The Yeast Menace

The yeast menace refers to the potentially debilitating fungal infection Candidosis, also known as Monilia, Thrush or simply yeast infection. When the ratio of friendly bacteria to Candida (which is a type of yeast) becomes out of balance, then the Candida can proliferate, resulting in Candidosis.
There are over 20 types of Candida, but the most common is Candida Albicans. In a healthy digestion system, our colons are populated by a large colony of bacteria which play a role in aiding the final stages of digestion and the manufacture of B vitamins. Usually, around 80% of the bacteria are considered 'friendly' and are primarily of the Lactobacillus Acidophilus variety, whilst the remaining 20% are yeast organisms, Candida Albicans.
Yeast can be found throughout the human body and is usually kept in check by a healthy immune system and friendly lacto bacteria such as Acidophilus. When these regulating factors become compromised, the yeast can multiply, leading to a yeast infection. A stressful lifestyle and poor diet can reduce the efficiency of our immune system, resulting in lower levels of friendly bacteria which in turn allows the yeast organisms to proliferate, leading to a yeast infection.
Another major cause of low levels of friendly bacteria can be attributed to the use of broad spectrum antibiotics, such as tetracyclin and vybramycin. These antibiotics can wipe out the friendly bacteria within our bodies whilst leaving the yeast intact and, with the friendly bacteria gone, the yeast is allowed to multiply unchecked.
Poor diet, antibiotics and a stressful lifestyle are all contributing factors to a reduced immune system and susceptibility to a yeast infection, however there are other factors that come into play, helping yeast to take a hold.
The female sex hormone progesterone favours the growth of yeast, resulting in around 10 times as many women suffering from Candidosis as men. The same hormone can be found in the contraceptive pill and anti-inflammatory steroids such as cortisone can also promote yeast growth within the body. Those with raised blood sugar levels such as diabetics are also prone to yeast infection as are alcoholics and individuals regularly consuming a diet of highly processed and high yeast and sugar content foods. Each individual's biochemical make up can also influence the susceptibility and severity of symptoms of a yeast infection, whilst environmental factors such as house mold can also exacerbate the problem.
The symptoms of a yeast infection can be wide and varied and range from mild to severe. Perhaps the most obvious signs of an infection are recurrent bouts of thrush or cystitis, along with chronic tiredness. Warm and moist areas such as the mouth, groin and vagina are particularily suited to the growth of yeast and the first signs of an infection may display as thrush in these areas.
There are many other symptoms, some of which may not initially be diagnosed as connected to a yeast infection such as anxiety, depression and uncontrollable mood swings and in severe cases the sufferer may start to display quite neurotic behaviour. Allergies, fluid retention, inability to lose weight, chronic skin conditions and sugar cravings due to hypoglycemia are further symptoms that can be attributed to a yeast infection.
In the case of a mild attack of thrush or cystitus, which can be common amongst women, the best plan may be to leave the body naturally correct it's own balance and overcome the yeast infection without any intervention.
In moderate to severe cases however, then the sufferer will likely need a treatment plan as soon as possible in order to relieve the debilitating effects of the yeast infection.
The sufferer is first likely to seek the help of a doctor who will more than likely prescribe an anti-fungal drug such as nystatin. Whilst this may provide temporary relief, unless further action is taken, the yeast infection is very likely to return. Yeast is a virtually indestructible organism and able to survive without a cell membrane. As most drugs are effective at attacking the cell membrane of a bacteria, splitting it open and destroying the organelles inside, then their effectiveness is greatly reduced when attacking yeast which can live quite happily with a deficient cell wall. As soon as the anti-fungal treatment is discontinued, the yeast cells will revert back to normal and the infection will recur. It is clear then that a more effective means of treating the yeast infection will be required. Anti-fungal medicines can be useful to kick start the treatment, but should not be continued in order to prevent the patient's dependency on them.
When treating candidosis, following three golden rules can provide the greatest chance of success.
1. Starve the yeast
2. Provide support for the immune system
3. Provide a favourable environment in the bowels for beneficial bacteria
To stop feeding the yeast, the sufferer needs to avoid foods which are high in sugar and/or contain yeast. This covers a large range of foods, but it is important to starve the yeast at an early stage to prevent proliferation.
Foods to avoid include:
* Most bakery products such as bread, biscuits, cakes breadcrum coated foods, pizza etc.
