Candida is a fungus, which is a form of yeast, and a very small amount of it always lives in your mouth and intestines. Its main job is helping out with digestion and nutrient absorption and it’s a natural part of our micro-biome.
Candidiasis or Candida Overgrowth occurs when this balance in your intestines is disturbed and the Candida fungus starts to overwhelm the rest of the microorganisms and flora and good bacteria that reside in your gut.
This weakens your immune system and affects your ability to digest food. Additionally, the Candida cells release waste products, like the neurotoxin acetaldehyde, that can cause symptoms across the rest of your body.
Candida can exist in 3 different forms. The most important of these are the yeast form (a single yeast cell), and the fungal form (a larger organism which grows long branches, or hyphae). The fungal form is more virulent and is more likely to be the cause of a Candida overgrowth. However both forms release the same 79 byproducts that cause the symptoms of Candidiasis, so BOTH forms can cause Candida Overgrowth. We will address both forms during the cleanse.
The ability to change its form gives Candida a natural advantage over other microorganisms, allowing it to exist in different temperatures and pH levels. This is what makes Candida such a difficult condition to treat.
When overproduced, Candida can break down the wall of the intestine and penetrate the bloodstream — releasing toxic by-products into your gastrointestinal tract, damaging it and creating a syndrome called intestinal hyperpermeability or “leaky gut.” When this occurs, a person can develop new sensitivities and intolerances to once harmless foods, such as dairy, eggs, corn, and wheat (gluten). The effects of candida overgrowth can even cause personality changes such as irritability and depression.
I think this may be why I used to be ok with gluten, but now I’m not!
These factors can cause the candida population to grow out of control:
- Eating a diet high in refined carbohydrates and sugar
- Consuming a lot of alcohol
- Taking oral contraceptives
- Living a high-stress lifestyle
- Taking a round of antibiotics that killed too many of those friendly bacteria
- Skin and nail fungal infections, such as athlete’s foot or toenail fungus
- Feeling tired and worn down, or suffering from chronic fatigue or fibromyalgia
- Digestive issues such as bloating, constipation, or diarrhea
- Autoimmune diseases such as Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, rheumatoid arthritis, ulcerative colitis, lupus, psoriasis, scleroderma, or multiple sclerosis
- Difficulty concentrating, poor memory, lack of focus, ADD, ADHD, and brain fog
- Skin issues like eczema, psoriasis, hives, and rashes
- Irritability, mood swings, anxiety, or depression
- Vaginal infections, urinary tract infections, rectal itching, or vaginal itching
- Severe seasonal allergies or itchy ears
- Strong sugar and refined carbohydrate cravings
To see more on the CAUSES of Candida Overgrowth (because a little bit is NORMAL and even HELPFUL, it’s when it crazy overgrows that it becomes so harmful) check out this post.