Candida albicans is an opportunistic fungus (or form of yeast) that is the cause of Candida Related Complex and many undesirable symptoms including fatigue, weight gain, joint pain, and gas.
The Candida albicans yeast is a normal part of your gut flora, a group of microorganisms that live in your digestive tract. Most people have some level of Candida albicans in their intestines, and usually it coexists peacefully with the other bacteria and yeasts that live there. But a combination of factors can lead to the Candida albicans population getting out of control, establishing fast growing colonies, and starting to dominate your gut. At this point it can begin to affect your digestion, weaken your immune system, and even damage your intestinal wall, penetrating through into the bloodstream and releasing its toxic byproducts throughout your body.
As they spread, these toxic byproducts cause damage to your body tissues and organs, wreaking havoc on your health and wellbeing. The major waste product of yeast cell activity is acetaldehyde, a poisonous neurotoxin that promotes free radical activity in the body. Acetaldehyde is usually broken down into acetic acid within the liver. However, if this process is not working efficiently, or too much acetaldehyde is being released, then it can circulate through your body and cause unpleasant symptoms like headaches and nausea.
Do You Have Candida?
Almost everyone has Candida albicans in their gut, and a significant proportion of us may have too much of it, or a Candida overgrowth. Candida albicans only starts to cause trouble when there is some change in your body that allows it to overgrow and disturb the healthy balance of microorganisms in your gut. This change could be one of many factors, including a few courses of antibiotics, a prolonged diet rich in carbohydrates and sugar, and even something as common as a lengthy period of stress at work.
If you suspect that you have an overgrowth, the first place to look is your lifestyle to find what could have caused this imbalance. Antibiotics? Oral contraceptives? A diet high in sugar and carbohydrates? Alcohol and drugs? Stress? Or all of the above? Eliminating all of these risk factors is a crucial step in tackling your Candida problem.
Many sufferers of Candida Related Complex remain undiagnosed by their doctors and unaware of their condition. Unfortunately, many doctors don’t recognize the systemic problems that a syndrome like Candida Related Complex causes. They only treat the symptoms, such as vaginal infection or oral thrush, instead of looking for an underlying cause. Don’t be surprised if your doctor thinks it’s all in your head and sends you off with an anti-depression prescription. Some healthcare professionals don’t believe in Candida overgrowth and aren’t aware of the problems that gut dysbiosis can cause, so you may need to find a doctor with an open mind, or see a naturopath or integrative doctor.
Why Is Candida Difficult To Treat?
Candida albicans is a really unique microorganism. It uses various strategies to protect itself and hide from your immune system. These strategies make it difficult to treat with a single therapy, and they are why Dr Eric and I recommend a multi-faceted treatment plan in our book.
For example, Candida can exist in at least two different forms. The yeast form survives well in acidic conditions, while the fungal form thrives in a neutral or alkaline pH. As the conditions in your intestines change, Candida is able to switch between these two forms and survive dramatic alterations in its environment.
Another way that Candida adapts is by adjusting the pH of its immediate environment. It releases metabolites like ammonia that actively raise the pH of its surroundings, enabling Candida albicans to switch from its yeast form to its fungal form.
Anyone familiar with Lyme disease will have heard of the term ‘biofilm’. These protective matrices are created by pathogens like Candida and Lyme to protect themselves from your body’s immune system. Just like Lyme, Candida albicans creates these in your intestines and builds its colonies inside them.
Lastly, there is evidence suggesting that Candida albicans physically changes it’s cell walls when it comes into contact with an acidic environment, and uses these changes to hide even more effectively from your immune system.
You can see what a versatile, dangerous pathogen Candida albicans is. It actively adapts and changes itself to protect itself form, and in some cases make itself invisible to, your native immune system. That’s one reason they there isn’t any ‘magic bullet’ for Candida Related Complex, and why a successful treatment plan should include probiotics, dietary changes, antifungals, and enzymes.
Is Candida Albicans Always A Bad Thing?
So why is Candida a bad thing? Ordinarily it isn’t – the Candida albicans population is kept under control by the friendly bacteria in your gut. However, when your immune system is down, Candida starts to multiply and can quickly come to dominate.
The overgrowth of Candida albicans produces toxins that your body’s immune system can struggle to cope with, particularly if you are under stress or otherwise weakened. The wide-ranging side effects of this battle range from headaches and fatigue to abdominal pain and depression.
The occurrence of Candida overgrowth has been increasing rapidly over the last few decades. Our modern diet of processed food and sweets is partly to blame, along with the increased prevalence of obesity and diabetes, plus the much more frequent use of antibiotics.
Candida Related Complex is a debilitating condition that prevents you from waking up strong, healthy, and bursting with energy. Fortunately, there are many things you can do to fight it.
For lots more information on Candida albicans, take a look at our Ultimate Candida Diet treatment program. It includes detailed information on how Candida albicans changes its form to evade your immune system, and the best way for you to deal with that.