The Candida diet is a low-sugar, anti-inflammatory diet that promotes good gut health and eliminates the sugars that feed a Candida overgrowth. The diet includes non-starchy vegetables, some low sugar fruits, non-glutenous grains, some dairy products, and fermented foods.
By improving your gut health, and restoring the balance of the bacteria and yeast that live inside your body, you can get relief from Candida symptoms like bloating, indigestion, yeast infections, fatigue, nausea, diarrhea, and gas. (1)
One of the major causes of gut dysbiosis and fungal overgrowth is a diet full of sugary, processed, junk foods. These foods are high in sugars that feed a Candida overgrowth, and rich in pro-inflammatory ingredients that damage your gut and cause inflammation across your body. (2)
The importance of the gut microbiome is beyond dispute. There are an incredible 40 trillion microorganisms living in your body. In fact, you have more of these microorganisms inside you than you have human cells! (3)
Gut health has been linked to immunity, glucose control, heart health, and digestion (4, 5, 6). Recent research has even discovered links between gut health and mental health (7). It’s safe to say that an unhealthy gut can cause problems in every part of your body.
The Candida diet is designed to improve gut health, reduce inflammation, and boost immunity. The principles of the diet include removing added sugars, consuming fermented foods, and avoiding pro-inflammatory triggers like gluten and processed foods.
The foods to eat on the Candida diet include non-starchy vegetables, fermented foods like yogurt and sauerkraut, low-sugar fruits like blueberries, proteins like chicken and fish, and pseudo grains like quinoa. The diet is designed to provide optimal nutrition while reducing inflammation and depriving Candida albicans of the foods that it needs.
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Ready to get started? Here are some simple rules that you can follow on your anti Candida diet.
- Avoid added sugars
- Cut out junk food
- Eat non-starchy vegetables
- Eat low-sugar fruits
- Enjoy healthy proteins
- Use healthy fats and oils
- Minimize your caffeine
- Eat non-glutenous grains
- Enjoy fermented foods
The most important of these is to avoid added sugars. People’s diets these days are full of added sugars like dextrose, fruit juice concentrate, and high fructose corn syrup.
In fact, there are so many different names for sugar that we often don’t even realize what we’re eating.
Candida albicans uses sugar for cellular growth, to transition into its fungal form, and to create the biofilms that it uses to hide from your immune system. (8, 9, 10)
Where possible, you should also avoid inflammatory foods like processed foods, alcohol and caffeine as much as possible while on your anti-Candida diet. By doing this, you can boost your gut health and speed up your recovery.
Candida overgrowth is often associated with gut inflammation, intestinal permeability (leaky gut), and chronic digestive problems. These symptoms can be addressed by a diet that is high in fiber, low in sugar, and full of anti-inflammatory foods. (11)
The list of foods to eat includes a wide variety of healthy, nutritious food. These foods are all low in sugar, gluten-free, and unlikely to cause inflammation in your gut.
The full list of foods to eat on the Candida diet includes non-starchy vegetables, low-sugar fruits, non-glutenous grains, healthy proteins, some dairy products, nuts and seeds, fermented foods, plus lots of herbs, spices, fats and oils.
You’ll be amazed at the number of simple, tasty meals that you can prepare. Just take a look at our recipes section for lots of delicious ideas!
Remember to make sure that your meals are balanced. A good example might be an egg salad with a simple dressing of olive oil, lemon, and salt. This nutritious meal contains protein from the eggs, healthy fats from the olive oil, and carbohydrates from some avocado and other vegetables.
The Candida diet foods to avoid list includes added sugars, glutenous grains, high-sugar fruits, processed foods, some dairy products, most condiments, alcoholic drinks, and refined oils.
Caffeinated drinks should also be minimized as they can worsen gut inflammation. Good alternatives are decaffeinated coffee, green tea, and chicory coffee.
There are three simple principles that cover most of the foods to avoid. If you’re unsure about a particular food, just apply these rules.
