What on earth is an anti-candida diet!?
Well, first we need to start off with a little bit out those pesky little buggers called ‘candida albicans’, which drive us to follow an anti-candida diet. There are actually several forms of candida, more often referred to as yeast, but the most prevalent form is candida albicans. Candida albicans is an opportunistic microbe and, if allowed, can invade and take over as a menace in the gut. Candida is a relatively harmless fungi living among “friendly” bacteria but when a person’s immune system is under attack candida is able to grow wildly out of control.
In treating candida, it can take from either 3-6 months or up to as long as 1 1/2 to 2 years to completely rid oneself of this problem. Candida symptoms can be generally mild like gas and bloating to severe like brain fog and fatigue. Any long-standing deviation from the diet puts oneself back in the line of fire that candida bacteria love so maintaining the diet for as long as possible ensures getting your immune system back on track. View these dietary changes as permanent with the understanding that we are all human and have the capacity to “fall off” the wagon. Forgive yourself for slip-ups (however, don’t make excuses) and get right back on the wagon as soon as possible. Never take on the defeatist attitude of “I keep slipping up so I give up!” Never give up!
Our first line item is the forever controversial subject – sugar! Most, if not all, candida diets suggest absolutely NO SUGAR. For those in a rush to get on with the diet see below:
The concept that sugar feeds candida is controversial. In trying to avoid controversies, it is best to look at sugar and what sugar really is. Any form of “sugar” be it from honey, maple syrup, coconut sugar, agave, corn syrup, etc. is sugar without fiber. Not sure the concern? Visualize a needle shooting liquid sugar directly into the bloodstream. Being that is not entirely factual because sugar does go through the digestion process, the pancreas needs to secrete more insulin to cover increase in blood sugar. With fiber intact, the pancreas is not working as hard nor does the blood sugar increase with such a spike. So know that sugar’s partner has always got to be fiber. Still not sure the connection? Think of chewing an apple vs. drinking apple juice. Same nutrients, different delivery. Sugar extracted from a plant whole is extremely detrimental to the bodily system including the endocrine and immune system.
- Stevia and Stevia Plus is the best alternative as a sugar substitute. Stevia, a natural, organic alternative has no affect on blood sugar but comes with, in my opinion, an aftertaste. It is the healthiest alternative to sugar or sugar substitute. Stevia has a staunch following. The brand I prefer if using stevia is Pyure
- Xylitol proponents claim it is a proven anti-fungal and inhibits candida yeast. The drawback to Xylitol is that it contains sugar alcohols that can increase blood sugar ever so slightly. Xylitol can also cause gastrointestinal upset if not easing into use of the product. Xylitol tastes the most like real sugar without any aftertaste. It is somewhat controversial in the dietary world as it is derived from corn. Being said, make sure your Xylitol is organic and comes with the non-GMO project sticker.
Sugar controversy aside, the best advice for improving any health condition would be to avoid sugar. The ideal amount of sugar your body would allow you to consume without burdening it would be 10g a day. That does not account for starches that break down into sugar (which is a NO at this point anyway such as white rice or pasta), fruit sugar (no fruit should be consumed at this point until after understanding food combining) and sugars derived from cooked root vegetables. Ten grams of sugar will feel like you are sugar deprived! This feeling/emotion will pass! Notice I say feeling and emotion. Your body needs energy but it will come from sugars intact with plant fibers, not really what you are used to at this point, unless dietary and lifestyle changes have already occurred.
MEAT, DAIRY, FISH
- NO Breaded Meats
- NO processed meats like sausages or deli meats.
- NO bacon.
- NO eggs or egg substitutes
- NO margarine, butter or butter substitutes. Ghee is the only option.
- NO dairy. That includes cheese, cottage cheese kefir, yogurt…
- NO red meat or game meats
- NO chicken
- NO fish
- NO way, wait? Why?
There can be some flexibility here. These are the standards to work towards. There’s a reason for the “no meat” policy and it’s reasoning is discussed in my upcoming ebook. Improving one’s health starts with eliminating digestive issues. Any kind of meat is hard to digest and fish not the healthier alternative, as it is generally rife with chemicals, which are not working for you! It is not advisable for me to suggest one particular type of meat or a particular type of fish as being better but 100% grass fed or organic meats with no antibiotic exposure from grains or injections is the best choice if you decide to eat meat. Choose wild meats over domesticated, and organic free-range (not cage free) poultry at the very least with pasture raised being superior to free range. Since producing yeast is the body’s way natural way to protect itself from mercury, refraining from high mercury fish is essential. To remedy the effects of mercury and heavy metals introduce a significant amount of cilantro whether in guacamole or in juices. Fish is so highly contaminated that my recommendation would be to avoid all fish at this point. If you must make an exception, purchase wild caught salmon – not farm raised – and sardines caught in northern (but not pacific) waters.
