What Is the Candida Diet?

This low-carbohydrate, anti-inflammatory diet supports gut health and may help prevent yeast infections.

The candida diet is a low-carbohydrate, anti-inflammatory diet that may reduce your risk of yeast infections by preventing the overgrowth of Candida.

Candida is a type of yeast that commonly resides in your body. But an overgrowth of the yeast may lead to infections. So, you may want to consider the candida diet if you are prone to yeast infections. 

Here's what you should know about the candida diet, including how and why yeast infections and what foods can help prevent or treat symptoms.

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What Is Candida?

Candida is a yeast, which is a type of fungus. Normally, Candida is one of the most common fungi that reside in or on your body. The yeast lives in symbiosis, or harmony, with the healthy microorganisms in your body.

Candida may reside in or on the following body parts:

  • Skin
  • Mouth
  • Throat
  • Gut
  • Vagina

But the overgrowth of Candida may cause a yeast infection in or on any of those body parts.

What Is a Yeast Infection?

Ordinarily, a person's body contains a healthy balance of bacteria and yeast. But infections are likely to occur when something throws off that balance. 

When Candida grows out of control, or if the yeast enters deep into the body, you may develop a yeast infection, also called candidiasis. Also, Candida can cause severe infections in the blood or internal organs, such as the kidney, heart, or brain.

There are three main forms of candidiasis: vaginal, thrush, and invasive.

Vaginal Yeast Infections

Vaginal candidiasis in also known as a vaginal yeast infection, vaginal candidiasis, vulvovaginal candidiasis, or candidal vaginitis.

The following factors may cause the conditions inside the vagina to change, increasing the overgrowth of Candida:

  • Hormones
  • Medicines
  • Immune system changes

Some people develop vaginal yeast infections if they take or have recently taken antibiotics. Antibiotics kill off the good bacteria that balance your system. Essentially, the yeast has more room to grow under those conditions, which increases the risk of infection.

Thrush

Thrush, called oropharyngeal candidiasis, happens when Candida multiplies and causes an infection inside the mouth, throat, or esophagus.

In healthy adults, thrush is uncommon. Infants, especially those younger than 1 month, are more likely to get thrush than other age groups.

Other factors that may increase your risk of thrush include:

  • Wearing dentures
  • Having certain health conditions, including diabetes, cancer, and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)
  • Taking certain medications, like antibiotics or corticosteroids
  • Having dry mouth
  • Smoking

Invasive Candidiasis

Invasive candidiasis can occur in various body parts, including:

  • Blood
  • Heart
  • Brain
  • Eyes
  • Bones

Unlike vaginal yeast infections or thrush, invasive candidiasis is a severe infection. Candidemia, a bloodstream infection with Candida, is a common infection in hospitalized people.

What Is the Candida Diet?

The candida diet is strictly free of sugars, grains, and dairy. The diet aims to restore a healthy balance of yeast and bacteria inside your body.

A key part of the candida diet is that it restricts your intake of carbohydrates, like sugar and starch. Candida relies on carbohydrates as an energy source. So, some evidence suggests that high levels of carbohydrates in a person's diet increase the amount of Candida in their bodies.

By restricting your intake of carbohydrates, you may starve the yeast of its energy source. Therefore, with the candida diet, you'll want to limit or avoid the following foods:

  • Bread
  • Baked goods
  • Pasta
  • Chips
  • Cereal
  • Fried food
  • Junk food
  • Soda
  • Coffee
  • Alcohol
  • Limit your intake of dairy, starchy vegetables, and fruits that are high in sugar

In contrast, low-sugar, gluten-free foods that fight inflammation are ideal on the candida diet. Those foods include:

  • Green vegetables
  • Meat
  • Fish
  • Eggs
  • Salad
  • Almonds
  • Walnuts
  • Herbal tea
  • Green juice
  • Unsweetened coconut water

For example, 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 a snack of almonds and carrots during the day.

How Long It Takes To See Effects

There's no set amount of time to follow the candida diet. Some people may feel better after a month. In contrast, others may see their symptoms clear up in several months. But once you feel better and see symptoms disappear, you shouldn't immediately go back to eating a high-carbohydrate diet.

For some people, cutting out certain foods can be challenging. In fact, 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.

Low-carbohydrate diets, like the candida diet, eliminate many addictive foods, such as alcohol, sugar, and caffeine. Often, those foods promote irritation and inflammation. 

Eventually, you may even notice your cravings for starchy and sugary food disappear altogether. And you may have more energy, are not as hungry as you were before, and see improvements in your skin and mental health. The longer you stick with the diet, the better you'll feel. 

Candida Diet Risks

One risk of following a low-carbohydrate diet, like the candida diet, is that you may not get enough fiber. Fiber is an essential nutrient that helps lower blood sugar, cut cholesterol, and play a role in preventing certain health conditions, like colon cancer.

Low-carbohydrate diets can also be hard to stay on for the long term. And they can be more costly and present challenges if you do not enjoy cooking.

Tips on Dietary Changes

Like all diets, you should talk to a healthcare provider before starting the candida diet or making large changes to your eating patterns.

For example, a nutritionist can help you determine what works best for you and your health concerns. 

Also, a nutritionist may suggest other ways to support your immune system to avoid infections, like:

  • Taking vitamins or a probiotic
  • Getting enough sleep
  • Avoiding stress

A Quick Review

Candida is a common yeast found in the body. Under some conditions, like taking antibiotics, the yeast can overgrow, which may cause yeast infections in various body parts.

The candida diet is a diet that cuts down the energy source for Candida: carbohydrates. The diet may help prevent or alleviate the symptoms of yeast infections. 

Consult a healthcare provider or nutritionist who can help determine what diet is best for you and your health concerns.

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Sources
Health.com uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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