Candida is a yeast that occurs naturally in the gastrointestinal tract, vagina, and mouth. It is also present in small amounts on our skin. The candida diet seeks to limit the overgrowth of the yeast by restricting foods that promote the process.
The candida diet eliminates sugary foods to control candida growth and prevent inflammation. It also eliminates wine and beer, which are made with yeast. People who follow this diet can eat low-sugar fruits, such as strawberries, raspberries, and avocados. They must avoid dried fruits, fruit juices, and fruits canned in syrup, due to their high sugar content.
Probiotics contain lactobacilli, which help the body maintain the correct balance of good bacteria and can help to counteract excess candida. Sauerkraut and low-sugar yogurt are excellent choices for people on the candida diet. Probiotics are also available as over-the-counter supplements. People should be cautious when taking probiotic supplements that have not been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
Additional Dietary Recommendations
Most vegetables are allowed on the candida diet, with the exception of those high in starch. Raw, leafy vegetables, such as broccoli raab, kale, and spinach, are excellent choices, while white potatoes are not allowed. Additional dietary options include fish, eggs, and lean poultry. People with high cholesterol who follow the candida diet should use olive oil and butter sparingly, given their high-fat content.
Overall Health Benefits
Replacing sugary or starchy foods with healthy choices has the added benefit of limiting overall calorie intake. By adding more vegetables and eliminating processed foods, people who follow the candida diet adopt more healthful eating patterns, even when candida reduction is not a primary concern. Following a doctor’s recommended dietary guidelines may also limit a person’s need for anti-fungal medications.
Because the candida diet is strict, it may be hard to maintain long-term. Eating the same limited selection of foods every day can quickly become boring and can result in intense cravings, particularly when the person first eliminates the disallowed foods. There is also the possibility of overeating the high-fat foods allowed on this diet. Over an extended period, this could result in additional health issues such as high cholesterol and heart disease.
Food costs may increase on the candida diet, and restrictions make eating out difficult. People who follow this diet need to pay extra attention to nutrition labels and stop buying anything that contains prohibited ingredients. Fresh foods generally cost more than processed foods, but these new expenses can be offset and their original budget maintained if the person can reduce the frequency with which they eat out.
Who Benefits from the Candida Diet?
Given the overall health guidelines for the candida diet, anyone looking to eat better will find it beneficial. People who have recurring candida infections may adopt this dietary approach to help prevent recurrence or minimize the symptoms of an ongoing outbreak. This diet may also be beneficial for people who prefer to manage candida naturally rather than use anti-fungal medications, though always best to check with a doctor before eliminating prescriptions.
Causes of Candidiasis
Overuse of antibiotics or a weakened immune system is the primary cause of candidiasis. Stress, which impacts the immune system and the body’s ability to fight off infection, is another contributing factor. People with weakened immune systems — such as those with diabetes, recent organ transplant recipients, and people undergoing cancer treatment — are specifically at risk of candidiasis.
When candida growth is rampant, systemic candidiasis can occur. The infection can spread through the bloodstream and infect vital organs. In severe cases, systemic candidiasis can cause fever, chills, and septic shock. This condition can be life-threatening for people with compromised immune systems and requires prompt medical attention.
Candida overgrowth is a recognized health concern, but current research findings on the benefits of the candida diet are mixed. It is always wise to speak with a healthcare professional before making any drastic changes to any diet, especially if a person has pre-existing health conditions.