Every human being lives with a multitude of microorganisms (bacteria, viruses, fungi, etc.), which form the intestinal flora, but also perform vital tasks in all other mucosal systems (eyes, ears, nose, skin, genital tract), for example the formation of vitamins, messenger substances or hormones. Over 90% of all serotonin is produced by bacteria in the intestine.
We know of over 2000 different species of bacteria and yeasts in the intestinal flora alone, including Candida albicans, the most common representative of the Candida family. Much of what applies to C. albicans also applies to the other Candida species. If candidiasis is present, the other Candida populations increase strongly in addition to Candida albicans. When I use the term Candida in the following, the statements are usually not limited to Candida albicans, but also apply to the other Candida species.
Candida albicans – partner in the system
Candida albicans is a normal part of our intestinal flora. As a yeast fungus, it is related to baker’s yeast and brewer’s yeast. An important difference is its ability to adhere to the cells of the intestinal mucosa, where it grows and multiplies. Candida organisms are responsible for supplying energy to the intestinal mucosa and thus for many digestive processes. In addition, candida has the ability to bind heavy metals and help excrete them. This protects the body from heavy metal poisoning (for example lead, arsenic, cadmium, mercury). Yeast fungi, together with the other microorganisms, form an ecological balance. In addition to nutrition and lifestyle, lactobacteria, as well as the immune defence and more precisely immunoglobulin A (IgA) play an important role in regulating this balance.
Disturbances of the intestinal flora
The amount of candida is kept in check by an intact intestinal flora and an intact immune system. If the immune system is too weak or the intestinal flora is disturbed, Candida can spread more and will try to colonise the entire organism. The oral mucosa, the vaginal mucosa or even the skin can be affected.
The intestinal flora ecosystem is disturbed by antibiotics, pesticides, preservatives, stimulants, too acidic food, too much sugar, but also by stress. Every pesticide has antibiotic effects and thus the potential to destroy important bacterial colonies. Basically, anything that disturbs bacteria will favour the spread of yeast fungi. And conversely, if the bacterial colonisation is strengthened, the spread of yeast fungi is made more difficult.
Early encounter with Candida albicans
Candida albicans enters the intestine very soon after birth. By the age of 6 months, it is found in the digestive tract of 90% of all babies.
– Infants put everything in their mouths and thus supply themselves with the necessary microorganisms.
The so-called nappy dermatitis or oral thrush are signs of the candida ingestion that has taken place and the immunological confrontation. As a rule, these early ‘infections’ heal by themselves and thus lead to a strengthening of the microbiological system. The child’s immune system has learned to control the spread of Candida with an appropriate release of secretory IgA. The mother’s immune system transmits important information about the immune defence with the breast milk and thus helps the child to deal with Candida for the first time. In breastfed children, cases of early Candida infection usually remain harmless. However, if treatment with ntimycotics already occurs during this time, the organism cannot sufficiently develop the necessary defence mechanisms and is significantly weakened with regard to the Candida defence later in life.
When self-regulation gets out of control – candidiasis Initially low fungal concentrations can quickly increase in a weakened immune system. If the chemical environment is slightly acidic and there is sufficient sugar or carbohydrates in the diet, the fungi multiply as quickly as yeast in a yeast dough. In the 37°C warm intestine, the Candida yeasts feel right at home and multiply within a few days. If the immune system is weakened, this can lead to a massive overgrowth of yeast fungi in the intestine. If a pronounced overgrowth can no longer be controlled by the immune system, it is called candidiasis. The immune system will continue to try to reduce the fungus, but is permanently so busy with it, over weeks and months, that it exhausts itself over time and thus paves the way for severe degenerative diseases. Therefore, candidiasis should be taken seriously and treated comprehensively.
Symptoms of candidiasis
The list of possible symptoms of candidiasis is long. However, many of the symptoms are non-specific and can also have other triggers. If several of the symptoms mentioned are present, one can suspect candidiasis. Possible symptoms:
- Frequent urinary tract infections, also non-specific.