It is best to avoid these fish always and foerever: tuna, swordfish, shark, and shellfish.
This is not dietary advice but merely a guideline and framework designed to wean you off of animal product over consumption. The price of these higher quality meats and seafoods will minimize your intake.
- NO fermented products like Nama Shoyu, Kimchi or sauerkraut and especially Kombucha as most Kombucha contain alcohol. You may not consume these until your candida is completely gone. Unless you know the strain of yeast you carry and the good bacteria you are missing, consuming these products may further contribute to the imbalance of bacterial flora in the gut.
- NO white potatoes. Sweet potatoes may be eaten in moderation if they do not cause a problem for you. If you’re truly missing that dining out feel, try cutting sweet potatoes into small cubes without peeling the skin. Toss sweet potatoes in olive oil and bake in the oven on a cookie sheet at 375º F. Add salt. They are absolutely delicious and will taste like a delicacy at this point! The best foods to keep you full are starchy root vegetables as they contain high amounts of fiber, which in turn will keep you feeling fuller longer. Do not consume white potatoes or corn on or off the diet.
- NO cooked legumes for the first 30 days. If you can find sprouted as many mainstream grocers are now carrying sprouted beans and legumes – purchase those! They are a great addition to a salad and will keep your stomach feeling full. Living foods are full of nutritional value. If you’re not sure what a sprouted bean looks like, it has a little white tail growing out of the seed. It means it’s ready to be planted, but eat it instead!
- NO Whole Grains. This includes pasta, corn, wheat, millet, quinoa, amaranth, buckwheat, oats, and barley. In 21 days you may eat black wild rice, quinoa and buckwheat. White rice is off the table for good.
- Absolutely NO Yeasts…this includes bread, pastries and alcohol and hydrolyzed yeasts…Read labels carefully. Most, if not all, breads contain yeast. You will want to avoid most breads at this point. Certain breads over time can be entertained such as Ezekiel as this particular brand sprouts the wheat rather than using a stripped down version of denatured wheat. It all depends whether or not wheat gluten continues to affect you. While wheat gluten is wheat gluten, there is a difference between sprouted wheat and refined wheat.
- NO Diet or regular sodas or even carbonated beverages. Carbonation contributes to digestive issues. You’re most likely in this situation due to a problematic and poorly functioning digestive system. Even sparkling mineral water is off limits until you feel like bloating is not an issue. It usually takes months if not longer to fully resolved digestive issues, but again it depends on severity and age.
- NO Coffee (regular or decaf). Coffee is highly acidic. Poor bacterial gut environments love, love, love an acidic environment. There are low acidic coffees available, so if it is a must then go for it. The problem with coffee is it generally requires some form of sugar and creamer. Best to do without. In a real pinch there is a brand of “herbal coffee” that is actually steeped like tea called Teecchino. After a while it becomes tasty. My favorite kind is Dandelion Dark Roast as I think this tastes the most like coffee.
- Herbal teas are fabulous! The best tea for candida is Pau D’Arco tea, which can be found in health food stores. Pau D’Arco can be unappealing in flavor, so mix it with a fruity herbal tea. Remember no honey, agave, fructose, etc. in tea. Drink plain (killer), use Stevia (second best), or Xylitol (sounds good to me).
- Natural peppermint and ginger teas are very soothing on the digestive system. Remember, improving digestion goes hand-in-hand improving gut issues. Drinking tea before or after a meal is ideal
- Water is your best friend at this point, but don’t give it tap water as the chlorine in tap destroys gut flora. Drink half of your body weight in ounces when consuming water. Distilled and reverse osmosis filtered water is best! Distilled water is the best for removing toxins but should only be half (50%) of the water you drink. Smartwater or Artesian well water like Figi is best for the other 50%. Freshly squeezed lemon water is very alkaline and is great first thing in the morning and throughout the day. Try to drink four, 8-ounce glasses of distilled water a day, and 4 glasses of artesian well water like Figi or Hawaiian brand. Another good option is Smartwater which is distilled with added electrolytes. The water is meant to keep the body flushed of toxins. Water is essential to detoxification.
