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Yeast intolerance


Yeasts in foods and intestinal flora

Quite popular among supporters of various alternative medicines, practically absent in official medical textbooks, we are talking aboutyeast intolerancegeneric expression to indicate a dysbiosis of the intestinal flora with overgrowth of the fungal component, in particular yeast Candida albicans. Let's start by saying that the terms fungi and yeasts are often used as synonyms, since yeasts represent unicellular fungi of microscopic dimensions. In addition to the Candida genus, fungi belonging to the genus are also found in the intestinal bacterial flora of humans Saccharomyces, Aspergillus e Penicillium. By analyzing the metabolism of these fungi in detail, we realize how the ideal environment for their proliferation is generally particularly rich in sugars or more complex carbohydrates, which reach the colon through food residues not absorbed at the level of the small intestine.

The intestinal bacterial flora can be considered a sort of genetic imprint, different from individual to individual and influenced above all by the diet, which tends to favor some microbial species over others. In this sense, the functionality of the digestive system is very important which – with the same diet – can diversify the quantity of unabsorbed or poorly digested nutrients that reach the colon. Even some drugs, first and foremost antibiotics, corticosteroids and hormonal therapies (contraceptive pills, oral replacement therapy), can interfere with the microbial flora, generating dysbiosis.

Although the alterations of the intestinal microbial flora find limited space in the textbooks of official medicine, more and more experts and empirical experiences consider them responsible for disorders that are, after all, not disabling, but rather widespread in industrialized countries: from food intolerances to imbalances in the immune system and related consequences (increased susceptibility to infections, allergies, autoimmune diseases, etc.), from fungal pathologies (particularly candida) to bowel disorders (diarrhea, constipation, meteorism, flatulence, abdominal cramps, etc.), from genital and urinary infections to nutritional deficiencies (especially vitamins and minerals), from predisposition to colorectal tumors to low physical efficiency, with migraines and a sense of weakness.

Yeast intolerances: a personal matter…

When faced with the aforementioned disorders, food intolerances are very often brought up, which are very fashionable today and often overestimated, sometimes confirmed and supported by diagnostic tests of dubious usefulness or completely unreliable. As often happens, we start from well-established scientific assumptions (those listed in the introductory part) and then get lost in simplistic reasoning, reaching completely misleading conclusions. Let's think for example of brewer's yeast, the undisputed protagonist of the leavening of bread and baked products; the microorganisms that constitute it (Saccharomyces cerevisiae) ferment the glucose in the bread producing the carbon dioxide necessary to make it rise; so when faced with symptoms such as a swollen belly, meteorism and excess intestinal gas, it is easy to blame yeast intolerance. In reality, the factors involved are innumerable and must be carefully studied to find a solution to this disorder (lactose or gluten intolerance, poor digestive efficiency, overeating in a sedentary context, excessive consumption of carbonated drinks, poor or excessive consumption of fibre, digestive intolerance towards particular combinations of foods, aerophagia and so on). Often, however, we tend to prescribe pre-printed diets that eliminate certain categories of foods. For example, if an intolerance to yeast is “diagnosed”, often at the hands of individuals who boast of skills and qualifications never achieved, there is a tendency to impose:

  • the removal of sugars, alcohol and foods rich in yeasts and mycotoxins. For this reason, at the top of the “black list” we find sucrose, fruit (both sugary and dried), most cereals, sugary and alcoholic drinks (especially beer), smoked foods or foods rich in preservatives, peanuts, vinegar, bread (unleavened bread allowed) and hard cheeses. On the other hand, the candida diet encourages the consumption of unsweetened yogurt (as a food rich in bacteria useful for intestinal health), specific probiotic and prebiotic formulations, garlic, turmeric and various foods fermented products such as miso or kefir. Fish, eggs, lean meat, olive oil and other seed oils, brown rice, seaweed and vegetables (well washed) are allowed.
  • Anti-candida nutrition gives a lot of space to some supplementssuch as the aforementioned probiotics (especially bacteria of the Lactobacillus genus), prebiotics (FOS and inulin), caprylic acid, sorbic acid and sorbates, and supplements based on soluble fibers (pectin, guar gum, psyllium and flax seeds) .
  • Other times, all fermented foods are eliminated from the diet entirely.

In reality, rather than providing pre-printed diets or suddenly abolishing certain categories of food, when faced with a presumed intolerance to yeasts it would make much more sense to educate the subject about a healthy lifestyle and respect for a series of food standards. general nature, particularly useful in case of symptoms attributable to dysbiosis; for example, it is advisable to evaluate whether there is an improvement in symptoms:

  • severely limiting the consumption of milk and dairy products for a few days;
  • severely limiting the consumption of leavened baked products for a few days (bread, crackers, breadsticks, rusks, biscuits, sweets, pastry products…);
  • severely limiting the consumption of carbonated and fermented drinks (wine, beer, spirits in general, black tea);
  • strongly reducing food consumption for a few days (see cleansing diet) in order to give the digestive system – overloaded by too much work – the time necessary to rebuild its enzymatic pool; possibly after this phase, start consuming probiotics (consult your doctor);
  • chewing food for as long as possible before swallowing it, consuming one's meals in a serene and comfortable environment: “putting down the cutlery” with every bite;
  • eating small, frequent meals, rather than concentrating most of your food intake at lunch and dinner;
  • preferring simple cooking methods (steamed, in a non-stick pan with a little oil) to more laborious ones (frying, grilling, various sauces…);
  • increasing physical activity, especially for sedentary people;
  • adopting the main rules of the dissociated diet, particularly useful in case of dyspeptic symptoms attributable to “food intolerances” in general: do not combine foods rich in proteins with others based on carbohydrates in the same meal, especially if rich in sugars; avoid combining protein sources of different nature (for example meat and fish or legumes and dairy products); eating complex carbohydrates and sugars in separate meals; abandon the classic habit of ending the meal with fruit and/or dessert; it is better to consume these foods alone and at different times of the day.

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