This opportunistic pathogenic yeast, Candida auris has entered the news cycle. Studies show that the fungus colonizes our gastrointestinal tract and is one of the few species of Candida that can cause fungemia, where spores can spread into the blood. This is what clinicians call systemic candidiasis.
While many people suffer from the effects of fungemia caused by C. albicans, the most common yeast pathogen, C. auris is somehow much deadlier, with a 90 day mortality rate of nearly 50% according to the CDC. Its virulence compared to other species of Candida is suspected to be due to antibiotic resistance, like almost all hospital-borne infections.
The worry surrounding this fungus is similar to Staphylococcus aureus, another antibiotic resistant, hospital-borne infection. However, neither is found outside of that setting. These types of infections are only found in immunocompromised individuals, those who have already decimated their gut microbiome with antibiotics, those who continue to feed these microbes with processed substrates that give advantage to pathogens. Not a great combination, and not a very likely one in healthy individuals.
The scare of antibiotic resistance stems partly from their overuse as well as their persistence in urine, which goes to wastewater, which goes to rivers and ocean water. Their incomplete use also results in disposal, which goes to landfills, which leaches into the soil and groundwater. In short, they end up everywhere.
The real scare is not these common microbes but the rare ones that can emerge from extreme environments contaminated with medical waste. Common microbes are everywhere and are supposed to be there because they help recycle major components of biomass, like sugars and starches. Other microbes recognize and know how to interact with their native microbial community.
The issue is not with these microbes, but with us – what we eat and how we spend our lives. It’s not even necessarily antibiotics, but the fact that we don’t feed our gut with the proper organisms or the proper foods.
Most of our diet consists of grains, which yeast use to synthesize alcohol and short chain fatty acids, which both dehydrate skin cells and can dissolve mucus. Additionally, some of the chemicals in whole grains and legumes, phytates, lectins, and such, draw out minerals from cells, which causes them to shrivel and form gaps that pathogens can travel through into the blood.
So the overall problem isn’t a fungus doing its biological duty. These infections are a sign that our lifestyle is failing us, and a sign that we should really change something, rather than worrying about the consequences about what we are going to continue doing.
What can we do to change our health?
- Eat more vitamin dense foods – without vitamins none of our innate defenses work and none of our cells function as they were meant to.
- Mix foods less – when foods are mixed it complicates digestion and can even mutate their chemical structure to something unusable to us. Anything that isn’t bioavailable or soluble is food for fermentative organisms in the gut, which allows them to bloom.
- Don’t use antibacterial, antifungal, or generally antibiotic chemicals unless needed – this is straightforward but we don’t realize how damaging the widespread application of these poisons is. Whether in soils, water, or animals, when we deplete the native microbial ecology the entire system breaks down. We actually rely on microorganisms to live, for plants to grow, and for water to clean itself.