By Kate Wharmby Seldman
What is candidiasis, and could it be affecting your health?
Candidiasis is a yeast infection of the intestines that some alternative practitioners believe is responsible for a group of ailments. It occurs when yeast that’s normally present in the body grows out of control, such as when your immune system is compromised. People with immune system disorders like HIV, or people whose immune defenses are weakened by diseases like cancer, may suffer from excess Candida yeast. Alternative medical practitioners think that eating too much sugar and carbohydrates may also cause Candida infections. In addition to a bad diet, these practitioners say, Candida overgrowth can occur in pregnant women, people who have been taking antibiotics, diabetics, smokers, and those who take steroids, antacids, and oral contraceptives.
According to holistic medicine, systemic candidiasis manifests itself in a variety of ways: a patient may feel anxious, itchy, or fatigued; suffer from poor memory or inability to concentrate; be moody, irritable, or angry; have skin problems like eczema or psoriasis; or crave sugars and carbs. These symptoms are caused when Candida passes through the intestinal wall and provokes an immune system response.
Traditional doctors feel that Candida is overdiagnosed and that it isn’t often the cause of the symptoms above. Natural practitioners advise going on a special diet to eradicate Candida and the ailments they believe it causes. Patients shouldn’t eat sugar: at first, they may even need to stop eating fruit until their Candida is under control. They should eliminate refined foods from their diets, and stick to lean protein, low-carbohydrate vegetables and eggs. Fermented or yeast-containing foods like cheese, beer, bread and mushrooms are no-nos. It usually takes a month before improvement is seen. Once the patient is beginning to feel better, he or she can start slowly adding foods back into his or her diet, one at a time, to make sure the food doesn’t cause a flare-up. The purpose of the diet is to change the body’s pH from acidic to alkaline, which will stop the candida from growing.
Candidiasis sufferers should also take probiotic supplements to encourage the growth of healthy bacteria in the digestive tract. Some natural practitioners say Candida thrives on a slow-moving digestive process, so they recommend taking digestive enzyme supplements like bromelin (found in pineapples) and papain (found in papaya) to speed up the elimination of waste from the body.
Other supplements said to treat candidiasis include grapefruit seed extract, which kills the harmful yeast; oil of oregano, which should be taken in capsule form and is sometimes taken in combination with a garlic supplement; and lactic acid, which creates an inhospitable environment for yeast in the intestine. You can also eat yogurt containing the live culture Lactobacillus acidophilus.
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