by Dr. Will Cole
Among the 100 trillion bacteria, fungi, and other critters that are not technically you but live inside you, many are beneficial. They manufacture serotonin, generate much of your immune system, and keep the pathogenic bugs at bay. However, one of them – a yeast called Candida, is a persistent troublemaker. When overgrowth of this yeast happens, it has been linked to a staggering list of health problems, from weight gain and mental health issues to autoimmune diseases. That’s why candida overgrowth can be a real problem for many people.
In my previous article on the subject, I went over the signs and symptoms as well as the specific labs to have run to test for an underlying overgrowth of candida. Now I’d like to lay out the foods I recommend eating – and which to avoid – if yeast overgrowth is an issue for you. As Hippocrates said, “Let food be thy medicine and medicine thy food.” Let the microbiome healing begin!
8 Foods To EAT On The Candida Diet
1. Non-starchy vegetables
Fungus eats what you eat, but make the right choices and your fungal populations won’t overgrow. Choice #1 is plant foods like kale, spinach, Swiss chard, and bok choy, which offer a lot of nutrients without overfeeding the overgrowth.
Green leafy vegetables are also rich in folate, which I mentioned in my previous article, is needed for people with MTHFR gene mutations who are extra-sensitive to candida overgrowth.
Some people do better with steaming or sautéing non-starchy vegetables, which is more gentle on the gut than eating them raw.
2. Clean meats
Grass-fed beef, wild-caught fish, and organic organ meat (like liver) are rich in bioavailable fat-soluble nutrients such as vitamins A, D, and K2, all of which are needed for immune and microbiome health, without the toxins that can come from industrially farmed versions.
3. Healthy fats
Coconut, olive, and avocado oil are all healing to the gut. A variety of saturated and monounsaturated fats have an anti-inflammatory effect on the gut lining, which provides a less hospitable environment for fungus. Coconut oil in particular is rich in caprylic acid, which has been shown to inhibit candida overgrowth.
4. Cultured foods
Fermented foods like kimchi, sauerkraut, and coconut or grass-fed kefir will help reinoculate a stressed-out microbiome with beneficial bacteria, which can work to keep Candida at bay. I recommend eating these in moderation at the beginning of your healing so your digestion can adjust, and slowly increasing intake, as too much cultured food can cause a flare-up of symptoms from a too-quick die-off of the yeast overgrowth.
5. Healing herbs and spices
6. Healthy sweeteners
Candida thrives on sugar – its very favorite food – so choose non-sugary sweeteners like raw green stevia and xylitol if you need to sweeten your food. But even these should be used sparingly.
Tannins found in black tea have been shown to help kill off candida. Calming teas, like ginger, can help soothe the delicate gut lining.
8. Bone broth
This ancient healing food is making a modern comeback, and for good reason – it just may be the strongest easily available gut medicine. The collagen in the broth helps to rebuild a healthy gut lining and because it contains no sugar, it can also help starve down fungal overgrowths and turn down inflammation.
8 Foods To AVOID On The Candida Diet
Sugar – in all its forms – feeds candida, no question about it. If you want to get control of a fungal overgrowth, cut sugar out 100%, and be sure to read labels carefully since sugar has many different pseudonyms. Know that while some sweeteners may have more nutrients than others, they all feed candida to some degree. And just in case you think artificial sweeteners are the answer, think again. Research shows that they can catastrophically alter the balance of the gut flora.
It’s called “nature’s candy” for a reason – it’s made by nature, but it’s not unlike candy. I would suggest severely limiting or avoiding fruit while healing your gut. At the very least, stick to lower-fructose fruits like berries and citrus fruits like lemon, lime, and grapefruit. Besides being lower in sugar, these citrus fruits also have antimicrobial properties.
Grains are really just another form of sugar, and should also be avoided when healing a fungal overgrowth. That’s especially so for those containing gluten, which can be very damaging to the gut, giving fungus the upper hand. Grain-free flours like almond, hazelnut, and coconut can be used in moderation as a replacement. Later on, as you heal, you can slowly reintroduce gluten-free grains (like rice and organic, non-GMO corn) sparingly to see if they agree with you.
I consider most dairy in the U.S. to be junk food. That’s because the cows are given hormones and antibiotics, fed GMO corn instead of grass, and live in unhealthy conditions. The milk is then pasteurized and homogenized, and the fat, with all its vitamins, is removed. Synthetic vitamins are then added back because the milk is devoid of nutrition. In other words, dairy isn’t doing you any favors.
Moreover, many people with candida overgrowth have leaky gut syndrome, which can make them more sensitive to casein, a protein in milk, and the milk sugar (lactose) is, again, just sugar. The one exception I would make is grass-fed, full-fat, cultured dairy foods like kefir and yogurt.
6. Starchy plant foods
Starchy vegetables like potatoes, yams, and beets can feed the yeast overgrowth because of their high carb content, even though they do contain fiber and vitamins. While you’re healing your gut, I would also avoid legumes like black beans, pinto beans, lentils, peanuts, cashews, and chickpeas, which can be inflammatory for some people. As you heal, you can test these to see how your body handles them.
One specific food category that often goes unmentioned when it comes to gut problems are FODMAPS. FODMAP stands for Fermentable Oligo-, Di-, Monosaccharides, and Polyols and refers to carbs – often from otherwise healthy vegetables – that aren’t easily digested by the gut. When eating in excess, they can also feed microbiome overgrowths such as candida and small intestinal bacterial overgrowth, so avoiding them may be a temporary but critical strategy.
Some foods that are high in FODMAPS: onions, garlic, cabbage, and apples. Legumes are also high in FODMAPS. I suggest avoiding or limiting them while you heal, and then slowly increasing your intake to find your individual tolerance.
8. Conventional coffee
Coffee, in excess, is a well-known irritant to the gut lining. Coffee can also be high in molds, which can stress a compromised immune system and encourage Candida overgrowth. And decaf might actually be worse when it comes to both mold content and acidity. Make sure to search for high-quality organic coffee beans, and drink coffee in moderation.
Putting It All Together
Food is undoubtedly the most important factor you can modify on your own as you begin your gut-healing, Candida-busting journey. For more help, work with a qualified clinician on customized natural protocols. Consider taking advantage of a free webcam or phone evaluation to talk about your individual case. Always talk to a trusted health care provider before making changes to your diet.
If you want to learn more about your own health case please check out our free health evaluation. We offer in person as well as phone and webcam consultations for people across the country and around the world.
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