In these strange days of Coronavirus/COVID-19, the LAST thing you want to think about is healing the Candida overgrowth in your gut! But maybe, it should be the FIRST thing . . . there is a strong connection between the gut and the immune system—so strong, in fact, that a good portion of the immune system lives in the gut!
Twenty years ago, had you ever heard of the “microbiome”? How about the “mycobiome”? The microbiome is the community of bacteria that live in the gut. Our gut is home for more than 1,000 different species of microbes—about 38 trillion—which equals the number of cells in the human body. A separate community of normal gut yeasts and fungi has been labeled the mycobiome. With the advent of the Human Genome Project in 1990, and the Human Microbiome Project in 2007, researchers have learned more and more about the human body and how it works.
One of the most fascinating things scientists have learned in the past few decades is the connection between the gut and the immune system. In fact, an estimated 60-80% of the body’s immune cells are found in the gut.
“A huge proportion of your immune system is actually in your GI tract,” says Dan Peterson, assistant professor of pathology at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.
That is why it is so important to treat fungal Candida overgrowth in the gut—because it creates an imbalance, in much the same way that invasive weeds crowd out your lovely, balanced garden, or a gang of party crashers causes your invited guests to quietly slip out the door.
Problems caused by this imbalance is why that maintaining balance in the gut is so important. The gut microbiota of the human being and its immune system have evolved together to communicate and work synergistically. From the time of birth, the bacteria, yeast, and fungi that live in the gut all help shape and mature the immune system, while the immune cells help promote a community of healthy microbiota in the gut, creating protective responses against harmful bacteria and pathogens and muting reactions to harmless microbes.
Our intestinal wall is made up of epithelial cells, and the barrier function of that wall is maintained by immune cells. Healthy intestinal barriers will let beneficial microbial metabolites cross that epithelial barrier and keep non-beneficial microbes from “leaking” into the body at large. This supports both better immune function and better brain performance.
When the integrity of that barrier is impaired and fungal Candida overgrowth is suspected as one of the factors, the person develops a “leaky gut.” Changes in gut permeability can create chronic inflammatory reactions and can alter our immune responses.
And speaking of the mycobiome, you may be surprised to learn that we all “have” Candida—a small amount of Candida yeast is a part of a healthy gut microflora. The problem comes when—through heavy use of antibiotics, a diet high in sugars and simple carbohydrates, exposure to toxins and various other causes—mild-mannered Candida yeast morphs into its fungal form and overgrows, crowding out enough of the “good guys” to create an imbalance—which can impair our immune function.
Remember, 70-80% of the body’s immune cells are found in the gut. Now, with COVID-19 on the loose, we want to make sure that those immune cells are being welcomed as honored guests, not crowded out by the “weeds” of fungal Candida overgrowth!