The Candida Diet—What It Is and How It Works

This low-carb, anti-inflammatory diet promotes good gut health and can help clear candida infections. Here's why it works.

Certain changes in health are why many people look to diets that may help correct their problems. If you're one of them, you may have considered a diet that restricts your carb intake, like the Atkins or keto(genic) diet. But if yeast infections are common for you, you may have also thought about going on the candida diet.

But what, exactly, is this low-carb, anti-inflammatory diet and how can it reduce your risk of getting yeast infections? Before we can answer that question, here's what you should know about the candida diet.

So, What Is Candida?

Candida is a yeast (a type of fungus), and it's normally found on or in the body. It lives on the skin, mouth, throat, gut, and vagina. Candida lives in harmony, or symbiosis, with the healthy bacteria that live inside of our bodies.

Ordinarily, a person's body contains a healthy ratio of naturally occurring bacteria to yeast. But disease is more likely to occur when that balance gets out of whack. When candida grows out of control, that's when you get a yeast infection. The medical term for this is vaginal candidiasis.

There are three main forms of candidiasis. The first of those is vaginal yeast infections. The second one that you may be familiar with is candida infection of the mouth, throat, and esophagus. Candida that affects the mouth and throat is commonly known as thrush. And the third form is invasive candidiasis, which can occur in various parts of the body—including, but not limited to, the blood, heart, brain, eyes, and bones.

One of the reasons people get those infections is because they are taking (or have taken) antibiotics. That's because antibiotics kill off the good bacteria that keep your system balanced. Essentially, yeast has more room to grow under those conditions, increasing your risk of developing an infection.

The Basics of the Candida Diet

The candida diet is a strict sugar-, grain-, and dairy-free diet aimed at restoring the right balance of yeast and bacteria inside your body.

A key part of the diet is that it restricts your intake of carbohydrates, like sugar and starch. Researchers associate high levels of carbohydrates in a person's diet with high levels of candida in their body.

In other words, when you eat more carbs, you can expect an influx of candida. And, as we have seen, if candida levels are high enough, they can cause infections. And by restricting carb intake, we are (more or less) starving the yeast by taking away the stuff that feeds the candida.

Generally, the candida diet means staying away from certain foods, such as bread, baked goods, pasta, chips, cereal, fried food, junk food, soda, and coffee. You'll also want to limit your intake of dairy, starchy vegetables, and fruits that are high in sugar. Another source of sugar that you'll want to avoid is alcohol.

You may wonder what foods you can eat on a candida diet. Any foods that are low in sugar, free of gluten, and fight inflammation are ideal. Those foods include green vegetables, meat, fish, eggs, salad, almonds, walnuts, herbal tea, green juice, and unsweetened coconut water.

As an example of your new meal plan, you could eat eggs for breakfast, baked chicken or fish and a side salad for lunch, a burger without the bun for dinner, and then snack on almonds and carrots throughout the day.

How Long It Takes To See Effects

There is no set amount of time to follow the candida diet. Some people may feel better after a month of being on the diet. And it may take several months for others to see their symptoms clear up. However, once you feel better and see symptoms disappear, you shouldn't immediately go back to eating Dunkin' and pizza daily.

For some people, cutting out the foods you should avoid on a candida diet can be challenging. You may also find yourself getting hangry more often. You may have moments where you want to give in to your cravings, and that's perfectly alright. Keep reminding yourself of why you started your diet and stay strong.

And the longer you stick with the diet, the better you'll feel. That's because low-carb diets, such as the candida diet, eliminate many addictive foods (like alcohol, sugar, and caffeine) that promote irritations and inflammation.

Eventually, you may even notice your cravings for starchy and sugary food disappear altogether. And, you may find that you have more energy, are not as hungry as you were before, and see improvements in your skin and mental health, in addition to the infection clearing.

Tips on Dietary Changes

Whenever you make changes to your diet, especially major ones, it's always good to consult a healthcare provider.

For example, a nutritionist can help you determine what works best for you and your health concerns. Also, your nutritionist may have other suggestions—including taking vitamins or a probiotic, getting enough sleep, and avoiding stress, all of which help boost your immune system.

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Sources
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  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Candidiasis.

  2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Vaginal Candidiasis.

  3. Hoffmann C, Dollive S, Grunberg S, et al. Archaea and fungi of the human gut microbiome: correlations with diet and bacterial residentsPLoS One. 2013;8(6):e66019. Published 2013 Jun 17. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0066019

  4. Johns Hopkins Medicine Health Library. Losing weight from either a low-carb or low-fat diet lowers body inflammation - a risk factor for heart disease.

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