Candida: What It Is and How to Fight It
Our bodies constantly grow a variety of good bacteria as defenders against the incoming bad. Bacterial flora is an integral contributor to our immune system strength, but it can be killed and leave us open to invasion by bad bacteria. A variety of factors decrease our good bacteria levels; when this happens and the balance is swayed, the bad bacteria replicate more quickly and eventually take over. This is called Candida albicans...and it's becoming a fairly common health concern.
Candida of the mouth is known as thrush and takes the form of a white substance that can accumulate on the lips; it also causes a white tongue. If your tongue is white in the morning before you've consumed anything, odds are good that you have it. The symptoms through the stomach and intestines are a little more difficult to isolate since they can apply to a variety of other imbalances, but diarrhea, pain in the abdominal region or a distended or "puffy" look, and difficulty with digestion can all indicate candida overgrowth. Candida can also take the form of athlete's foot, diaper rash, jock itch, or dry skin conditions such as dandruff or psoriasis.
One way to check for Candida is with a simple at-home saliva test. Upon waking (before consuming anything), spit into a glass of water. About twenty minutes later, examine the saliva: if it has long "legs" coming from it or it sank, you probably have Candida.
There are candida lab tests that can determine past and present candida infection. These candida tests are done through blood or stool analysis. Some can be collected at home and mailed to the lab.
Leaky Gut and Candida
Eventually, the imbalance can cause "leaky gut syndrome", in which the pores of the intestine become enlarged and harmful particles can pass through the intestine into the bloodstream. This can increase allergic reactions, as allergens that had been trapped by the system and moved to the intestine to safely pass out of the system will "escape" and re-enter the system. As you encounter more allergens and your body cannot void them, they will accumulate in your bloodstream and cause you to have allergic reactions while you're not even exposed to an allergen. It can also create new allergies.
There are many ways to fight Candida. Start by treating the symptoms, which helps kill the bacteria. If you have thrush, brush your teeth and your tongue frequently. Change toothbrushes often and in the interim, boil them or soak them in mouthwash to kill lingering bacteria and yeast. There are specialty mouthwashes that contain enzymes which kill yeast and bacteria: these are very effective and you should notice a diminished presence of the white coloration within just a few days.
Fight mildew, which is closely related to Candida. Launder what you can in very hot water and add Borax to all loads, clothes and linens; this will help kill unseen mildew. Wash linens and towels often. If athlete's foot is a problem, take off your shoes and socks when you get home so that your feet stay dry. Change socks often and be sure they're very dry after laundering.
Most importantly, take a good look at your diet. A cleanse can be helpful: it will help purge the accumulation of allergens and get your system running efficiently, which will strengthen your immune system and help you fight these invaders. Everything you do to kill this bacteria will be undone if you're feeding it heavily with sugars and yeasts. Try to minimize your intake of fermented foods (like vinegar and soy sauce), fruits (which convert to sugar), alcohol (particularly beer because of the yeast), white flour, white rice, and all other non whole grains, products that contain yeast, and soft moldy cheeses. Focus on meats, soy, and vegetables with a minimum of additives and processing.