Candida diets are a commonly known type of diet unlike most types of diets we hear about. A candida diet is catered to someone who has an overgrowth of a type of yeast we all have living inside of us: candida albicans. Though we have multiple types of yeast colonies (well, actually hundreds), along with other types of bacteria cultures inside our digestive tracts making up our microbiome, not all of these are good yeast or good bacteria we associate with probiotics, etc. Candida is one of the yeasts that can easily take over and when it does, you suffer severe health effects that not only weaken the body but also make you miserable in the meantime. Candida thrives off sugar, plain and simple. It ferments the sugar which can lead to digestive problems to start with, killing good bacteria our systems need for optimal balance, and can wreak havoc in a larger aspect down the line.
For years, mainstream medicine downplayed the severity—some even negated the entire existence of—candida overgrowth, that is no longer occurring. People are suffering from candidiasis today as much as they are the common cold or case of allergies. Candida is real and its side effects are not just annoying; they can wreak havoc on your health, specifically gut health, and lead to immune disorders, multiple food allergies, digestive problems that persist and worsen, joint pain, chronic fatigue, hair loss, skin problems, and much, much more. And of course, like all yeast overgrowth, jock itch, ringworm, psoriasis, and even eczema can also occur. When candida thrives, our good bacteria die away.
Some of the main reasons this can happen are from one of the following reasons:
- exposure to prescription drugs
- birth control pills or hormone pills
- a high exposure to meats and other animal foods high in added hormones or antibiotics
- rounds of antibiotics that deplete both bad AND good bacteria which allow the bad bacteria to come back more forcefully than the good
- a diet high in sugar, alcohol, refined and processed carbohydrates that feed bad yeasts
- high amounts of stress that weaken the body
- autoimmune disorders that weaken the body and allow yeasts to thrive more easily
- digestive disorders (Crohn’s, IBS, etc.)
- chronic yeast infections as a child (can be a sign you’re more prone to candida which can be passed on through certain traits or issues that occur during childhood such as high amounts of antibiotic exposure, etc.
- food addictions (binging and consistently eating unhealthy foods like sugar and processed foods can feed it and cause it to grow significantly more, leading to higher cravings each time).
- blood sugar issues (candida thrives off sugar and can eat up the sugars for “food” which can make you want more and more, always suffering blood sugar ups and downs)
And these are only SOME of the main causes of candida overgrowht. While everyone has candida, it’s normally meant to stay dormant and co-exist with the trillions of other types of bacterial cells we have living in us. When it doesn’t do that, however, it leads to seriously poor health that causes us to be tired, suffer food reactions, feel sick to our stomach, have severe cravings and blood sugar swings, can lead to mood disorders, poor focus, brain fog and can even lead to depression. Candida also causes digestive disorders like leaky gut syndrome which can lead to autoimmune disorders and more.
Our gut is key to our health, therefore candida overgrowth is something we need to address through our diets and lifestyle choices—pronto. You can not completely GET RID of candida. It is meant to exist in our bodies and can actually protect the body from having too much sugar in the bloodstream at a given time (since it does feed off sugar), however, it is very easy for candida to take over and keeping it under control is not easy but once you are able to, you feel like a new person and can live your entire life as normal while co-existing with this incredible complex creature we know as candida albicans.
10 Candida Healing Foods to Eat
Here are 10 of the most healing foods to eat that not only starve candida cells but also build the body and act as a shield against harmful yeast. As you’ll see, these are also low-carb foods. Though a low-carb diet is not necessary for everyone, the idea is to starve the yeast of food (and in this case, that is anything that turns to sugar in the bloodstream which breaks down to higher carb foods). The important foods to focus on are as many green foods as possible, foods with alkaline sources of protein, and that are as fresh and natural as possible. Healthy, high fat foods are also very healthy and supply the body with ample support and do not feed bad bacteria when they come from the right sources.
Leafy greens are good for every type of health issue one could imagine. For candida, they alkalize the body which fights against the acidic nature of yeast overgrowth. Greens contain no sugars but high amounts of magnesium that naturally detox the body, vitamin C to build the immune system, chlorophyll to cleanse the body, B vitamins to energize the body, and iron to give the body full support.
