hshawcross

Yeast infections: surprising causes and consequences

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Yeast is an anaerobic organism that can be beneficial, but some yeast species can have an adverse impact on our health. Candida albicans is the most common “harmful” yeast, which is normally a commensal organism, i.e. it lives within the body but does not cause any harm. However, when opportunities arise, such as if the immune system is compromised or debilitated in some way, it can become an opportunist pathogen which results in infection.[1] Infection with Candida albicans, also known as candidiasis, can occur in humans in the vagina, mouth, oesophagus, digestive and vascular systems, and the skin.[2] Candidiasis is indeed more common when the immune system is compromised, e.g. in patients with uncontrolled diabetes or AIDS,[3] [4] however people who are not immunodeficient may also be present with candidiasis.[5]

Antibiotics and oral contraceptives are also known to increase the risk of candidiasis, as is a diet high in sugars.[6] [7] [8] [9] [10] As a type of yeast, Candida Albicans is a single cell microorganism which will thrive on the abundance of sugar derived from modern diets. Processed food, consumed in high quantities today, are often high in sugar and other carbohydrates. One study has shown that dietary glucose intake is in fact a fundamental factor in the growth of Candida Albicans in the gastrointestinal tract.[11]

The effects of candidiasis are varied and can be more serious than well-known side effects such as itching and foul-smelling discharge. One human study found an association between candidiasis and chronic fatigue syndrome,[12] while another small study of short children found that candidiasis may lead to stunted growth.[13] The study suggested that, according to the mimicry theory, antigens present in the yeast cells that are highly similar to peptide hormones that regulate appetite and growth might trigger the generation of antibodies that would cross react with these hormones, blocking their effect. Essentially, this means that the body attacks and neutralises the hormones needed to stimulate growth, thinking that they are harmful yeast particles. However these assumptions are far from conclusive and further study is required.[14] [15] [16]

In order to reduce the risk of harmful opportunistic yeast infections, a lifestyle consisting of a healthy diet and adequate physical activity should be maintained. The diet should minimise intake of processed foods, sugars, and refined carbohydrates such as white rice and white bread and increase the intake of vegetables, which will help reduce blood sugar levels and subsequently the likelihood of yeast infections. Exercise, apart from helping to maintain a healthy weight also reduces blood sugar levels.

[1] Kim, J. (2011) Candida albicans, a major human fungal pathogen. Journal of Microbiology, 49(2), 1064-1067.

[2] Calderone, RA. et al. (2001) Virulence factors of Candida albicans. Trends in Microbiology, 9(7), 327-335.

[3] Bartholomew, G. et al. (1987) Oral Candidiasis in Patients With Diabetes Mellitus: A Thorough Analysis. Diabetes Care, 10(5), 607 -612.

[4] Kaspar, L.et al. (1998) Some Opportunistic Parasitic Infections in AIDS: Candidiasis, Pneumocystosis, Cryptosporidiosis, Toxoplasmosis . Trends in Parasitology, 14(4), 150-156.

[5] Salvatori, O. et al. (2016) Innate Immunity and Saliva in Candida albicans-mediated Oral Diseases. Journal of Dental Research, 95(4), 365-371.

[6] Sano, T. et al (2012) Antimicrobial Agent, Tetracycline, Enhanced Upper Alimentary Tract Candida albicans Infection and Its Related Mucosal Proliferation in Alloxan-induced Diabetic Rats. Toxicologic Pathology, 40(7), 1014 - 1019.

[7] Helstrom, P. et al. (1979) Effect of oral tetracycline, the microbial flora, and the athymic state on gastrointestinal colonization and infection of BALB/c mice with Candida albicans. Infection and Immunity, 23(3), 764 - 774.

[8] Yuthika, H. et al. (2001) Experimental Oral Candidiasis in Animal Models. Clinical Microbiology Reviews, 14(2), 398 -429.

[9] Spinillo, A. et al. (1995) The impact of oral contraception on vulvovaginal candidiasis. Contraception, 51(5), 293-297.

[10] Horowitz, BJ. et al. (1984) Sugar chromatography studies in recurrent Candida vulvovaginitis. The Journal of Reproductive Medicine, 29(7), 441-443.

[11] Vargas, SL. et al. (1993) Modulating effect of dietary carbohydrate supplementation on Candida albicans colonization and invasion in a neutropenic mouse model. Infectious Immunology, 61(2), 619-626.

[12] Cater, R. (1995) Chronic intestinal candidiasis as a possible etiological factor in the chronic fatigue syndrome. Medical Hypotheses, 44(6), 507-515.

[13] Stawerska, R. et al. (2015) Prevalence of autoantibodies against some selected growth and appetite-regulating neuropeptides in serum of short children exposed to Candida albicans colonization and/or Helicobacter pylori infection: the molecular mimicry phenomenon diet for chronic fatigue caused by Candida albicans?. Neuro endocrinology letters, 36(5), 458-464.

[14] Fetissov, SO. et al. (2008) Autoantibodies against appetite regulating peptide hormones and neuropeptides: putative modulation by gut microflora. Nutrition, 24, 348–359.

[15] Fetissov, SO. et al. (2008) Emerging role of autoantibodies against appetite-regulating neuropeptides in eating disorders. Nutrition, 24, 854–859.  

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It's really surprising to learn that candidiasis can be result of unhealthy diet. One more cons against processed food and sugar.

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Do we really need to care about it? When we have cancers, diabetes and AIDS, what the point to think about such insignificant aflictions? If you even have it, just be happy that you don't have cancer or something even worse.

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On 15.06.2017 at 11:07 AM, richter91 said:

Do we really need to care about it? When we have cancers, diabetes and AIDS, what the point to think about such insignificant aflictions? If you even have it, just be happy that you don't have cancer or something even worse.

You're not right. People are made in such a way that they always care about their physical and mental state. We want to be as healthy as possible, it's natural. And when all possible measures are taken to prevent severe diseases, then actions toward avoiding small afflictions should be taken. 

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On 15.06.2017 at 11:07 AM, richter91 said:

Do we really need to care about it? When we have cancers, diabetes and AIDS, what the point to think about such insignificant aflictions? If you even have it, just be happy that you don't have cancer or something even worse.

Authors just ran out of topics, don't worry about it :)

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