The Candida Expert

Posts tagged ‘Liver’

Does Candida Know When To Attack

There is always a wealth of information coming forth that helps to provide greater clarity on how candida becomes problematic in the body. This recent study, as reported in Science Daily, provides some good information and some confusing information. I’ll add some editorial throughout the article – http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/07/120724153651.htm

The opportunistic fungal pathogen Candida albicans inconspicuously lives in our bodies until it senses that we are weak when it quickly adapts to go on the offensive. The fungus, known for causing yeast and other minor infections, also causes a sometimes-fatal infection known as candidemia in immunocompromised patients An in vivo study, published in mBio, demonstrates how C. albicanscan distinguish between a healthy and an unhealthy host and alter its physiology to attack. [There are several factors that cause the conversion of the normal yeast form of candida to its pathogenic, problematic fungal form – pH, temperature, antibiotics, bacterial cell wall components, etc., The phrase, “senses we are weak” isn’t something that I have ever seen in scientific studies, but it may be another way to state immunsuppression. Even so, I have yet to see that listed as a trigger for yeast-to-fungal conversion. Immunosuppression can play a role in the spread of candida, but some studies indicate that it isn’t a pre-requisite for this to happen. Candidemia is another term for fungal sepsis, or blood-borne fungal infection. Sepsis is one of the top 10 or 11 leading causes of death in the United States, depending on year of reference, and fungal candida causes over 50% of that].

“The ability of the fungus to sense the immune status of its host may be key to its ability to colonize harmlessly in some people but become a deadly pathogen in others,” said Jessica V. Pierce, BA, PhD student in the molecular microbiology program at the Sackler School of Graduate Biomedical Sciences at Tufts. [This is an interesting quote from an author in the study. It can be taken a couple of different ways. It might be interpreted that she is stating that it spreads throughout the body in its fungal form in the presence of an intact immune system, but doesn’t create any imbalances. That would be ignoring a lot of other research that demonstrates how the fungal form of candida creates many imbalances within the body. It has been shown to spread through the body without the immune system being compromised. A second interpretation and the one that I believe she is stating is that as a fungus, it colonizes the digestive tract harmlessly or pathogenically depending on the host immune status. That would ignore the fact that candida colonizes the intestinal tract in its yeast form. It may not be much of a differentiation, but it can be misleading as the fungal form is problematic and the yeast form isn’t.]

“Effective detection and treatment of disease in immunocompromised patients could potentially work by targeting the levels of a protein, Efg1p, that we found influenced the growth of Candida albicans inside the host,” she continued. [As stated before, there are several factors that cause the conversion of yeast-to-fungus. Efg1 has been identified previously as part of the internal mechanism that regulates the yeast-to-hyphal conversion and back again. It’s not the only part and its presence may not be a good indicator of fungal infections, as it can exist in the yeast form also.]

The researchers knew from previous research that Efg1p influences the expression of genes that regulate how harmful a fungal cell can become. Surprisingly, the investigators found that lower Efg1p levels allow the fungal cells to grow to high levels inside a host. Higher levels of the protein result in less growth. [Would the high levels be associated with it’s yeast form and the low levels with its fungal form. That can be a good reason for differentiating between yeast and fungus and not referring to both forms as though they were fungal.]

To examine how the immune status could affect the growth of C. albicans within a host, the researchers fed both healthy and immunocompromised mice equal amounts of two fungal strains containing two different levels of the Efg1p protein.

Fecal pellets from the mice were tested to determine which strain of fungi thrived. In a healthy host, the fungal cells with higher levels of the protein predominated.

In immunocompromised mice, the fungal cells with lower levels of the protein flourished. The researchers noted that lack of interactions with immune cells in the intestinal tract most likely caused the necessary environmental conditions favoring fungal cells that express lower levels of the protein, resulting in fungal overgrowth and setting the stage for systemic infection.

“By having a mixed population with some high Efg1p cells and some low Efg1p cells, the fungus can adjust its physiology to remain benign or become harmful when it colonizes hosts with varying immune statuses. These findings are important because they provide the first steps toward developing more effective methods for detecting and treating serious and stubborn infections caused by Candida albicans, such as candidemia,” said Carol A. Kumamoto, PhD, professor of molecular biology and microbiology at Tufts University School of Medicine and member of the molecular microbiology and genetics program faculties at the Sackler School of Graduate Biomedical Sciences.

