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Candida albicans is a yeast that is normally present in our gastrointestinal tract, skin, and vaginal tract in women. Under normal circumstances it remains in those places causing no harm whatsoever. However, it is quite common for candida to grow out of control and cause many debilitating symptoms. An overgrowth of candida is probably one of the most common conditions that I see in patients with digestive disturbances. But it doesn’t stop there. Candida can cause (directly or indirectly) any of the following symptoms or conditions: irritable bowel syndrome, leaky gut syndrome, bloating, constipation, diarrhea, GERD, sinusitis and chronic sinus problems, inability to lose weight, thyroid imbalances, headaches, vaginitis, chronic fatigue, “foggy-headedness” or inability to concentrate, food allergies or sensitivities, pre-menstrual syndrome or dysmenorrhea, skin rashes, depression, pain, yeast infections, and more. The question now is: why does it grow out of control?

There can be any number of reasons that someone has an overgrowth of yeast. The main thing to think of however, is a person’s diet. And the main culprit in the diet is definitely sugar. This obviously includes foods like pies, cakes, cookies, candy, ice cream, soda, donuts, brownies, and the like. However, even so-called natural sugars like honey, maple syrup, brown rice syrup, agave nectar, corn syrup, brown sugar, fruit and fruit juices are problematic as well. One more “food group” needs to be added to the list. I’m referring to refined grains and flour products. This would include bread (even whole grain), cereals (even sugar-free), muffins, croissants, pancakes, waffles, etc.. Although these foods are not sugar per se, they quickly get metabolized into sugar (or glucose). Additionally, any foods that actually contain yeast or fungus will certainly be a problem. And don’t forget alcohol, as that is certainly a very refined “sugar”.

The problem with these foods and sugar is that they actually “feed” the yeast or candida. It is synonymous with adding gasoline to a fire. So in order to quell a yeast or candida problem, one MUST avoid these foods temporarily. Other factors leading to an overgrowth of yeast or candida include a weakened immune system, nutrient deficiencies (particularly certain minerals), and use of antibiotics. All of the above can lead to an imbalance between the amount of “good” and “bad” bacteria in the intestines. This imbalance in intestinal or vaginal bacteria can be both a cause and effect depending on how the problem began. The length of time it takes for this condition (and it’s related symptoms) to resolve will depend on many factors including: the amount of candida in the system, the strength of the immune system, intestinal and digestive integrity, and nutrient status.

In addition to dietary changes, supplements are usually necessary to fully eradicate the problem. Think of dietary changes (i.e.: avoiding sugars and refined grains) as a way of starving the yeast. Specific supplements on the other hand can actually “kill-off” candida as some can act as natural anti-yeast or anti-fungals. Additionally, certain supplements that address mineral deficiencies and help strengthen the immune system can often be necessary. And lastly, probiotics (or “good” bacteria) as well as digestive enzymes and/or hydrochloric acid may be necessary.

In general, this can be an easy condition to eliminate, IF you avoid sugar and yeast-containing foods. Besides the obvious sugary foods and flour products, it’s often also necessary to avoid eating fermented, fungus/mold-containing, and aged foods such as: vinegar, mushrooms, aged cheeses, soy sauce, and also peanuts and corn (they often contain a fungus or mold known as aflatoxin). High starch vegetables like potatoes, carrots and beets can be an issue in very stubborn cases. The extent that these dietary changes need to be in place will certainly vary individually. Although, I would say a minimum of three weeks is necessary, and it would be wise to avoid pure sugar-containing foods afterward in order to prevent a recurrence.

If you don’t avoid eating the above mentioned foods, the situation usually becomes a vicious cycle. Eating sugar and refined carbohydrates feeds the yeast, and disrupts the balance between the “good” and “bad” bacteria in the intestinal and/or vaginal tract. This will result in a weakened immune system and altered gastrointestinal integrity which causes the yeast to continue to grow out of control. This will ultimately result in more immune compromise, allowing the yeast to continue to grow; and so on. As you can see, without changing your food intake, it can be very difficult to clear up this problem.

Please keep in mind that vaginal yeast infections almost always indicate a gastrointestinal overgrowth of yeast. And candida and yeast infections do not discriminate…men are just as susceptible as women to succumbing to the deleterious effects of candida in any part of the body. The worst two cases of yeast infections I’ve “seen” in my patients were among a male and a female.