- Migraine, headache
- Tiredness, exhaustion
- Dandruff (scalp)
- Excessive flatulence
- Bloated abdomen
- Fructose intolerance
- Diarrhoea or constipation, also alternating
- Waking up hungover in the morning (without drinking alcohol the night before)
- Bad breath
- Depressive mood
- Poor liver values (so-called ‘boozer enzymes’: GLDH, GGT, ASAT, ALAT)
- Abdominal pain
- Immunodeficiency, susceptibility to infections
- Sleep disturbances
- Increased body odour
- Hormone disorders
- Severe menstrual pain
- Back pain (bilateral)
- Nervous system disorders, e.g. aggression, disturbed motor function
Extreme form of candidiasis: homebrewing syndrome – party everywhere?
Like brewer’s or baker’s yeast, Candida albicans is also involved in the formation of alcohol. When foods containing sugar or carbohydrates encounter a warm, moist environment in the intestine with an excessive number of Candida yeasts, the fermentation processes begin. With pronounced Candida colonisation in combination with many sweet foods, blood alcohol levels of over 1.3 per mille can be reached! Another problem is that Candida is not a pure yeast and therefore produces a whole range of harmful fusel alcohols in addition to ethyl alcohol (which is contained in beer and wine).
This leads to an enormous permanent burden on the liver and can be seen in the liver values in the blood count – even if the person does not drink alcohol or drinks it only very rarely. The false imputation of alcoholism by doctors happens far more often than one might think. The fungi find the best conditions for alcohol fermentation when they are still “fed” plenty of carbohydrates in the evening, such as bread, pasta, pizza, beer, cake or sweet desserts. In the dark and warm environment of the small intestine, which reduces its digestive activity at night, the fungus begins to metabolise unhindered. Fermentation occurs and thus the formation of alcohol. The result is a “rude” awakening: Tiredness and shakiness in the morning, a hungover feeling, faintness throughout the day, headaches, as well as depressive moodiness are typical symptoms.
Neurological symptoms and behavioural problems
Another metabolic breakdown product of Candida is a cinnamic acid derivative. This hormone-like substance resembles catecholamines in its chemical structure, which are, among other things, messenger substances responsible for stimulus transmission in the brain. It can pass the blood-brain barrier and enter the hormonal control centre. Neurological diseases and disorders associated with increased urge to move and excitement can be linked to this substance, as it counteracts the hormone dopamine (inhibits motor activity).
In general, it can be said that yeasts produce substances that influence behaviour and thinking. In hyperkinetic syndrome and ADS in children, possible candidiasis should always be considered. Likewise, there are connections between chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) and yeast fungi in the gut. Aggressive behavioural problems, depressive moods and even manifest psychoses can be a consequence of candida exposure. Of course, the psychogenic effect of candidiasis is always only one aspect in the development of these abnormalities and depends on the situation of the person affected and his or her personality.
Immune reactions and food
A massive overgrowth of intestinal flora also means an out-of-balance intestinal flora, which is essential to maintain the intestinal mucosa as a body boundary. Fungi can penetrate the mucosal surface and infect the intestinal tissue itself. When the fungus penetrates this deep, the small blood vessels in the villi of the intestine are injured. Intestinal bleeding can occur and the intestine becomes increasingly permeable. Undigested food particles pass through the intestinal mucosa into the body and must now be recognised by the immune system as intruders and eliminated.
Immune reactions and food
A massive overgrowth of intestinal flora also means an unbalanced intestinal flora, which is essential to maintain the intestinal mucosa as a body boundary. Fungi can penetrate the mucosal surface and infect the intestinal tissue itself. When the fungus penetrates this deep, the small blood vessels in the villi of the intestine are injured. Intestinal bleeding can occur and the intestine becomes increasingly permeable. Undigested food particles pass through the intestinal mucosa into the body and must now be recognised by the immune system as intruders and made harmless. This leads to a variety of immune reactions to foods that would be easily digested or retained by a functioning intestinal mucosa. With a damaged intestinal mucosa, immune reactions to various foods occur, no matter how ‘organic’ or ‘healthy’ this food may normally be. Candida overgrowth is in itself a burden on the immune system. If the damage to the intestinal mucosa is compounded by immune reactions to various foods, the immune system is forced to continuously perform at its best. The disposal of the immune complexes formed in the process is another challenge for the already weakened organism.
