The Candida and Autoimmune Disease Connection
Did you know that if you are dealing with either Candida overgrowth or an autoimmune disease, there’s a good chance you could be dealing with the other as well? In working with thousands of patients, I found it to be incredibly common for Candida and autoimmune disease to go hand in hand because Candida overgrowth is not only very widespread, it actually sets you on the path to autoimmunity.
Unfortunately, these conditions are both frequently missed by conventional medicine doctors. As I write in my book, The Autoimmune Solution, it takes an average of 5 years and 6-10 doctors to receive an autoimmune diagnosis, and doctors often write off the symptoms of Candida overgrowth as signs of stress, aging, or simply being a woman. This is because the common symptoms, tend to be vague, impact multiple areas of the body, and they can overlap with other symptoms of chronic conditions such as autoimmunity.
However, once you identify Candida overgrowth as the cause of your symptoms and the role it plays in autoimmunity, you can overcome it in a few simple steps, and eliminate your symptoms. In this way, you will also and put yourself on the path to reversing or preventing autoimmunity.
So let’s dig into what Candida overgrowth is and how it can lead to autoimmunity, as well as how to overcome it with dietary and lifestyle changes.
Candida Overgrowth: What It Is, How You Get It & Symptoms
Candida is a fungus, a form of yeast, that is naturally found in your mouth and intestines. In small amounts, Candida is essential for your digestive health and helps you absorb nutrients.
Ideally your good bacteria, bad bacteria, and Candida that make up your gut microbiome exist in a balanced state. In fact, I like to think of your microbiome as a rainforest, with many different species living together in a balanced harmony.
However, you can compromise your immune system if you eat a diet high in carbohydrates and sugar, you take medications such as birth control pills or antibiotics, or are even just dealing with chronic stress. This disrupts the balance of bacteria and Candida can grow out of control, thereby quickly become a problem.
Symptoms of Candida Overgrowth
Candida overgrowth can come with many unpleasant side effects and serious health conditions, including:
- Fungal infections of your skin and nails, such as toenail fungus, athlete’s foot, and ringworm1
- Oral thrush2
- Vaginal infections, vaginal itching, urinary tract infections and rectal itching3,4
- Brain fog, difficulty concentrating, lack of focus, poor memory, ADD/ADHD
- Skin conditions, such as psoriasis, eczema, rashes, hives, and tinea versicolor
- Digestive issues, including bloating, constipation, or diarrhea5
- Mood issues, such as anxiety, depression, and mood swings
- Tiredness, feeling worn out, chronic fatigue, or fibromyalgia6
- Strong cravings for sugar and refined carbohydrates
- Itchy ears
- Severe seasonal allergies
- Nutrient deficiencies7
- Recurring sinus infections8
- Autoimmune diseases, such as Hashimoto’s, rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, ulcerative colitis, scleroderma, or multiple sclerosis
The Candida, Leaky Gut & Autoimmune Connection
You likely noticed that although Candida lives in your gut, many of those symptoms affected other areas of the body. So how does a fungus in your gut wreak havoc on so many areas of your body? Candida overgrowth breaks down the walls of your intestine and leads to leaky gut.
It may surprise you to learn that your gut lining is only one cell layer thick, and is held together by tight junctions. These junctions act as a drawbridge, allowing teeny tiny boats (micronutrients in food) that are meant to travel back and forth to go under the bridge without a problem. This is an important system that allows vital nutrients from the food you eat to be absorbed into your bloodstream.
However, an overgrowth of Candida damages your gut lining, causing the drawbridge to go up and allowing bigger boats that aren’t meant to travel through to cross over, including toxins, microbes, proteins, and partially digested food particles. This, in turn, can lead to a myriad of symptoms, many of which coincide with symptoms of Candida overgrowth.
