The Truth About Candida and Leaky Gut: Are They Even Real?
Written by Leah Johnston, RDN, LDN on October 20, 2021. Updated on October 27, 2021.
Popular Internet Trends Can Lead To Incorrect Gut Health Advice
Chronic fatigue, weight fluctuations, mood swings, headaches, bloating—these symptoms are common and often difficult to find the underlying issue, if there even is one.
Nevertheless, these common conditions plague the daily lives of so many and the idea of finding an answer is like finding the holy grail of wellness.
Often times, the first response is to search the internet for information and results. Candida overgrowth and leaky gut syndrome have recently become popular topics of conversation online.
But if you visit a medical doctor or another type of wellness practitioner, such as one that focuses on integrative medicine, you may get different answers.
Follow along as we dive into these two topics, their symptoms, and treatment recommendations.
What's Real and What's Fake?
The internet can often give you results that are inaccurate. A doctor or other wellness practitioners can offer you true guidance on your gut health.
The aforementioned symptoms are often attributed to either candida, leaky gut or even both by an integrative medicine or wellness practitioner.
But are candida and leaky gut syndrome real things?
In the medical field, candida overgrowth is considered to be a legitimate diagnosis, but it is more rare than integrative or holistic medicine practitioners would have you believe.
Similarly, the diagnosis of leaky gut syndrome is not considered to be a true diagnosis by most physicians, but will often be diagnosed and treated by other wellness practitioners.
With the popularity of these diagnoses and the Candida diet on the rise, it’s important to know the facts about these conditions.
Let’s start with Candida.
Candida is a fungus or yeast that lives inside the body and on the skin without causing problems.
Also called candida albicans, yeast syndrome or thrush, it can become an issue if it grows out of control or if it enters the body via the bloodstream or organs. This is known as candidiasis.
Candidiasis is a fungal infection that may occur in times when the immune system is weakened or from antibiotic usage, chronic conditions or hormonal changes.
The most common type of candidiasis is a vaginal yeast infection and is typically treated with antifungal creams.
Symptoms of Candida
While there is no current research to support it, many holistic or integrative wellness practitioners may diagnose symptoms like the following as candida overgrowth in an otherwise healthy individual.
- mood swings
- joint pain
- difficulty losing weight
How They Test
The tests for this include blood, stool or a patient history of diet or antibiotic use.
A spit test for candida overgrowth has been circulating social media and gaining popularity, but may not be an accurate method for diagnosing.
One theory is that a poor diet that is high in carbs, gluten, sugar or dairy may be the root cause of the infection, however, there is currently no medical research to back this up. It is also thought that an overgrowth of candida can overtake the good bacteria in the gut and lead to leaky gut.
Candida Overgrowth Treatment
The treatment for candidiasis or candida overgrowth recommended by wellness practitioners is typically dietary changes, herbal or antifungal medicines.
What about leaky gut?
Intestinal permeability is the terminology used to describe the ease at which substances pass back and forth through the walls of the intestinal tract.
Increased intestinal permeability is a condition when the walls become more permeable, allowing room for toxins or bacteria to enter the bloodstream and promote inflammation. This is also known as “leaky gut.”
However, it is unlikely that you will hear it referred to as that by a physician.
Medical doctors recognize increased intestinal permeability as a possible side effect associated with an underlying GI condition such as ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease or celiac disease. However, more research is needed to determine cause and effect.
Symptoms Of A "Leaky Gut"
“Leaky gut” is sometimes the diagnosis provided by other wellness practitioners.
- chronic fatigue
- food sensitivities
- mood swings
- joint pain
- skin conditions.
- Some claim that it may even be the underlying cause of autism, however, there is no research to support these claims at this time.
Candida and leaky gut may be looked upon differently depending on what type of health provider you choose to see - a medical doctor or a holistic wellness practitioner.
The real truth?
A specific diagnosis aside—you will only benefit from improving your diet and lifestyle to create a healthier gut microbiome. Focus on adding more fiber and probiotics to your diet with fruits, vegetables, whole grains, cultured dairy, and fermented foods. Additional fiber and probiotics can be added with a supplement such as NB Pure’s Daily Multi-Fiber or Enzybiotic.
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