Anything that impairs the balanced interaction within the microbiological system can promote candidiasis:
- A weakening of the immune system
- A change in the chemical environment of the intestine
- A heavy metal load on the organism
- Interference with the microbiological system
Weak immune system favours candida
A whole series of factors can weaken the immune system. Basically, anything that stresses the immune system in the long term is likely to weaken it. Persistent illnesses, for example, that are triggered by infections with bacteria, viruses, fungi or parasites and require increased immunological energy, contribute to a weakening.
But other factors also put a strain on the immune system: psychological stress, environmental influences, toxins, immune reactions to food and allergies. Especially when several factors occur at the same time, immune competence is weakened.
Poor hygiene, insufficient or excessive supply of nutrients and food, little sleep, an unhealthy lifestyle and stress in everyday life also have a weakening effect.
When taking medicines, their multiple effects must be taken into account. Germicidal and cell-killing medicines, such as antibiotics, antifungals and cytostatics, place a sensitive burden on the immune system and cause a great deal of damage to the microbiological cultures in the intestine. Drugs whose specific effect is to suppress the immune system (e.g. cortisone or methotrexate) block the defence behaviour and thus the natural regulation of fungal growth.
Acidosis in the intestine – Candida prefers an acidic environment
The pH value in the small intestine usually averages 7.4. Fungi and yeasts do not like to stay in this slightly alkaline environment, they prefer an acidic environment. In a healthy, alkaline small intestine environment, yeasts and fungi cannot work effectively and Candida has little opportunity to spread excessively.
The situation is different when the pH value in the small intestine shifts towards acidic in the long term: an environment is created in which Candida cultures feel right at home and grow excessively.
The main cause of chronic over-acidification of the intestine is a diet rich in protein and carbohydrates (meat, dairy products, sweets, pasta and bread in excess), as well as stimulants such as coffee, alcohol, soft drinks and sugar. They lower the pH value in the intestine in the course of metabolisation.
The consequence of over-acidification is damage to the intestinal flora and the intestinal mucosa: Bacteria that tend to prefer the alkaline milieu are dampened in their growth, yeasts and fungi are stimulated in their spread. Epithelial cells, whose function is to absorb nutrients, are increasingly transformed into mucus-forming goblet cells in the case of hyperacidity. Their alkaline mucus acts as an acid buffer and thus protects the maintenance of the entire intestinal mucosa. In the case of pronounced acidosis, the goblet cells eventually die and release their entire contents. This leads to small openings in the intestinal mucosa (leaky gut), which in turn allows undigested food to pass through the intestinal mucosa and must be rendered harmless by the immune system. If the permeability of the intestinal mucosa is impaired over a longer period of time, the probability of autoimmune reactions increases. Food basically consists of the same substances as the human body (carbohydrates, fat, minerals, water, protein). If the immune system is forced to react permanently to undigested food, it is on constant alert and the likelihood increases that it will accidentally confuse the body’s own cells with foreign substances similar to the body, such as undigested food. So the more pronounced the permeability of the intestine, the higher the immunological energy required and thus the strain and weakening of the immune system. In everyday life, the organism no longer has all the energy it needs and the person affected will generally feel less efficient.
The intestinal mucosa is our largest microbiological system with about 2-3 kilograms of microorganisms living in it. All other mucosal systems (eyes, ears, mouth, nose, sex organs) develop later and are connected to the intestinal mucosa. Major disorders of the intestinal mucosa usually also entail disorders of the other mucosal systems, for example allergies, frequent inflammations of the urinary tract, fungal diseases, ear and eye infections or vesicles in the mouth and bleeding gums.
Heavy metals in the intestine
Environmental pollution can also cause increased amounts of lead, mercury, arsenic, cadmium or aluminium to enter the body. As already mentioned, candida a. binds heavy metals and makes them excretable. As soon as more heavy metals enter the body, the body will try to protect itself from poisoning and therefore favours the spread of candida.
If heavy metal contamination is present, candida reduction is counterproductive. Especially a treatment with antimycotics like nystatin can suddenly release large amounts of heavy metals. Candidiasis is acutely less threatening than heavy metal poisoning.
If the body is contaminated with heavy metals, it is important to first find the source of the contamination, eliminate it and then excrete it before starting to take measures against the candidiasis. The assumption of a heavy metal contamination usually results from the anamnesis and the previous nutritional behaviour. If the above-mentioned symptoms point to a candidiasis that cannot be explained by the previous dietary behaviour and lifestyle, the assumption of a heavy metal contamination is obvious.