Signs of Leaky Gut
- Digestive issues, including diarrhea, constipation, gas, bloating, IBS and IBD
- Brain fog, memory problems
- Nutritional deficiencies
- Skin problems, including eczema, rosacea, and rashes
- Intense cravings for refined sugar, carbs, and processed foods
- Mood disorders
- Joint pain and arthritis
- Thyroid conditions
- Autoimmune conditions
Even more serious than the laundry list of symptoms above, leaky gut sets you on the path to numerous chronic illnesses, particularly autoimmune disease. I write about this in my books and explain how Harvard researcher Alessio Fasano has identified leaky gut as a necessary precursor to autoimmunity.
You see, all of the undigested food particles, toxins, viruses, and bacteria pass through your intestinal wall and flood your bloodstream. This triggers an inflammatory response from your immune system in an attempt to fight off these foreign “invaders.” As your gut remains leaky and the invaders continue escaping, your immune system goes into overdrive, sending more antibodies to battle the invaders, inducing more inflammation. This chronic inflammation exacerbates many of the symptoms above, and over time, your immune system becomes stressed, weakened, and confused. It begins firing less accurately until your own tissues end up under fire and you develop full-blown autoimmunity. The tissues that are attacked determined what type of autoimmune disease develops. If your joints are under fire, you can develop Rheumatoid Arthritis. In the case of Psoriasis or Scleroderma your skin is under attack, and so on and so forth.
To make matters worse, many of the substances that leak into your bloodstream look similar to your body’s own cells. You can imagine how confusing this must be to your immune system! This process of mistaken identity, known as molecular mimicry, leads your immune system to accidentally attack your body’s organs and tissues in an attempt to protect you.
The most prominent example of this is in the case of Hashimoto’s and Graves’ disease, which are autoimmune thyroid conditions. Let’s say you eat a piece of bread. The gluten in the bread contains proteins that look very similar to your thyroid tissue. When your gut is leaky, and gluten enters your bloodstream, your immune system begins to attack the gluten proteins. However, because of the similar cell-structure, your immune system then goes on to attack your thyroid by mistake. The constant inflammation in your body, and the continuous attacks on your thyroid, can lead to autoimmune thyroid disease.
You must address the underlying Candida overgrowth that lead your gut to become leaky in the first place, in order to repair the damage and overcome your autoimmune disease. Left untreated, it can lead to further damage and other autoimmune diseases. As I write in The Autoimmune Solution, once you have one autoimmune disease, you are three times as likely to develop another. If you have Candida overgrowth and/or leaky gut and have not yet been diagnosed with an autoimmune condition, it is important that you address these issues to prevent autoimmunity and restore your healthy gut flora.9
How to Overcome Candida Overgrowth
The good news is that by overcoming Candida overgrowth you can repair your gut and reverse or prevent autoimmune disease. My Candida Breakthrough® Program uses a proven, 3-step approach to help you beat Candida overgrowth for good.
Step one is to starve the yeast by eliminating the foods that feed it. This includes cutting all sugar and alcohol and limiting carbohydrates such as fruit, starchy vegetables, grains, and legumes to no more than 1 cup per day. When it comes to fresh produce, stick to leafy greens or other less starchy veggies.
Step two is to attack the yeast using supplements that destroy Candida’s cell walls. I use Candifense®, a powerful blend of plant-based enzymes that break down the cell walls of Candida, and Caprylic Acid, a short-chain fatty acid derived from coconut that pokes holes in the yeast cell walls.
Finally, step three is to repopulate your gut with the good bacteria that keep yeast in check. While dealing with Candida, I recommend a 100 Billion Probiotic, which contains 100 billion colony forming units (CFUs) of high-quality, good bacteria. This will not only help restore your gut’s healthy balance, it will also help repair your gut lining. A healthy gut lining will prevent Candida from escaping into your bloodstream and wreaking havoc in other areas of your body.
To make it easy for you, I’ve created a complete 30-day program with all of the supplements, recipes, shopping lists, and support you need to eliminate Candida overgrowth and restore your gut. Discover more about my Candida Breakthrough® Program so that you can begin to reverse your symptoms and take back your health.