Firstly, stay away from foods that are high in sugar. The most important foods to avoid are sugars and added sugars, whether they’re added to your cereal or the natural sugars in a fig. These sugars can feed a Candida overgrowth, lead to chronic inflammation, and weaken your gut. (12)
Secondly, avoid foods that contain gluten. More and more evidence is now showing that gluten causes gut inflammation, even in those who are not Celiac. Gluten can worsen the symptoms of Candida and leave your gut more vulnerable to a Candida overgrowth. (13)
Thirdly, steer clear of inflammatory foods. A gut imbalance like Candida causes plenty of inflammation already. You don’t want your diet to make it worse.
Candida albicans is a species of yeast that exists in your gut. Most of the time, it co-exists happily with the rest of your microbiome. However, in some circumstances it can grow out of control. (14)
The other bacteria in your gut will usually keep Candida albicans in check. But a number of different factors can change this – for example, a high-sugar diet, a course of antibiotics, or chronic stress.
When this happens, Candida albicans can quickly expand its colonies and start to dominate the flora in your gut.
Candida is a particularly difficult opponent, for several different reasons. Firstly, it hides from your immune system really well, creating biofilms to protect itself. Secondly, it can convert back and forth from its fungal form as conditions in your gut change. And thirdly, it can change the pH of its surroundings to enable it to switch to its pathogen form. (15, 16, 17)
Candida does not just affect your gut. It also causes vaginal yeast infections, athlete’s foot, oral thrush, diaper rash, and nail fungus. These skin infections are often related to an intestinal Candida overgrowth in the gut.
The symptoms of Candida can include fatigue, brain fog, digestive issues, sinus infections, food allergies, yeast infections, mild depression, joint pain, and much more.
Why are these symptoms so varied? It all comes back to the importance of good gut health. When your gut is imbalanced, it can affect systems all over your body. Your energy levels, your mood, your immunity – they all depend to some degree on the health of your gut. (18)
If you have a Candida overgrowth, or indeed any kind of gut dysbiosis, it is likely to have a significant impact on your wellbeing.
The wrong mix of gut flora will impair nutrient absorption from your food, weaken your immune system, and cause bloating and gas.
More specifically, an overgrowth of Candida albicans will release toxic metabolites like acetaldehyde into your bloodstream. These can contribute to brain fog, fatigue, and mild depression. (19)
Meanwhile, an intestinal Candida overgrowth is often associated with increased yeast infections, fungal skin infections, and sinus infections.
When we talk about Candida overgrowth, we’re usually referring to an overgrowth of Candida albicans in the gut. Usually, this yeast co-exists with our gut flora. In fact, more than 70% of us have it in our guts. But sometimes it can grow out of control, causing a wide range of symptoms. (20)
A Candida overgrowth causes inflammation in your gut that can lead to a variety of symptoms. It can damage your intestinal walls, leading to something called leaky gut syndrome, and can disturb your digestion.
A pathogen in your gut might not sound like a big problem. But Candida albicans is a special case. It releases up to 79 different metabolites, including uric acid, ammonia, and a neurotoxin named acetaldehyde.
Acetaldehyde causes chronic headaches and brain fog, and is classified as a potential carcinogen by the International Agency for Research on Cancer. Uric acid can cause joint pain and lead to gout if an excess builds up.
Treating Candida is not always easy because it is such an opportunistic pathogen. Improving your diet, most importantly by removing all added sugars, is the first step. Taking a good probiotic will crowd out the Candida yeast and start to heal your gut. And some natural antifungals will help to reverse the Candida overgrowth.
This article was written by Lisa Richards, a certified nutrition coach, digestive health expert, and owner of TheCandidaDiet.com.
With 12 years of experience writing about The Candida Diet, our team is backed by certified professionals who specialize in digestive health and naturopathic medicine. We are here to help you with advice, recipes and information about Candida overgrowth and alternative dietary treatment methods.
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We’ve put together lots of delicious recipes in this section. We’re always adding more, so make sure to check back in with us. There are also some helpful articles about using antifungals in your cooking, what to drink instead of your morning coffee, and much more!
Preparing meals while on the anti Candida diet is much easier than you think. Once you get used to all the new, healthy ingredients, you’ll be whipping up tasty meals in no time!
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