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Candida Albicans

(Part 2 of: 1 l 2 )
The Yeast Beast

by Michael Braunstein

There are many problems and discomforts that "modern medicine" just has a lousy time with. Almost any chronic condition is a real challenge for conventional medicine. The litany of aches and pains, insomnia and irregularity, headaches and irritable bowel syndrome, obesity, moodiness, depression, fatigue, confusion - the basic American condition! - all stump the American medical profession. These and many other symptoms may often be the work of the flora that call our body home.

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It's a jungle out there - (and in there!)

" ... and life goes on within you and without you."

- George Harrison

Thanks George. It's an expansive thought to consider ourselves part of the great flow of life, the cosmic beam. Ah yes. Life - going on within me and without me. Wait a minute! What exactly do you mean?

As this column described in Part One, life really does go on within your body. Plants and animals flourish and feed in the personal jungle they call home and you call your body. You aren't going to get rid of them; it's a fact of life. They are squatters on that patch of real estate you hold so precious - your body. Bacteria such as e.coli live in your gut and throughout your body. Animal parasites cruise your hair shafts looking for lunch. Bacteria live in your armpits and back dining on microscopic bits of dead cells and body oil. You see, they're not all harmful. But as with all interlopers, the problem occurs when they start demanding more than their fair share. Uppity bacteria are more than a nuisance. They can be an uprising and a sign of illness.

One of the most profligate species in our body is a little one-celled plant called Candida albicans. It's a common species of yeast. This microscopic meddler lives mostly in our intestines and is a community plant. That is, it likes to live with its friends, other yeast cells. When candida gets together with a whole host of its buddies, the population gets pretty demanding. When enough of them get together, things get out of control. Then something really strange happens. They change shape and form like some kind of science fiction monster. They become fungus.

Like mushrooms growing though the dense covering of a forest floor, the fungal shoots of candida and company, called rhizomes, stretch out. Reaching through the body, they can perforate intestinal walls and let their yeastie-beastie cells swim through the blood stream to set up camp in other parts of the body. I know. It's not a pretty thought. Nonetheless, it's real.

When the population of candida grows to proportions of imbalance, we start to suffer the consequence and not without symptoms. There are many problems and discomforts that "modern medicine" just has a lousy time with. Almost any chronic condition is a real challenge for conventional medicine. The litany of aches and pains, insomnia and irregularity, headaches and irritable bowel syndrome, obesity, moodiness, depression, fatigue, confusion - the basic American condition! - all stump the American medical profession. These and many other symptoms may often be the work of the flora that call our body home. When the symptoms become an annoyance, we sometimes call the condition a disease: systemic candida or candidiasis. It is a body-wide yeast infection. That's a term that most women (and many men) can relate to. Rest assured that if you have the symptoms of a genital yeast infection, you have an overpopulation of candida throughout your body.

For an idea of how pervasive the yeast link to disease is, consider some interesting research out of the Mayo Clinic. 37 million Americans suffer chronic sinusitis resulting in runny nose, loss of smell, sinus infection, headaches and inflammation. Research found fungal cells in the mucus of 96 percent of sinusitis sufferers. Doctors now suspect that the major cause of the disease is a fungal infection. Treating sinusitis with antibiotics is the normal procedure. In fact, that will help the fungus grow. Bacteria can often keep the fungus population at bay.

Since you'll never be able to get all of the yeasties to move on to greener pastures outside the body, the only answer is to control the population. Here's how. Don't feed ‘em.

Yeast love to eat. And one of their favorite foods is sugar. That's one of the reasons it's also one of ours. You see, it isn't necessarily that your body wants sugar. It's really more a case of the beast within your body demanding it. Then you get the signal to eat it.

No question, Americans eat a junky diet. And topping the list of the junk we eat is our overwhelming addiction to sugar. We eat it in any form we can get it. The fact of that addiction was not lost on the mind of one of the most successful entrepreneurs in American history.

McDonalds fast-food hamburger chain is an American legend. The company grew by leaps and bounds in the 1950s. McDonalds wasn't the brainchild of the more famous owner, Ray Kroc, but when he bought the chain he brought the chain into national prominence by some shrewd marketing decisions. Kroc was one of the first franchise kings and one of his innovations was demanding that the food be a nationwide standard. Each McDonalds had to buy their hamburger patties from the main office. This assured control of the formula. And what did Kroc put in the hamburger patties that wasn't there when the cow was killed? He used a little common sense, looked around and saw what Americans just couldn't resist. That's right, he put sugar in the original formula for the burgers. Then on top of that he put more sugar. Ever look to see how much sugar is in ketchup? The secret of an empire.

You feed your yeast every day. Sugar, sugar everywhere. It's in almost everything you eat; even what you thought was healthy. Fat is nothing compared to the amount of sugar we eat. The average American eats two pounds of sugar a week!

One can of soda will ring up 10 grams of sugar. To get an idea how unnatural that is consider this. To manufacture one teaspoon of refined sugar requires 18 feet of sugar cane. Ever see those cute commercials with the little Hawaiian kids chewing on a piece of sugar cane in its natural state? Now imagine eating 18 feet of that! That's how unnatural refined sugar is.

