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Monday, March 14, 2011

A Fungal Secretion

Approximately 8 months ago, Japanese researchers reported their findings on how fungus creates a guise in their attack on the immune system of plants, animals and humans. The guise is called chitin fragments - particles deposited around a fungus, which warns a host of a potential attack, stimulating its immune system. Once the immune system is warned, a protein is secreted by the fungus which collects the chitin fragments and makes them invisible to the plant, animal or human. The immune system backs down because it lacks recognition of the fungus and the attack begins. Pretty smart, those fungi.

"This knowledge may enable scientists to design novel methods to combat fungal diseases in agriculture (leaf mould, root and stalk rot, smut, wilt disease, apple scab, rust, tree cancer) and in health care (dandruff, athlete's foot, candida-infections, aspergillosis, etc.)."1

What the statement above fails to recognize are the numerous other diseases, potentially life-threatening, that are prevalent in many facets of society. Fungal related disease can strike anyone, at any time, especially those with weakened immune systems. These fungi have the capability of developing strategies to avoid an attack by white blood cells in humans, and create a very complex environment in the host body for any researcher to pinpoint the most effective counterattack. Another problem with a fungal disease is its ability to invade the body, multiply quickly and harbor itself before being recognized by a healthcare professional.

One well known fungal strain causing attention in the Northwestern United States is Cryptococcus gattii. Due to cold temperatures and the strain being of tropical origins, it has taken approximately twelve years to spread from Vancouver, British Columbia, down the coast to northern California. This particular strain causes severe respiratory and brain infection, however, is still pretty rare.

Other strains of fungal infections and disease are Candida glabrata (a skin fungus that rapidly mutates once in the blood stream); Chromoblastomycosis; Zygomycosis; Onychomycosis (the most common nail infection); and Endophthalmitis. There are way too many to list here.

The bright side to all this? A person can protect themselves from fungal infection and disease by eating a very low carbohydrate diet, taking probiotics and taking a series of antifungals to kill off any potential invasive organisms. The low carbohydrate diet is just as critical as supplementation because the lack of sugars in the body will starve fungus, keeping it from multiplying. Here's a little evidence to prove it.

1Wageningen University and Research Centre (2010, August 20). Smart fungus disarms plant, animal and human immunity. ScienceDaily.

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