Candida overgrowth is something many people experience without even knowing it. Candida (in the form of yeast) exists in your intestines and mouth, but when there is an overgrowth, it can lead to a lot of different problems.
It is important that you understand what it is and get on the right diet to help reduce the candida and start feeling like yourself again.
How Candida Overgrowth Affects You
Candida overgrowth isn’t extremely obvious in the beginning, since the symptoms mimic symptoms of many other medical and mental health issues. However, you should look at your symptoms in combination with each other, and start ruling out other causes. There are also some tests your doctor can perform.
Candida overgrowth causes a wide range of changes in your body, mood, and behavior, including:
- Chronic fatigue
- Joint and muscle pain
- Memory loss and concentration issues
- Brain fog and focus problems
- Anxiety and depression
- Mood swings and irritability
- Gut and digestive issues
- Recurring vaginal infections
- Skin and nail infections
It affects people in so many ways, which is why you should find out if this is what you have so that you can make the right changes to your diet.
Why Change Your Diet?
Even if your diet isn’t the actual cause for your candida overgrowth, it can worsen it. Plus, good dietary changes can actually starve the candida and allow it to dissipate. Changing your diet is often the best course of action when dealing with candida issues.
- Candida Diet Meal Plan – Basic Dietary Changes to Make
Before getting into details of what a candida-fighting diet means, it helps to get more of an overall picture of what you should expect. These guidelines give you a clear picture of how the diet works and what types of foods you can (and can’t) eat until the diet is under control.
Getting Rid of the Bad Stuff
There are two basic principles of the candida diet – adding in good foods that help to starve the candida, and removing foods that will feed it and make it worse.
To start with, you need to remove foods that feed the candida and lead to the overgrowth, including refined and processed carbohydrates and sugar. You are reducing your fruit intake since a lot of fruits are high in sugar, but mostly you are moving refined sugar foods like candy, cookies, baked goods, and most processed foods.
Adding in the Good Stuff
The foods you are adding into your diet will be low in sugar and refined carbohydrates, high in nutrition, and be anti-inflammatory foods that are good for the gut.
This might be a big change for you in the beginning, but once you start noticing how much better you feel on the candida diet, it will all be worth it. There are also many other benefits people experience from these food changes, from more energy to weight loss.
In addition to these changes, you will also be adding in more fermented foods and taking a probiotic to help ensure you reduce the candida overgrowth.
- What can you eat on a candida diet? Foods to Incorporate into Your Diet
Now that you have a better understanding of a candida diet, you can learn about the foods to add into your diet. Don’t worry – the next section will cover foods NOT to eat.
Luckily, there are many foods you probably enjoy now that you can keep eating while trying to fight your candida overgrowth through your diet.
The first recommendation you will get for a candida-fighting diet is to go for fermented and cultured foods. These are amazing for good bacteria in the gut and fighting off that excess candida. Think about fermented foods like kefir, sauerkraut, and kimchi. Coconut is also considered in this category.
You will need to remove some vegetables from your diet, especially the ones high in starch, but others can actually help to fight the candida. You want to stick to your low-starch vegetables like leafy greens, including spinach and kale, cauliflower, and green beans. You should also try to eat more cruciferous vegetables, such as broccoli and brussels sprouts.
When choosing vegetables, look at the carbs and sugar. Avoid high-carbohydrate vegetables like carrots, corn, and sweet potatoes.
Healthy Fats and Oils
Don’t be afraid of fat! You simple want to switch out the bad fats for the good fats. Avoid fats like vegetable oil and lard, and switch to healthy fats like avocado, olive oil, and coconut oil. These are very good for you, not to mention how amazing they are for the gut.
You can keep eating your favorite meat, poultry and fish, but it is a good idea to stick to highest quality meats you can find. When choosing fish, always go with wild caught over farmed fish, preferably fresh or fresh frozen. For meat and poultry, try to find grass fed or pasture-raised meat.
It is a great idea to keep eating meat and seafood as long as you are not a vegetarian or vegan, as it provides some essential nutrients you need for your candida overgrowth.
The anti-candida foods you should add to your diet also include some spices and herbs that you can cook with. These not only add flavor without using sugar or preservatives, but they are really healing for your gut and have anti-fungal properties. These include garlic, oregano, cinnamon, and cloves.
- Foods to Avoid
Your diet has a large impact not only on candida overgrowth, but working to reduce it. Unfortunately, some of the foods you love, you will need to stop eating for the time being. Moving forward, it is good to keep reducing these, but you don’t necessarily need to avoid them entirely.
Some foods that are good to avoid while on a candida diet include:
Starchy, High-Carbohydrate Vegetables
As we mentioned in the previous section, you want to avoid vegetables that are high in starch, sugar, and carbohydrates. This includes any type of potato, sweet potato or yam, as well as high-sugar vegetables like corn, carrots, beets, pinto beans, lentils, and chickpeas.
There are still a lot of vegetables you can enjoy while on the candida diet, including leafy greens and most lettuce, green beans, broccoli, cauliflower, brussels sprouts, zucchini, and pumpkin.
Sugar and Most Fruit
Sugar unfortunately feeds candida, so now is the time to start eliminating it from your diet. This means avoiding any “sweet” foods with sugar or natural sugar, including candy, cookies, cakes, baked goods, and many processed foods. Sugar is often found in sauces, dressings, and other packaged foods, so look carefully at the labels.
You should also reduce how much sugar you get from fruits, voiding high-sugar fruits like apples, bananas, cantaloupe, watermelon, pineapple, pears, and many others. The lowest sugar fruits are berries like strawberries and raspberries, so those should still be okay to eat in moderation.
You are probably already aware of the impact dairy can have on your gut, even if you don’t have an intolerance to lactose. While on a candida diet, it is best to reduce it or eliminate it entirely. This includes:
- Animal milk
- Butter (go for ghee instead)
- Cream cheese
- Sour cream
- Cream-based foods
Lastly, get rid of grains from your diet, as both the carbohydrates and sugar can affect your gut and the candida. It can be difficult avoiding grains as it is in just about every bread, baked good, or packaged food, but you will need to eliminate it for now.
- Re-Introducing Foods
When your candida is under control, you do have the option of re-introducing some of the foods you removed from your diet, but be careful. You don’t want to just go back to your old habits and encourage candida overgrowth again and again.
You should treat this like an elimination diet, where you are slowly adding in foods one at a time, then waiting to see how your body reacts. If you add in something, like sugar or a processed carbohydrate, and suddenly you have some of those candida symptoms, you know your body has a bad reaction to it.
Tips for Re-Introducing Foods
This is not something you should rush into. Make sure you start with one type of food at a time until you figure what affects you, and what doesn’t. here are some tips to help you re-introduce foods.
Wait until the candida is under control. Make sure you don’t re-introduce the foods too quickly. You need to have your candida under control, where you no longer have any of the symptoms and you are feeling like yourself again.
Start with a healthy, low-sugar food. When choosing what foods to add back in, go with a healthy food that is lower in sugar and refined carbohydrates, or has natural sugar. Fruit is great because while it does have fructose, it is natural and not added sugar. Try having an apple or a banana first, then see how your body reacts.
Give it a few days before introducing another food. You should re-introduce your foods just one at a time, waiting at least a day or so in between. Introduce foods that are gentler on your stomach first before going with the more processed foods.
Keep a log of all your reactions to these foods. Every time you add in a new food, you should write it down in a food journal. This is not only a good way to determine what types of foods trigger more candida growth, but is good to show to your doctor during your follow-up appointment.
With these simple recommendations, you will be on your way to treating your candida overgrowth with your diet, and the negative side effects you have been experiencing.