Symptoms

What is Candida?

In our intestines we carry 2 kilos of live micro-organisms. In a healthy person, these micro-organisms comprise about 80 percent “good guys” and 20 percent “bad guy”. Within the bad guys is a yeast called candida albicans, which causes no problems as long as we keep it at low levels. In a healthy gut, the good guys prevent this bug from overgrowing and causing issues. However, our gut microflora can be affected by several factors, which include our modern diets and lifestyle, and this can help the Candida to grow stronger and to spread. Candida starts its life as a spore and in this form is not an issue, but when conditions favour it, such as a diet high in sugar, antibiotics which deplete our good bacteria the yeast can metamorphose into a fungal form, with roots called mycelia which can penetrate the tissues of the body.

Antibiotics

As already mentioned, one of the big issues is that our modern diets are very high in sugar and if you have ever made bread or wine, you know that we use yeast sugar to activate it. In the UK today, we estimate that each person consumes their body weight in sugar every year. This sounds horrifying, but it is easily done. As well as adding sugar to our tea and coffee it is a major component of biscuits, cakes, ice-creams, sweets, cereals, puddings and pies and hides in many processed foods which come in packets, tins, bottles and jars. Besides the actual pure sugar we consume, we also consume vast amounts of so-called white carbohydrates (white flour, rice and cornflour/corn-starch) which our bodies turn into glucose. You might now understand how candida can be encouraged to overgrow!

Another significant contributor to candida overgrowth is our modern-day overuse of antibiotics. Whilst antibiotics are wonder drugs in emergencies, they have the unfortunate effect of destroying the beneficial “good” bacteria in our gut at the same time as eradicating the bacteria that make us ill. As we deplete beneficial flora, we create a space in which candida thrives, and it gains more ground. There are some health conditions require continuous antibiotics, often taken for month e.g. acne or urinary tract infections. The effects on our gut bacteria can be devastating.

Often acne and recurrent infections have been caused by candida and so taking antibiotics exacerbates the situation. In addition to the antibiotics prescribed to us by our GP’s or dentists, we consume antibiotics in meat and dairy produce, as livestock are given antibiotics to prevent disease or even to help to fatten-up the animals. Reassuringly, consuming meat and dairy which is organic offers protection from these antibiotic residues.

Other common medications which have negative effects on our gut flora include Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) which are very common over-the-counter medications used for headaches, back pain and other painful conditions, and these also promote candida overgrowth.

Steroids are also a promoter of candida overgrowth. People with hay fever and asthma often use steroid sprays or inhalers for their anti-inflammatory effects, but when taken over long periods of time, these drugs have an immuno-suppressant effect. When the immune systemI

candida image on white background
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blue close-ups of bacteria

Causes

Primary causes of Candida albicans include:
  • frequent antibiotic use
  • high sugar diets
  • diets lacking key nutrients
  • repetitive and highly processed diets
  • refined carbohydrates high alcohol intake
  • poor digestion
  • birth control pills
  • frequent use of NSAIDS
  • high levels of stress
Identifying whether Candida is your issue is the first and most important step to take. Whilst it might be tempting to simply assume its existence, similar symptoms may be experienced from pathogens including a common parasite called B Hominis. Whilst an anti-candida diet (low in sugar and starch) is useful in eradicating many parasites, the anti-fungal supplements typically used to reduce Candida can be ineffective against B Hominis.

Resolution

Once a Candida infection is confirmed, an Anti-Candida (A/C) approach can begin. We approach Candida treatment in phases according to your personal case history and state of health.

It is often necessary to begin the treatment with a course of supplements designed to support the body’s immune system by increasing levels of SIgA: low SIgA levels can contribute to Candida overgrowth as well as promoting food allergy and intolerance.

Very strict diets – often recommended for Candida overgrowth – can be counter-productive. As well as being very challenging to adopt, they may not be the best approach to support your immune system, which is after all, going to be critical in preventing the return of Candida at a later date.

