Candida or yeast overgrowth is an incredibly common condition among those with autoimmune disease, gut issues, fatigue, brain fog, and other chronic health problems.
It occurs when Candida, a form of fungus that lives in your digestive tract, colonizes your gut, overpowering the good bacteria that usually keep it in check. This wreaks havoc on your gut, causing it to become leaky and leading to a huge variety of symptoms, including digestive issues, fatigue, brain fog, recurring fungal infections, skin problems, seasonal allergies, and mood swings.
If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms, take the short quiz below to determine if Candida overgrowth is the culprit.
Many factors, including medications like antibiotics1 and birth control, toxins, and stress contribute to Candida, yet diet is often the biggest factor. A diet full of inflammatory, sugary, and processed foods creates the perfect conditions for yeast to thrive and multiply. Although I recommend adding in yeast-fighting supplements there is another key step to fight Candida overgrowth. You must eliminate foods that feed Candida and replace them with whole, nutrient-dense foods. It is one of the most important steps in beating Candida and healing your gut.
Foods that Feed Candida
Whether you have an active Candida overgrowth, you’ve recently overcome Candida overgrowth, or you’re trying to prevent it, here are nine important foods to ditch.
1. Sugar and Sweeteners
This one is a bit of a no-brainer because sugar affects your entire body due to its inflammatory effect on the body, and inflammation is at the root of nearly every chronic illness. Sugar especially affects Candida overgrowth as yeast feeds on sugar. That being said, you will want to cut out all sugar and sweeteners. The key here is avoiding not just the obvious sources such as sodas, candy, cakes, and cookies, but also the sugar lurking in unexpected places, including salad dressings, low-fat packaged foods, protein bars, and more. Make sure to carefully check all of your food labels for hidden sources of sugar while following an anti-Candida diet.
2. Wine and Beer
Hopefully, you’re limiting alcohol already, and it is particularly important to cut out beer and wine while getting your yeast in check. Wine is not only fermented (meaning it is made from yeast), it is also high in sugar. And beer, which is also fermented, contains gluten. All of these factors contribute to Candida.
In addition, alcohol can worsen leaky gut, which is one of the most dangerous impacts of yeast overgrowth. It leads to so many other symptoms and health problems as the Candida leaks into your bloodstream in addition to the inflammatory molecules from what you consume. Alcohol also suppresses your immune system, and a strong immune system is needed to not only fight off invaders in your body, but also to keep your yeast population under control.
3. Dried Fruit and Fruit Juices
Although fruits can be part of an anti-inflammatory and antioxidant-rich diet, they are high in sugar and still feed Candida. Dried fruit and fruit juice can be major culprits of yeast overgrowth, especially if you like to snack. They may seem like healthy options, however, they’re not. In addition to natural fruit sugars (which is still sugar, even though it’s natural!), dried fruit and fruit juice are usually full of added sugars as well. If you find you have a problem with Candida overgrowth, try cutting out all dried fruit and fruit juice. You can still enjoy up to one cup of delicious whole fruits per day!
4. Gluten and Grains
As you know, gluten is highly inflammatory. It’s also a grain, and all grains are broken down into simple sugars during the digestive process, which can feed Candida. That’s why I recommend avoiding them entirely (particularly if you have an autoimmune disease) or limiting your intake of them. I’ve included some specific tips on exactly how much to limit grains, legumes, and starchy vegetables below.
5. Beans and Other Legumes
Even though beans and legumes provide a great plant protein, they are starchy and feed Candida2. Legumes can also be inflammatory to many people because they contain agglutinins. Like grains, legumes can also be difficult for your body to digest, meaning there is more partially digested food in your gut. An overabundance of partially digested food in the intestinal tract provides feeds bacterial overgrowth. I recommend minimizing legumes or eliminating them altogether.
