A study from Johns Hopkins School of Medicine in the journal Schizophrenia showed a link between a history of candida infections in those with mental illness. A history of candida infections were more prevalent in men with mental illnesses while women with current infections and mental illness showed deficients in cognitive performance.
A candida infection sometimes called Candidiasis can occur as in the mouth, gastrointestinal tract, urinary tract and genitalia. The presence of candida is normal and growth is restricted by the immune system. However shifts in the gut micro biome and immune challenges such as stress can cause overgrowth of candida.
Imbalances in gut bacteria are already linked to many psychiatric disorders such as Autism and Alzheimer’s disease. However, this study shows that repeated overgrowth of yeast are linked with mental illnesses such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.
Let’s first go over the study then understand possible biological reasons for the link:
Blood samples were taken from men and women with various mental illnesses. There was no link between the current presence of the candida and mental illness, but rather overall history. Men with schizophrenia or bipolar disorder were more likely to have had a history of candida yeast infections than men without schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. This effect was not seen in women.
When both men and women performed a cognitive assessment of different types of memory and attention, women with schizophrenia and a history of Candida scored lower in memory related tests.
The researchers stress that there is no definitive link between mental illness and candida and they did not determine the locations of the candida overgrowth in the body per individual.
original article: https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/05/160504121327.htm
What does this mean for the rest of us?
While candida might not have caused mental illness, the presence of candida is an indicator that the body’s immune system is busy fighting off constant infections.
Mental illness and increases in immune activation and increases in inflammation are new buzz in the world of psychiatric research. However research has not yet determined if the mental illness causes inflammation or if other factors cause inflammation.
If unrelated chronic infections (or diet) cause increases in inflammation then it is likely that the body becomes less vigilant in protecting the brain. When inflammatory markers enter the brain they can effect signaling between neurons and threaten neuronal health. Impairment in neuronal self-maintenance can lead to build up of toxins, oxidizing radicals and proteins that will block the neuron from what it really wants to do —communicate and connect. The result could be cognitive decline, altered stress responses as well as changes in connectivity which together could predispose to or exacerbate mental illness.
Take home message:
Boosting immune function should be a major brain healthy goal for everyone as well as reducing sugar which feeds yeast growing in the body.
Adding these foods to your diet to will help prevent candida and other gut imbalances before the effects reach the brain.
-vitamin C containing fruits and vegetables
-probiotic foods like yogurt and fermented foods
-probiotics like raw garlic and ginger
-healthy oils like coconut oil