Candida is a common microorganism that we normally acquire within a few days of being born. It is considered to be a typical part of the microbial flora that inhabits us. At low levels this yeast resides uneventfully in our intestinal and urogenital tracts. Its growth is kept in check by a strong immune system and healthy levels of beneficial bacteria. When conditions allow it to grow out of control, these tiny organisms can be responsible for many different kinds of health conditions.
The average person has about four pounds (around two kilograms) of microorganisms living in their intestinal tract. For good health, at least 80-85% of these organisms need to be beneficial and less than 15-20% should be detrimental.
Anything that upsets the balance of good bacteria, and lowers the immune system, leaves us more susceptible to a candida infection. Some common ways we unintentionally kill off beneficial bacteria include taking antibiotics, birth control pills, and steroids. Overexposure to heavy metals, pesticides, and other environmental toxins also kills good bacteria, as does drinking chlorinated water and eating too many processed foods.
When the levels of good bacteria are diminished, the yeast colonies lose their natural competitors and rapidly grow out of control. As they spread, they release large amounts of harmful substances into our intestinal tract.
Typical symptoms of a candida overgrowth in the intestine are: abdominal pain, gas, bloating, cramping, thrush, irritable bowel syndrome, rectal itching, colitis, heartburn, acid reflux, indigestion, and extreme fatigue after eating.
Left untreated, candida can develop long, stringy structures called rhizoids that are able to burrow through the intestinal walls. Once in the bloodstream candida can spread all throughout the body, compromising the following systems: digestive, circulatory, respiratory, endocrine, nervous, excretory, reproductive, and immune.
These kinds of systemic candida infections cause a wide range of symptoms that can include mental confusion, poor memory, anxiety, depression, unexplained fatigue, low sex drive, infertility, itching, rashes, adrenal fatigue, low body temperature, bladder infections, vaginal infections, asthma, allergies, food sensitivities, and leaky gut syndrome.
Keeping the good bacteria in our digestive tract healthy and thriving is the key to keeping candida from growing out of control. Avoiding refined foods, sugar, harmful chemicals, and prescription medications is a good place to start. As for antibiotics, they should only be taken when truly necessary and always followed up with a high-quality probiotic supplement.
About the author
Melissa Makris is a researcher with a technical background in immunology. She is passionate about holistic and alternative methods of healing. Her website How to Boost Your Immune System shares information on how to improve immune system health using simple, natural methods.