The Candida Diet: Top Five Foods to Eat and to Avoid — diet for candida
So far in this series we have looked at the causes and symptoms of Candida overgrowth (or yeast infection). If you missed any of the previous articles, or want to remind yourself, you can read the following to catch up:
Part 1: Candida – The Most Misunderstood Chronic Health Problem
Part 2: Is Your Sugar Addiction Feeding Your Intestinal Candida?
Part 3: Is Candida Overgrowth Causing Your Chronic Gas & Bloating?
Part 4: Rashes and Candida – The Connection between Skin and Gut
Part 5: Is Candida Making You Fat?
In this sixth and final article, we will look at what you can and can’t eat when you are tackling Candida overgrowth. I will tell you the most common foods that feed and contribute to the symptoms of Candida and the best foods you can eat to help suppress and control it.
As we have seen throughout this series, Candida is a simple organism that doesn’t need much to thrive. The damp, warm environment of our digestive system, a reduction in healthy bacteria (usually caused by taking antibiotics) and lots of sugar is all Candida needs to flourish, grow and take hold in your gut, causing any number of unpleasant symptoms such as digestive symptoms, emotional problems, skin, weight issues, muscle and joint pain, food allergies, itching and frequent infections to name just a few. These symptoms, alone and in combination all contribute to making you feel seriously under par. However, a few simple changes to your diet can help alleviate all of them. Isn’t that great news?
If you have, or suspect you may have, Candida there are steps you can take to help minimize its growth Candida- starting with your diet. Here is a list of foods that I have found in my Naturopathic practice to be most aggravating to people with Candida overgrowth.
Top Five Foods to Avoid
Any form of processed sugar including white or brown sugar derived from the cane sugar plant and any simple sweetener derived from maple syrup, honey, agave, brown rice syrup or malt. You also need to take great care to avoid high fructose corn syrup – this processed form of sugar, derived from the corn plant, is especially problematic for yeast overgrowth and should be eliminated. Read labels, you may be surprised to find all the hidden sources of sugar that you may be consuming. Packaged soups, coffee creamers, packaged seasonings are all potential sources.
2. Simple Carbohydrates
Processed carbohydrates such as white flours, white rice contain no fiber and turn into simple sugars in the digestive system. Foods in this category include crackers, chips, pasta and noodles.
Candida is a yeast and, when you consume foods that contain yeast, you are adding more yeast to an already yeast-heavy environment. High yeast foods include:
*Alcohol which is fermented using yeast. Wine and Beer contain the most yeast and people who are yeast sensitive tend to react more to them than they do to distilled spirits like vodka, gin & tequila which contain less.
*Fermented products, including all types of vinegar, soy sauce, tamari, salad dressing, mayonnaise, ketchup, mustard and most other condiments that include vinegars.
*Many breads contain yeast – it is what makes the bread rise so that it is fluffy and light. Sourdough bread gets mixed reviews on being allowed on a Candida diet. Sourdough is made with a starter so there is no active yeast added to the mix. However, the starter comes from naturally occurring yeast spores that float around in the environment. For this reason, I recommend avoiding sourdough when doing a Candida cleanse. Tortillas do not contain yeast and can be used to replace bread.
Foods that are high in mold can add to the fungal spores in the intestinal tract that contribute to the growth of Candida. Foods that may have mold on them include:
*Meats that are pickled, smoked or dried such as hotdogs, smoked salmon and cured pork bacon.
*Cheese, especially ‘moldy cheese’ such as brie and camembert. I recommend avoiding all cheeses during the Candida cleanse.
*Peanuts & Pistachios
*Dried fruits and fruit that has been bottled, canned or jarred. These belong in the sugar category as well as the mold category as they contain both concentrated sugar and often mold spores on the skin as well.
Mushrooms are a fungus and, as such, can also contribute to yeast overgrowth. Mushrooms have a role to play in medicine and some species can boost the immune system. However, for the purpose of treating Candida, any foods that have a fungal component to them are best avoided to minimize yeast growth in the intestines.
The Five Best Foods to Eat to Eliminate Candida
The best diet to keep Candida overgrowth to a minimum is one that is high in healthy protein, fats and complex carbohydrates. Here are my top five food groups for beating Candida:
Protien from animal sources such as chicken, fish, shellfish, eggs
Protient from non-animal sources such as beans, legumes (such as red or brown lentils), nuts and seeds (except peanuts and pistachios)
2. Fresh Vegetables
Especially dark leafy greens such as spinach, cabbage, kale and collards. Root vegetables such as carrots and potatoes can be eaten in moderation but beware as they contain carbohydrates that will turn to sugar once eaten. Frozen, canned or jarred vegetables can be eaten but should be consumed in moderation – in general fresh is always best.
3. Fresh Fruits
1-2 servings of fresh fruit per day will provide good fiber, vitamins and minerals. However, if you notice symptoms of gas, bloating and brain fog after eating fruit you may be sensitive to it and should eliminate it from your diet as well.
4. Complex Carbohydrates
Some people can handle having whole grains in their diet. If you find you get gas, bloating, stomach pain, blood sugar crashes or weight concerns after eating whole grains then you will need to avoid them. Otherwise, you may be able to consume grains such as:
*Brown or wild rice
5. High Quality Oils (Good Fats)
All our cells have an outer layer of fat that makes up the cell membrane. When we eat high-quality oils this membrane are healthier and work optimally. When our cell membranes are working properly then we are healthier and have more energy. Unrefined and cold-pressed oils are the best when available. Good fats include (but are not limited to):
Olive oil (avoid olives themselves as they are pickled in a brine so fall under the fermented foods category and should be avoided)
Avocados & avocado oil
Flax seed oil
In addition to eating the right foods it is important to stay well hydrated. Drinking 1-2 liters of water a day will contribute to a healthy digestive system and help minimize yeast overgrowth.