Fungi and Disease

Some Topics

The Candida Yeast Theory

The possible role of yeast in causing chronic, ill-defined illness was popularized by Dr. Crook in the "Yeast Connection" in 1984. While I admired Dr. Crook's efforts to innovate with new solutions for old problems, the commercial exploitation of his yeast theory went far beyond rational thinking and supportable claims.

There is no doubt that candida can produce toxins and disease. Crook's idea was that overgrowth of candida in the digestive tract causes chronic, systemic symptoms. Half of the population in the US and Canada have chronic symptoms that are not diagnosed or treated appropriately by physicians. There remains a great need for solutions. According to yeast theory, therapy is designed to starve colon yeast with diet changes or "kill yeast" with drugs. One big problem is the commercial exploitation of the yeast theory led to a proliferation of over the counter products that were supposed to inhibit or kill yeast in the colon. None worked. Other books and magazine articles repeated the yeast theory without modification recommending avoidance of sugars and all fungi in the diet. Most candida diets even exclude mushrooms which have only a remote connection with yeasts (both are fungi).

Claims that candida overgrowth in the digestive tract cause ill-defined illnesses are difficult to substantiate. Immune compromised individuals suffer from an overgrowth of candida and a number of other microorganisms that are usually present as members of the normal flora. If you have AIDS, candida becomes a life-threatening pathogen that enters the blood and is distributed throughout the body.

Consider the main issues in understanding yeast populations in and on the body:
  • There are many kinds of fungi in our food supply.
  • Yeasts are specialized sub-groups that have little in common with molds and other fungi.
  • Each yeast species must be considered on its own merits and demerits.
  • Immune responses to fungi are specific - not generalized across a broad spectrum on fungi.
    Some are harmless and some cause illness by varied and diverse mechanisms.
  • Immune responses to different yeast antigens tend to different.
  • Cross reactions may exist, but generally these interactions are unknown.

The presence of other kinds of yeast or other fungi in the diet has little or no effect on the growth of candida in the colon. On a food holiday, the food supply to the Candida and all other colon microorganisms is reduced and the population decreases.

The use of an elemental nutrient formula, such as Alpha ENF with free glucose content is associated with reduction or disappearance of candida in the colon flora. Colon candida are fed by milk sugar and starches in the diet which reach the colon undigested. Free sugars in food tend to be absorbed by the stomach and upper small intestine before reaching the yeast. The advantage of an ENF is that all nutrients are absorbed before reaching the colon so that the food supply to microorganisms is dramatically reduced; the size of all the microbial populations shrink. See Food Holiday

Fungi In Food

There are many kinds of fungi in our food supply. Some are harmless and some cause illness by varied and diverse mechanisms. Immune responses to different fungal antigens tend to be different. Cross reactions may exist, but generally these interactions are unknown.

The "yeast connection" theory ignores the many types of adverse reactions to food. Many people with delayed patterns of food allergy believe that they have candida and have a hard time adjusting their thinking to accept a more comprehensive solution to their illness. The symptoms attributed to candida are typical of the wide spectrum of adverse reactions to food, and should not be interpreted as having a single cause.

People who accept the "yeast connection" theory are encouraged by product advertisements to buy easy solutions to chronic health problems, which really require responsible, dedicated, and persistent efforts to resolve. They are encouraged to use prescription antibiotics such as Nystatin and Nizoral, without appreciating the risk of side effects and toxicity. Nystatin is relatively safe only if it is not absorbed from the intestine. The risk of significant absorption increases as the dose of Nystatin is increased and prolonged. Nizoral is absorbed and can cause hepatitis . The recommended use of Nizoral is limited by this potential toxicity to serious fungal infections not resolved by other means. Resistance to these anti-fungal antibiotics has emerged and is an important problem for very sick hospitalized patients.

Other products are sold and advertised nationally as candida cures. All of these products, including acidophilus, garlic, caprylic acid, herbs, animal gland derivatives, and vitamins, are not likely to influence candida growth and do not contribute to the proper treatment of food allergy.

We recommend that all people with recurrent vaginal yeast infection and with nonspecific illness ---the "sick all over syndrome" --- do adequate, complete diet revision using the
Alpha Nutrition Program as their guide.

Fungi Everywhere

A profusion of fungi exists in the environment. Some fungi are able to cause an invasive infection in otherwise healthy individuals. Other fungi are opportunistic fungi that become invasive when immune defenses are compromised. Diagnosis of fungal infection is difficult. There are many problems when you try to connect a test result to a disease. Fungi are so abundant and there are so many varieties in every environment that it is seldom easy to pick just one cause among many. Fungi are inhaled and ingested. Foods always contain fungal spores and actively growing molds. Attempts to culture fungi often fail; only a small number grow in the culture media commonly used. Some new methods of detecting fungal DNA may be useful but development of reliable tests is slow and expensive.

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