Candida is an opportunistic yeast/fungi that occurs naturally in the intestinal tract. It forms part of our gut flora, along with trillions of friendly gut bacteria, collectively known as microbiota. Problems can arise when the gut flora becomes imbalanced (dysbiosis) and the candida population starts to proliferate, potentially resulting in a multitude of undesirable symptoms. Dysbiosis can often occur due to prolonged antibiotic use (which kills off not only pathogenic bacteria but good gut bacteria as well, often resulting in the opportunistic candida (mainly C. Albicans) taking over.
Other causes of candida overgrowth can include poor diet, excessive consumption of alcohol, prolonged stress, or use of oral contraceptive pills. The most common symptoms include an inability to focus, poor memory, brain fog, dizziness, depression, panic attacks, low libido, fatigue, cravings for sugar and refined carbs and alcohol, bloating, joint pain, thrush, and athlete’s foot. However, symptoms can be widely varied and affect any area of the body.
A candidiasis diagnosis is often misdiagnosed or overlooked in the medical profession, and individual symptoms are often treated in isolation. Nutritional therapists, however, will be familiar with the condition and will prescribe an anti-candida diet that needs to be strictly adhered to, natural antifungal supplements, digestive aids and probiotics to re-establish good gut bacteria. Unfortunately, there is no quick fix for resolving candidiasis. Treatment often takes up to 3 months or more and requires careful monitoring by a therapist. Below is a list of what foods you should be consuming on a candida diet.
A beef bone broth is another great addition to the anti-candida diet, as it is a natural and easily absorbed source of minerals like calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, and potassium. It’s also rich in the amino acids glycine and proline, which are important for a healthy gut and digestion, as well as for a strong immune system– all very necessary when fighting candidiasis!
For anyone battling candida overgrowth, increasing the amount of garlic in the diet will be hugely beneficial. Amongst its many health benefits, garlic is one of the few foods that is antibacterial, antiviral, anti-inflammatory and anti-fungal. Garlic (along with onions) makes an effective antimicrobial primarily due to its sulfur content. During your anti-candida diet, include garlic in your cooking at every opportunity. It adds extra flavor to soups, stews, stir-fries and vegetables. It can even be eaten raw, if you’re brave, followed by some parsley to minimize ‘garlic breath’. In addition, garlic is a prebiotic, laying down the foundation for good gut bacteria to thrive and crowd out opportunistic candida overgrowth.
Ginger has many health benefits. It has powerful anti-inflammatory properties, is known as a digestive aid and helps combat nausea and motion sickness. Recent studies have also found that it is a potent antifungal. In a study published in the American Journal of Applied Sciences, researchers found that the antifungal effect of ginger was comparable with Nystatin, a commonly prescribed antifungal drug. Ginger can be included in almost any dish to add flavor and can also be used in juices, smoothies, and as a soothing and warming tea.
The juice of half a lemon squeezed into a large glass of hot water first thing in the morning helps to rid the body of waste products produced by Candida “die-off”. “Die-off” is what can occur when the candida produces increased toxins while exiting the body. This often exacerbates the original candida overgrowth symptoms and makes them appear worse before they improve. You can see why it’s important to drink lemon juice in water as well as consume high fiber foods like ground flax seeds. They will kick start the liver and bowel and aid in elimination, helping to minimize candida “die-off” symptoms.
Onions have powerful antifungal, antibacterial and anti-parasitic properties. They also flush excess fluids out the body, important because many people with candida overgrowth experience water retention. Onions and garlic can have an undesirable effect on the breath, so a handy tip is to follow them with a handful of parsley to combat any oniony breath! In addition, onions act as a prebiotic, laying down the foundation for good gut bacteria to re-establish and crowd out opportunistic candida overgrowth. Raw onions are best!
The medium-chain triglycerides (MCT’s) in coconut oil have extraordinary antimicrobial properties. By disrupting the lipid structures of microbes, they inactivate them. About half of coconut oil consists of lauric acid. Lauric acid, its metabolite monolaurin, and other fatty acids in coconut oil are known to protect against infection from bacteria, viruses, yeast, fungi, and parasites. Coconut oil has no negative effect on beneficial gut bacteria while at the same time inactivating undesirable microbes such as Candida albicans.
High fiber foods, such as ground flax seeds, act as a broom to sweep the intestinal tract, keeping it clean and healthy. During any kind of treatment that stimulates detoxification or die-off of any kind of organism, it is important to make sure the bowels are functioning well, and that route of elimination is open. Otherwise, toxic by-products can build up and leave a person feeling very sluggish. I encourage people to incorporate a tablespoon of ground flax seeds into their morning smoothie, to add fiber and also to provide anti-cancer properties through their lignans.
Fermented foods such as kefir actually encourage the proliferation of good flora in the gut. The best defense against Candida yeast is a good offense – and the fermented foods provide that offense. They contain beneficial bacteria, which help keep the gut clean, assist in the breakdown of other foods allowing maximum nutrient absorption, and via colonization of the gut wall, help protect against other infections such as parasites and E. coli.
Neem is a superb anti-yeast agent that can quickly help to bring the Candida in the digestive tract under control. It is a particularly strong herb, so higher dosages would only be recommended for approximately 2 weeks. A suggested dosage would be 5ml per day of a standard tincture, or maximum dosage of encapsulated neem powder.
A high-quality probiotic supplement should be used during and after an anti-candida diet. The beneficial bacteria strains that are most effective against candidiasis are Lactobacillus acidophilus, Bifidum, and a beneficial yeast called Saccharomyces Boulardii. The latter is named for the French scientist who discovered it and it is widely used in France, where it is referred to as the yeast-fighting yeast! Taking a probiotic supplement incorporating S. Boulardii has been shown to greatly increase the candida kill off rate. In cases of candidiasis, it’s worth investing in a probiotic supplement incorporating this important ingredient.
Spillanthes antifungal properties are due to the alkaloid Spilanthol. Spilanthol is also effective at extremely low concentrations against blood parasites (such as malarial spirochetes) and most invertebrates. Spillanthes is rich in immune-stimulating alkylamides, particularly isobutylamide. These will promote increased phagocytosis, which can help mop up excess Candida yeast cells.