However, patients with proven Candida overgrowth are recommended to avoid refined carbohydrates, sugar, high sugar fruits and fruit juices whilst undergoing treatment.
illustration of candidiasis types

Tests

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candida report cover and stethoscope

IBS clinics uses several different tests for candida, these include:

Comprehensive Stool test – Stool tests are able to identify candida overgrowth (and much more besides) provided that candida is present in the large intestine. However please note that if your stool test does not show that you have candida this may not mean that you don’t have candida, simply that it might be residing elsewhere in your body. The comprehensive stool test provides a wealth of very helpful background information in to your internal gut environment as it provides a picture of the levels of your beneficial flora versus imbalanced or “bad bacteria” which may be promoting candida overgrowth as well as the presence of parasites which cause candida-like symptoms.

Organic acid test – this test is a urine-based test and as such provides evidence of candida via the elevation of organic acid yeast markers (such as arabinose). As this is a urine test, we would not know which part of the GI tract the candida is residing in necessarily, although if you had undertaken a stool test (and this was negative we could possibly assume that the candida was in the small intestine (upper gut).

Candida IgG antibody test – this is a simple blood draw which looks for antibodies which identifies if you have an immune response to candida, suggestive of an invasive (i.e. beyond the gut) candida infection. This test can be ordered by itself or as part of a comprehensive IgG food sensitivity panel (IgG).

These tests can be ordered via this site. We will provide a detailed analysis and review of the test results.

We recommend a variety of supplements to assist the body in controlling Candida. These include probiotics and nutrient compounds that increase your natural immune defences by raising SIgA but also ensure the integrity of your gut lining. In addition, we recommend supplements which reduce the yeast as well as large doses of probiotics or ‘friendly bacteria’ to help to crowd out the candida. If your candida is particularly recalcitrant or longstanding, we may also suggest the use of bio-film disruptor supplements as we could reasonably assume that you might be suffering from a chronic biofilm infection

This IBS Clinics phased approach – typically, it takes 8-12 weeks – proves most effective in the long term, as it builds your immune system whilst reducing the Candida, our aim is to make this the only anti-Candida treatment that you will ever need.

FAQ

Our answers to frequently asked questions about Candida.

The symptoms associated with a Candida overgrowth are largely due to Candida’s ability to produce a toxin called acetaldehyde. When Candida is killed off it releases a large amount of this chemical so it is possible to begin to feel worse again which can be hard to understand as it often follows a period of feeling better.

Absolutely! I don’t believe that an individual needs to suffer just to prove that the approach is working and have found that there are a number of nutritional interventions which can be used to improve bile flow and speed up the removal of toxins from the body.

This varies from person to person, but typically after a couple of weeks symptoms such as bloating and toilet frequency should begin to improve and after 3-4 weeks, you should feel a bit more ‘alive’ and like things have improved

This varies enormously and will be in the region of £100 per month depending on test results. Expect to take supplements for three months to a year.

Two to three appointments is the norm to achieve the resolution of a Candida issue. The Candida protocol can be complex and many of my clients have found it beneficial to have a their progress formally assessed.
Because the IBS Clinics approach is to treat the individual as a whole, we typically address blood sugar balance, adrenal fatigue and hormonal balance as part of the process. The goal is to get you feeling as well as possible.

 

 

This is your choice and this approach does have its merits, but the path to ridding yourself of Candida can be a long one and is dependent on a variety of factors. Testing provides important information on your progress, and also identifies if other interventions such as the use of probiotics, a low sugar diet or digestive enzymes could be beneficial.

We have seen many clients who display what appear to be Candida symptoms, however tests have shown in some cases that these are down to a parasitic infection. We then have to undertake another test to look for other factors. Ultimately this could prove more expensive.

Candida is a normal inhabitant of a healthy gut and poses no issue in healthy people. Issues arise when the immune system is compromised for any reason. Approximately 70% of the body’s immune system is in the gut and is comprised of a bacterial community the balance of which is vital for our health.