The immune system and “good bacteria” within the body act to regulate the size of C. albicans fungal populations in healthy individuals. When the immune system is compromised, the fungus can spread throughout the body. Candidemia, i.e. blood-borne Candida, is the fourth most common blood infection among hospitalized patients in the United States and is found in immunocompromised patients such as babies, those with catheters, and the critically ill. [Here we see the authors state that it is the immune system and the “good bacteria” that help to regulate the candida populations. This would be a very strong statement against the use of antibiotics, as antibiotics destroy the “good bacteria” and suppress the immune system. With Sepsis being one of the top causes of death in the United States and over 50% of that being due to fungal candida, much of that can be prevented by not using antibiotics. That would eliminate sepsis as a leading cause of death and fungal candida as the 4th leading cause of hospital infections. Throughout this article I didn’t see any differentiation between the yeast and fungal forms of candida and I didn’t find it mentioned in the original abstract either. Many studies seem to be limited in the breadth of understanding of candida and the vast amount of past research. Through other studies, it has already been established that immunosuppression is not necessary for the spread of candida. For more research on this, view the Candida Facts Sheet article.  Tests can only serve as indicators, not absolute measures of function in the body. Targeting something like Efg1 doesn’t seem to be a promising advancement in the understanding or treatment of candida. If the purpose is to create another target for antifungal medications, it must be remembered that all medications contain far more harmful effects than beneficial effects. One common effect of antifungal medications  is immunosuppression.

A “S.A.D.” Lifestyle

As our country deals with the effects of past deregulation and the current financial crisis, I am struck by how America has also become deregulated in the area of its dietary choices and the resultant health crisis that is developing as a result. Sound dietary practices have been dismantled and replaced by eating whenever, whatever, and however it suits us in the moment. Common sense management of our food choices has been neglected in favor of fad diet fixes and Flintstone vitamins.

The wisdom of the body as a temple that needs to be cherished and cared for has been replaced by the philosophy of the body as an amusement park and I’ve got a season pass.

It’s no mistake that the acronym for the Standard American Diet is S.A.D. When America exports the dietary principles of S.A.D. to another country, a decline in the health of its people quickly follows. It also holds true for foreigners who immigrate here, as they quickly find out that their health declines and their weight increases when eating as the natives do. In all fairness, America should have signs at its entry borders that warn of the risks that go with adopting our S.A.D. lifestyle.

Using the government’s Body Mass Index (BMI) standard, a calculation based on height and weight, over 66% of Americans are overweight and 34% are obese. If current trends continue, by 2015, it’s estimated that 75% of American adults will be overweight or obese. By 2030, that estimate increases to more than 86 percent of adults, and by 2048, well let’s just say that finding a normal weight person will be like finding a needle in a haystack. The BMI standard isn’t without just criticism, as other body measurements are not considered. When considering the overall trend, however, it’s obvious that Americans are getting fatter and the associated illnesses and healthcare costs that accompany this trend are also on the rise.

Being overweight increases our risk of diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, cancer, liver and gall bladder disease, osteoarthritis, infertility, and various other related diseases and conditions. All of these are signs of lifestyle mismanagement, not medication deficiencies.

I imagine that a pharmaceutical company’s Board of Directors looks upon America’s sedentary lifestyle and standard diet much in the same way that a cannibal looks upon a newly caught fat missionary prior to feasting. Our gains become their gains.

The pharmaceutical industry continues to propagate the philosophy of there’s nothing wrong with us. It’s not our fault. It’s just genetics, hormones, and other uncontrollable dysfunctions in our bodies that they will soon have a drug for. So, don’t worry, keep eating. For heaven’s sake, there’s no need to deprive your self of anything. Eat! You’ve earned it. Eat! You deserve it. Eat! It’s the holidays. Eat, eat, eat!

President-Elect Barack Obama keeps reminding us that we need to prepare ourselves for making sacrifices in order to correct the excesses of the past. This applies as much to our diet and lifestyle choices as much as it does to the economy. If sacrifices are to be made, then we can choose to sacrifice stupidity for wisdom. We can live up to our potential and leave behind the excuses and reasons for not taking care of ourselves.

Over half of Americans lead a sedentary lifestyle. The current government recommendation calls for 30 minutes of exercise 5 days a week. I have always thought that the government usually gets it half-right. Exercising 60 minutes 5 days a week is probably even better. Start where you are and go from there. Leave the “have to do it/be it/have it now” attitude behind. Evolve your desires to allow for gradual progress to have its impact.