6. Starchy Vegetables
Like fruit, this is one that sneaks by many people. Certain starchy vegetables including acorn squash, butternut squash, and spaghetti squash are considered good sources of carbohydrates. However, once eaten, they are broken down into the sugars that feed Candida3. Focus on eating plenty of leafy greens, and other tasty veggies like Brussel sprouts, broccoli, cauliflower, and asparagus.
While following an anti-Candida diet, I advise keeping your combined consumption of grains, legumes, and starchy vegetables to one cup per day.
7. GMO Foods
Glyphosate, the herbicide used on GM crops, is a potent chemical that can attack the bacteria in your gut. The good bacteria that help with digestion and keeping the bad bacteria in check are more likely to be susceptible to glyphosate. While the bad bacteria, including strains that cause salmonella and botulism, are highly resistant to glyphosate4. Eating GMO foods can decrease your healthy bacteria and increase the bad bacteria, not only fueling Candida overgrowth, but also contributing to leaky gut, and inflammation.
8. Fermented Foods
This is a hotly debated topic, but I believe that anyone with Candida overgrowth should avoid fermented foods until their yeast population is under control. The prebiotics produced during the fermentation process feed also feeds bad bacteria and yeast. Fermented foods themselves may be high in bad bacteria and yeast! I recommend killing Candida first and then using fermented foods to help restore the good bacteria.
Dairy does not directly feed Candida, yet it is a highly inflammatory food. Inflammation damages your gut lining, which is already leaky due to an overgrowth of Candida. This allows the yeast to continue escaping into your bloodstream, along with toxins, microbes, and other particles.
Once all of these foreign particles enter your bloodstream, they trigger a fresh wave of inflammation as your immune system tries to neutralize the threats. Until your leaky gut heals, the particles just keep on coming, and this constant level of inflammation can eventually lead to an autoimmune disease.
Do you think you have Candida overgrowth?
Foods That Fight Candida Overgrowth
Ditching the nine foods above will go a long way in starving the yeast so that your good bacteria can restore your gut’s healthy balance5. You can also stock up on the foods that kill Candida to help your body combat the yeast overgrowth. Some of the top foods to help fight Candida include:
- coconut oil
- apple cider vinegar
- cruciferous vegetables
- olive oil
- wild salmon
- lemon juice
Supplements to Help Eliminate Candida Overgrowth
While adopting a low-carb and anti-inflammatory diet is key to beating Candida overgrowth, diet alone can take up to six months to restore your gut’s natural balance. That’s why I recommend adding in yeast-fighting supplements while following an anti-Candida diet.
The supplements I use in my clinic are Caprylic Acid and Candifense®. Caprylic acid is a naturally occurring fatty acid that comes from coconut oil. Caprylic acid is known for its antiviral and antifungal activity. Candifense® also contains a combination of plant-based enzymes that break down the cell walls of Candida and the enzymes in it discourage yeast overgrowth in the gut. Candifense® is a safe, effective, and gentle approach to maintaining a healthy balance of microflora throughout the digestive tract.
I also recommend taking a high-quality probiotic to restore your population of good bacteria. These friendly bacteria strains will prevent a future Candida problem and are essential for supporting a healthy gut and immune system.
- Mechanisms by Which Antibiotics Increase the Incidence and Severity of Candidiasis and Alter the Immunological Defenses. M E Seelig. NCBI. 1966.
- What is Resistance Starch. Emma Cockrell. Nutrition Help. 2017.
- Limited Effect of Refined Carbohydrate Dietary Supplementation on Colonization of the Gastrointestinal Tract of Healthy Subjects by Candida Albicans. S L Vargas, C C Patrick, G D Ayers, W T Hughes. NCBI. 1993.
- The Effect of Glyphosate on Potential Pathogens and Beneficial Members of Poultry Microbiota in Vitro. Awad A Shehata, Wieland Schrodl, Alaa A Aldin, Hafez M Hafez, Monika Kruger. NCBI. 2013.
- The Candida Diet: Beginner's Guide and Meal Plan. Autumn Enloe, MS. RD. LD. Healthline. 2018.