Candida overgrowth is a common issue we see with our patients. Recurrent vaginal yeast infections, ongoing fatigue, poor digestion, mood concerns, and skin problems can all be caused by an overgrowth of Candida. And a diet that aims to starve off the Candida and feed the good bacteria in your microbiome may be part of the solution you’ve been looking for.
So what can you eat on the Candida diet and what should you avoid? Start by eliminating sugar, grains, alcohol, fermented foods, and dairy. Instead, fill your plate with lean protein, a wide variety of vegetables, and healthy fats.
A healthy gut is a healthy you! So let’s dive into our starter guide on yeast overgrowth and the Candida Diet, including eight tempting recipes safe to enjoy while you restore the balance of Candida in your system.
When we look at risk factors for Candida overgrowth, there are two primary questions at play:
1) What feeds the Candida naturally residing in my body?
2) What diminishes the helpful bacteria in my gut, allowing the harmful bacteria to multiply unchecked?
It’s interesting to note that the answers to these questions are two sides of the same coin. What feeds harmful bacteria and contributes to yeast overgrowth also starves the good bacteria in your system. However, the reverse is also true: a diet that encourages beneficial bacteria to flourish will help eliminate harmful gut flora and restore a healthy balance of Candida.
There are a number of potential factors in overgrowth of Candida causing recurrent yeast infections. These include:
With Candida overgrowth in the gut, antibiotic use is the main risk factor. Now, we aren’t saying all antibiotic use is bad – sometimes, it’s very much needed. However, it’s important to recognize that antibiotics kill off the good bacteria in the gut, which can let bad bacteria and yeast flourish.
Other common causes of Candida overgrowth include diet and lifestyle. That may mean:
One of the pillars of being Fully Functional® is reducing toxic influences in your life. While most people think about detox in terms of chemicals or pathogens, getting healthy also means reducing your exposure to chronically stressful work conditions and negative or unhealthy relationships.
Both chronic stress and excessive alcohol consumption weaken your immune system, which can cause an imbalance in the gut microbiome. Refined carbohydrates and high-sugar foods also both feed Candida, which can cause an unhealthy imbalance.
Candida overgrowth can cause a range of difficult symptoms. Some common signs include:
1) Recurrent vaginal yeast infections, even after treatment – If your yeast infection just won’t go away, a stubborn systemic overgrowth of Candida may be to blame.
2) Ongoing tiredness and fatigue – If your gut isn’t performing optimally, over time this can lead to fatigue caused by improper nutrient absorption from your diet.
3) Brain fog – Candida produces a variety of chemicals, one of which is a neurotoxin called “acetaldehyde.” Normally, the small amounts produced by Candida are easily processed by the liver. However, if you have a Candida overgrowth, acetaldehyde and other toxins can build up and affect your memory, focus, and other brain function.3
4) Digestive issues such as constipation, diarrhea, nausea, gas, cramps, and bloating – If you experience any of these symptoms more than occasionally, then you likely have an imbalance in your gut microbiome, and Candida could be the culprit.
5) Recurrent sinus infections – Acute and short-term sinus infections are mostly caused by bacteria, but many longer term, chronic sinus infections are fungal infections. In fact, one study found fungal infections in a shocking 96% of the 210 chronic sinusitis patients who were tested!4 To further complicate things, most sinus infections are treated with antibiotics, which can kill off the beneficial bacteria in the gut and contribute to overgrowth of Candida.
6) Joint pain – Uric acid is another compound produced by Candida, and it can lead to joint pain in various parts of the body. A build-up of uric acid can lead to gout, which is associated with pain, stiffness, and swelling in your joints.5
7) Skin issues like acne, eczema, or psoriasis – Many of our patients have leaky gut, meaning the lining of their digestive tract is more permeable than it should be. This allows cells, yeast, and toxins to pass from the intestine into the bloodstream.
Once in your bloodstream, yeast like Candida can grow in other areas of the body, including your skin. This explains why researchers have found Candida in skin cultures of eczema patients.6
Anecdotally, some of our patients will say they developed eczema while pregnant when they have never had it before, and after pregnancy, they will have a flare-up when they are stressed. Risk factors of developing a Candida overgrowth include an increase in estrogen levels, a compromised immune system, and chronic stress – all of which are hallmarks of pregnancy. So it’s not super surprising it first presents while they are expecting, then recurs when they are stressed!
8) Low mood – Candida overgrowth negatively impacts the helpful gut bacteria that produce hundreds of neurochemicals your brain uses to regulate mental processes such as learning, memory, and mood. For example, gut bacteria manufacture about 95 percent of the body’s supply of serotonin, which influences mood.7, 8
The link between an imbalance of Candida in the gut microbiome and the impact it has on your entire body is fascinating proof that our physical systems, emotions, and habits are all closely linked and play important roles in our overall health.
The intent of the Candida Diet is to starve off the Candida and nourish the good bacteria in your microbiome instead.
We recommend omitting sugar, grains, dairy, fermented foods, and alcohol from your diet completely, as well as avoiding all fruit for the first 2-4 weeks. After that period, please treat fruit as a dessert, as it does contain quite a bit of potentially inflammatory sugar.
The ideal anti-inflammatory Candid Diet plate consists of:
As a rule of thumb, aim to consume about 10-15 grams carbohydrates at a meal and about 5-8 grams of carbohydrates at a snack. (We recommend the MyFitnessPal app for easy carbohydrate tracking!) Since you will be omitting all grains and fruit, your carbohydrate intake will come from vegetables.
More specifically, on the Candida Diet, OMIT:
Please LIMIT the following foods on the Candida Diet:
Feel free to ENJOY the following foods on the Candida Diet:
So you might be thinking, “What on earth am I going to make on this diet?” Fortunately, there are plenty of tasty, healthy options. Take a look at the recipes below to get started!
For breakfast, try delicious Toasted Coconut “Granoless” Cereal. This versatile combination of coconut, cinnamon, and cacao is made creamy with cashew, almond, or macadamia nut milk is ready in a flash!
For sides at your Candida Diet meals, try flavor-rich Detox Tabbouleh, the perfect accompaniment for your favorite protein. And we’re betting Easy Garlic Broccoli is bound to become a staple side dish in your house, just as it is in ours!
There are several scrumptious Candida Diet dinner recipe ideas, including Dijon Salmon With Herbs – it couldn’t be easier or more delicious and comes together in no time! We also love Healthy Chicken Tikka Masala, a creamy, rich chicken recipe that will rival your favorite Indian restaurant.
And you can’t go wrong with vegan Spaghetti Squash Noodles with Vegetable Marinara and Basil, a sneaky way to get lots of veggies and satisfy your spaghetti cravings, while staying gluten-free, grain-free, and low carb.
If you think you may have a yeast overgrowth, then absolutely! The wonderful thing about the Candida Diet is that it is also anti-inflammatory and detoxifying, so you’ll be doing great things for your body regardless.
In addition to dietary changes, we also recommend supplementing with a probiotic to boost the beneficial bacteria in your microbiome. (Just like the Candida Diet, probiotics are a great addition to your routine for your overall health.)
If you still have questions about candida overgrowth, please feel free to contact our office to make an appointment with a health coach or one of our physicians. You can book an appointment by clicking here. We are also happy to speak with you at (317) 989-8463, Monday-Thursday, from 8AM – 5PM Eastern time.
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The Center for Fully Functional Health® is led by a team of award-winning, internationally recognized physicians, committed to providing personalized, life-changing care.