Dr Sarah Brewer, GP, author of ‘Overcoming Candida’, tackles the question
Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is the most common condition to affect the gut, and at least a third of the population are affected at some time during their life, even if only mildly.
IBS symptoms often occur for the first time after an attack of food poisoning or taking antibiotics. These both disrupt the normal balance of bacteria found in the bowel and promote the growth of intestinal yeasts. Many people with IBS have also experienced recurrent Candida infections in the past, leading researchers to believe there may be a link.
Although overgrowth of Candida yeasts does not seem to occur, their presence may trigger immune responses to produce intolerance reactions. An astounding 178 different proteins that can trigger immune reactions have been identified in Candida species, including proteins in their outer wall and enzymes that they secrete. Although their role is unclear, a review published in the European Journal of Gastroenterology and Hepatology suggested this might explain why symptoms can worsen after eating mould-containing foods.
It might also explain why many people with IBS – and those with recurrent Candida – find probiotic supplements so helpful. Probiotic bacteria secrete lactic acid which suppresses yeast growth, and they compete for available nutrients and attachment sites on intestinal walls. They also reinoculate the bowel with friendly digestive bacteria and supress the gas-forming bacteria that have been associated with some cases of irritable bowel syndrome.
Rob Hobson, Healthspan Head of Nutrition says: “Probiotic bacteria are found in fermented foods such as live ‘Bio’ yogurts, cottage cheese, miso, kefir and tempeh while numerous probiotic supplements are available. Select a supplement supplying a known quantity of probiotic bacteria such as 5 billion or 20 billion colony forming units (CFU) per dose such as Healthspan Super20 Pro with over 20 billion live friendly bacteria.”
The term prebiotics refers to non-digestible food ingredients that selectively feed the growth of prebiotic bacteria in the bowel, encouraging them to colonise for longer-term protection. Prebiotic foods include substances known as fructo-oligosaccharides (FOS) and inulin and are found in foods such as oats, barley, wheat, garlic, onions, leeks, bananas, honey, tomatoes, Jerusalem artichokes, globe artichokes, asparagus, shiitake mushrooms, aubergine, rocket, chicory and edamame soy beans. As well as being good for your bowels, these also help to reduce the absorption of cholesterol and sugars so are good for your general healthy, too.
Overcoming Candida by Dr Sarah Brewer is available as a Kindle eBook or paperback on Amazon and is packed with advice to reduce your Candida symptoms. She covers the nutritional approach to treatment and how to follow an elimination diet, alkaline diet and the more traditional anti-Candida diet. After explaining the research behind vitamin, mineral and herbal supplements, she gives an overview of medical treatments. As one of the few doctors who is also a Registered Nutritionist and a Registered Nutritional Therapist, Sarah expertly explains all the facts in a clear and concise way. She is the award-winning author of over 60 popular health books and has a Nutritional Medicine.