Interventions in the microbiological system
One of the most serious direct interventions in the ecological system is the administration of antibiotics and sulfonamides. Used sensibly, these substances are valuable therapeutics, but they also destroy a large part of the intestinal bacteria and thus the “good” intestinal flora that prevents Candida from spreading. These drugs do not work against the fungus, so it can spread unhindered. Presumably, candidiasis is also so common nowadays because we are exposed to antibiotic substances much more intensively than in the past. In addition to ingestion as a medication, the antibiotic content in foodstuffs such as meat, dairy products, poultry and eggs from conventional production must also be taken into account.
Detecting Candida is difficult. Nevertheless, I would like to briefly explain three test methods:
- Stool tests and anamnesis
Stool tests are based on the assumption that the fungus is excreted more frequently in the case of overgrowth. However, negative test results do not necessarily mean that there is no candidiasis. Candida is not evenly distributed in the stool, so it is possible that those parts of the stool were tested that did not contain any. Stool tests are generally more informative about the condition of the large intestine. In the small intestine, however, things can look quite different. It is therefore important to examine several samples taken from different parts of the stool. If the test is positive, one can speak of a diagnosed candidiasis. Whether this is pathological, however, should not be decided on the basis of the test alone. In the case of heavy metal contamination, candida can also be detected in the stool, as the toxins are excreted with the fungus. When making a diagnosis, the non-specific symptoms from the medical history must always be taken into account.
- IgG test and medical history
Immune tests for reactions to brewer’s yeast, baker’s yeast, Aspergillus Niger and edible fungi are much more reliable in indicating Candida contamination. In these tests, IgG antibody reactions against a number of foods as well as against fungi are examined in the patient’s serum (e.g. Cytolisa® or Pro Immun M®). Here, too, it is important to include the non-specific symptoms from the patient’s medical history in order to be able to assess the extent and, above all, the effects of the excessive Candida colonisation.
- Self-test with spit
It is best to spit into a glass half-filled with water in the morning. If the spit floats to the top for a long time and does not draw any threads, everything is fine. If the spit sinks quickly to the bottom of the glass and pulls threads, an excessive Candida colonisation is likely. I recommend the spit test to people who would like to have a measurement method for motivation. Again, the test is only helpful in assessing the overall situation in conjunction with a thorough medical history.
The classical approach of Candia therapy is to starve the fungus with a carbohydrate-free diet over a period of several months and additionally to kill it in the intestine with antimycotic medication (nystatin). Experience shows that with drug treatment, the fungus and its symptoms usually return within 14 days and tend to return stronger than before. Presumably, it reacts to the drug treatment with an even deeper retreat into the shallows of the intestinal mucosa and conquers new habitats as it goes along. After several months of consistent diet, patients are allowed to eat normally again. But the relapse into old eating patterns will quickly create optimal living conditions for Candida again.
Permanently effective and helpful for the improvement of candidiasis is a consistent, long-term and individually suitable change of diet in combination with probiotics (lactobacteria displace candia). It is important to avoid immune reactions to food in order to relieve the immune system and allow the regeneration of the intestinal mucosa. This slowly enables the immune system to regulate the amount of Candida to a certain extent on its own again. In addition, probiotics help to build up the intestinal flora. But: As long as the diet is not right, probiotics will not find suitable living conditions and will not be able to settle in the long term. Caprylic acid (from coconut oil) has a direct effect against Candida and can contribute a strong impulse to the reduction of yeasts, especially at the beginning. Furthermore, all measures that strengthen the immune system in the long term are generally helpful.
The therapy of candidiasis must therefore start with its primary causes:
- Strengthening the immune system
- Change of diet, taking into account the acid-base balance and individual tolerance of food.
- Building up a healthy and diverse intestinal flora with the support of pre- and probiotics (e.g. CALM from www.my-probiotic-shop.com )
- Consideration of glycaemic load (amount of carbohydrate/sugar in food)
- Elimination of heavy metals
How should I eat if I have candidiasis?
