Intestinal Candidiasis: The Yeast Syndrome

There are literally trillions of bacteria living in our digestive tract, making up the normal “microflora.” These bacteria generally play a supportive role in the health of the colon by helping to synthesize vitamins, degrade toxins, and produce natural antibiotics. Candida, a yeast-like fungus, also normally inhabits the gut in small amounts. However, if these yeast organisms are allowed to grow unchecked, the harmonious balance between yeast and bacteria is upset, resulting in intestinal candidiasis or what has been called the yeast syndrome. Not only can this overgrowth cause problems such as vaginal infections and oral thrush, but candida can release by-products, which are then absorbed into the bloodstream and may travel to many areas of the body. A variety of symptoms may then occur as the immune system attempts to deal with these foreign molecules. As a result, intestinal candidiasis can be an underlying cause of chronic, difficult to diagnose health problems. Below is a list of symptoms that may be associated with yeast overgrowth. 

Common Symptoms of the Yeast Syndrome
General: chronic fatigue or malaise, sweet cravings
Gastrointestinal system: thrush, bloating, gas, intestinal cramps, rectal itching, alternating diarrhea and
constipation
Genitourinary system: vaginal yeast infections, frequent bladder infections Hormonal system: menstrual irregularities, decreased libido
Nervous system: depression, irritability, trouble concentrating
Immune system: allergies, chemical sensitivities, lowered resistance to infections
A number of factors increase the risk of yeast overgrowth. They include:
  • Repeated use of antibiotics and/or steroids
  • Chronic stress
  • Diet high in simple sugars
  • Alcohol
  • Oral contraceptive use
  • Diabetes
  • Hypothyroidism
  • A weakened immune system
    Treatment
The successful treatment of intestinal candidiasis requires a comprehensive approach involving the reduction of risk factors for candida overgrowth, improving immune function, enhancing digestion and elimination, supporting liver function, and inhibiting candidal growth. The general protocol often used involves three components. The first is a diet prescription that essentially starves yeast of its main fuel—sugar. Second, beneficial bacteria such as Lactobacillus and Bifidobacteria are ingested as they compete for space with the yeast and therefore rebalance the microflora. Third, antifungal substances are prescribed to kill the yeast. The dietary component of this program is very important since yeast feeds on carbohydrates. Foods recommended for this diet are higher in protein and “good” fats. They include eggs, fish, chicken, turkey, seafood, tofu, tempeh, nuts and seeds, non-starchy vegetables, and plain cow or goat yogurt with live cultures.
An important point to keep in mind is that with initial treatment, individuals may experience symptoms as the yeast begins to “die off.” Some of these organisms are reabsorbed into the bloodstream, increasing the load the liver must filter or detoxify. Often patients experience short-term reactions to this die-off, such as headaches, abdominal bloating, muscle and joint aches, or fatigue. It is also not unusual to crave the very food yeast thrives on, such as sweets, bread, and alcohol. (For further reading about intestinal candidiasis or yeast syndrome, refer to The Yeast Connection Handbook by William G. Crook, MD.)

Comments

  1. Heard a lot about this but not any scientific studies or actual research backed up by clinical trails or blind studies. Need more info. Have a serious compromised respiratory system and just finished 22 days of a combination of levaquin and prednisone which have been part of my survival tools since I was an infant. I have asthma and tracheal bronchial malacia (collapsing wind pipe) plus allergic rhinitis and chronic respiratory infections my whole life. Curious to see how this plays into my health and weight issues.

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