Michael Edwards, Organic Lifestyle Magazine
Doctors who know how to heal people understand that disease almost always starts in the gut, and more importantly, they realize the gut has to be healthy for the body to fully heal from any disease.
Anyone suffering from an overabundance of Candida has a damaged intestinal wall that allows proteins, sugars, Candida, bacteria, and other microbes to escape the intestines and enter the bloodstream. This leads to allergies, a weakened and damaged immune system, ADHD, a myriad of autoimmune ailments and diseases, localized infections, systemic infections, and so much more.
Gluten and Candida
For many, gluten is difficult or impossible to properly digest. It takes an abundance of healthy bacteria to properly digest gluten. One of the many reasons our ancestors had less of a problem with digesting gluten than we do is that they used to use a probiotic culture that pre-digested the gluten proteins before they baked the bread. In addition, sugar consumption has been on the rise for decades, and there is a direct correlation with our increased sugar consumption and pretty much everything that’s wrong with our bodies. This increased sugar consumption feeds and increases Candida, disrupting the natural, beneficial flora in the gut.
When the gut is not healthy (flora is not balanced), gluten proteins harm the intestinal tract, causing irritation and inflammation. For those with the genetic predisposition to celiac disease, eating gluten, even with a healthy intestinal tract, causes some damage to the intestinal lining, which attracts Candida and causes other “non-beneficial” or “bad” microbes to flourish. As long as the diet for those with the predisposition remains healthy and the person does not often eat wheat, the intestinal tract can heal without any noticeable symptoms.
A protein found in Candida called HWP-1 is identical or highly homologous (nearly identical) to two gluten proteins, alpha-gliadin and gamma-gliadin. These proteins are known to stimulate immune cell responses in people with celiac disease. In other words, Candida, the yeast responsible for oral thrush and vaginal infections (and so much more), contains the same protein sequence as wheat gluten, and therefore could trigger celiac disease.
In a healthy gut, cells that make up the lining of the intestinal wall bind tightly together. Research has discovered that trace amounts of gluten can irritate these cells and deteriorate their bonds. This bond between intestinal cells on the cell walls prevents large food particles, undigested sugars, undigested proteins, and gut microbes (parasites, bacteria, fungi) from leaking into the blood. Candida overgrowth also deteriorates the intestinal wall. Candida grows filaments or tentacles that “drill” into the gut lining and grow into the gut wall.
When the intestinal wall is inflamed, intestinal villi become damaged or destroyed. These hair-like projections that protrude from the epithelial lining of the intestinal wall are the means for our bodies to absorb nutrients and fats. With fewer villi, the gut lining becomes very hospitable to Candida and will become irritated, dry, inflamed, and much more permeable than it’s meant to be. Increased permeability in the intestinal wall allows larger compounds called luminal antigens and commensal gut flora to penetrate the intestinal tissue, contributing to more inflammation. More inflammation leads to more permeability. Eventually, the walls that line the intestinal tract become permeable to the degree that undigested food particles and gut flora enter the bloodstream.
While there are thousands of reputable published articles on intestinal permeability, there are also sites like Quackwatch and England’s National Health Service giving stern warnings against this “unproven” diagnosis. The medical establishment ignored, buried, and discredited leaky gut syndrome but leaky gut has been proven. There is actually a medical test for it, developed in the 1980s by UCLA researchers. The researchers were trying to understand the cause of Crohn’s Disease, and they found that leaky gut preceded inflammation, which suggests that a leaky gut at least plays a significant role in the development of autoimmune disorders.
Leaky Gut Syndrome and Autoimmune Disease
Candida is not inherently bad, but when left unchecked, when it takes over the gut and is allowed to flourish, it will damage the intestinal wall. Then Candida, along with other microbes, will migrate outside of the intestinal tract and into the body, flourishing everywhere, fed by all the sugars and damaged cells that are also entering the bloodstream. The immune system will react to the Candida (and gluten, with those two similar proteins) as it should, fighting invading pathogens that do not belong in the blood.
Large molecules that weren’t able to permeate the gut before, like bacteria, undigested proteins, undigested sugars, can now leak out of the gut. These antigens leak into the bloodstream and are labeled by the immune system as alien. Antibodies are made for these antigens, and when later exposures occur, the immune system mounts an inflammatory response, which targets tissues and organs.
Leaky gut has been found in association with asthma, diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, irritable bowel (inflammatory bowel disease, or IBD, which includes Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis), lupus, hypothyroidism, kidney disease, multiple sclerosis, psoriasis, eczema, depression, chronic fatigue syndrome, heart failure, and celiac disease.
