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Acetaldehyde is a common chemical that you can find in both the natural world and as a part of industrial production. It’s everywhere. In the human body, acetaldehyde is a byproduct of alcohol metabolism.
It turns out that massive quantities of acetaldehyde are also produced by the yeast Candida albicans.
Candida is a fungus that is naturally found throughout the human body, especially the digestive tract. Because Candida is an opportunistic bug, it can and usually does take over as much tissue as possible. This means that Candida frequently grows outsides of its natural habitat.
One consequence of Candida overgrowth is the additional and unregulated production of acetaldehyde in the body.
Candida overgrowth can lead to the unregulated production of the toxic chemical acetaldehyde in the body. This chemical can damage DNA and has been linked to birth defects in pregnant women.
Acetaldehyde can be toxic. In fact, it is 10 to 30 times more toxic than the alcohol it comes from. (1) And we feel its effects most often in the brain. This leads to:
Acetaldehyde directly affects the DNA in our cells. Acetaldehyde is also a powerful carcinogen. (2)
In fact, one study found that it binds to DNA in brain tissue. When a chemical binds to our DNA, it creates a DNA adduct. This is one of the first steps toward the development of cancer. (3)
A special enzyme called aldehyde dehydrogenases (ALDH) helps to detoxify acetaldehyde from the body. Some women are genetically programmed to have only a little of this enzyme active in the body. Because these women produce minimal amounts of ALDH, they are not able to fully process acetaldehyde. Acetaldehyde then builds up within the tissues while generating oxidative stress.
This buildup of acetaldehyde is toxic.
An accumulation of acetaldehyde has been associated with Alzheimer’s disease. (4) And besides increasing a woman’s risk for developing alcohol-related cancers, acetaldehyde buildup also puts her baby at risk for Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASDs) if she is pregnant. (5)
If the body cannot effectively clear acetaldehyde, researchers have found that it can generate oxidative stress, damage DNA, and impair the development of the central nervous system (CNS). (6) (7) (8)
Unmetabolized acetaldehyde has been found to lead to birth defects, developmental delays, and physical abnormalities. (9) (10)
The yeast Candida albicans has been found to generate acetaldehyde in the human body. (11) (12) (13) This is especially true when Candida grows unchecked and unregulated.
Candida contains estrogen receptors, making women of childbearing age more susceptible to Candida overgrowth and acetaldehyde toxicity. (14) In fact, just as estrogen levels can fluctuate within a woman’s body over time, colonization of Candida can as well. (15)
In addition to estrogen receptors, the physiological changes that take place in the birth canal during pregnancy favor Candida overgrowth. (16)
Like many other pathogenic organisms in the body, high dietary sugar encourages the growth and spread of Candida. This then leads to the production of more acetaldehyde. (17) (18)
Unfortunately for women, glucose levels in the vagina are often highest after ovulation. This is why symptoms of Candida overgrowth can also develop just before menstruation. (19) (20) (21)
Candida overgrowth during pregnancy puts a fetus at risk for damage associated with acetaldehyde.
The human body thrives when in the company of these beneficial bugs. We now know that the trillions of bacteria found in and on the human body influence our behavior, appetite, and even our waist size.
Good bacteria also check the unregulated growth of opportunistic organisms like Candida albicans.
When we make our ferments with cruciferous vegetables, such as cabbage, cauliflower, and broccoli, the health benefits are twofold.
In addition to nurturing a healthy inner ecology with friendly microorganisms, we also support the production of glutathione. This is because cruciferous vegetables help the body to make glutathione. (22) (23)
Glutathione is one of the most important and most valuable antioxidants in the human body. Besides that, studies have also found that it helps to detoxify acetaldehyde from the tissues! (24)
Acetaldehyde is a common chemical created in the human body as a byproduct of alcohol metabolism. Large quantities of acetaldehyde can also be produced by the opportunistic yeast Candida, a fungus naturally found in the body - especially the digestive tract.
Once Candida overgrowth occurs, it can lead to the unregulated production of acetaldehyde, causing severe toxicity that triggers headaches, fatigue, diarrhea, and much more. A buildup of the chemical over time can be toxic to cause serious conditions like Alzheimer's disease and increase the risk of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders in pregnant women.
Unfortunately, women are often at a higher risk for Candida overgrowth since Candida contains estrogen receptors. High dietary sugar can encourage Candida to spread; elevated glucose levels in the vagina are normally highest after ovulation, once again stimulating Candida overgrowth.
The safest and most effective way to detoxify acetaldehyde is by regularly enjoying fermented vegetables and probiotic liquids to support the gut with beneficial bacteria. Even better, when you make ferments with cruciferous vegetables, you'll also provide your body with the vital antioxidant glutathione to aid in the detoxification process!
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