With all of the talk about yeast-free, candida and anti-candida diets, all essentially the same thing, I began to think to myself does yeast really make you sick? Well to answer this question we first have to take a look at what we are dealing with here. Yeasts are microorganisms of which there are over 1,500 identified species. Commonly referred to as fungus, yeasts are members of the Kingdom Fungi. Yeasts are actually all around us and are very much a part of our living world. We eat them, as in mushrooms; we bake with them, as in bread; and they are also present on the skins of fruits and vegetables that we consume. Believe it or not yeasts are even present on our skin and in several different parts of our bodies including the digestive tract. The species of yeast normally found in small amounts in our bodies is called Candida albicans. The question now is that if yeast is so much a part of our world how can it make us sick?
The presence of Candida albicans does not make us sick but it is however an opportunistic pathogen, meaning that under certain conditions it can and does proliferate and can cause an imbalance within the body. This imbalance is often referred to as Candida albicans overgrowth or dysbiosis. Candida albicans is normally kept in check by the immune system and friendly bacteria present in the body such as, Bifidobacteria bifidum and Lactobaccillus acidophilus, but more often than not external factors easily disturb this balance.
Frequent and long-term use of antibiotics for instance is one of the main causes of this disturbance. Although antibiotics are extremely useful in killing off harmful bacteria in our bodies, they cannot differentiate between the “good” and the “bad” bacteria. They succeed in killing off bacteria that is harmful but in doing so they also kill friendly bacteria that are essential to keeping our bodies in balance. Without these friendly bacteria Candida albicans are able to exist without limits and grow out of control. This overgrowth causes other problems in the body such as a weakened immune system and intestinal permeability, which in turn leads to numerous chronic health problems.
Another common disturbance that creates this imbalance is a diet high in processed foods and refined sugars. In our world of convenience many of us consume ridiculous amounts of processed foods and refined sugars. I myself am very guilty of this and now understand that this lifestyle contributes to the overgrowth of Candida albicans. Yeasts, like many of us love sugar. Sugar keeps them fed, happy and multiplying and they continue to wreak havoc on our bodies. Additionally, consuming these foods with little to no nutritional value does not help our already compromised state.
So, does yeast really make you sick? I believe it absolutely can make you sick and that restoring our body’s delicate balance is extremely challenging. Many times the only way that we can begin overcoming this challenge is by embarking on a journey of major dietary change. For more information on Candida albicans overgrowth and the Candida diet please visit Yeast Free Living.