One of the most common digestive conditions that I see in practice is candida. Also called yeast overgrowth and sometimes dysbiosis, candida is a condition that originates in the digestive tract but can and often does have effects throughout the body.
Biology 101 quick lesson: we all have trillions of microorganisms in the gut that have many functions including absorption of nutrients (such as B12), modulating of the immune system, and digestion. In fact, there are so many bacteria in the intestines that bowel movements consist of up to 75% bacteria and yeast! It is only when the proportions of good bacteria, bad bacteria and yeast are altered from the healthy range that there is a problem. Symptoms of imbalance can be digestive in nature such as excess gas and bloating, loose stools or constipation, abdominal pain, indigestion, reflux and heartburn. However, depending on the severity of yeast overgrowth, it is not uncommon to see urinary tract infections, yeast infections, skin rashes, hives, fatigue, brain fog, weight gain, dizziness, anxiety, insomnia, neurological symptoms, nutrient deficiencies (anemia for example) and more.
How can you get candida? It is not contagious rather it stems out of the gut environment favouring yeast growth and creating poor conditions for good bacteria growth. This can occur due to antibiotic use, food sensitivities, a weakened immune system, low stomach acid and other health scenarios. For some, candida takes a long time to form whereas others notice it right away after eating a sugary treat. It affects both sexes and all ages, from infants through to the elderly.
Candida can be tested for quite easily and treated with diet and supplementation. Symptoms of candida are the first clue and often end up being the best way to monitor treatment. At Downtown Wellness Centre and Vitalia, we can test for the presence of candida antibodies by blood and determine the strains and sensitivity (ie which herbs and anti-fungals are specific to killing the strains present in an individual) by stool collection. The information that is gathered through the stool test is very valuable when creating an individualized treatment protocol as no two digestive tract environments are alike. Often it is important to determine food sensitivities and eliminate those foods from the diet while treating the yeast as we want to ensure the healthiest environment possible for the good bacteria to grow.
Dietary changes are necessary and can be thought of as a cleanse in order to starve out the sugar-loving yeast. A customized diet is also prescribed with anti-fungal supplements and multi-strain, high dose probiotics. For more information please click here.
Yours In Health,
Dr. Jennifer Luis ND