Because this is such a rampant problem with potential “far-reaching” effects, it would be wise to rule this in or out in many different symptoms and conditions.

Dr. Robert D’Aquila – NYC Chiropractor – Applied Kinesiology

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If you haven’t read my articles titled “Stomach and heartburn symptoms – aka GERD” or “Digestion – the importance of hydrochloric acid“, I recommend you start there. You may be tired of hearing about this by now, however I obviously find digestion extremely important. As with all things in life, I feel we should get the basics down first. And I believe the major nutritionally-related basics are: 1) proper digestion and absorption (assuming there is adequate nutrient intake from whole foods), 2) sufficient amounts of pure, clean water, and 3) maintenance of optimal blood sugar levels. If you can get those three things right, you’ll prevent a lot of health problems. So, this article deals with #1.

Obviously, acid-stopping medications stop your body’s production of (normal and necessary) hydrochloric acid (HCl) in the stomach. Today I’ll talk about the consequences of those medications; which also relates to the consequences of low amounts of HCl, even if you’re not taking medication. And believe me, it is a very prevalent problem, and can easily go unnoticed because you will not always have overt digestive symptoms. Now I’ll discuss the main problems associated with  too little stomach acidity.

1) An inability to properly digest proteins will likely occur.
Proteins become denatured in your stomach which allows for their eventual complete digestion. However, the stomach must have a highly acidic pH in order to accomplish this. Lack of digestion of protein will present two main problems.
First, your body may be compromised in synthesizing neurotransmitters, hormones, antibodies, hair, skin, nails, muscle etc.. That is because all of those biochemicals and tissues require amino acids to be made. Amino acids are the “building blocks” of protein. Think of a chain with links; the whole chain would be called protein, and all the individual links called amino acids.
Second, your muscles will breakdown if you do not have adequate protein available. Muscles contain abundant amounts of protein, hence the density of protein in animal meats. So, your body will “rob Peter to pay Paul” if you are not supplying adequate amounts of protein. That is, your body will literally breakdown your muscles in order to get the necessary amino acids (protein) used in making the substances mentioned above. And you still may not make everything necessary through this route. Regardless, you will literally tear your body down. Now imagine you were strength training as well – not a good combination.

2) Proper acidity in the stomach acts as an antiseptic.
Essentially, the highly acidic environment kills pathogens. What happens if we don’t kill pathogens? Of course, we get infections of varying sorts. According to a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, acid-blocking drugs cause an increased incidence of pneumonia. Now, there is controversy over this issue, as some studies did not find these same results. However, two researchers conducted an analysis of a number of studies and DID in fact a find an increased risk of infection with the use of acid-stopping drugs. By now though, there is probably another study refuting that and showing no effect from the drugs.

[As a quick aside – you can probably take almost any medical research study finding, then sit down on Google® for 15 minutes, and find another study that refutes those findings. That just seems to be how scientific research is. Also, it is often not possible to find out who funded a particular study. Anyway, read this on how scientific, science really is. But that story is really nothing compared to this popular story about a well-known drug company and it’s now banned deadly, drug. One more, then enough about the politics behind research.]

Regardless of whether you are susceptible enough to have these possible side-effects like pneumonia. Time and time again, I find that patients have sub-clinical symptoms that resemble gastrointestinal tract infections (and other seemingly unrelated symptoms) and can possibly be the cause of their acid-stopping medications. In particular, side-effects of some acid-stopping medications include the following: headache, constipation, diarrhea, abdominal pain, nausea, and rash. I would think of dysbiosis (or microbial imbalance in the gut) with every one of these symptoms. Additionally, About.com reports the symptoms of low stomach acid (not necessarily from drugs) as: “diarrhea, steatorrhea, macrocytic anemia, weight loss, protein-losing enteropathy, abdominal discomfort or bloating and reflux. Deficiencies in certain nutrients may result in limb weakness, memory or mood changes, numbness and tingling in the limbs or other symptoms”.

3) Reduced mineral absorption.
Most research refers to the inhibition of calcium absorption from acid-blocking drugs. Some studies report a higher incidence of hip fracture (because of low bone-mineral density); especially if these drugs are taken in high doses. Well, this clearly points out that acid-blocking drugs affect calcium utilization. You may not fracture your hip, but osteopenia and osteoporosis may certainly be a result. Also, I frequently find that abnormalities in calcium metabolism cause musculoskeletal conditions. Muscle cramps and bursitis are the most common that I see. Also, these problems can then cause or exacerbate other musculoskeletal conditions.

