September 2007 | Yeast and You

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By Dr. Matsen

After 21 years of practice and seeing over 40,000 patients with a myriad of chronic symptoms and complaints, one thing stands out—there is an underlying overgrowth of Candida yeast that has to be dealt with in order to regain health.

Candida albicans and other yeast are members of the fungal family, and their mission is to recycle the dead and dying into compost as quickly as they can. Yeast are not present in your body when you’re born but they quickly become a part of the vast numbers of microbial colonizers that set up shop wherever they can find a niche in or on you.

Yeast need an alkaline pH—such as that found in your mouth and small intestine—but they are inhibited in your mouth by strong enzymes and immune cell activity. Access by yeast into your small intestine is blocked by acid conditions above and below it. Your stomach makes acid that stops yeast trying to enter through your mouth and, in your large intestine, acidophilus (acid-loving) bacteria colonizers create an acid pH that prevents yeast overgrowth.

Watch your meds
Medications that damage your protective defenses will allow yeast overgrowth to occur. Many antibiotics, especially broad-spectrum varieties such as tetracycline, can kill the good bacteria making it possible for yeast to proliferate. Antacids, when overused, can also increase yeast activity by changing your internal pH.

In clinical practice it’s not unusual to see ulcer patients who took a combination antibiotic/antacid treatment that successfully killed off H. pylori bacteria and reduced their stomach ulcer symptoms; however, they now complain of increased fatigue or arthritis or their allergies are worse, etc. It’s likely that the “bad” bacterial overgrowth—namely the H. pylori—has now been replaced with an overgrowth of “bad” Candida albicans yeast.

A subtle but even more common way that yeast overgrowth occurs is when the valve between the large and small intestine—the ileocecal valve—opens excessively. An open ileocecal valve allows yeast, which are tightly controlled by the acid pH in the large intestine, to enter the bottom of the alkaline small intestine where there is nothing to control them, and they begin fermenting foods that you haven’t absorbed yet.

Yeast: One of Nature’s freeloaders
Every living organism is intelligent in its own way. Yeast have ways of getting you to fetch them the goodies they need to keep their party going. Yeast secrete salsolinol, which tells your brain to send down more alcohol, or sweets from which they can make more alcohol. Proof of this is that cravings for sweets and/or alcohol often diminish or disappear once the yeast overgrowth is corrected.

In my first book, I stated that this ileocecal valve problem seemed to be most prevalent in people who read the most health books. Now I can say that this valve becomes weak when it is low in calcium and many people have low levels of calcium in spite of taking calcium supplements. Calcium absorption is the weak link.

My Eating Alive Program addresses the issues of intestinal yeast overgrowth and how to repair a weakened ileocecal valve by following the principle of “eating according to the climate in which you live” to improve calcium absorption.