An autoimmune disease is defined as an irregular response of the body’s immune system against substances and tissues normally present in the body (like when the immune system appears to be attacking the body, be it a specific part like an organ, or an entire system like the lymphatic system, or the whole body).
The body’s immune system doesn’t just attack the body like many conventional health practitioners believe. If the body is filled with all kinds of gut microbes and other harmful antigens that belong in the gut (and Candida is typically the most abundant of all of them in these cases), as well as sugars that feed these microbes, and proteins that are considered foreign due to the fact that they are undigested, then the body will appear to be attacking itself when it is attaching these foreign invaders. When infectious or toxic particles penetrate intestinal walls, they trigger a cascade of events that can culminate in any number of ailments.
Candida, and other micro-organisms we consider “bad” are pathogens, or infectious agents, that cause disease or illness to the host. Flora that benefits us can become pathogenic when the gut is unbalanced. These infectious bacteria or fungi live off sugars we feed them and the decomposition of our cells. The easier it is for these symbiotic microorganisms to become pathogenic, reproduce out of control and feed off of your body.
A leaky gut allows for infection to set in anywhere in the body that is most susceptible to infection. This is why old injuries often flare-up. Infection sets in wherever there is food to eat. Scar tissue and other damaged tissue provide food for opportunistic infectious microbes like Candida and many other parasites. An organ that is toxic has irritated, damaged, decaying cells within it that provide food for these microbes. The more damaged the body, the more easily infection can take root inside the body. That is, after all, their job. What gets leaked, where what gets leaked, and wherein the body infection is most susceptible all play a role in defining the symptoms that define autoimmune diseases.
Gluten and Autoimmune Disease
For those with celiac disease and those who have developed immune system responses to gluten, an inflammatory response that damages the intestinal walls is created as soon as gluten enters the gut. The intestinal walls quickly become more permeable and the autoimmune damage occurs in other parts of the body. Current research shows that the production of antibodies in this response damages the central nervous system, specifically, the cerebellum, the posterior columns of the spinal cord, and the peripheral nerves.
The neurological symptoms of celiac disease can actually mimic the symptoms of multiple sclerosis to an extent that is imperceptible. The neurological conditions caused by celiac disease are known as gluten “ataxia.”
It’s been estimated that 10- 14% of those who suffer from celiac disease also suffer from hypothyroidism, but the correlation is sure to be much higher due to the fact that both hypothyroidism and celiac disease often go undiagnosed. Many doctors ignore the warning signs and don’t even understand the diseases well enough, but even still, the testing for both of these diseases leaves much to be desired.
Researchers and health practitioners are now making the connections between gluten, Candida, leaky gut syndrome, and dozens of autoimmune diseases.
Candida and Autoimmune Disease
In 1978, the concept that non-systemic yeast infections known as “systemic candidiasis,” or candidiasis that can cause a wide array of systemic symptoms and contribute to or exacerbate various disease conditions, was introduced. Symptoms associated with candidiasis include but are not limited to:
“…depression, anxiety, hyperactivity, irritability, headache, difficulty with memory and concentration, chronic diarrhea, recurrent urinary tract symptoms, decreased libido, acne, dry skin, menstrual disturbances, premenstrual tension, multiple sclerosis, systemic lupus erythematosus, thrombocytopenic purpura, autoimmune hemolytic anemia, myasthenia gravis, schizophrenia, and increased sensitivity to foods, inhalants, and drugs.”
Antibiotics, along with a diet full of refined sugars and gluten make way for Candida to take over the gut and infiltrate the entire body.
Candida albicans produces 180 chemical toxins that can be absorbed through the intestines into the blood, and that’s when the intestinal walls are in good health. Once the intestinal walls become more permeable, imagine what those toxins do to the immune system when Candida migrates throughout the body producing toxic substances that incite the immune system’s inflammatory response. These foreign, toxic chemicals wreck havoc on the body just like the toxic chemicals that are produced during bacterial infections and other parasitic infections, which will also be prevalent throughout the body with a leaky gut. How and where these toxins interact with the body defines a disease. Anyone who suffers from ill-health is suffering from infection.
How to Heal a Leaky Gut
An overabundance of Candida leads to a leaky gut. Gluten can lead to an overabundance of Candida. Gluten can also, in other ways lead to a leaky gut. Given enough time, autoimmune disease follows.
If someone is sick, regardless of which autoimmune disease one has, or which infectious disease one has, the gut is damaged and must be repaired to achieve health. When the gut is damaged, gluten must be avoided, completely. When the gut is damaged, Candida is running rampant. Candida leads to sugar, junk food, drug, and alcohol cravings. These all need to be avoided. Even over the counter drugs like aspirin and Advil damage the digestive tract and impede gut health.
