Posts Tagged ‘bowel function’

Feeling frustrated? Foggy-headed? Try drinking some water.

June 3, 2010

Most of us have been told that we should drink at least 8 glasses of water per day to keep ourselves hydrated.  There are lots of reasons touted as to why this would be important–to keep our kidneys functioning correctly, to keep our skin looking vibrant and healthy, to prevent constipation, to give us more energy, to lose weight. Now we can add two new reasons for drinking water–to decrease crankiness and frustration and lift our mood and to improve our cognitive abilities.

In a study done by Kristen D’Anci of Tufts University and recently published in Perceptual and Motor Skills, young, healthy athletes participated in a study  of the cognitive and mood effects of mild dehydration (the equivalent to a busy office worker not drinking enough during the day).  The results showed that those allowed to achieve mild dehydration exhibited more anger and frustration as well as a “down” mood after the session than those that maintained their hydration.  Additionally, those who were slightly dehydrated performed much less well on the cognitive tests administered after the session than those that were well hydrated.

So, the next time you find yourself feeling a little foggy-headed or getting easily frustrated with a task, ask yourself when you last had a drink of water.  Getting a glass of water just might make you able to finish that task or project much easier.


Could a simple intestinal organism be making you sick?

July 6, 2009

What is “Candida” and how do I know if I have it?

Disruption of healthy ratios of bacteria and fungus in the intestine, often known as Candida by the alternative health community, is attributed to a wide variety of symptoms, including fatigue, bloating, muscle pain, allergies and weight gain.  Understanding what Candida is and how it affects the body can allow for changes, often easy and simple, that significantly improve health.

Candida Albicans, and other strains of Candida, are yeast fungus micro-organisms that commonly live in the intestinal tract of every human. Candida Albicans lives happily in a community of yeast fungus, bacteria and other organisms. Over time, these organisms have created a balanced community that help support our digestion. The normal ratio of bacteria to yeast is about 10:1. However, it is possible to upset this balance, leading the organism community to become ineffective in maintaining health bowel function.

Disruption of healthy ratios of bacteria and fungus can be caused by a variety of factors. When the ratio is disturbed, any of the organisms could multiply to a large community, preventing other organisms from multiplying and doing their intended jobs. The most commonly recognized “overgrowth” is usually Candida Albicans. Many alternative health practitioners focus on Candida Albicans overgrowth as a cause of many diseases and conditions, and have created the term “Candida” to mean an overgrowth of Candida Albicans.

For alternative health practitioners, Candida signifies an overgrowth of Candida Albicans within the digestive system and also has spread to other organs and parts of the body. While traditional physicians recognize the inappropriate growth of Candida Albicans in certain conditions, such as Thrush, vaginal infections and sometimes systemic infections for immune compromised individuals, most traditional physicians do not support the belief that Candida Albicans overgrowth in the intestine can lead to the myriad symptoms attributed to the condition.

What are the symptoms attributed to Candida?
The symptoms can vary from person to person, but usually include digestive symptoms such as:

  • bloating
  • gas
  • intestinal discomfort
  • diarrhea or constipation or both
  • food intolerance, such as fermented foods

Other symptoms can show up as:

  • water retention
  • itching and rashes
  • depression
  • mental fog, inability to concentrate and poor memory
  • Muscle pain and weakness
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Chronic Fatigue
  • weight gain

What can cause Candida and how do I know if I have it?
Candida is caused by anything that disrupts the intestinal environment and disrupts the ratio of organisms.  Some common causes include:

  • Use of antibiotics
  • Antibiotic treated foods
  • Diets high in sugars
  • Acid internal environment
  • Steroids
  • Hormones
  • Chemotherapy
  • high intake of alcohol
  • Immune deficiency syndromes
  • parasite infestation
  • Lifestyle factors

To determine your potential for Candida, download a free candida questionnaire.
While some medical tests are available to determine Candida overgrowth, usually the diagnosis is made based on history and questionnaires. There is a saliva test available that can help determine if Candida is present in inappropriate amounts. You can easily obtain the saliva test that can be done in your home that tests for D-Arabinitol, a byproduct of Candida overgrowth. It can also be helpful to rule out other parasites that can mimic the symptoms of Candida. This can be accomplished with a series of stool, saliva and, sometimes, blood tests, which are easily obtained when recommended by your health care provider.

If I know I have Candida, what do I do?
Candida Albicans overgrowth can be a serious problem and, when diagnosed by a traditional physician, often results in very powerful medications, such as Nisoril or Diflucan, being prescribed. Completing the Candida questionnaire and taking it to your physician can allow for beginning a discussion about your symptoms and problems.  However, most physicians will not prescribe  medications unless the overgrowth is a significant, observable health problem. And, of course, these medications create their own problems.
Alternative health providers offer many options to manage and treat Candida and the treatments vary from practitioner to practitioner and are often determined by the individual and their contributing factors. Treatments can include:

  • Probiotics
  • Intestinal flora, such as active yeast cultures
  • Colon cleanses
  • Colonics
  • Herbal products
  • Homeopathic products
  • Diet changes
  • Food restrictions
  • Changes to the living/working environment
  • Dehumidifiers
  • Air purifiers
  • Acupuncture

With all of these choices, it can be challenging to know which one is best. It is important to identify the causes leading up to the Candida overgrowth and the symptoms that are manifesting before choosing a treatment options. Talk with your health care provider or Holistic Health Consultant to work out the best treatment option for you. Each person is unique and no one solution works for everyone.