Article about anti-candida diet
It is suggested by some medical authorities and nutritionists that a yeast known as candida albicans may be involved in causing a range of symptoms which are put down to food sensitivity. This however is a controversial area. It may be that the balance of microorganisms in the gut is disturbed, with the beneficial bacteria being reduced, allowing other bacteria – or possibly yeasts – to establish themselves. This situation may arise particularly when courses of antibiotics are taken. These antibiotics then kill off the friendly good gut bacteria and allow other bacteria or candida to grow. This situation may also arise after severe stomach infections. Nutritionists sometimes refer to this situation as "gut dysbiosis".
Above: the candida cycle
The most frequently seen symptoms in this condition are those of an irritable bowel syndrome, wind and bloating, constant fatigue, mild depression, muscle or joint pains, headaches, vaginal thrush, a craving for sweet foods and an intolerance of alcohol. Other problems may include sensitivity to foods containing yeasts and moulds and even sensitivity to musty or mouldy atmospheres and damp weather. Foods containing sugar, in particular those which are high in sugar, are commonly reported as leading to symptoms. It is hypothesised that this is due to the fact that troublesome bacteria and yeasts feed and thrive on the sugar.
Candida type infections may also occur in those individuals whose immune system is not functioning as well as normal. For example this may occur after a prolonged illness or a long period of stress. Other factors that make people susceptible to candida include the long-term use of steroid medication for conditions such as asthma and autoimmune diseases. In addition, deficiencies of vitamins and minerals may also adversely affect the immune system.
The nutritional treatment of dysfunctional gut involves three different aspects.
- Firstly, follow a special diet which may discourage the growth of the offending bacteria or candida albicans. This can be achieved by avoiding foods which contain sugars, and also yeasts and moulds (to which there appears to be some form of sensitivity). There is also some evidence that a diet which is high in garlic may help
- Secondly, take a course of prescribed antifungal medication from a qualified medical practitioner
- Thirdly, re-colonise the gut with friendly bacteria. This can be achieved by taking a prebiotic supplement such as fructo-oligosaccharides (FOS), which feeds the beneficial bacteria, together with a probiotic supplement containing Lactobacillus acidophilus and bifidobacteria bacteria. These beneficial bacteria are also present in reasonable quantities in some live yoghurts.
There are many different anti-candida diets being offered by private nutritional therapists and doctors. Some of these are probably unnecessarily strict – for example, they forbid all grains or dairy products. Some patients may respond to these diets because in fact their symptoms were not due to candida type infections at all but may be due to a grain or dairy allergy. Other therapists recommend avoiding all fruit – this is a tactic which is neither sensible nor necessary.
Above: anti-candida diet pyramid
Shopping guide for anti-candida diet
Very important foods
Live yoghurt, garlic, oysters, green vegetables, mangetout peas and peppers.
Foods to choose for an anti-candida diet
- Zinc- rich foods such as wheat germ, calves liver, oysters, cocoa powder, pumpkin, beef and crab.
- C-rich foods such as broccoli, sweet-corn, most salad leaves, spinach, tomatoes (you may need to avoid this if you're following a GERD diet), chillies (caution if you have acid reflux disease), peppers, leafy greens, sprouts, mange-tout peas, blackcurrants, kiwi fruit, strawberries, citrus fruits (caution if on a GERD diet) and pawpaw.
- Live yoghurt
Foods to avoid with an anti-candida diet
- All yeast containing (raised) bakery goods, for example breads, buns, all leavened breads.
- All fermented drinks such as beers, wines, sherries and spirits.
- All alcohol containing products, e.g. some medicines – check the label.
- All vinegars including malt and wine vinegars, and foods containing these such as pickles, sauces and relishes
- All cheeses
- All malted drinks, malted cereals and sweets
- Mushrooms and fungi of all kinds
- Nuts and seeds may also be yeasty or carry moulds and it may be sensible to avoid these as well.
- Soy sauce
- Vitamin B supplements and brewers’ yeast tablets, unless these are labelled “yeast-free”.
- Canned, packeted or frozen fruit juices. Home-squeezed fruit juice is fine. Remember to avoid citrus fruits if on an acid reflux diet.
- Dried fruits Sugars, syrups and high sugary products.
- Vegetarians and vegans should not avoid nuts and seeds, but preferably should use cashew nuts and pine nuts (which tend to be better tolerated) in preference to other types of nuts.
Above: woman on a candida diet enjoying a live yoghurt
Further information and advice
You may like to take a daily supplement of the prebiotic fructo-oligosaccharides and probiotics containing Lactobacillus and bifidobacteria. It is safe to eat several portions a day of live yoghurt containing the probiotic bacteria. This will help boost the levels of healthy bacteria.
The drinks it is recommended that you stick to are: water, herbal teas, skimmed milk or semi skimmed milk, fresh fruit and vegetable juices, cocoa made with skimmed milk and artificial sweetener ideas for snacks include live yoghurt, rye crisp bread with hard-boiled egg, pitta with hummus.
For breakfast every day eat live yoghurt, orange (caution if on a GERD diet) or kiwi fruit, home-made muesli with no dried fruits.
This anti-candida diet is quite strict and difficult to follow. Fortunately, in the long-term those people who have had candida- like infections may after treatment be able to tolerate some, or all, of the forbidden foods again. However, it is important to note that a healthy lifestyle and a good immune system are the best ways to fight the condition.
If you are considering or trying to follow an anti-candida diet and a GERD diet at the same time, I would advise that you discuss this with your doctor or a qualified dietician or nutritionist first. This is to ensure that your diet is balanced and healthy and to ensure that you are not lacking any vital nutrients, vitamins or minerals.
Above: picture of candida albicans under microscope
Above: Anti-candida diet