Herbs such as oregano and basil have anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial benefits. Oregano is beneficial for breaking down yeast walls and killing bad bacteria, while basil can also improve immune health by acting as an immunity-building herb. Peppermint aids in digestion which can suffer during a candida overgrowth/outbreak, while cilantro and parsley detox the body, build the blood, and supply the body with chlorophyll and vitamin C.
3. Cruciferous Vegetables
Broccoli, cauliflower, kale, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, and bok choy are all excellent cruciferous veggies to enjoy. These fiber-rich goodies are packed with detoxifying enzymes and compounds that the liver can use to fight bad bacteria and toxins, especially candida. Though candida lives in the gut, when it gets out of hand, it spreads and becomes systemic affecting the liver and other organs of the body. Giving your liver good foods that detox it the natural way is a great way to keep yourself healthy; plus, these foods have fiber that keep the digestive system moving things out, including bad bacteria!
No matter what part of the coconut you choose, coconut is a candida weapon of destruction! Coconut oil is especially powerful, as is coconut butter and whole coconut meat (or shreds, slices, etc.). Avoid coconut products with added sugars (like raw treats or sweetened coconut waters) that only feed candida further. Coconut’s natural fats supply anti-bacterial agents such as lauric acid, along with medium-chain-triglyceride fats which break down yeast walls and support liver function. Include a couple servings of coconut in some form or another every day while cleansing from candida.
This plant-based fat is rich in chlorophyll, very alkaline, and unlike nuts, is is a good source of fat not prone to mold. While nuts are healthy, they do tend to harvest mold easily if not kept under the right conditions. For someone with candida, any type of mold will trigger an outbreak. Candida thrives off sugary, moldy foods (bread, cheese, beer, etc.) therefore it’s important to eat fresh sources of raw, healthy fats like avocados whenever possible. As an added bonus, avocados contain B vitamins, magnesium, and alkaline protein … some of the best nutrient weapons against candida overgrowth!
6. Hemp, Chia, and Flax
These protein-rich, plant-based seeds are some of the easiest to digest and best for cleansing. They also provide the body with omega-3 fatty acids which protect the immune system, supply the gut with ample lubrication, aid in regularity, and benefit the brain health. All of these are important for someone with candida and should be prioritized through meals however possible.
7. Sauerkraut and Kimchi
Probiotic-rich foods that are made from plants are excellent for those with candida overgrowth. Though some fermented foods may need to be avoided (chocolate, beer, wine, cheese, and even some people are sensitive to kombucha and kefir depending on the type of person), sauerkraut and kimchi are very beneficial for everyone. These veggie-based dishes ferment on their own, without an added yeast culture. This makes them not only more natural, but also free of added sugars that are used in other fermented foods to feast the yeast. Sauerkraut and kimchi are also made of cabbage, a top detoxing food that is rich in B vitamins, immunity enhancing properties, enzymes, natural probiotics, and vitamin C to support the body.
8. Apple Cider Vinegar
All types of vinegar should be avoided with candida overgrowth, except for apple cider vinegar (ACV). It is the only vinegar that provides an alkalizing benefit for the body and actually causes candida yeast cells to die … not thrive. Apple cider vinegar can also help detox the digestive system, alkalize the blood, reduce symptoms like headaches and sluggish digestion, along with joint pain and chronic itching that can come with candida overgrowth. It can be taken internally and applied externally to help with symptoms.
9. Garlic and Onion
Garlic and onions are two of the most potent, detoxifying veggies out there. They detox the liver, colon, blood, and improve immune health. These two allium veggies also have compounds that kill yeasts, parasites, and fight most all types of illness associated with bacteria overgrowth. Eat them daily if you can, especially garlic which is lower in natural sugars than onions.
10. Fresh Foods (Not Leftovers)
It’s also very important that you don’t eat foods that sit too long in the fridge. Remember, candida thrives off of old, moldy foods. Even if a food looks and smells fine, the fresher it is, the better it will be. A day or so should not hurt, but that dish you made two or three nights ago? Nope … better to make all your meals fresh when trying to heal from candida. Your body will thank you and you won’t risk feeding the yeast further. Exceptions to this include items like salads, raw vegetables, or even guacamole (a great low-carb, candida-friendly snack) that keeps well. Overall, the leftovers rule applies to cooked food dishes. If you eat out at a restaurant, avoid fried foods, and also eat as fresh as possible like you would at home.
