10 Types of Foods That Will Starve Candida
Photo credit: wmaster890 - Getty Images
The candida diet, which has been proposed to alleviate the symptoms of yeast infection and starve the sugar that diet proponents claim to feed candida, has been around for decades. But does the diet actually work and is it safe for you to start on your own? Here's everything you need to know about the Candida diet, including the basics of overgrowing Candida itself and foods to avoid.
What is Candida and Candida Overgrowth?
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), Candida is a yeast that normally lives on the skin and body (especially in the mouth, throat, intestines, and vagina) and usually does not cause problems. If candida gets out of control and overgrowth occurs, this can cause the candidiasis of the fungal infection. Although candidiasis can develop in different areas of the body, most people are familiar with candidiasis in the vagina, which is commonly referred to as vaginal yeast infection. The most common type of Candida that causes infections is called Candida albicans.
What are the causes and symptoms of candidiasis?
Signs and symptoms of vaginal candidiasis may include itching, pain, pain / discomfort when urinating, pain during sex, and abnormal vaginal discharge. Women who are pregnant, use hormonal contraceptives, suffer from diabetes, have a weakened immune system or have recently taken antibiotics are more likely to develop vaginal candidiasis. Since taking antibiotics is a common cause, the CDC advises women to take antibiotics only when prescribed and exactly as your doctor tells you.
How does the candida diet work?
The Candida diet is essentially a low-carb, low-sugar, anti-inflammatory diet that, according to proponents, can help promote good gut health and eliminate the sugars that Candida may feed. The diet should only be followed temporarily, and it is recommended that foods be slowly and gradually reintroduced after the diet ends. Although the Candida diet has been around for decades, research on it has been very sparse and there are no definitive results to confirm the effectiveness of the diet. The diet itself should not be used as a replacement for a consultation with a doctor or a qualified healthcare professional.
Diet advocates claim that candida lives on sugar, and while research is limited to it, the results of a 2017 study suggest that higher glucose levels can actually promote candida growth. The Candida diet also limits gluten because it is thought to damage the intestinal lining, but there is no current evidence to support this for people who do not have celiac disease.
Dairy products are also excluded from the diet due to an unproven theory that sugar (a.k.a. lactose) in milk products may increase acidity in the mouth and stimulate Candida overgrowth. And despite the lack of evidence, foods with a high mold content, preservatives, pesticides or artificial ingredients are also limited to the Candida diet.
Candida diet foods to eat:
Vegetables not containing starch, ideally raw or steamed (i.e. artichokes, asparagus, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, celery, cucumber, eggplant, jicama, kale, onions, rutabaga, spinach, tomatoes, zucchini)
Low sugar fruits (i.e. apples, avocado, berries, lemon, lime, olives)
Grains not containing gluten (i.e. buckwheat, millet, oat bran, quinoa, teff, almond flour or coconut flour for baking)
Lean protein (i.e. anchovies, broth, chicken, eggs, herring, wild salmon, sardines, turkey)
Low mold nuts and seeds (i.e. almonds, coconut, flax seeds, hazelnuts, sunflower seeds)
Healthy fats and oils (i.e. ghee, flax oil, olive oil, sesame oil, coconut oil)
Fermented foods (i.e. kefir, olives, sauerkraut, yogurt)
Herbs, spices and spices (i.e. apple cider vinegar, basil, black pepper, cinnamon, cloves, coconut aminos, dill, garlic, ginger, oregano, bell pepper, rosemary, salt, thyme, turmeric)
Certain sweeteners with a sugar alternative in moderation (i.e. erythritol, stevia, xylitol)
Herbal teas, filtered water and chicory coffee
Candida Diet Limit / Avoid Food:
Fruits with a high sugar content (i.e. bananas, dates, figs, fruit juices, grapes, mango, melons, raisins)
Grains containing gluten (i.e. barley, rye, spelled, wheat)
Processed meat (i.e. lunch, salami, spam)
Certain fish (i.e. shellfish, swordfish, tuna)
Sugar and sugar substitutes (i.e. agave, aspartame, cane sugar, corn syrup, honey, maple syrup, molasses, sugar)
Some dairy products (i.e. cheese, cream, milk)
High mold nuts (i.e. peanuts, cashews and pistachios)
Spices (i.e. barbecue sauce, horseradish, ketchup, mayonnaise, soy sauce)
Refined / processed fats and oils (i.e. rapeseed oil, artificial butter spreads, margarine, soybean oil, sunflower oil)
Alcoholic or sugary drinks (i.e. beer, cider, liquids, spirits, wine, diet or normal soda, fruit juices, energy drinks)
Caffeinated drinks (i.e. black tea, coffee)
Example of a Candida diet plan:
Photo credit: Mike Garten
Breakfast: Flower Power Sunny Side Eggs
Lunch: Chicken Quinoa Bowl
Snack: Sesame and cucumber salad recipe (sub-coconut amino acids for soy sauce)
Dinner: Creole salmon with almond crust and green beans
Should You Try The Candida Diet?
Despite a lack of research, the Candida diet itself is fairly healthy, may offer a more nutritious diet than many people consume regularly, and is probably safe for most people. By eating more non-starchy vegetables, increasing your fiber intake, drinking more water, eliminating refined sugar and processed foods, the diet itself can have anti-inflammatory benefits that are beneficial whether or not it can really "cure" candidiasis. If you choose the candida diet, I recommend starting slowly and gradually removing things from your daily routine. Limit refined sugar or caffeine first, and then work your way through the list. Keep in mind that this diet should be used on a short-term basis and is not intended to replace a consultation with your doctor or healthcare provider.
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