What is Candidiasis?
Candida albicans is a yeast that lives in the mouth, gastrointestinal tract, and genitourinary system of most humans. It is typically harmless but can become pathogenic under certain conditions. Candidiasis or ‘yeast infection’ is caused by this yeast and can affect the mucosal tissues of the mouth, vagina or any part of the body. It becomes a problem when the immune system is weak or compromised.
The incidence of candidiasis invasive has increased in recent years, likely due to changes in the microbiome. Treatment for oral candidiasis may include antifungal medications and/or probiotics or the candida diet to restore balance to the microbiome. The microbiome is a collection of microorganisms that live in or on the body and play a role in health and disease. We will discuss the microbiome further in another blog post.
What to do when you have a yeast infection
When you start seeing the signs of candidiasis, it’s probably time to see a doctor or naturopath. It can also be a good idea to try and manage the Candida levels in your body to bring them back to normal. The root of candidiasis invasive is a combination of a weakened immune system and changes in the body’s natural flora balance. So the ‘Candida diet’ limits sugar and carbs that are believed to promote yeast growth and works to boost the body’s natural immune response. However, it is important to note that if you choose the Candida diet to treat your yeast infection, solid evidence isn’t there that a change in diet alone can rid the body of candidiasis and candidiasis on skin .
How the Candida diet works
The Candida diet is based on the theory that yeast grows more rapidly when it has access to sugars and carbs, similar to how it acts when used to bake or brew beer. In those cases, adding sugar allows yeast to grow much faster. The Candida diet applies these same principles and deprives the body of sugar and other foods that fuel yeast growth.
Perhaps the most significant part of the Candida diet is that it recommends avoiding sugars at all costs. And this may hold some merit, as studies have shown that women with diabetes are 63% more likely to get yeast infections than women without diabetes. Many believe increased blood sugar fosters yeast growth in the mouth and vagina. However, the increased incidences of candidiasis in women with diabetes are more likely driven by the inability to correct hyperglycemia (high blood sugar levels) than by consuming too much sugar. However, for candidiasis in men and candidiasis in women without diabetes, there currently isn’t much evidence to support that avoiding sugar will help for candidiasis mouth.
The Candida diet has the same stance on carbs as sugar. While the body does convert carbohydrates into simple sugars, they don’t only find their way to the mouth and vagina. Some are used for immediate energy, some are stored for the future, and some are excreted. Generally speaking, if you have normal insulin levels and tolerance, your blood and mucosal sugar levels should remain normal. No evidence exists that a low-carb diet will prevent or rid the body of Candida infection. However, this is not an excuse to overindulge in carbs, as this increases your risk of Type 2 Diabetes and obesity. The 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans indicate that added sugar should represent less than 10% of your daily calorie intake.
The use of probiotics in treating yeast infections is currently under debate. Some studies suggest that taking a daily probiotic can slightly improve the imbalances that lead to yeast infections, while others say this isn’t the case.
Many proponents of the Candida diet recommend limiting wheat, which some construe to mean that a gluten-free diet may help prevent yeast infections. However, there is no evidence that wheat or gluten-containing foods cause Candida overgrowth.
The Candida diet – what to eat
Important Note:If you choose to try the Candida diet, we recommend you do so under the supervision of a health care professional.
The Candida diet is strict and requires eliminating many foods from several food groups.
Low-sugar fruits like limes and lemons are OK, as are small portions of berries. However, fruits high in sugar, like fresh, frozen, canned, and dried fruits, are generally excluded, as are juices made from these fruits.
Stick to vegetables low in starch, like broccoli, kale, and tomatoes, and try to avoid products that can be exposed to mold, like mushrooms.
Probiotic yogurt, ghee, and real butter (in moderation) are OK, but you should avoid full-fat dairy, ice cream, and frozen yogurt when on the Candida diet. You should also stay away from blue cheese, processed cheeses, cream cheese, and cheese dips.
Many Candida diets recommend cutting out wheat and gluten, but there isn’t much evidence to support that this has any effect on preventing or treating candidiasis.
Lean protein, like eggs, skinless poultry, bone broth, and fish, are allowed on the Candida, as are low-mold nuts and seeds. However, you should avoid red meat, organs, processed meats, and shellfish.
The Candida diet recommends avoiding alcohol and fermented drinks, like cider and root beer. You should also limit sodas, energy drinks, fruit juices, smoothies, milkshakes, milk-based coffee drinks and hot chocolate, and other sweetened beverages, sugar-free or not. You can drink coffee and tea in small amounts if they don’t contain sugar or creamer (dairy or non-dairy).
On the Candida diet, dessert options are minimal. You should avoid anything made with refined sugar, such as table sugar, brown sugar, honey, maple syrup, corn syrup, maple sugar, molasses, date sugar, raw sugar, rice syrup, or sorghum. And break can also contain these ingredients, so be sure to check the labels. The Candida diet generally allows sugar substitutes, like stevia, monk fruit, xylitol, and erythritol, in addition to cinnamon and ginger.
Is the Candida diet for you?
As you can see, many factors need to be considered when trying the Candida diet. There is limited evidence to show that simply changing your diet will prevent or help rid your body of a yeast infection. However, it provides a way to take better control of what’s happening inside your body and could help restore a natural balance to assist in the process.