Candida albicans is a type of yeast found in the body. The balance of microorganisms in the body is a delicate balance between helpful bacteria (probiotics) and harmful microorganisms. When candida starts growing too much, it can override the digestive tract and other parts of the body.
It’s normal to have some candida in the body, but if it gets out of balance it can cause harmful effects like yeast infections, fatigue, headaches or skin problems (1).
Getting candida back under control can take some time along with potential drastic changes in the diet. If you think you are suffering from having too much Candida in the body, speak with a medical professional for diagnosis and treatment options.
What causes Candida?
One cause for the abnormal growth of Candida is being on antibiotics for a long time. Antibiotics can wipe out harmful microorganisms in your body, but they can also get rid of helpful bacteria too.
This can give the chance for Candida to grow rapidly without much competition (2).
The overgrowth of Candida can also promote the growth of other harmful pathogens such as E. coli (3).
Candida can grow in the mouth, throat, skin, digestive tract, genitals or even in rare instances the blood (4). Symptoms and treatment will vary depending on where the overgrowth is, but you can do several things related to your diet to stop or slow the growth of Candida.
Probiotics can help fight off the Candida yeast throughout the body. In fact, some research (5) has shown that one type of probiotic, Lactobacillus spp. actually produces hydrogen peroxide that acidifies the environment so Candida can’t grow.
Depending on the severity of Candida growth, your doctor may suggest a probiotic supplement. You can also get probiotics through foods like: kefir, yogurt, fermented vegetables, kombucha or some cheeses.
One of the main goals for overcoming Candida through diet is to get the bacteria back in balance in your body, and one of the first steps is to make sure you are getting probiotic sources in your diet.
If you eat yogurt or kefir, make sure you are choosing ones that have no sugar added and have minimal artificial ingredients added.
Cut out the sugar and refined carbohydrates
Besides adding probiotics to your diet, another major step for fighting Candida is cutting out sugar. Candida yeast mainly feeds on sugar, so by cutting out sugar through your diet you are potentially cutting its food source.
Cutting out sugar can have many other health advantages, and you may notice you are feeling better in general just from cutting out sugar.
Easy sources of sugar are sweets and sweetened beverages. Hidden sources of sugar can include bread, chips, cereals, sauces, frozen meals, frozen pizza and other processed food.
Some sources also may recommend to cut out certain fruits, starchy vegetables, dairy and artificial sweeteners.
Dairy foods are a source of carbohydrates, but they can also provide beneficial probiotics.
Therefore, specific dietary recommendations should be individualized. If you have specific questions about which foods you should eliminate, speak with a dietitian or health professional.
A common term for treating Candida, or sometimes called yeast syndrome, is doing a Candida cleanse. This involves eliminating sugar, white flour, cheese and yeast from the diet.
While following this diet can offer many benefits, Mayoclinic (6) points out there isn’t evidence to support this diet curing Candida.
When diet may not be enough
Even if you cut out sugar and add probiotics to your diet, you may need other treatments if you have high levels of Candida that present as chronic yeast infections, thrush in the mouth or if the Candida infection gets into the blood stream.
People who are at a higher risk for Candida include those who are taking antibiotics for a long time, type 2 diabetics, those with weakened immune systems, those on steroid medications or who use asthma inhalers (7).
Candida is one of many naturally occurring microorganisms in the body. When Candida starts growing too much and over populating the digestive tract or other areas of the body, it can be problematic.
Dietary approaches to stop the growth of Candida include: getting probiotics through food and/or supplements and eliminating sugar from the diet.
Some cases may call for eliminating healthy sources of natural sugars like fruits, starchy vegetables and dairy.
Speak with your health care team to determine what diet intervention would be best for you if you are treating Candida.