You may have landed here because you are wondering what Candida is, you may currently be on a gut health program or you’re looking to expand your own gut health knowledge. Any old reason that brought you here I’m pleased because gut knowledge is power.
When you learn that some of the signs and symptoms you’ve been living with are common but NOT normal something magical happens – empowerment. Empowerment because you learn your symptoms may not be permanent, they don’t have to run your life anymore and you have a choice in your health. My goal for all women is to feel empowered in their own body and wellness journey. Gaining education on gut health, including Candida is a foundational piece of health wealth.
Overview of the 3 Candida Blogs
Candida education is a large topic and I will be breaking it up into 3 posts. The first post, this one will be breaking down the details of what Candida is, how the gut bacteria may have become imbalanced, signs and symptoms of candida and testing options.
The second post will be a general overview of Marrow Holistic Health’s Candida Protocol. I will review what I implement to my own clients along with questions and concerns that may arise during the process.
The third post will be a recount of my personal journey through the Candida Protocol. It will be an honest review of why I decided to do the Candida Protocol, my symptoms and how I felt through it. Spoiler alert I’m not ‘perfect’ through it.
Learning and rebalancing Candida is appreciating both the trees and the forest. In other words, focusing on one aspect Candida (the trees) isn’t appreciating the whole scenario and beauty of our internal microflora (the forest). My hope is that by the end of the 3 blog posts you’ll have a better understanding of both Candida, the gut ecosystem and how focusing on only one aspect isn’t the answer to rebalancing the gut.
The Gut Overview
The gut and its bacteria are a dynamic, complex and fascinating system. When the gut microflora is robust with many different species (high diversity) there is a strong connect to health and vitality. A body with high diversity may have 5000 different strains of bacteria totalling in the billions. However, when the diversity within the gut is compromised it leaves an opening for pathogens and yeasts to overgrow. There can only be an excess of yeast if there is not enough friendly bacteria to counter balance it.
We’ve been trained to believe that all bacteria are dirty and disease causing. This belief has lead a generation or three to base their lives around the misuse/overuse of antibiotics, overuse of anti-bacterial soaps and cleansers and fear of their kids getting dirty.
The detrimental effects of this belief are being seen today with lowered quality of life despite our advances in medicine. That is to say, it is only one of the contributing factors to a decreased quality of life. However, if we continue down this road there is a very real possibility of the extinction of some of the beneficial gut bacteria with unknown long term side effects (this terrifies me!).
See my blog The Gut – Health Connection to learn more about the connection between the gut bacteria and different systems in the body.
What is Candida
Candida is a yeast that is naturally found in the body’s microflora – gut, mouth, skin and genital systems. Candida is one of many yeasts that are part of the balanced ecosystem within us that cause no issues when their numbers are kept low. The good bacteria help to keep the gut healthy and Candida numbers low.
Candida is a genus of yeast. Within the genus Candida there are many different species. Albicans is the species or basic unit of classification within the genus that we will be discussing today. To put it into perspective Humans have the genus – Homo and species – H. sapiens.
Back to Candida, the remaining post will be directed to Candida albicans or C. albicans, a species of yeast. When there is a shift within the gut bacterial ecosystem C. albicans numbers grow and the balance within the microflora shifts. Under these circumstances, the body is no longer functionally optimally or efficiently.
Candidiasis is an overgrowth of C. albicans within the body (remember it is supposed to be there in low numbers). The purpose of the Candida Protocol is to inhibit – not eliminate the overgrowth of C. albicans. Its focus is also to encourage the good bacteria to thrive again and to repair the intestinal walls bringing the ecosystem back into balance.
When Candidiasis is present the body is flooded with more toxins and byproducts than it can efficiently deal with.
Thrush is Candidiasis that grows in the mouth. When it is in the vaginal walls yeast infections occur and in the digestive system there will be digestive ailments. In extreme cases if the infection reaches the bloodstream it can travel to and affect any number of systems such as the heart or brain.
