‘The yeast connection’
Vanessa Ascencao, Nutritional Consultant for OTC Pharma SA and OTC Pharma International
With candida on the rise in young children, we have to focus on building healthy lifestyle habits from a young age. A correctly balanced diet not only goes a long way in treating common ailments, but affects immunity as well as mental and emotional wellbeing. This article looks at the link between asthma, food allergies, ADHD and candidiasis.
Our ability to digest, absorb and assimilate nutrients is finely tuned to the health of our internal flora and gastrointestinal health. Candida is naturally occurring yeast that resides within the mucous membranes of the gastrointestinal tract. If ‘fed’, candida can manifest into serious health conditions later.
If children are exposed to antibiotics, cortisteroids or prednisone, and a high sugar diet, the good bacteria that normally keep candida in check are killed off, causing some internal challenges.
When the candida yeast gets out of control, it morphs into a mycelial fungal form, becomes invasive and grows rhizoids. These rhizoids leave microscopic holes in the intestinal wall allowing toxins such as undigested food particles (specifically sugar), bacteria and yeast into our blood stream. This systemic yeast infection is called candidiasis.
Severe diaper rash, rectal rashes or infections, rashes in the genital area and colic are the most common symptoms in babies, but thrush, general skin rashes, infections of the ear, nose and throat, gas, diarrhoea or constipation are also possible symptoms.
Dr Bernard Rimland noted that a small, but significant, proportion of children diagnosed as autistic are in fact victims of a severe candida infection. He linked this to a series of ear infections, which are routinely treated by antibiotics. Soon thereafter, speech development stops and then regresses, often to the point of muteness. Within a few weeks or months, the child may become unresponsive and lose interest in his parents and surroundings. The concerned parents then consult with various specialists and finally come up with a diagnosis of ‘late-onset autism’.
Medical experts and authors Dr William Crook, a paediatric allergist and Dr C Orian Truss (The Missing Diagnosis) have also linked yeast infection in children to chronic ear infections and the antibiotics prescribed causing yeast infections. I would rather advise parents to opt for homeopathic remedies such as Similasan Children’s Ear Ache Relief to be used at the onset of any ear discomfort.
Ear infections can be caused by the overproduction of mucus as a result of dairy or, to a lesser extent, grain foods. This mucus plugs the eustachian tube that runs from the inner ear to the oral cavity.
Food allergies are common these days; there is continuous progressive research in terms of understanding the nutritional and immunological connection. Often, the reactions to food are as a result of excess yeast growth.
Research is starting to notice that the symptoms of an attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) child are the same as that of a child with candida. The real difference between the ADHD child and the child with the yeast overgrowth is that yeast-infected children are sick more often. They get headaches, stomach aches, more allergies, diarrhoea, constipation and so on. They tend to whine a lot and are often considered ‘hypochondriacs’, which is not the case.
Interestingly, the symptoms of a systemic (internal) yeast infection are much the same and include trouble remembering facts, inability to concentrate and jumping from one thing to the next.
Asthma and eczema are also common indicators of candida, brought on by diets high in sugar and carbohydrates, repeated use of antibiotics that may impair the immune system, steroid hormone therapy and copper imbalance.
Even in those children who have not had repeated doses of antibiotics, residues of these drugs may be ingested today in commercial meats and dairy products.
Dr Crook stated: “Children with learning disabilities, dyslexia, hyperactivity, ADD, food allergies, drug abuse and a variety of delinquent and emotional disorders, had often received repeated courses of antibiotics for recurrent ear infections, bronchitis and other conditions ̶ including prolonged courses of tetracycline for acne.”
A wide spectrum of allergic disorders, from classical hay fever to chronic, delayed-onset type food allergy and petrochemical sensitivity, have improved following antiyeast therapy.
There are many causes and lifestyle-based environmental conditions, besides those previously mentioned, that could upset the balance of good intestinal flora, including heavy metals and environmental toxins, drinking chlorinated water and cortisone and other anti-inflammatory drugs.
A combination of yeast overgrowth and hypoglycaemia may cause a physical addiction to sugar or sugary foods. This can affect childhood behaviour, and lead to more serious conditions such as alcoholism in the teenage years and adulthood.
Allopathic drugs have side effects. For example, Nystatin, which is the mainstay of conventional candida treatments, is not advisable for neonatal thrush (candidiasis of the oral cavity). Prevention is better than cure, especially for infants and young children. Baby hygiene plays a critical role in reducing risk of candida.
Probiotics found in vegetables help to keep the balance of intestinal flora intact. Garlic is a natural antifungal and antibacterial herb, and should be used liberally in cooking. In the event of candida infection in children, homeopathic remedies are a better option, as they are safer and devoid of any side effects. It is vital that a child starts taking a good-quality probiotic to replace the good bacteria into the system.
Many studies have shown Spirulina to be a great supplement for children due to its excellent immune-boosting nutrients.
Echinacea also provides anticandida benefits. It supports the immune system in the fight against candida as well as other infections.
Yeast-prone kids are greatly affected by dust mites. Use a plastic cover that surrounds the entire mattress, top and bottom, to reduce susceptibility. Limit the amount of stuffed animals in their room. Take care to wash baby underclothes with a good detergent and dry them completely, preferably in the sun.
References available on request.