* Alcohol and other drinks which contain yeast
* Shop bought citrus fruit drinks as well as malted drinks, tea and coffee
* Malted and vitamin fortified cereals
* Condiments such as pickles, mustard, ketchup etc. which are usually high in sugar
* Dairy, such as cheese, buttermilk and vitamin fortified milk
* Fungi including anything containing mushrooms and truffles as they contain organisms closely related to yeast
* Many meat products such as sausages and hamburgers which contain breadcrumbs
* Foods that contain yease extracts such as Oxo, Bovril, Marmite, Bisto and gravy browning etc.
* B Vitamins which are usually derived from yeast (although yeast free are acceptable)
* Foods which encourage mould growth or are prepared with them including sour creams and buttermilk, peanuts, cheese dressings, cream cheese, pistachios, tinned and packed sauces, hydrolysed vegetable proteins and of course antibiotics. Dairy products, eggs and meat may also contain small quantities of antibiotics and should therefore be eaten sparingly.
* Sugary foods including sugar itself, sucrose, maltose, lactose, glucose, sweets, chocolate, honey, syrups, bottled juices, desserts, dried fruit etc.
It can be seen that the range of foods containing yeast products and sugar is extensive, but the effectiveness of treatment will depend greatly on reducing the types of foods that feed the yeast and allow it to thrive.
It is important to check food labels before consuming any product as many of today's highly processed foods contain hidden sugars and yeast and also monosodium glutamate, which should also be avoided. Although fruit contains many nutritional benefits, the high sugar (fructose) content it contains is best avoided during the first few weeks of treatment as are milk products, the exception being live natural yogurt which contains lacto bacilli and can help re-balance the gut flora. Red meat should be avoided and replaced with other protein such as fish as red meats often contain antibody and steroid residues.
The consumption of fresh vegetables, both raw and cooked should be encouraged to increase fibre and increase the rate at which toxic waste is eliminated from the body. Replacing meat containing meals with cereal and pulse mixes and adding oatbran and/or linseed to the diet will also be of benefit.
A stressful lifestyle can be a major contributor to a weakened immune system so it makes sense for the sufferer to take steps to reduce stress levels as soon as possible. Taking some gentle exercise, practising relaxation techniques and ensuring a healthy, nutritious diet is eaten will all help to reduce the stress levels. Eliminating junk foods from the diet and reducing intake of refined carbohydrates can also take pressure off a struggling immune system.
Supplementing the diet with a good quality, yeast free B complex along with vitamins A, C and E would be of benefit as would supplements of garlic, zinc, sodium ascorbate, evening primrose oil, biotin and essential fatty acids.
A treatment protocol incorporating the above would help the immune system and aid the body in regaining it's natural, healthy balance.
When the body's colony of friendly bacteria has been reduced or virtually eliminated, it is vital to restore the balance as soon as possible so that the body's natural defences can re-gain control and keep the yeast growth in check.
Taking the steps outlined so far with regards to eliminating certain foods, eating a healthy balanced diet and reducing stress levels, all help to bring the body back into balance and make it difficult for the yeast to continue to multiply. Further steps can also be taken to help create a favourable environment for the friendly bacteria to thrive within the digestive system.
With a healthy, balanced diet in place, supplementation with a probiotic supplement containing lactobacillus acidophilus can help build the level of beneficial bacteria back up to an optimum healthy level. The addition of digestive enzymes to the diet can provide further support to the digestion.
In summary it can be seen that the yeast menace can seriously affect the health of the sufferer and can display in a variety of symptoms from chronic tiredness to headaches and migraines, recurrent thrush, aches and pains, skin complaints and digestive problems.
Whilst medications are available, their effectiveness is limited and short lived and if take too long, the patient may become dependent on them. Although medications may be beneficial as a kick start to treatment, it is essential that other steps are taken to eliminate the infection before it becomes extremely serious.
Diet is everything. Eliminating the foods that yeast thrives on is an immediate course of action that needs to be taken. Sugary foods, refined carbohydrates, dairy and foods which encourage mould growth should all be strictly avoided. A healthy, balanced, high fibre diet should be a priority.
Stress should be reduced as this plays a major part in a weakened immune system. The immune system can be further strengthened with vitamin and mineral supplementation along with odourless garlic, evening primrose oil, biotin and essential fatty acids.
Providing support for a healthy digestive system can be in the form of supplementation with lactobacillus acidophilus and digestive enzymes and in conjunction with the elimination of sugary and yeasty foods, can help the good bacteria thrive and the yeast die off.
There is no doubting the fact that an yeast infection can be a serious, stubborn and recurring problem that may take many months to fully eradicate. However, with the correct diet and by following the three golden rules, the yeast menace can be fully eradicated and the life of the sufferer returned back to normal.
Author: Bryan Morris