In his book “What May Be” Piero Ferrucci states, “You must not follow your feelings. Your feelings must follow you.” We must begin to exhibit an emotional intelligence that directs our food choices. We must eat with a conscious awareness of how we wish to transform our bodies, for our bodies are transforming from moment-to-moment whether we like it or not. How it transforms can be up to us.

So as Thanksgiving approaches, I believe that it’s time to be thankful for the abundance and opportunities that we have as Americans. It’s time to invest in ourselves and our future. We can create something remarkable with our lives and share our life stories with others. We can be a nation of everyday heroes, ordinary people living extra-ordinary lives.

As an old adage states, “If not now, when? If not me, who?”

Dr. Jeffrey S. McCombs is a 3rd generation Doctor of Chiropractic, author of the book “LifeForce,” and developer of the McCombs Plan. His 25 years of ongoing research and practice emphasizes addressing the nutritional, biochemical, structural, emotional, and environmental aspects of acute and chronic health conditions in his patients.

He can be reached at www.mccombsplan.com or 888-236-7780.

A Toxic World?

 

Some people think that detoxification is a “new age” idea. For me it isn’t, but I decided to at least look and see what shows up. First stop, PubMed, an Internet site put out by the U.S. National Library of Medicine and National Institutes of Health. Entering detoxification into their site search brings up 15,823 citations of studies done on detoxification. Pretty impressive. Next stop, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s website. A quick look brings up 981 citations of studies involving detoxification. Not as impressive, but still noteworthy. Last stop, the World Health Organization’s website. A quick search here brings up 1250 citations. All-in-all, detoxification seems to be a worldwide concern.

 

So, is detoxification an issue? If detoxification were not an issue, then we could eat all of the mercury laden fish that we wanted to. We could breathe polluted air without consideration. We could smoke 10 packs of cigarettes each day for a life time and not suffer as a result. We could dump all the waste that we wanted to into the oceans, rivers, and streams. We could do away with water filtration plants, waste recycling, and all the controls surrounding pollution. We wouldn’t need life-saving antioxidants in hospital and clinical settings. I think that it is self-evident that detoxification is an issue. It is a primary function of all cells, tissues, and organs in the human body and all other living organisms, as well as the planet itself.

 

Detoxification is a necessity for life on the planet to go on existing. Without detoxification, we would suffer and die in our own wastes. The largest organ in the body is a detoxification organ, the skin. The next largest organs – the liver, lungs, large intestine, and kidneys – also deal heavily with detoxification. Detoxification sites and pathways are everywhere in our body’s tissues. As an organism, we come armed for detoxification.

 

Some people think that the body is adequately equipped for detoxification, but if it were, we wouldn’t have words like carcinogen, teratogens, reproductive toxicants, and endocrine disruptors. These are chemicals that create disease and dysfunction in the body because the body isn’t able to remove them. The human body was not made to handle the toxic load that it has to handle in today’s environment, and the environment wasn’t made to handle the toxic load that humans have dumped upon it. Of the 100,000+ chemicals in use worldwide, some 5000 of them are produced in high volumes in excess of 1 million pounds per year. Only a small percentage of these have been tested for environmental and human impact.

 

The human body is like a sponge that soaks up hundreds, perhaps thousands of chemicals. In testing done on babies, the number of toxins present at birth has been shown to be around 200-300. Scientists estimate that everyone alive today has a toxic load of at least 700 contaminants. Chemicals that have been outlawed years ago can still show up in the body’s tissues decades later. What goes in, doesn’t necessarily come out.

 

How we manage the toxic load of the body can have a great impact on our health and the health of our children. Reducing exposure to toxins is a great place to start. The home should be a safe place for us to retreat to and renew ourselves. We should eliminate, or greatly reduce, our exposure to chemicals through the foods we eat, the beverages we drink, and the air we breathe. Lotions, shampoos, conditioners, detergents, and household cleaners should be organic or biodegradable. Our water and air should be filtered whenever possible. Food should be our medicine. Routine sweating via saunas and hot baths is an established practice in many cultures that makes use of the skin and its detoxification abilities.

 

One can work with healthcare practitioners to investigate ways to assist the body in reducing its toxic burden. Nutrients can be useful in boosting the body’s resources for antioxidants. A supplement like N-acetyl-cysteine helps to replenish the stores of one of the body’s most abundant antioxidants, glutathione. Glutathione help to decrease the oxidative stress created by the toxic load we carry and expose ourselves to continuously.

 

So, perhaps detoxification is a “new age” concept, but more importantly, I believe that it should be a part of a new age of personal responsibility for our health and how our choices play a role in determining the quality of the life we live.

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