So what is candida albicans, exactly? Well, it is a yeast (a kind of fungus) that lives in your mouth, throat, intestinal tract, and urogenital tract. Sorry you asked? Don't be.
Like it or not, we are all filled with microbes (bacteria, viruses, fungi) – some good, some bad. They can't resist the warm, moist environment that our bodies provide. Most of the time even the bad organisms don't cause us any harm - unless our immune systems are lowered. The same is true with candida.
We acquire candida very early on in our lives, typically within days of being born.
There are over 150 different strains of candida, but Candida albicans is the most common strain that lives in humans. No matter what the strain though, all these yeasts behave the same in us. Treatment is the same as well.
At low levels this organism is no threat. In fact, it is considered to be a normal inhabitant of our digestive tract. Still, our immune systems recognize that it is foreign and constantly keep its growth in check. How? The beneficial bacteria in our gut crowd it out and use chemical "weapons" to keep it from growing out of control.
What many people fail to realize is that this type of yeast is an opportunistic pathogen, meaning it will take over when conditions are right.
When the levels of good bacteria in our gut are diminished, the yeast quickly grow out of control. The increasing size of the fungal colony releases large amounts of toxic substances into our intestinal tract.
Left untreated, candida albicans can literally dig through our intestines and escape into our bloodstream, increasing the burden on an already weakened immune system.
Scary stuff, right? And what makes it even scarier is that candida overgrowth affects an incredibly large number of people. And most don't even know this condition exists.
So what causes our good bacteria to die off? Let's look at the causes of a candida infection.