Getting to the cause of "the bloat" is something that some women only dream of!
One of the major causes of bloating - aside from constipation; is Candida overgrowth. When we are healthy,Candida lives in our intestines in harmony with other "good bacteria". If it over grows, it spreads roots into the walls of the intestines.
The damage to the intestinal wall allows toxins to enter the bloodstream. This condition called 'leaky gut syndrome' often leads to food allergies, foggy thinking, migraines and depression and of course - bloating.
Once through to the rest of the body, the Candida can live anywhere there are mucous membranes - it particularly likes the vagina, lungs and the sinuses, providing food for bacteria and viruses. It has an ability to disrupt the endocrine system causing symptoms such as weight gain or weight loss, PMS, menstrual irregularities, joint pains, asthma, hay fever, muscle fatigue and chronic tiredness.
Who suffers from Candida & what are the possible causes?
Sorry ladies - but we get it more than the guys!
- Handling chemicals e.g. cleaning products
- dental mercury amalgam poisoning
- use of recreational drugs
- synthetic underwear & sanitary products
- medications such as contraceptive pill, or HRT, corticosteroids
- hormonal changes e.g. puberty, sexual maturity, pregnancy, permanent birth control, menopause including peri and post menopause, broad-spectrum antibiotics
- swimming in highly chlorinated pools
- Excessive intake of red meat & chicken & processed foods
What do these factors have in common? - They all disrupt the body's endocrine system, causing hormonal abnormalities.
How your hormones affect Candida
The endocrine system governs the acid-alkaline balance in the vagina. Normally it is kept slightly acidic, but if the endocrine system decides to raise the pH level, the vaginal wall becomes less hospitable to the bacteria that live there. They die, and the vacated space is filled by "thrush".
You need to discover why your endocrine system is altering the acid-alkaline balance. Are you taking HRT or other medications or suffering from Polycystic Ovarian Disorder, Endometriosis or Fibroids? Another contributing factor could be medications. They can disrupt the endocrine system by jamming estrogen receptors. Estrogen is a hormone that is made in the ovaries (in pre-menopausal females), in the adrenals (in post-menopausal women), in fat cells and in the bowels.
Antibiotics can affect gut flora. This impedes the absorption of estrogen. The levels of estrogen plummet contributing to headaches, migraines, depression, blood sugar irregularities, asthma, adrenal gland exhaustion & allergies. Changes in gut flora also hinder the elimination of excess hormones, which is why you may experience swollen breasts, mood changes and premenstrual bloating. Interesting!
Steps to recovery
1: As Candida aggravates any endocrine disorder; it is crucial to reduce Candida overgrowth. Classic Candida therapy has four aspects to it:
- Diet - make dietary changes that support your hormonal profile
- Anti-fungal to kill the Candida - there are good quality herbal alternatives.
- Repopulation of the digestive tract with good bacteria e.g. acidophilus.
- Dietary supplements as needed to boost the immune system and help with digestion.
2: Consider how you have disrupted your endocrine system. You are unlikely to get well if the disruption is ongoing e.g. by taking the contraceptive pill or HRT. You may want to take expert advice on alternatives.
3: If you can't work out what may have caused your Candida you may benefit from expert help.
4: If you are sure that your estrogen level is suboptimal, there are a number of great herbal supplements that can help - known as phytoestrogens, which can balance estrogen.
If we accept that Candida can be linked to an endocrine disorder, then the key to getting rid of it for good is to treat the cause not the symptom.
Narelle Stegehuis, CEO of MassAttack, is a practicing Naturopath specializing in the research and development of natural treatment programs for women with hormonal imbalances, which have contributed to such symptoms as weight gain, cravings, low libido, anxiety and mood swings. She is both an accomplished writer and recent recipient of the Australian Naturopathic Excellence Award 2006. www.massattack.com.au