- NO Pickles, salad dressings, green olives or soy sauce as they are brewed in yeast. There are a few brands that store in citric acid. Again, not ideal but instead of going without food (and good plant based fat from olives) Divine Organics or Mediterranean Organics. The beauty of the Internet is if you can’t find something locally you can always order online.
- Homemade salad dressings made of olive oil, flaxseed, garlic, ginger and lemons are encouraged. Dressings need acid and vinegar through the brewing process makes for the best taste but adding lemon to the dressing is not only ideal but tasty.
- NO VINEGARS. These include ketchup, mustard, BBQ sauce, soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, pickles, pickled peppers, hot sauce, salad dressings, green olives, horseradish, dips, mayonnaise. Vegenaise is fine and the recommendation would be Grapeseed Vegenaise
- Black olives in water are fine.
- Unpasteurized apple cider vinegar like Bragg’s apple cider vinegar should be used as a drink between meals as suggested on the label and not used as a vinegar dressing. Please use a tonic.
OILS AND NUTS
- NO Partially hydrogenated oils including corn and peanuts as they can contain aflotoxins, another form of mold. Other mold prone foods are: coffee, chocolate, stored grains especially those found in beer and cashews. No need to go “nuts” here. It’s just important at this point to know what you are putting into your system. Embarking on a dietary change is serious business and you want to have the knowledge at hand to make better choices.
- Excellent cold-pressed oil choices are: Coconut oil, olive, and flax seed Coconut oils and coconut meat contain naturally occurring antibacterial and antiviral properties just another naturally occurring perk.
- NO Peanuts, peanut products, cashews and pistachio nuts on a yeast infection diet. Raw nuts including pecans, almonds, walnuts and pumpkin seeds are acceptable but must be eaten in moderation. Only a handful a day. Why? Nuts contain fat, which is hard on digestion. We want our digestive issues to improve and by giving your body/pancreas/digestive juices a break lightens your digestive load! Optimal digestion is paramount to optimal health. It can’t be emphasized enough!
- Avocados are a great source of fat on this diet as is coconut oil and olive oil. You may have 70% or higher organic, dark chocolate consuming less than 10g of sugar to help stave off sweet cravings and hunger. Keep in mind dark chocolate is mostly fat and fat is very satisfying. Don’t overdo the fats as it is difficult to digest!
GOOD VEGETABLES TO CONSUME ON AN ANTI-CANDIDA DIET
All green leafy vegetables are good on an anti-candida diet! Buy organic as you’ll be munching on the leaves! Keep pesticides out of your system!
Here are some other vegetable suggestions and if you’re not familiar try them out anyway! Asparagus, bell peppers, Brussels sprouts, all the cabbages are good, consume carrots raw. If you cook carrots it raises the glycemic index to double that of a raw carrot. That applies to beets as well. Check out our recipe for Rainbow Chard Rice Wraps that include raw beets here.
Other good candida yeast diet vegetables are okra which can also be eaten raw, summer squash, turnip, yellow squash, spaghetti squash, zucchini, celery, spinach, green beans or haricot verts, arugula, beet greens, bok choy, cabbage, Swiss and Rainbow chard, cucumber, endive, mesclun, purslane, radicchio, radish, vegetable sprouts, watercress, red bell pepper (not green), broccoli, Brussels sprouts, collard greens, dandelion greens, egg plant, garlic, kale, leeks, mustard greens, onion, scallion, shallot, and turnip greens. Do your best at purchasing these foods organic or at a local farmer’s market. Unsure of what’s being applied to the produce, just ask the farmer.
- Ingest as much chlorophyll as possible. If you’re not sure what chlorophyll is, it’s the green you see in plants including multi-colored ones. The green is still there, it’s just masked by other colors! Think back to grade school about that lesson on leaves and the sun!
- Fresh vegetables and freshly made vegetable juices is a MUST. Don’t have a juicer? Don’t have a juice bar near you? No problem. Cold pressed juices are more readily available these days than years past. Depending on your area you may even have a cold pressed juicery. If not, the produce section in your local grocery store may have brands such as: Evolution, Suja, Blue Print, Creative Juice, Pressed Juicery or Organic Avenue
- Be in the know! A new trend (but not so new concept) is souping! Souping is a great idea on an anti-candida diet. Why? Well, to keep with the constant and recurring theme…digestion! Chew your soups – liquefy your foods. Maintain that mantra and your tummy will surely turn the corner! If you can stand it, try to chew your solid food 30, 60 even a hundred times before swallowing. Take the strain off of the digestion and do the work yourself. Is this really beneficial for candida? You bet! Although digestion and candida are mutually exclusive, candida best resolves itself through optimal digestion, proper elimination and a healthy gut. For a great soup recipe click here for my Raw Cucumber Spinach Soup.
