So many people go through life suffering from symptoms like fatigue, recurrent yeast infections, irritable bowel syndrome, itching, and headaches. But as diverse as those symptoms sound, they often all have the same cause – an opportunistic fungus named Candida albicans.
There is a universe living inside of you — and you might not even know it. Your gut contains around 100 trillion bacteria. Compared to your 10 trillion human cells, you are actually 10 times more bacteria than human. In addition to the colonies of bacteria, there are many yeast or fungus species that share this collective universe of microbes known as the microbiome. And the delicate balance of your gut garden helps determine the quality of your health. In fact, microbiome dysfunctions are linked to a staggering list of health problems, from weight gain and mental health issues to autoimmune diseases.
Three Common Causes Of Candida Overgrowth
A Course Of Antibiotics
Antibiotics are undoubtedly the most common cause of Candida overgrowth. They can be lifesavers, but they also come with serious side effects that should not be ignored. In fact, broad spectrum antibiotics are often prescribed for illnesses that would quickly clear up with a little rest. Unfortunately, this has some major consequences for our digestive and immune systems.
Eating A High-Sugar Diet
Can diet alone lead to a Candida overgrowth? Yes, it can, especially if an unhealthy high-sugar diet is eaten for a long period of time. The modern Western diet is full of sugar and high fructose corn syrup, particularly since the increase in corn subsidies in the 1970s.
A Long Period Of Stress
Stress may be one of the major causes of disease in today’s society. And there are a couple of different ways in which stress can affect your digestive system and contribute to a Candida outbreak.
First, stress raises your blood sugar. This is the typical ‘fight or flight’ response – your body senses the stress and makes lots of energy available for whatever happens next. And secondly, your immune system is weakened by stress as your body’s resources are diverted elsewhere, undermining your natural defenses against a Candida overgrowth.
In this post, I will present to you the perfect diet for dealing with a candida imbalance.
1. Cleansing Step 1: Liquids-Only Candida Cleanse (Duration 1–2 Days)
Start by making a vegetable broth from organic onions, garlic, celery, kale, sea salt and pure water. Let simmer and strain. Discard the vegetables and refrigerate the broth.
Throughout the day, sip on warm broth. It’s imperative that you drink lots of water to help your body expel all the toxins in your system. While this is not a long-term cleanse, it can be repeated as needed every few weeks. It can also be used as a jump-start to the second step for food cleanse.
2. Cleansing Step 2: Steamed Vegetables (Duration 3–5 Days)
By eliminating grains, sugars, fruits, starches, and alcohol from your diet for three to five days, you can make great headway in your fight against candida overgrowth.
You should mostly eat fresh, organic vegetables that have been steamed. For this cleanse stage, keep away from any starchy vegetables like carrots, radishes, beets, sweet potatoes and white potatoes, which may contribute to sugar levels and feed the candida. Continue to drink plenty of pure water, a minimum of 72 ounces per day, to help flush the candida and byproducts from your system.
During this time, no more than once a day, you can eat salads made from leafy greens (like romaine) or bitter greens (like chard) and topped with just a bit of coconut oil and apple cider vinegar (or lemon juice).
3. Diet Step 1: Remove The Problem Foods
First and foremost, you need to continue to remove the foods from your diet that literally feed the candida and encourage it to flourish in your body. The top offenders include sugar, white flour, yeast, and alcohol. These items are believed to promote candida overgrowth. If you avoid eating sugar and white flour, then you will easily cut out most processed foods, which tend to be higher in calories and unhealthy ingredients and low in nutrition.
4. Diet Step 2: Up The Intake Of Candida Killers & Boost Your Immune System
You want to make sure you include different fruits and vegetables on a daily basis, including apple cider vinegar, sauerkraut and other fermented vegetables, green veggies and green drinks, coconut oil, Manuka honey, garlic, ground chia and flax seeds, unsweetened cranberry juice, cultured dairy, as well as spices like turmeric and cinnamon.
In order to have success with the candida diet, it will take anywhere from a few weeks to several months. It really depends on the individual and a few key variables:
- How strictly you follow this diet
- The intake and effectiveness of probiotics and antifungals
- The severity of your candida
5. Diet Step 3: Reintroducing Off-Limit Foods
Once you’re free of your candida symptoms and the candida itself, then what? You are likely to go back to your old habits and ways of eating will likely just bring the candida back all over again. However, you can gradually reintroduce certain foods into your new candida diet.
Low-sugar fruits like green apples are a great example of a smart choice. If the reintroduced foods don’t cause flare-ups of candida symptoms, you can move on to reintroducing more foods that you have been avoiding. I recommend doing this reintroduction slowly and one item at a time.
Foods to Eat on The Candida Diet
1. Non-Starchy Vegetables
Fungus overgrowths eat what you eat. Plant foods like kale, spinach, Swiss chard, and bok choy offer a lot of nutrients without overfeeding the overgrowth. Some people do better with steaming or sautéing non-starchy vegetables, which is gentler on the gut.
2. Clean Meats
Grass-fed beef, wild-caught fish, and 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.
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. 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 re-inoculate a stressed-out microbiome with beneficial bacteria.
5. Healing Herbs And Spices
Herbs like oregano, ginger, and pau d'arco have all been shown to have antimicrobial effects. You can choose to use them in recipes, teas, or in supplement form.
6. Healthy Sweeteners
Non-sugary sweeteners like raw green stevia and xylitol are better alternatives to sugar (organic stevia like this is perfect), which can be harmful to the gut. 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 is probably the strongest gut medicine for most people. The collagen in the broth is building blocks to a healthy gut lining. Because it contains no sugar, it can also help starve down fungal overgrowths and turn down inflammation.
Foods To Avoid On The Candida Diet
Sugar — in all its forms — feeds candida. So be sure to read labels carefully since sugar has many different pseudonyms. While some may be healthier than others, they all feed candida to some degree. And be careful to avoid artificial sweeteners, as they can alter the balance of the gut flora.
It's called "nature's candy" for a reason. 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 another form of sugar, and should also be avoided. That's especially so for those containing gluten, which can be very damaging to the gut. Grain-free flours like almond, hazelnut, and coconut can be used in moderation.
Alcohol is tough on your intestinal lining and is even linked to leaky gut syndrome. Alcohol can also impair detoxification pathways, which need to be optimized when healing the microbiome.
Most dairy in the U.S. is considered 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. Moreover, many people with candida overgrowth have leaky gut syndrome, which can make them more sensitive to casein, a protein in milk.
6. Starchy Plant Foods
Starchy vegetables like potatoes, yams, and beets can feed the yeast overgrowth. While you're healing your gut, I would also avoid legumes like black beans, pinto beans, lentils, peanuts, cashews, and chickpeas.
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 that aren't easily digested by the gut. When eaten in excess, they can also feed microbiome overgrowths such as candida and small intestinal bacterial overgrowth.
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 decaf might actually be worse when it comes to both mold content and acidity.
The gut problem can be caused by the food we eat, the medicines we take or the day-to-day stress we experience. Eating and drinking food that is helpful for the gut can decrease chances of having candida and managing stress can avoid many diseases to occur. In this post, I shared with you the perfect diet for dealing with a candida imbalance.
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