Welcome back to Part Two of the Candida Overgrowth blog series.
If you missed part one, check it out here.
So let’s delve into this hot topic. Dietary changes to remove Candida overgrowth naturally.
Now, there are various ways to go about this step, but one of the most agreed upon dietary solutions is as follows. Again, I encourage you to look into it further, do your own research and find what works for you. We’re all different and therefore we all need to find a diet that works for us as individuals.
The Anti Candida Diet
Since candida feeds off of sugar, your first step to getting rid of the overgrowth requires removing their food source, sugar.
This means switching to a low-carbohydrate diet. You really want to minimize carbs (especially refined) and cut out all forms of sugar. This include the obvious, sugar (in all kinds – refined, coconut sugar, honey, molasses, maple syrup etc.); plus candy, pastries, bread, pasta, rice, couscous, potatoes, breakfast cereals, gluten-containing grains (wheat, spelt, barley, rye etc.), coffee, alcohol, most fruits, some nuts, and pretty much all packaged foods. The idea is to avoid anything that the sugar-hungry yeast in your GI tract might like to feed on.
Ok, take a deep breath.
Don’t worry, this isn’t a life sentence. One day, you will be able to bring most of these foods back in moderate amounts, as you’ve rebuilt your whole gut microbiome. But for now, you really want to cut it down and remove.
I’m not going to sugar coat it (excuse the pun!). It may be a little challenging when you begin, but you’ll get there. The most important thing is to stick through it, even through the rough parts.
The first few weeks of the candida diet may feel like going through withdrawal since you are essentially detoxing. You may feel cranky, tired, anxious, achy and moody and want to give up. But don’t. You’ll make it through the other end.
I know this can all sound very overwhelming, so I really encourage you to have a look at the book The Body Ecology Diet by Donna Gates for a thorough run through of how to incorporate this diet in to your life. Otherwise, a google search will help you out further with recipes and how to reintroduce foods slowly based on your symptoms.
What can I eat?
Embarking on a restrictive diet can feel overwhelming so here are some foods you can still enjoy if you are trying an anti-candida diet:
Non Starchy Vegetables:
Asparagus, broccoli, cauliflower, cucumber, garlic, kale, chollards, zucchini (courgette), spinach, swiss chard, bok choy, Brussels Sprouts, cabbage, celeriac, celery, daikon radish, fennel, green beans, leeks, lettuces, okra, onion, red pepper, scallions, shallots, turnips, watercress
Kombu, nori, arame, wakame, dulse
Some starchy vegetables:
Artichoke, acorn squash, red skin potatoes
Homemade or store bought NON pasteurized sauerkraut is fantastic. See my previous blog post here on making your own sauerkraut.
Also making cultured vegetables at home such as kimchi, lacto-fermented cauliflower, lacto-fermented carrot and ginger, lacto-fermented gherkins etc. are all fantastic to rebuild your gut flora and health.
Limited to lemons, limes and berries.
Cranberries, pomegranates and black currants are also allowed.
Pomegranates have been found to be absolutely magnificent when it comes to any pathogenic overgrowth. This herb simultaneously lowers things like bacteria and candida, whilst up-regulating good bacteria at the same time, therefore pomegranates and their tincture should definitely go into the protocol for anyone who has any sot of fungal overgrowth.
A little later in you can add stewed apples with cinnamon and kiwi fruits.
Millet, quinoa, amaranth and buckwheat.
Avocado, nuts and seeds that are low in mold (think almonds, hazelnuts, sunflower seeds, pumpkin, hemp, chia and flax), olive oil, and coconut oil.
Coconut oil, in particular has quite the reputation for fighting candida thanks to it being a rich source of caprylic acid, a potent antifungal.
Ghee is also a great fat to add. Although dairy, the process of turning butter into ghee takes out the lactose (milk sugar) and is therefore ideal for the anti-candida diet.
High-quality animal proteins:
Meat, seafood, fish, poultry, and eggs.
Herbs and spices:
Try to include herbs and spices like cinnamon, ginger, black pepper, clove, cardamom, turmeric, curry powder, mustard powder, cayenne, fenugreek, parsley, coriander, chives, basil, garlic powder, dill, rosemary, thyme, sage, tarragon, Italian and Mexican seasons.
Stevia, xylitol (though over time, you’ll find the natural sweetness of foods and spices such as cinnamon to be satisfying).
Unless it’s fermented, it’s not allowed (for now). The only exception is milk kefir (due to the lactose being fermented) and yogurt if you can make your own or make sure it’s alive.
If you’re sensitive to milk, coconut milk kefir is also a fantastic option. My personal favourite for combating candida overgrowth.
How Long Do I Need to Stay on This Diet?
Generally, people need to stick to this restricted diet for anywhere from 3-12 months, depending how bad the overgrowth is and how long the symptoms are sticking around for.
It’s important to know that this isn’t a one-week cleanse and you’re fixed. It’s a lifestyle and diet change to bring your health back to where it should be, and that can take time.
You may however, find that it’s been 3-4 months since you started this cleanse and you feel symptoms free. You want to try adding some more foods in that aren’t on this restrictive list. Well the good news is, if you’re not experiencing any symptoms, you can.
I don’t mean cake and cookies though, sorry. Foods that feed yeast to that degree are a long way off.
A systemic yeast infection can return quickly, so start by adding in some wholesome, healthy foods, one at a time.
This could be adding in some beetroot or sweet potato. Rice or rice noodles might be next, or maybe beans. Just remember, as we’ve mentioned in previous blog posts, the best way to consume grains and legumes in a way to digest them effectively, is to soak them beforehand.
You can even add some kefir to the soaking water to help it out further.
The general rule is one new food a week and see whether it affects you. Skin rashes, headaches, digestive troubles etc. If you rush in and add it all back in, you’ll end up where you started.
Should I Try The Anti-Candida Diet?
In itself, the anti-candida diet can be an overall healthy diet due to the exclusion of added sugars, processed foods, and alcohol, and instead with a focus on clean wholesome ingredients, including vegetables, nuts, seeds, good quality fats and proteins. However, if foods are not properly balanced or planned, long term, you could find that you’re not getting enough essential nutrients and fibre. Especially for vegans and veggies, this diet can be quite restrictive longterm. It may be worth adding in a 100% hemp protein powder for added protein.
Due to the exclusion of many foods, this diet shouldn’t be taken lightly.
It is best to do this under the supervision of a naturopath, nutritionist, dietitian and/or doctor.
If you have an eating disorder, are underweight or suffer from malabsorption conditions, do not try this diet without consent from your doctor.
Since this is a very strict diet, it’s not suitable for everyone. This is simply a guideline for those who are interested in finding out more about the most common approach to fighting candida through diet.
You can also try looking into the Ayurvedic approach, Chinese medicine approach, or any other suggested by a health care practitioner.
You can also try just adding more of the good stuff and naturally, you’ll find that overtime you don’t go hunting so much for the candida antagonists.
My upcoming blogs will cover a variety of ways natural ways to remove Candida overgrowth and get yourself back in balance, however, I highly recommend you work alongside a qualified health practitioner, especially if your symptoms are severe.
Any questions? Drop into your local Nourish store to chat with our expert team and explore our full range of foods, supplements and skincare. You can also find our full product range in our online store.
*Please note that while we are knowledgeable about our products and nutrition, this blog should never be a substitute for medical advice and attention.
Please remember that you should always obtain the all-clear from your doctor before starting any new supplement plan or diet if you’re on any medication.