- NO tomatoes for the first 30 days. Tomatoes are considered a fruit and not a vegetable. While tomatoes offer incredible health benefits including anti-cancer phytochemicals, it is essentially part of the whole sugar – no sugar – optimal digestion issue at hand. Let’s keep it under the fruit category for now. You can, and I repeat, can eat fruit on an anti-candida diet but later. Want more information about fruit and why we it is reserved for a later part of gut healing click here.
Most herbs and spices are beneficial so use them in dishes. They add flavor and medicinal benefits. Be sure to use *dulse for iodine instead of natural salt. Dulse? What on earth is Dulse!? Dulse is a sea vegetable loaded with the necessary daily requirement of iodine. Buy already ground and add to salads. For an immediate purchase try Amazon.com and order Maine Coast Sea Vegetables – dulse flakes. If salt is a must, use pink Himalayan or Celtic sea salt. Don’t forget your iodine as it offers a big boost to the thyroid. For more thyroid boosting effects eat two Brazil nuts daily. Brazil nuts contain selenium, a precursor to iodine.
Raw garlic is a blood anti-fungal and anti-microbial, as is oregano. Both are excellent on this diet.
Remember the key points!
ABSTAIN FROM ALCOHOL
LIMIT SUGAR and OMIT ALL SWEETENERS
EAT COMPLEX CARBOHYDRATES FROM ROOT VEGETABLES
LIMIT GRAINS – KEEP AT A MINIMUM TO NOT AT ALL
CONSUME AS MANY GREENS AS POSSIBLE
EAT SPROUTED BEANS AND LEGUMES
DRINK PLENTY OF FILTERED WATER
AVOID ACIDIC FOODS AND DRINKS
LIMIT FATS FROM NUTS and SEEDS, OILS, COCONUT AND AVOCADOS
SUBSTITUTE SPROUTS FOR MEATS, FISH, EGGS (It’s no joke!)
JUICE, JUICE, JUICE
You may feel hungry but you won’t be. The hunger is actually a feeling of deprivation from old patterns of eating. Don’t give up. You may experience headaches from the caffeine and/or sugar withdrawal, which should only last for 24 hours. You may experience mood swings due to detoxification. For help with the unpleasant but limited effects of detoxifying click here for Detoxification 101 tips.
Try to refrain from taking any sort of over the counter medication to remedy the headache. Your blood sugar will need to balance out, so you will experience some fatigue and sleepiness. Do not fight it and give your body plenty of rest. By day three you should be feeling better if you stick to a strict diet. So, if you work full time starting on a Friday morning is ideal. You won’t notice any symptoms, if any, until Friday overnight. If you succumb to “putting yourself out of misery” by reintroducing caffeine, sugar and alcohol, you’ll have to start all over. If you find you really need a sweet treat, drink tea with coconut oil in the tea or 1tsp. of softened coconut oil with Xylitol (crunchy) and cinnamon as an after dinner snack. That helps stave off sugar cravings and is satisfying – at least somewhat until your appetite and palette change.
If you’re attempting this diet as a way to feel better, then try to stick with it for at least 30 days with the consumption of chlorophyll loaded plant based foods which provide oxygen to the cells. They’ll reboot and regenerate with a healthier balance. The body will cleanse itself in about 21 days so that would be the bare minimum but please don’t go back to the old you! The old you will begin to resurface again!
Truly the best method to swiftly eliminate candida is through a thorough mapable and comprehensive program including a regimen of supplements and fasting. This article’s recommendations focus primarily on the diet and no other means to tackle candida. Want the top 10 ways to combat candida, click here.
ALL INFORMATION CONTAINED HEREIN IS FOR EDUCATIONAL PURPOSES. THE INFORMATION IS NOT INTENDED TO REPLACE MEDICAL CARE, DIAGNOSE, TREAT, PREVENT, MITIGATE OR CURE DISEASE. AS ALWAYS, CONSULT WITH A HEALTH PROFESSIONAL BEFORE ATTEMPTING ANY SELF HEALTH PROGRAM.
Written by Laura Bushey, MAT, Certified Health Educator and Personal Holistic Chef with Kitchen of Life. For more about Laura, click here.
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