Outside of vaccinations, I think I would be hard-pressed to find a more contentious health topic.
Here is an interesting n=1 story in the NYT about how a man came to the realization that he had a Candida infection, and how he went about treating it.
Or do Candida infections exist at all?
The back-and-forth in the comments is especially interesting.
Sock it to me.
I'm personally suspicious because in the medical literature candida is a specific infection diagnosed with a specific test in immuno-compromised individuals (mostly people with HIV). On the interwebs it's a vague cluster of symptoms that is self-diagnosed and these overlap with several scientific illnesses that are worth eliminating before being like "OMG CANDIDA." Furthermore, its supporters seem to have overlapping interests with other remedies not supported by the scientific method like homeopathy.
I see a lot of confusion and people not sure about the truth behind those problems in the answers given. I wanted to add that intestinal bacterial overgrowth is not a laughing matter and is a real problem for many people. Some people are dying from it.
I am aware that the solutions advertised on the Internet are mostly shady, but it just makes things harder for people to get well.
It's a bit like diets, SAD is really bad so gurus promote diets like the raw food diet to cure the problem. The problem with the SAD diet is very real, but being raw vegan is not the solution.
It always amazes me to see that there is no more discussing and talk about achieving gut health in the paleo diet circles. People recommend fish oil and vit. D supplementation left and right, but for someone coming from a standard american diet, I'd say that a very strong probiotic is much more important. A damaged gut is guaranteed to have bacterial imbalanced.
Even Robb Wolf rarely recommend probiotics in his podcast.
I hope to be able to turn things around and bring awareness to the problem in this community and help those who follow a strict paleo diet and still feel bad without knowing why.
Anyways, I could be writing all day about this, but I have the last 16 years of my life as a testimony that bacterial overgrowth is something very real and damaging.
The only reason it became so bad and even became worst on the paleo diet is because I cut my consumption of cheeses and yogurt. I learned much later that it was those fermented foods that kept me somewhat well and that I needed probiotics. I used to live in constant fatigue, allergy and having frequent flu-like symptoms, witch stopped after quiting fermented foods, but I learned that those symptoms where only probiotics constantly fighting to regain a balance. I now have none of those die-off symptoms, but my digestion is at its worst point and I'm underweight and still losing weight.
I can also add that it's not just quacks and bacterial imbalances are supported by more and more specialists. Anyone interested should watch this presentation at a Weston A. Price foundation's conference by Natasha Campbell McBribe: http://vimeo.com/10507542
She is a specialist in this matter and wrote the GAPS diet and protocol. She can even link Autism to the gut and bacterial overgrowth.
The SCD diet (specific carbohydrate diet) was also crafted to heal bacterial overgrowth problems and hence Crohn's, IBS and IBD diseases. It is similar to the paleo diet, but probiotic at every meal is absolutely mandatory.
I invite any skeptic to dig deeper and look past the gurus recommending liquid oxygen and colonics.
Well this kind of anti candida diet does seem to help a lot of people. The question is if the diet works precisely because it treats candida overgrowth, partially because it treats candida overgrowth, or if it has little to do with candida but a lot to do with other reasons. I don't think we really know this yet. The diet might have worked because the leaky gut was caused by other elements in his diet and the diet also solved those issues. I am also a bit confused by the idea of his immune system being weakened and so his problems with the mold in the walls. More accurate might be that his immune system was imbalanced, inflammation rampant, and his response to the mold in the walls was stronger than that of a normal person. Or the wall mold may have had nothing to do with it and his recovery was slow because his gut was in such a weakened state that it took a long time to heal.
Anyway, I would be wary of saying we know for sure why the diet worked. It could have been candida and it could have been other things as well. As paleo eaters, I think most of us feel that cutting out grains and sugars is probably healthy for a whole host of reasons including insulin control, weight control, improved nutrients intake and absorption, digestive provement, omega 3/6 balance, etc. ANd there are probably many other aspects that we don't yet know about. In the end, I feel paleo is healthy and lower carb is healthy, not only because it makes logical sense but also because it has made me personally feel better. The second one is the big indicator for me. The first one is something I try to keep an open mind about. Paleo is not a religion and I am forever on the search for evidence that will help me understand it better, even if that means the new info might prove my previous beliefs to have been wrong. Such is the true skeptic.
One of the things I have noticed about many gurus and guru followers is they assume that if part of a story is proven true, then all of the story is automatically true. In this case, cutting out sugar helped, therefore one might easily assume candida was the cause for sure. In fact, he may have gotten all better just over time and all the treatment may have had nothing whatsoever to do with the real cause of his problem. Maybe there was something else in his environment that was causing it all. We will probably never know for sure. Such is the danger of n=1 evidence and correlations.
I wouldn't call it Candida infection, but more Candida overgrowth.
When Candida Albicans that is already in our gut gets a chance to overgrow, often because of weakened good bacteria (think antibiotics, NSAIDS, high insulin, gluten, ...), a downhill set of symptoms starts to happen.
The gut lining becomes damaged and a leaky gut problem starts.
In my opinion, only a really tight diet (paleo that is, no eggs, no nuts, almost no fruits, no nightshades) coupled with tons of probiotics from multiple sources (supplements, lacto-fermented vegetables) will be able to re-establish to natural gut acidity witch will ultimately put the Candida in check from over spreading.
It can be a rough job to get well once the problem is advanced enough and die-off is very real and harsh. Die-off means when Candida starts to die you'll be tired, you'll sneeze all the time, and have all sorts of flu-like symptoms.
Yep, I've had it along with a host of other issues. I was visting a natural Dr, that using BioFeedback equipment found that along with some other issues. It took me only 6 months to really come to better health, during the candida overgrowth it affects more then just your gut...it also affects the operations of other organs, and functions of the daily activities in your body. The dieing off phase is indeed the hardest. You feel sick, almost cold/flu like. You can get gas as the candida breaks down and dies it releases gases, and these can be toxic to a degree thus the reason you feel somewhat sick for a while.
After a nice session of Candida clean up with my diet change, my gut felt less bloated, my anxiety improved, and I had fewer headaches and overall body aches. I'm sure some of this was better due to my diet change, but its obvious to me that this is a real problem that some people dont even realize they have.
candida overgrowth... it went through this cycle: nobody had ever heard of it, then it became known, then over-popularized so that just about every symptom in everybody was said by some to be due to it. There was weird talk about thick layers of it coating the gut wall (somehow never seen in colonoscopy). That all led reactively to our current state, where it's said by some that it doesn't exist at all. Full circle.
in reality, it's very simple to diagnose: eat lots of sugar at one sitting. If you fill up with lots of gas within a day or so, then you have it. Olive leaf extract will work better than most things to knock it back down, though only temporarily. Biotin keeps it from converting to the rhizome form.