Candida and the Leaky Gut Syndrome Connection

Many people who have yeast infections, particularly those where it keeps recurring, take many years, sometimes never, to realize that their yeast infection is only one aspect of myriad health problems. This is because, for the most part, many of those symptoms seem so distinct from one another it is difficult to see how they can be symptoms of one particular illness.

Leaky gut syndrome is the more commonly used phrase for intestinal permeability. It is an illness which occurs when the wall or lining of the intestine is damaged and allows for toxins, bacteria and larger particles of food to pass through into the blood stream where they would normally be restricted.

Although you may be thinking, ‘what has this got to do which my yeast infection?’ the real answer is, quite a lot! This is because yeasts, and Candida albicans in particular, can both contribute to leaky gut syndrome and be an effect of it.

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Something which starts out as an apparently ‘simple’ matter of an overgrowth of Candida albicans which may be triggered by something as innocent as taking antibiotics, results in several effects: In addition to Candida causing possible external symptoms such as athlete’s foot or vaginal yeast infection, the organism also internally releases a compound known as acetaldehyde. Although in smaller quantities this is not a problem for the body, when amounts increase it can cause problems with the ‘seals’ of the intestinal wall which are known as the ‘tight junctions.’ These seals are in place precisely to prevent foreign bodies or toxins escaping into the blood stream because many problems can them be caused throughout the body. When the tight junctions fail then not only can foreign bodies move into the blood but so too can the Candida albicans and this means it can set up all kinds of reactions anywhere in the body.

One major problem relating to particles traveling through the intestinal wall is the reaction of the immune system. Because many of these particles are actually molecules of food which would, if they passed through normally when they were fully digested, be recognized as acceptable by the immune system, instead become ‘invaders’ of the blood stream. This means that the body starts to recognized certain food types as being damaging rather than necessary and food sensitivities are the end result.

The other reactions, as many people diagnosed with leaky gut syndrome will substantiate, are multiple. Not only does the immune system overreact resulting in multiple autoimmune conditions which are now becoming common, such as autoimmune arthritis, but also inflammatory bowel disease, various skin conditions including psoriasis and, as you might have guessed, systemic Candida overgrowth. In other words a Candida infection which is not limited to a certain area of the body, but one which may appear in any corner where it might wish to set up home. This makes it even more difficult to eradicate, and when treatment is effective, the dead cells release even more toxins and acetaldehyde when they decompose.

This then overloads the detoxifying organs of the body such as the liver and further problems and symptoms can result.

Now you can really see why Candida albicans can be both cause and effect when it comes to leaky gut syndrome and why it is doubly important to eradicate it not only effectively but also in a controlled manner.

When it comes to yeast overgrowth and leaky gut syndrome, as with many other illnesses, prevention is always preferable to cure. Remember that many, apparently innocent everyday practices can result in what is known as gut dysbiosis. This is where the microflora of the gut no longer work in harmony together but when one inhabitant becomes dominant and starts to cause problems. In the case of Candida albicans, although it normally inhabits not only the gut but many other areas of the body both internally and externally without causing any problems, when it becomes dominant the resulting effects can be devastating to the human body.

Antibiotics, NSAIDS, oral contraceptives and even many over-the-counter antacids, can contribute to triggering gut dysbiosis and Candida overgrowth. In turn this can result in not only digestive upset and fungal infections but ultimately leaky gut syndrome which causes systemic illness because the blood stream becomes a transport mechanism for many foreign particles throughout the body.

Where you can, avoid overusing both prescribed and over-the-counter medications. And, although I’m certain you have heard it many times before, preparing your own organic foods is infinitely more preferable to buying in commercially produced goods. Also remember that if you start to suffer digestive disturbances, which are often the first sign of dysbiosis, look into having it treated early rather than leaving it until the problems have become chronic.

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About Eric Bakker N.D.

Eric Bakker ND has completed almost ten years of study and has almost almost 25 years of clinical experience in natural and integrative forms of medicine, and has pursued continuous post-graduate study in Australia, America, India as well as in New Zealand.

Eric is the past Vice President of the NZ Natural Medicine Association and is currently on their editorial advisory board.