Last week, The Health Junction looked at yogurt and other forms of probiotics known to help dysbiosis – or an imbalance of bacteria in the digestive track. Dysbiosis commonly results in a candida (yeast) overgrowth which can manifest itself in several ways such as; yeast infections, skin problems, season allergies, food allergies, and irritable bowel syndrome…and the list goes on.
Yeast has something to do with IBS and seasonal allergies? What?? Yes.
Holistic Pracitioners (for the most part) believe that poor digestion causes the percentage of acceptable candida in the gut to rise above 15%. When that happens, the quality of hydrocholric acid (HCl) in our gut is degraded which is a problem because HCl, along with specific enzymes, help breakdown protein. A few problems arise from poor quality HCl. Firstly, protein passes into the small intestine in larger chains than it should and is recognized as a foreign substance. Secondly, poor quality HCl interfers with signals from the intestine to both the pancreas and gallbladder for the release of enzymes & bicarbonate, and bile respectively.
What does all this have to do with yeast?
Well, poor digestion leads to an overgrowth of candida because the bacteria feed off of undigested disaccharides (two sugars bonded together). This bacteria will grow very quickly and eventually it will bore holes in our intestine. The undigested and/or toxic nutrients may enter the blood stream which results in an immune response because our body recognizes it as an INVADER. Darth is back. This sequence of events and the resulting “holes” in our intestine is described as Leaky Gut and I am a believer that many of us have this issue.
A key response of our immune system to invaders is inflammation. Colitis, sinusitis, arthritis, food allergies, seasonal allergies, IBS, migraines, fatigue and a whole bunch of other aliments are very possibly due to inflammation brought about by a weakened immune system which resulted in the first place because of leaky gut.
Both candida and ultimately leaky gut can be corrected (in part) by improving digestion. Because it is such a complex multi variable issue, a Naturopath or Holistic Nutritionist are key people to speak to in improving any of the symptoms discussed in this post but here are a few tips for you to think about:
1.) Chew your food. The more we mechanically and chemically chew our food, the less work our stomach and intestines have to do.
2.) Don’t drink water with meals because it dilutes our digestive enzymes. Drink either 30 minutes before or after.
3.) Eliminate or reduce “non-foods” which offer little to no nutrients and causes a physiological reaction that contributes to a yeast friendly internal environment: refined foods, coffee, tea, chocolate, brown sugar, white sugar, ANY TYPE OF SUGAR, booze.
4.) Try Food Combining. Certain foods are not optimally digested when eaten together. Specifically, carbohydrates and protein. Eat fruit alone and on an empty stomach. If you are having a heavy protein meal, have very low starch vegetables (ie, not a baked potato!). Examples of non starchy food are: Leafy greens, broccoli, asparagus, cauliflower, carrots, bok choy, cabbage, celery, lettuces, green beans, garlic, fennel, onions, chives, turnips, sprouts, red radish, yellow squash, zucchini, cucumber, beets
5.) Manage your stress. The first two things to shut down when we are stressed are digestion and reproduction because they aren’t considered essential to survival. Manging your stress will aboslutely improve digestion.
6.) Don’t overeat as this taxes your system. Try eating slowly. Check out The Health Junction’s prior post on mediation for ways to enjoy your food without overeating and rushing through your meal.
7.) Check your levels of B12 because low levels of Vitamin B are closely linked to poor HCl quality. Adults should be getting 2.4 micrograms of B12 daily (more if you are pregnant or nursing). The best food sources of B12 are sardines, salmon, lamb, beef, shrimp, scallops, yogurt, and milk. You can see how vegetarians might have a problem getting adequate B12 so you many consider a supplement if this is the case.
Check back here for tomorrow for a post on why low stomach acid (HCl) is actually the cause of heartburn and why taking an antacid is the worst thing you can do.
**DISCLAIMER: PLEASE NOTE THAT ANY ADVERTISEMENTS THAT APPEAR ON THIS PAGE DO NOT REFLECT THE VIEWS AND OPINIONS OF THE HEALTH JUNCTION**