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There are two common kids of intestinal overgrowth of undesirable bugs.
- Candidiasis is the most common, which is when the fungus, candida, which naturally occurs in the intestines, decides to overgrow and overtake populations of beneficial bacteria. It is commonly referred to as simply candida.
- The second most common type of overgrowth is called Small Intestine Bacterial Overgrowth or SIBO, as it is most commonly called. This is when bacteria from the large intestines migrate up into the small intestines and disturb the natural balance of beneficial microbes in the small intestines.
I address both of these issues in my podcast, “Troubleshoot Your Intestinal Bacteria, Candida and SIBO.”
Both of these conditions can wreak havoc on mood, energy, digestion, brain power, joint health and much more. In 1984, when I first went into practice as an Applied Kinesiology (AK) practitioner, candida had become the condition that made headline news. The thinking was, and still is to some extent, to kill off the candida overgrowth and then flood them with probiotics — which were popular, even 30 years ago.
The problem with that plan is that most of the candida-killing agents – whether anti-fungal medications or natural anti-microbial agents like grapefruit seed extract – always left the intestinal tract more irritated and raw.
Once the therapies were stopped, opportunistic and undesirable bacteria and candida would re-populate in a hurry in the damaged intestinal theater. Today, we know that many of the antibiotics and antifungals are indiscriminate and kill the beneficial microbes as well, which leaves the door open for the re-population of bad bugs. According to the ancient wisdom of Ayurveda, the key is using kind and gentle therapies to restore an environment conducive for a healthy microbiome.
Unfortunately, science did not know how delicate the intestinal microbes were, and after years of eating indigestible processed foods and enduring heavy-handed therapies and medications, most westerners have a broken down microbiome with drastically fewer strains of good bacteria. (1,4) This has left us vulnerable to the proliferation of numerous intestinal imbalances, such as candida and SIBO.
There are Five Major Causes of Intestinal Overgrowth
- Overuse of medications. Antibiotics and anti-acids have been shown to alter the intestinal bacteria. Alternatives like Saccharomyces boulardii support healthy flora in cases of SIBO and candida. (3)
- Weak stomach acid production, which allows undesirable bacteria to safely enter the small intestine. When there is a lack of stomach acid, foods can linger in the stomach and cause more gas and bloating. Without adequate stomach acid to initiate the digestive process, bile is not flowing and intestinal enzymes are not producing, allowing undesirable bacteria to proliferate. (2)
- Years of untreated elimination and gastrointestinal issues. The intestinal skin is like the three little bears — it cannot be too dry or too wet, it has to be just right for the proper bugs to thrive. (2)
- A lifetime of processed and sweetened foods that feed the undesirable microbes and disturb a healthy microbiome. (1,4)
- Stress, which in Ayurveda causes a reverse flow of the digestion called “udvarta,” where there is upward, instead of downward, intestinal pressure. This can damage the ileocecal valve (ICV) and allow large intestinal microbes to migrate into the small intestinal. Today, this is called SIBO. Thirty years ago, we called it an “open ileocecal valve.” (2)
Also stay tuned into my newsletters, as I will continue to write more about the comeback of these two common and persistent intestinal concerns and provide natural strategies to combat them.