I hope you found this article informative. And I hope that if you or someone you know is taking one of these drugs, it had better be absolutely necessary; and other therapies to reduce the side-effects should be implemented. And please remember that you should never discontinue taking a drug prescribed by your physician without consulting with them first.

By the way, this is not a complete list of side-effects. But that’s good enough for now.

Dr. Robert D’Aquila – NYC Chiropractor – Applied Kinesiology

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Digestive problems are one of the most common conditions I see in my patients. And they are usually one of the easiest to “fix”. Now I want to discuss one possible reason that people can have faulty digestion, related to hydrochloric acid (HCl).

The chemical aspect of digestion begins in the mouth with salivary enzymes contacting food and beginning the breakdown process. It would certainly be feasible to argue that digestion actually begins in the brain when we first look at appetizing food and begin to salivate. Regardless, I will focus this article on the role and critical importance of HCl as it relates to the digestive process in the stomach.

The pH (i.e.: acidity, neutrality, or alkalinity) of  gastric (stomach) acid should normally be between 1.5-3.5, according the National Institutes of Health, some sources report an even lower pH. This is the most acidic area in our body and is a result of HCl. There are other components of gastric acid, mostly water, but let’s focus on HCl. I’ll now discuss the four roles HCl plays in the stomach. Two roles relate directly to digestion and the other two indirectly.

1) Hydrochloric acid denatures proteins. Essentially, it cleaves the bonds and basically “melts” the proteins. This is what it is generally thought to do, but there is more. [By the way, undigested proteins tend to result in allergic reactions, as the body can’t recognize the substance (when undigested) and the immune system then “attacks” it causing the reaction]

2) Hydrochloric acid also activates a substance called pepsin, via its conversion from a substance called pepsinogen. It is pepsin that mainly digests the protein we eat. Protein is critical for just about everything in our body and every cell in our body; namely collagen, elastin, hormones, neurotransmitters, enzymes, antibodies, hair, skin, nails, and muscle; and other bodily functions.

3) Indirectly HCl assists digestion further down the gastrointestinal tract by acting as antiseptic in the stomach. This occurs through literally killing microorganisms that exist in the food we eat. These organisms can come from the handling of food, natural organisms that may be present on raw food, and the unfortunate result of spoiled, semi-spoiled or uncooked meat and fish. Hydrochloric acid will also assist in the prevention of food fermentation that may occur in the dark, moist environment of the stomach. This function of HCl is of critical importance in order to prevent food-poisoning, and clinical or sub-clinical occurrence(s) of yeast, bacterial, viral, parasitic, and protozoal infections – which all happen to be a very common cause of digestive distress.

4) Lastly, HCl allows for proper mineral absorption as it assists in ionizing minerals, like calcium and magnesium to name a few. Minerals are necessary for many functions in the body, especially as catalysts to enzymes that run the important biochemical reactions that take place every second in our body. Additionally, they contribute to structural formation, as in bone.

A need for hydrochloric acid supplementation is definitely one of the most common things I see in patients. Especially those patients who complain of digestive difficulties like bloating, gas, diarrhea, constipation, yeast overgrowth (even vaginal), and even heartburn. Additionally, patients who complain that they “lost the taste” for meat tend to need HCl as well. Lastly, it should be investigated in everyone with mineral deficiency symptoms, especially osteoporosis. Bone actually has more protein than calcium. To date, I’ve literally only had one patient say that he felt a slight uncomfortable sensation from HCl supplementation, but nothing serious at all according to him. He was willing continue but I chose to have him stop it and use supplements to increase his HCl production instead. This leads me to my next point on how we make HCl.

Here’s how it’s formed. By the way, it takes more energy to make HCl in the body than any other chemical. Additionally, the mineral zinc is absolutely necessary to make it. Hydrochloric acid production is formed by the interaction of carbon dioxide and water, which is mediated by an enzyme called carbonic anhydrase, which is zinc-dependent. As a result, I always supplement zinc when I find a patient needs HCl, and then eventually wean them off the HCl. By the way, a generally accepted reliable indicator of the need for more zinc is white spots on the finger nails. I can’t find conclusive scientific evidence for this, however, I’ve had personal experience with it and also with my patients. Also, chloride is necessary, so don’t be overly afraid to consume sodium chloride (salt) unless it is necessary as determined by your doctor. I find more people need extra salt that not (for reasons beyond the scope of this articles.