Signs and Symptoms
This list is intended for educational purposes only. It is not intended as a diagnostic tool. Many of these signs and symptoms can be indicators of other issues and diseases. Please consult with a qualified health care professional before making any decisions.
The more ‘yeses’ in the list the more likely there is an imbalance within the gut microflora.
- Crave sugar (sweets, candy, chocolate, pastries etc)
- Crave alcohol
- Chronic fatigue or drained
- Recurrent vaginal infections
- White coating on tongue
- Pain and swelling in joints
- Hormonal headaches
- Numbness, tingling or burning
- Muscle aches
- Muscle weakness or paralysis
- Tonsillitis or recurrent strep throat
- Itchy, water eyes
- Skin flushes
- Chronic indigestion – frequently use of antacids
- Always cold – especially in your extremities
- Pain in pelvic area
- Frequent gas and bloating
- Loss of sex drive
- Recurrent UTIs
- Increasing number of food and environmental allergies/sensitivities
- Chronic diarrhea/constipation
- Skin issues: hives, psoriasis, acne, rashes, eczema, rosacea, itchy
- Rectal itching
- Excessive ear wax
- Canker sores
- Other fungal infections: athlete’s foot, (toe)nail fungus, ringworm
- Jock itch
- Brain fog
- Memory loss
- Inability to concentrate
- Mood swings
- Anger easily
- Anxiety attacks
- Cry easily/frequently
- Bad breath
- Dry mouth
- Chronic infections/illnesses
- Chronic nasal congestion
- Mucus in stool
- Irregular cycles
- Tinnitus or ringing of the ears
Your Health is a Priority
Rebalancing the gut microflora can be more than wanting to eliminating recurrent yeast infections (what most people connect yeast issues with), it’s about reclaiming your life.
Get it out of your mind that these common – but not normal signs and symptoms are just a fact of life.
Rebalancing the gut is a starting point to getting through the day with a clearer mind, with less body pain, with more energy and stamina. It’s about getting your libido back and saying goodbye to hormonal headaches and migraines. It’s about making your health a priority.
How an Overgrowth Occurs
C. albicans is an opportunistic yeast, meaning when kept in check by the good gut bacteria all is well. However, once the good bacteria numbers fall it can easily proliferate and overgrow leading to the above signs and symptoms listed.
The following list are the main contributing factors that can permit Candidiasis to occur.
- Oral contraceptives
- Highly processed ‘diet’
- Starvation of the good bacteria
- Chemical exposure
- Anti-bacterial soaps and cleaners
Although antibiotics are a truly magnificent part of our history, their use (misuse and abuse) disrupts the balance within the microflora. I always tell my clients that if antibiotics are necessary, please take them and we can clean things up afterwards.
The support the body needs after antibiotics is often left in the dust. I mean you feel good again, no more pneumonia why would you need to continue to do anything after the antibiotics are finished? However, the way we treat, support and nourish our body after antibiotic use is setting the stage for your gut to flourish or further suppress its ability (aka feel like shit and likely get sick again soon after).
Antibiotics can kill both the harmful and beneficial bacterial leaving an opportunity open for Candida. When the balance within the gut is skewed it allows C. albicans to flourish unopposed.
The pill can have a similar effect on the gut ecosystem as oral antibiotics do, killing off the good bacteria. It can also alter gut motility providing an opportunity for Candida to thrive.
Diarrhea such as from a sickness or food poisoning flushes the system out. There is no filter as to what is pushed out or what stays behind, it all goes. As the body eliminates the pathogen or toxin the good bacteria also get flushed out. This leaves pathogenic and opportunistic organisms a momentary window to flourish.
Highly Processed ‘Diet’
A Western style way of eating mainly highly processed sugars, white flour, white rice, a general lack of high quality foods contributes to simultaneously lowering the good bacteria and strengthening Candida.
When there is a continuous source of nutrient devoid simple sugars such as white sugar, high-fructose corn syrup, brown sugar, dextrose, etc it encourages Candida a yeast, to transform into its pathogenic fungal form. Once in the fungal form it can spread with ease.