The sweet tooth trouble isn't just with refined sugar. Take a look at your carton of yogurt you thought was so healthy. Yep. Added sugar is one of the main ingredients for all but the most natural kind. Or how about eight ounces of skim milk? Healthy, right? When it comes to a yeast cell, you bet. One cup of skim milk has 9 grams of protein. And 12 grams of sugar! OK. Let's get healthier. How about rice milk? Two grams of protein and 14 grams of sugar. Ow! Grape-Nuts? Seven grams of sugar. The sad thing is that the protein isn't all that great an idea either.

Candy and soda are to be expected. But how do you get to two pounds a week? Hidden sugar is the answer. Sucrose (table sugar), dextrose (corn sugar), and high-fructose corn syrup are processed into foods like as bread, breakfast cereal, ketchup, mayonnaise, peanut butter, spaghetti sauce and most of all processed foods. Ray Kroc's idea was not lost on others.

Yeast has a wide diet. To get a handle on controlling the population takes some discipline. Here is what some of the experts suggest.

Robert Young is a microbiologist who is well aware of the problem yeast causes in the body. He simplifies the answer in his book, Reclaim Your Inner Terrain. Young says we must turn our diet to eating foods that promote an alkaline balance in the body. Acidosis enhances the growth of yeast. Many people who follow his diet plans are able to balance their yeast population.

First, recognize that sugars are not a minimum daily requirement food. You will get by just fine without 'em! But there are other things to avoid too. Most consultants agree on the following:

  • Don't be a sucker for sucrose
    That goes not only for refined and hidden sugars, but also natural sugars including honey, molasses and syrups. Fructose, corn syrup, glucose - all are just code words for one thing: sugar. Fruits are high in sugar. Just about the only one that receives an "ok" is lemon. All other fruits are shunned, especially melons.
  • Dairy is scary
    Milk and dairy products contribute to the growth of candida. On top of feeding the yeast with the sugar contained, the protein is easily converted to food for fungus. About the only dairy allowed would be butter. Cheeses, milks, creams - anything else from dairy only makes the yeast worse.
  • Don't be a glutton with gluten
    Processed bread, refined flours and most grains support the growth of yeast in the body. Gluten grains include wheat, oats, rye and barley. Gluten is a no-no when it comes to controlling candida.
  • Chill with "The Pill"
    You may not want to deal with it, but it's a known fact that the use of birth control pills will enhance the ability of yeast to grow inside the body. Of course, any use of a pill that can interfere with such a powerful function as the birth control pill does might give pause for thought anyway.
  • Get "anti" with antibiotics
    Another known fact is that the use of antibiotics will give your yeast population a boost. Stop using them. Yeast and bacteria, even the "friendlies", vie for the same real estate. It is pretty much common knowledge nowadays that antibiotics aren't the wonder drug we thought. In fact, they cause much more harm than we suspected. When we medicate to kill what we think are "bad" bacteria, we kill "good" bacteria too. There is good reason why the word "antibiotic" itself means "against life." When the population of bacteria is reduced, the population of yeast increases. Using antifungals is the same mistake as using antibiotics. The yeast grow resistant and become "super yeast."
  • Lose the booze
    Sorry. That glass of wine is going to turn into one of the yeasties' favorite sugars. You want change. You gotta start somewhere. And beer? It's made with yeast!
  • Try "probiotics"
    Some forward-thinking doctors recommend taking advantage of the symbiosis the body has with friendly bacilli. Adding lactobacillus to the diet can help control the overgrowth of yeast. Vitamins and minerals can help the control too. Biotin and oleic acid (found in olive oil for example) can help keep the yeast from forming the more pathogenic fungal form.
  • Add good things to your diet
    Eating more oat bran can help clean the gut. It may seem ridiculously obvious, but eating better in general will help too. The American diet is horribly nutrient deficient. We eat thousands of calories a day but hardly any food that is nutrient-rich. This in itself alters the pH of the intestine which in turn supports the growth of yeast.
  • Don't eat the relatives
    Yeast, fungus and mushrooms are the same family. They cross-react. Skip that portobella mushroom. Even minerals and vitamins can be offenders - many are prepared with yeast. Read the label.

Okay, okay. It doesn't sound like much fun just eating leafy greens. But maybe after you get this yeast thing under control, you can learn to get your self under control and get back to enjoying a few yummies again - in moderation!

If you really want some help with the yeast problem, check with a physician or health care practitioner who knows about it. Few do. A good place to start is one of your reputable local health food stores.

Be well.

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Michael Braunstein is Executive Director of Heartland Healing and certified by the American Council of Hypnotist Examiners in clinical hypnotherapy. He graduated from the Los Angeles Hypnotism Training Institute and was an instructor at the UCLA Extension University for 11 years.

Heartland Healing is devoted to the examination of various alternative forms of healing. It is provided as a source of information and not as medical advice. It is not meant as an endorsement of any particular therapy, either by the writer or by Heartland Healing Center, Inc.

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