One last thing, if HCl supplementation causes irritation to the stomach, or burning in the stomach, you can simply drink down a glass of water and baking soda in order to neutralize the acid right away. Again, I’ve only had it happen to one patient and he felt he didn’t even need the water and baking soda to relieve the discomfort as it was so mild. Warning: if you have been prescribed an acid-blocking medication, you should NOT take supplemental HCl before consulting with the physician who prescribed it. If you take over-the-counter acid-blockers, you should also consult a physician about your problem, as it may be more serious than you think. And remember, those medications were probably prescription-only before they went over-the-counter.

In my experience, digestive symptoms of any sort are quite prevalent. This includes but is not limited to bloating, gas, indigestion, heartburn, diarrhea, and constipation to name the most common. Why those symptoms exist in the first place is key to “fixing” them. And they are also usually the easiest to “fix”. But 90% of the time, the patient must alter their diet. Very often, HCl supplementation is one of the main solutions. But HCl is NOT always necessary. By the way, many, many, many chronic (or acute) low back pain tends to be the result of a dysfunctional digestive system and vice versa. Typically the back pain tends to be dull, achy, diffuse and worse in the morning. Hope this helps!

Dr. Robert D’Aquila – NYC Chiropractor – Applied Kinesiology

Some of this information came from Chris Astill-Smith, DO, DIBAK – and biochemist.

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GERD is an abbreviation for gastroesophageal reflux disease.  Mayo Clinic defines GERD as a “chronic digestive disease that occurs when stomach acid or, occasionally, bile flows back (refluxes) into your food pipe (esophagus). The backwash of acid irritates the lining of your esophagus and causes GERD signs and symptoms”.  They also state “signs and symptoms of GERD include acid reflux and heartburn”.  And finally, “when these signs and symptoms occur more than twice each week or interfere with your daily life, doctors term this GERD”.

OK, first of all, I am completely opposed to the use of the word “disease” when referring this symptom.  According to dictionary.com the definition of “disease” is: “a disordered or incorrectly functioning organ, part, structure, or system of the body resulting from the effect of genetic or developmental errors, infection, poisons, nutritional deficiency or imbalance, toxicity, or unfavorable environmental factors; illness; sickness; ailment.”  The key in this definition are the words “resulting from”.

Mayo Clinic says this about the causes of GERD: “GERD is caused by frequent acid reflux — the backup of stomach acid or bile into the esophagus.  When you swallow, the lower esophageal sphincter — a circular band of muscle around the bottom part of your esophagus — relaxes to allow food and liquid to flow down into your stomach.  Then it closes again.  However, if this valve relaxes abnormally or weakens, stomach acid can flow back up into your esophagus, causing frequent heartburn and disrupting your daily life.  This constant backwash of acid can irritate the lining of your esophagus, causing it to become inflamed (esophagitis). Over time, the inflammation can erode the esophagus, causing complications such as bleeding or breathing problems.”

First off, Mayo Clinic (and WebMD) make no reference to GERD “resulting from the effect of genetic or developmental errors, infection, poisons, nutritional deficiency or imbalance, toxicity, or unfavorable environmental factors; illness; sickness; ailment”, as stated in the definition of “disease”.  So why then, is this condition labeled a disease?  Well…I’ll avoid the politics of why it may be more advantageous for certain special interest groups to label a condition a “disease”.  However, when related to a nutritional deficiency, (which I commonly find to be the cause), I suppose it’s appropriate to label it a “disease”.  Mayo Clinic and WebMD do not mention nutritional deficiencies as the cause, therefore I can’t figure out why they are still calling it a disease.  I also don’t know “who” first declared it a “disease”.

Second, it makes little sense to me that Mayo Clinic says “GERD is caused by frequent acid reflux”.  Think about that, is GERD caused by frequent acid reflux?  I would say “NO”!  GERD is frequent acid reflux, as they mention in the definition.  To me that’s like saying, your cancer is caused by cancer.  So the question remains: What causes (frequent) acid reflux?