A highly processed diet also encourages inflammation in the gut. If the terrain or intestinal wall, the physical location that the good bacteria live isn’t suitable, they aren’t able to thrive.
Starvation of Good Bacteria
The equally important counter to not feeding the Candida is to feed the good bacteria.
A robust gut microflora supports a strong immune system that can help keep the Candida at a healthy level. The friendly bacteria’s fuel source is prebiotics. Examples of prebiotics are garlic, onion, blueberries, cabbage, bananas (the greener the better), sweet potato, beans, flax and plums.
However, if the diet is devoid of prebiotics the quantity and quality of friendly bacteria will be low. This makes it difficult for them to keep Candida in check.
Chemical exposure can come from a variety of sources. They can burden the liver, kill cells and friendly bacteria alike. Alcohol, drugs (recreational, over the counter and prescription), smoking, glyphosate, chlorine and pollutants are all examples of sources of chemicals that can negatively impact the gut ecosystem.
In a similar way that antibiotics can adversely affect the diversity and health of the gut microbiome, so too can chronic stress. Emotional and physiological issues are major stressors that can impact the gut bacteria, we know this as the gut-brain connection.
Stress increases internal inflammation and shuts down digestion. This leaves undigested food particles for the bad bacteria and yeast to thrive off and depresses the health of the good gut bacteria.
Anti-bacterial soaps and cleaners
Antibacterial soaps and cleaners alter the bacterial composition in the external environmental and internally. These cleansers can kill good bacteria just as swiftly as the germ-causing bacteria. Again, as the friendly bacteria numbers are reduced it suppresses the body’s ability to fight off yeast and bad bacteria creating an imbalance within the gut.
Antibiotic use in and of itself isn’t going to create Candidiasis overnight. If there was already a weakened microflora, poor food choices, frequent ibuprofen use and chronic stress it creates a recipe for a gut imbalance. And now that antibiotic use could have been the tipping point for C. albicans to gain a foothold within the gut.
It’s important to consider ALL aspects of our lives and how it contributes to gut health or imbalances.
Let’s review possible Candidiasis testing options.
- Stool analysis
- Blood test
- Physical exam
- Spit test
A poop test is the most comprehensive test to confirm the presence of Candidiasis along with parasites, pathogenic and how well your beneficial bacteria are doing.
A blood serum test looks for the presence of Candida albicans antibodies indicating an infection. However this isn’t a conclusive test as it cannot differentiate between the presence of yeast or the true colonization of yeast.
If oral thrush or a yeast infection is suspected a licensed medical doctor can perform a physical exam. They may also take a sample to send for testing.
There is no accuracy in this test.
Essentially an individual spits into a cup of water first thing in the morning.
You examine the cup to see if the saliva has any ‘legs’, cloudy specks floating or cloudy specks at the bottom of the cup. The rational behind it is that clear saliva is lighter than water and will float where as Candida is heavier and will sink.
However this result of having ‘legs’ is a normal occurrence first thing in the morning, if you have dry mouth or even after eating.
A qualified health practitioner reviews your signs and symptoms along with your personal health history to determine if a gut imbalance is likely or not.
Many of the indicators are general discomforts and can be indicative of numerous conditions. Having a conversation with a trained health practitioner is an excellent option in having your story heard and understood.
Soon to come is the second blog in a three part series about Candida. It will be a general overview of the Candida Protocol I implement to my clients. Don’t miss out on learning some tools and tips to help yourself on your own wellness journey. Read about Part Two: Candidiasis Protocol now.
All information contained in on Marrow Holistic Health’s website is for informational purposes only. It is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent health problems. For all serious health issues, please contact a medical or nutrition practitioner. The information provided in this program is based on the best knowledge of the author at the time of writing and we do not assume liability for the information within this program, be it direct or indirect, consequently, special exemplary or other damages. In all circumstances, it is always wise to consult your physician before changing your diet, taking supplements or starting any exercise or health program.