There are many research studies that have looked at pathogenic Candida albicans infections. But many of these studies are in a hospital setting, and they look specifically at a life-threatening condition known as Candidemia. This happens when the Candida yeast enters your bloodstream, and uses it to spread quickly around your body.
Candidemia is an incredibly serious condition, but it is also very rare. It happens in patients whose immune systems are severely compromised. That might be a cancer patient undergoing chemotherapy, or someone with HIV/AIDS. For most of us, Candidemia is not a concern.
That doesn’t mean that Candida isn’t a problem. Although your immune system will generally stop it from spreading into your bloodstream, it can certainly cause all kinds of health problems within your gut and digestive tract. There are a number of things that can cause a Candida overgrowth. Examples are a high sugar diet, stress, and antibiotics. Often, two or more of these triggers are seen together. All of them have the potential to significantly change the environment in your gut, and allow a pathogen like Candida albicans to take advantage.
There is also some confusion over Leaky Gut Syndrome. We talk sometimes about how gut disorders like Candida overgrowth can lead to a ‘leaky gut,’ and how that can cause allergies and other symptoms. This is true, but it’s important to realize that the Candida cells themselves will not generally survive in your bloodstream. What actually escapes from your gut is things like undigested food particles and Candida byproducts.
So what should you say if your doctor tells you that you are not immunocompromised, and therefore cannot have a Candida overgrowth? Remind him or her that even a slightly weakened immune system can still lead to gut imbalances like Candida, especially in conjunction with antibiotics. and that pathogens in your gut can have major health impacts without necessarily escaping into the bloodstream.
Myth #2: Yeast Infections Only Occur On The Skin
When people talk about yeast infections, most of the time they are referring to vaginal yeast infections, or vaginal candidiasis. This, of course, applies only to women. But the truth is that Candida overgrowth can affect both men and women without causing symptoms like external yeast infections. In fact, Candida issues in the gut are probably far more widespread than skin-only yeast infections. Let’s take a look.
Candida albicans is a pathogen that takes advantage of a disruption in the balance of microorganisms in your gut. This balance of ‘gut flora’ is a crucial part of your immune system and digestive health, but it can easily be lost during periods of stress or after a course of antibiotics. When this balance is lost, the colonies of Candida albicans are able to expand rapidly until they control a large portion of your gut.
Something like 80% of us have Candida albicans in our guts, but that’s not usually a problem! It’s an incredibly resilient organism, and to eliminate it completely is almost impossible. Generally, it only becomes a problem when it converts to its fungal form. To get relief, the key is to prevent it from switching from its yeast form, and to give your immune system the support it needs to keep it under control. You can do this with a combination of diet, probiotics, and antifungals.
If you do have an external yeast infection or vaginal candidiasis, remember that they are often related to an internal Candida overgrowth in your gut. The same environmental changes that support Candida albicans in the gut, can also support it in on your skin. To eliminate your yeast infection for good (and prevent it from coming back) consider making the changes to your diet and lifestyle that we suggest in our Ultimate Candida Diet program.
Myth #3: Candida Needs An Acidic pH To Survive
There is lots of talk about how alkaline diets can improve your health, and much of it is justified. On balance, most of us consume far too many acidifying foods. Eating more alkaline foods (like vegetables and low sugar fruits) is a great way to improve your health.
However, treating Candida albicans requires a more nuanced look at pH balance. This pathogenic organism is incredibly adaptable, and can in fact survive in both acidic and alkaline environments. In acidic environments, it is a slow-growing yeast. In alkaline environments, it switches to a more aggressive, colonizing fungus. This fungal form grows long filaments, known as hyphae, that help it to spread through your gut and weaken your intestinal walls.
In other words, an alkaline environment in your gut is bad news. Making your intestines more alkaline may have the consequence of encouraging more of the fungal Candida. That’s why some Candida ‘remedies’, for example drinks with baking soda, are not such a good idea.
The confusion arises because different parts of your body require different pH levels. A healthy person will have an acidic environment in their stomach and intestines, and a slightly alkaline blood pH of around 7.4. Their body tissues will be slightly alkaline too.
So what does this mean for your anti-Candida diet? Avoid red meats, as they produce alkaline ammonia when they are digested in your gut. Stay away from junk food. Most importantly, eat lots of vegetables. Candida sufferers tend to have overly alkaline gut environments and acidic tissues. Over time, a healthy, balanced diet will help to restore the correct pH in each of these areas.
Myth #4: You Need To Eliminate Candida Albicans Completely To Feel Better
I already mentioned that most of us have some Candida albicans in our guts. We may even have various other types of yeast in there too. But these don’t usually become a problem until some kind of environmental change allows them to overgrow. Most of the time, we can co-exist with them quite happily.
Equally, when you are treating Candida Related Complex, it’s unrealistic to expect that you can eliminate every last Candida cell. In fact, that kind of overwhelming treatment might be quite traumatic and damaging for the rest of your gut flora. Having a small Candida albicans population in your gut is not necessarily a bad thing.
When Candida starts to get out of control, it is because it has switched to its fungal form. So one of the key aims of a Candida treatment plan is to reverse this. That means limiting the amount of sugar available to the Candida colonies, and maintaining a healthy, acidic environment in your intestines.
Another really important strategy is to boost your own immune system. Adding probiotic bacteria to your gut, or even the yeast Saccharomyces boulardii, will do this. Never forget that your intestines form a large part of your immune system. By restoring the balance of microorganisms and regulating the pH level, you can help your immune system to keep the Candida under control and maintain it in its yeast form.
The truth is that having a little Candida albicans in your gut is not going to make you feel sick. So you should aim to reduce its colonies back to manageable level, while supporting your immune system with the right diet and good nutrition.