WebMD states that the following can be causes of acid reflux:
1) Foods such as chocolate, onions, peppermint, coffee, high-sugar foods, and possibly high-fat foods.  “Alcohol, tobacco (nicotine), and some medicines can also relax the lower esophageal sphincter.”  Other possibilities are spicy, citrus, and tomato foods.
2) Hormonal changes during pregnancy that can relax the lower esophageal sphincter.
3) A weak lower esophageal sphincter; no cause for that was mentioned.
4) Hiatal Hernia: when part of the stomach protrudes upward into the diaphragm.  The esophagus travels through a hiatus in the diaphragm to reach the stomach.  The “hernia” relates to the protrusion of the stomach into the esophageal hiatus.
5) Slow digestion – that is, if food stays in the stomach too long before emptying into the intestines.
6) Overfull stomach- from eating very large meals.

WebMD states the following for conventional treatments: lifestyle changes (presumably food choices); over-the-counter or prescription acid blocking drugs such as: Tums®, Pepsid®, Prilosec®, Nexium®, and Tagament®; and surgery.

Here is my approach to treating patients with stomach and heartburn symptoms.  I do NOT treat GERD (or symptoms).  I treat people.

1) Avoiding foods may be necessary, but I often (not always) do not see them as the cause of the problem.  If they were the cause, then probably most (or all) people eating those foods would develop heartburn symptoms and GERD.  Additionally, eating smaller meals, and combining foods properly can help (i.e.: no starches with proteins, high fats, or high acid foods).  But, as you know, for most people, I’m against eating starches all together – so that fixes the food combining problem.  Also, it might worth it to avoid combining fruit with anything if you suffer from heartburn or GERD symptoms.

2) Eating just before going to bed is a bad habit for a number of reasons, and I especially don’t recommend it if you have heartburn or GERD.  Also, you should not lie down within at least 2 hours after eating.

3) GET READY FOR THIS ONE – Very often, the cause of heartburn is a LACK of enough (hydrochloric) stomach acid, not too much.  The reason is because when you don’t have enough necessary hydrochloric acid, the food in your stomach will ferment.  It is then excessive acids of fermentation that cause the burning sensation, not excessive amounts of necessary hydrochloric acid.  So some conventional ideas and treatment are totally off base when treating these symptoms with antacids.  Don’t get me wrong, the medication will certainly bring quick relief, because it will neutralize the acids of fermentation also.  However, it will bring a whole host of additional problems, which I’ll be writing about soon.  Some people may in fact be making too much stomach acid, but they are very few and far between – at least from what I (and my colleagues) see in patients.  So what’s the solution – perhaps actually taking a supplement with hydrochloric acid in it.  And then, I make sure to get at the root of the problem for the low stomach acid to begin with.

4) You may to need to be checked for an overgrowth of yeast, fungus, parasites, bacteria, and viruses in your digestive tract that may compromise digestion in general and contribute to heartburn symptoms and GERD.

5) When the heartburn symptoms or GERD stem from a hiatal hernia, I can often relieve the symptoms doing simple structural adjustments.  You see, one of the hip flexor muscles (the (ilio)psoas) has a direct attachment to the diaphragm (not shown in the picture).  Often, if one them is inhibited or “weak”, the other will be over-facilitated and “tight”.  As a result, the diaphragm becomes compromised and can result in a hiatal hernia, where the stomach protrudes into the esophageal hiatus and may cause the burning sensation.  Therefore, treatment would be aimed at correcting the muscle dysfunction and adjusting cervical, thoracic, lumbar, pelvic, and/or extremity joints in order to get the hip flexors and diaphragm functioning properly.

One last thing – aberrant emotional complexes almost ALWAYS affect the stomach and digestion in general.  So you may want to consider Neuro Emotional Technique® or Emotional Freedom Techniques®.

Heartburn symptoms and GERD which cause people a lot of distress is usually very simple to correct; and it’s something I see in my patients on a regular basis.  Be very, very afraid of acid-blocking medications (unless you truly have too much hydrochloric acid in your stomach which can cause ulcers), because of the harmful problems they cause.  Again, I’ll discuss that in another article.

I’d like to make it clear that I am not saying all heartburn symptoms and GERD are a result of the problems I find.  However, it would be worth your while to have those potential problems investigated instead of taking medication.

Dr. Robert D’Aquila – NYC Chiropractor – Applied Kinesiology

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