Fix the gut by creating a healthy ecosystem with lots of beneficial flora that protects the gut lining and competes with microbes that could become parasitic if left unchecked. The most beneficial gut bacteria for us (as in, the best gut bacteria for mental health, immunity, and overall well-being) just so happen to be the bacteria that thrive on raw vegetables that have gone through the earlier phases of digestion. Your inner ecosystem is based on what you feed it. If someone who eats fast food every day, all day, were to eat a salad, they would likely be sitting on the toilet with the runs. On the other hand, if someone who eats 80% raw fresh produce who avoids fast food were to eat a fast food meal, they would likely have the same outcome. This is because the gut flora you have is primarily based on the foods you consume.
The only way to fully heal the gut and achieve long-term optimal health is to feed the gut’s ecosystem lots of fresh vegetables. Limit fruits, avoid refined foods such as fruit juices, starches, and other sugars, and avoid (and detox from) heavy metal exposure and other toxins (like those found in vaccines; they damage the gut too).
Garlic, chlorella, spirulina, parsley, and cilantro help the body remove heavy metals. Choose organic and not grown in China, or they may be so contaminated with heavy metals they will exacerbate the problem.
The process of healing the gut can be sped up by (but not replaced by) supplementation that kills Candida and other parasites and by probiotics that are strong enough to penetrate stomach acid in order to benefit the gut. The beneficial bacteria in most probiotics and fermented foods are not strong enough to survive stomach acid.
Most ailments from autoimmune disease are lessened or eliminated very quickly when Candida is brought under control and the gut begins to heal. But, it can take many months for the gut lining to fully heal, and Candida spores can lie dormant in places that antimicrobial compounds and our immune system cannot get to. For this reason, it’s imperative to follow a strict diet and follow any sweets, even a homemade healthy fruit smoothie, with a salad or supplements for gut health.
Although digestive complaints are the first and most recognized symptoms of celiac disease, a study found that 87% of those diagnosed with celiac disease claimed they had no gastrointestinal complaints. Perhaps they did not or perhaps they are so accustomed to a digestive system that does not work properly, they don’t recognize the symptoms. Patients who test positive for leaky gut syndrome may not complain of digestive issues either.
If you are suffering from an autoimmune disease, any chronic disease, frequent infections, or a weak immune system, chances are you are suffering from a leaky gut whether you experience digestive disturbances or not. So focus on the gut. Since 80% of the immune system is in the gut, this alone makes gut health a priority. Once the gut is healed, the rest of the body can heal as well. Below are the supplements that with a proper diet can balance gut flora quickly. Bare in mind, while many people will feel much better after just a few days of supplementation, the body’s intestinal wall can take months to heal, and hidden, dormant Candida that’s just waiting for some sugar can take even longer to kill. Be sure to check out the “Further Reading” section below for more information, along with specific protocols. In my experience, following the recommendations on the following supplements, while making sure to take the probiotic separately, works amazingly quickly to kill fungal infection and promote healthy gut flora throughout the body. I take the FloraMend at night and early in the morning, and then take all other supplements throughout the day with meals. Combine these supplements with this diet protocol here, Detox Cheap and Easy Without Fasting – Recipes Included and you’ll likely be amazed at what happens in just a few weeks or less. Most people see significant results in just a few days.
Recommended Supplements: (always talk with your healthcare provider first)
(Take these all together, except FloraMend, take that separately)
- Shillington’s Intestinal Cleanse (kills parasites, heals the intestinal walls, sets up hospitable home for healthy flora)
- Formula SF722 (undecenoic acid, kills candida and other fungal functions, does not kill beneficial flora at same rate)
- Floramend-Prime by Thorne (a strong probiotic designed to pass through the stomach acid and into the intestinal tract)
- GI Shield by Gai Herbs (a parasite killer, works pretty well on Candida, but works better on many other parasites)
- Shillington’s Intestinal Detox (This is necessary only for those with seriously damaged intestines, anyone who has recently been vaccinated, or those looking to do a thorough detox)
- Coptis Chinensis / Chinese Goldthread
- Tea Tree Oil (only for topical)
About the Author
Michael Edwards is the founder, owner, editor-in-chief, and janitor for Organic Lifestyle Magazine and Green Lifestyle Market. At age 17, Michael weighed more than 360 pounds. He suffered from ADHD, allergies, frequent bouts of illness, and chronic, debilitating insomnia. Conventional medicine wasn’t working. While he restored his health through alternative medicine he studied natural health and became immersed in it. Have a look at his Facebook and Twitter for more insights! Original article found at Organic Lifestyle Magazine.
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Questions or anything to add about how gut health affects autoimmunity? We want your thoughts, please. You might just help someone else in need.
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