- Balance between alkaline and acidic foods
The daily diet should consist of 60-70 percent alkaline foods. Alkaline is any food that balances (alkalises) the environment in the intestine in the process of metabolisation. A simple rule of thumb helps to distinguish between foods: the less protein (protein) a food contains, the more alkaline it is metabolised. Vegetables and fruit are always metabolised alkaline, stimulants always acidic.
- Protein-containing foods should be eaten from morning to noon, and dinner should be eaten as early as possible and preferably as a pure vegetable meal.
Our digestive system is better able to cope with complex digestive tasks (protein) between mid-morning and midday. If protein-rich meals are eaten in the evening, the food cannot be completely digested before the night’s rest and – favoured by the excessive yeast colonisation – nocturnal putrefaction and fermentation processes occur. Especially at night, important cleansing and regeneration processes take place in the digestive tract, which cannot take place with late and rich meals.
- If there are immune reactions to food, the corresponding food should be avoided.
Candidiasis is usually accompanied by a permeability disorder of the intestinal mucosa (leaky gut). To effectively relieve the immune system, all foods that cannot be digested well should be avoided. Testing can be done using an IgG test (e.g. Cytolisa or Pro Immune).
- Consideration of the glycaemic load
The glycaemic load describes the effects of a carbohydrate- or sugar-containing food on the blood sugar level. Carbohydrate and blood sugar spikes must be avoided in order to feed Candida as little as possible.
- Balance between alkaline and acidic foods
Practical example 1
Patient, early 40s, sporty, healthy, non-smoker and strict teetotaler.
A routine examination reveals clearly elevated liver values, which indicate chronic liver damage. The causes, however, were completely unclear, as the patient has always eaten a ‘healthy’ diet and attaches great importance to fresh fruit and vegetables. She often eats large quantities of sweets, but mainly cakes sweetened with honey, dried fruit, organic chocolate, etc.
A screening test for food intolerances revealed strong reactions to baker’s yeast, brewer’s yeast, Aspergillus niger and a large number of fruits and vegetables. After nutritional counselling, the patient started an appropriate diet: avoidance of sweets, avoidance of fresh fruits and vegetables, especially in the evening.
10.01. Start of dietary change
02.02. Family celebration with lots of cake
After only about 2 weeks, there was an impressive improvement in the liver values and the patient reported enthusiastically that she no longer had migraine attacks. Only now did it turn out that she had constantly suffered from severe headaches and had become so accustomed to them that she regarded them as “normal” and no longer took painkillers, as she had done in earlier years, because these drugs would not work anyway. Another week later, when she was at a family party and ate a lot of cake, she was “punished” by a severe migraine lasting several days. At the same time, her liver values increased again. The diet was continued and the values returned to normal.
Practical example 2
Patient, 46 years old, 165cm, 78kg
Diagnosis: irritable bowel syndrome, diarrhoea, heartburn.
Diseases: CFS, obesity, polyps.
Symptoms: Cough, back pain, flatulence, bloated stomach, diarrhoea, overweight, exhaustion, lack of concentration
Diet so far: home cooking, often sweets, craving for sweets
From the medical history, I suspect a strong excessive Candida colonisation: exhaustion, lack of concentration, flatulence, diarrhoea and cravings for sweets. Occasionally, back pain is also related to the constant bloating (CO2 – formation of the yeasts). The patient reports very severe flatulence (Miss Pupsi).
The screening test confirms the suspicion of candidiasis: particularly strong reactions to baker’s yeast, brewer’s yeast, Aspergillus Niger and edible fungi in combination reflect the Candida burden. In addition, the patient reacts very strongly to all dairy products, some animal proteins and cereals are also not tolerated, there is a pronounced permeability disorder (leaky gut).
After 14 days of dietary changes, the digestive complaints begin to improve and the heartburn, which used to occur at least every other day, disappears completely. She also takes CALM as a probiotic. After another two weeks, the digestive problems have completely disappeared. Her ability to concentrate is much better and she feels fitter.
She consistently follows the recommendations over a period of four months. She notices occasional exceptions immediately with diarrhoea and stomach pains. After four months, she tries some of the reacting foods again in consultation and now tolerates them without any problems – if foods are tolerated again after a certain period of abstinence, this is a sign of the regeneration of the intestinal mucosa. She keeps the principles of the candida-reducing diet permanently and is now very happy with her diet and her well-being.