Don’t forget the water either! It’s important to flush the body and keep it hydrated with plain water. Add a little lemon if you like since lemon has anti-bacterial properties and can also support the liver.
Build your meals off of fresh vegetables, greens, healthy fats, and plant-based proteins. This is one of the healthiest ways to eat, not to mention fight candida all through what you eat … by starving the yeast of foods that turn to sugar in the bloodstream that can cause it to thrive.
The Top 10 Foods to Avoid
Now that you know what to eat, it’s important to know what to avoid. Here are 10 of the worst foods that feed candida very easily … in fact, these foods are like candy to candida!
1. Sugar (all forms, even fruit in the early stages of candida cleansing to starve the yeast)
2. Alcohol (made of harmful fermented yeast that disrupt bacteria balance in the digestive tract)
3. Processed foods
4. Peanuts (naturally contain mold) … be careful with cashews unless they are raw and bought very fresh as they too are prone to mold. (Stick to raw almonds or Brazil nuts instead, very low in sugar and highly detoxifying when eaten raw and kept cold to prevent mold.)
5. Dairy (lactose, the sugar in milk can feed candida)
6. All vinegar aside from ACV
7. Added hormones in foods (meats, dairy, eggs, fish, etc.)
8. Artificial Sweeteners
9. Breads and Pastas
10. All refined grains and flours
Consider taking a vegan (dairy-free) probiotic to build up healthy bacteria in the gut needed to fight the yeast and re-balance your gut health. You might also look into taking L-glutamine that is used to heal the gut and assist with sugar cravings. Digestive enzymes can also help digest your meals easier, which is helpful during a candida outbreak when digestive function slows down.
Be sure to get enough rest and a little sunshine if you can. Candida thrives off exhaustion and stress, but sunlight, along with a well-rested and well-functioning body, amplifies the immune system to help your body fight back. Always remember that yeast thrive in dark and moldy atmospheres, which includes too much time indoors.
Be sure to get adequate fiber to help the colon detox your body from toxins the natural way instead of taking pricey detox candida supplements that might make things worse, not better. Psyllium husks, coconut flour, flax, chia, and chia bran (ground chia seeds) are all good options. Avoid most wheat brans and oat brans since sometimes grains can cause a candida overgrowth reaction. In fact, most people do avoid grains aside from brown, wild, and black rice, but others are able to eat oats and even barley—everyone is different, so listen to your body.
Die-Off … Be Prepared
Die off from yeast overgrowth can cause extreme fatigue before you start to feel better. This normally lasts three or four days but is a sign the yeast cells are dying. During this time, it’s incredibly important to keep going, follow the healing protocol, and get enough rest. Warm ginger and herbal teas are especially helpful, cleansing, and relaxing so implement these however you can. You should also moderate your exercise routine and not push yourself too hard. Implement hot baths with Epsom salt and consider taking magnesium supplements before bed to help you rest. Epsom salt contains magnesium salts that cleanse the body and can help you relax, while a magnesium citrate powder or supplement can help regulate digestion and help you sleep better too. Be sure not to skip meals, but also don’t eat more than your body tells you it can handle. Be good to it during this important time—you’ll heal much more quickly as a result.
Living with a Candida Prone Body … a Healing Journey
The most important thing to remember is that you may need to be careful with your diet most of your life; come to accept this and honor your body instead of try to ignore it. The most important thing to remember is not to eat sugar, refined grains or carbs, or eat a food that you know triggers your candida. Doing so only causes a larger relapse and each time your body becomes weaker. Be good to yourself and explain to others in your life you need them to help support you during this time, and for life if it is a severe issue. Some people can add fruits back and most grains, while others can’t. Your body will let you know as symptoms reoccur if a food is a trigger for you or not. Look at your candida as a part of you … just like an allergy or anything else you would have to care for.
The important thing is to eat in a way that feels good for you and with—or without—a candida-friendly diet, it’s important that you do that so you can live your best life and be the healthiest form of you possible!
Need candida support and resources ? Check out some of the best resources for candida you can find online: Ricki Heller (a true expert in the field of living, surviving, and thriving with a past of systemic candida), Body Ecology, The National Candida Center, and The Candida Diet website.
If you have any comments with how you’ve managed your candida, we’d love to hear from you. Leave us a comment and let us hear from you!
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