February 6th, 2012 by Digestive Detective
You walk by that box of donuts in the break room and hear them calling your name. The candy machine at work seems to beckon you as you pass by. You have a bagel for breakfast and then find yourself craving some bread for lunch and pasta for dinner.
You feel like you can't help it. Despite your best efforts and fortified willpower, you find yourself constantly craving carbs & sweets. The problem may not be willpower at all, but something much deeper; something deep down in the very recesses of your body; something lurking deep inside you. That something - yeast.
Fungus Among Us
Fungus or yeast is all around us. As a microorganism, fungal spores float through the air and are attached to just about everything we come in contact with daily. We breathe them in, have them on our clothes and skin and just about every surface around us. Fungus or yeast are extremely prolific and grow on anything that begins to lose its vitality or life-force (think mushrooms growing on a decaying tree). They are opportunistic organisms by nature and attach themselves to other organisms in order to grow themselves. Fungi are a normal presence in the environment but when the conditions are right, they're opportunistic nature results in proliferation beyond what the surrounding environment may be able to handle.
We have our own internal environments within our bodies that can be weakened by a variety of factors. When our internal environment is damaged or weakened by toxins, poor nutrition or antibiotic use, the yeast that are normally present within our digestive tract can grow and multiply. Our guts are an environment rich in microorganisms, designed to maintain a certain balance. When this balance is disrupted, the window of opportunity is open long enough for yeast, among other organisms, to take root.
Normally, when our immune systems are strong, we simply eliminate yeast and other microorganisms. Part of what helps us maintain that immune strength is balanced flora or gut bacteria. Antibiotic use, while sometimes necessary to fight infection, can create a situation where beneficial bacteria in the gut get temporarily wiped out (usually takes 2 weeks to 2 months to recover healthy flora). This is that very window of opportunity which yeast take advantage of to grow. Initially fungal spores hatch and then the invasive form can grow into a mass of fungal threads called mycelia. Ultimately, yeast mutates and becomes an invasive, systemic condition called Candidiasis.
Common Symptoms Associated with Candidiasis
- Inability to concentrate, poor memory, fatigue
- Weight gain, bloating, flatulence, constipation, diarrhea
- Sores, bumps, rashes, discharge, coated tongue
- Hormonal problems, vaginal infection, menstrual difficulties, PMS
- Impotence, infertility, prostatitis
- Rectal itch, urinary tract infection/inflammation
- Allergies to foods and/or airborne chemicals
- Carbohydrate cravings
While I'm sure everyone would love to read more about rectal itch, we'll keep our attention focused on that last bullet point - carbohydrate cravings.
So now that we know how yeast gets into the body and sets up shop, let's discuss what it does once inside.
It turns out that yeast/fungi are sugar junkies - their primary food source is glucose. Yeast feed off of sugars and break them down into alcohol through alcohol fermentation. If you've ever woken up the day after eating a lot of sugar (like after a raging all-night cake and cookie party or Pixy Stix bender) you may have felt kinda lousy - almost like you had a mild hangover - that's the effect of alcohol fermentation and conversion to acetaldehyde (toxic byproduct of alcohol).
If you have a fungal/yeast overgrowth, those carb & sugar cravings you experience may not really be your body talking, but the yeast; and despite your best efforts, physiology will win over psychology EVERY TIME. Here's the domino effect:
- Your body & internal environment (gut) becomes unbalanced through antibiotic overuse, toxins, & poor nutrition (such as excess sugars in the diet, etc.).
- Yeast as an opportunistic organism comes in and takes root - propagating into an invasive infestation.
- These microorganisms produce gas and toxins that irritate and damage tissues, glands, or organs and severely compromise the immune system.
- Further compromised, the immune system and gut continues to be a breeding ground for pathogens.
- More yeast grows, causing demand for glucose (sugar) as fuel and causing you to crave more sugars and carbs.
- Psychology loses to physiology and you eat more carbs/sugars leading to weight gain, hormone, immune, detoxification & digestive dysfunction and more proliferation of yeast.
You can see how this becomes a vicious cycle, making efforts to eat better and lose weight more difficult over time.
Taming the Yeast Beast
Eliminating yeast entirely is nearly impossible as they are so prolific and actually normal microorganisms within our guts. It's their overgrowth that is not normal and the invasive infections/conditions such as Candidiasis that cause harm. Drugs or natural anti-candida compounds rarely produce significant long-term results when used alone without addressing other health factors. Trying to solely kill the yeast is like trying to weed your garden by simply cutting the weeds at the stems instead of pulling them out by the roots. The key is to tend to and repare the garden (aka your gut) to optimal function and avoid as much as possible sugars and fermented foods such as vinegars, pickles, etc. that yeast feed upon. Through proper dietary changes and a specific protocol that heals the gut and restores normal function, you create an environment that is no longer ideal for yeast to grow.
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