Struggling to slim despite your best efforts? There’s growing evidence that simply treating a hidden “yeast infection” in our GI tracts makes weight loss instantly easier. The yeast, called Candida albicans, can wreak havoc on our systems, causing symptoms like fatigue, digestive woes and weight gain. Thankfully, there’s a handful of yeast-fighting strategies you can try as part of a Candida diet to heal and rejuvenate. Keeping reading to learn about the dramatic health transformations two women experienced with a Candida diet, plus how you can get the benefits yourself.
What is Candida?
Candida albicans is a type of yeast that’s naturally present in our digestive systems. It’s typically harmless in small amounts. In fact, “It actually helps break down nutrients,” reveals world-renowned functional medicine expert Amy Myers, MD.
But these days, many of us are plagued by an overgrowth of Candida. “In my experience, nine out of 10 patients have an overgrowth of Candida albicans yeast, causing widespread problems,” says Dr. Myers. “For women over 50, the most common symptoms are brain fog, fatigue, sugar cravings, digestive issues, weight gain and an inability to lose weight.” (Click through to learn about the dangers of another common yeast, Candida auris.)
How Candida overgrowth harms health
While useful in small amounts, an overgrowth of Candida is that last health issue we want to add to our list. But why is overgrowth so common? Research suggests that stress hormones, antibiotics, blood-pressure meds, lack of dietary fiber and a sedentary lifestyle are all factors that suppress beneficial bacteria in our guts responsible for keeping yeast in check. “And all the sugar and starch we eat actively feeds Candida,” notes Dr. Myers. (Click through for more on how sugar harms health, plus how to avoid eating refined sugar.)
As yeast proliferates, trouble begins. “Candida can take on a stick-like shape and pierce the intestinal wall,” says Dr. Myers. “This allows food particles, toxins and yeast itself to pass into the bloodstream, where it circulates and can lead to inflammation nearly anywhere in the body.” Among the many health problems that result, European scientists say, this “leaky gut” causes biochemical changes that prompt us to store 57% more belly fat. It can also trigger immune-system malfunctions that lead to rheumatoid arthritis, slow thyroid and other serious diseases. But take heart: “Once you beat Candida overgrowth,” says Dr. Myers, “the transformation is incredible.”
What is the Candida diet?
To follow the Candida diet, “the first thing you’ll want to do is stave the yeast,” Dr. Myers shares. That means you’ll cut off the yeast’s favorite food supply: sugar. Opt out of eating sugar, processed carbs and alcohol while limiting fruit, starchy vegetables, grains and beans.
To bolster the effect, emphasize garlic, cruciferous veggies and ginger, all of which contain compounds that inhibit Candida growth; you’ll also benefit from apple cider vinegar and cinnamon, which have been shown to damage Candida cell walls. Another key: Dr. Myers recommends a daily probiotic supplement — look for one with “100 billion CFUs” on the label — to help restore the good bacteria that keeps yeast under control. (Click through to learn how probiotics help with bloating.)
Candida diet booster: MCT oil
Adding an inexpensive tablespoon of coconut oil or MCT oil to most meals can help work anti-Candida magic. Turns out, both types of oil are rich in caprylic acid, “which is well known to create an inhospitable environment for yeast,” says Dr. Myers. She says caprylic acid, which you can also get from supplements, is one of the best ways to get rid of yeast-related symptoms. And she’s backed by scientists at New York Medical College, who found that caprylic acid was up to 30 times more effective against Candida than prescription antifungals. Bonus: “The fatty acids in coconut and MCT oil stimulate metabolism and fat burning,” she notes. So for weight loss, it’s not just a good fat—it’s a great fat!
How much weight can you lose on the Candida diet?
As always, the weight you can lose on the Candida diet can vary based on your starting point and severity of Candida overgrowth. When it comes to issues like brain fog and digestive trouble, as women begin incorporating these yeast-killing strategies, “many, if not all, symptoms can be reversed in 30 days,” shares Dr. Myers.
Candida diet before + after: Tammy Blaszak, 58
Struggling with uncontrollable back pain, prediabetes and high cholesterol, Tammy Blaszak knew slimming down could help improve all her problems. But her best efforts failed. “I came across a chiropractor’s website that said Candida might be the reason I couldn’t lose weight,” recalls the Michigan grandmother, 58. She began following anti-Candida guidelines, skipping sugar and starch, cooking with coconut oil and taking a garlic supplement. “I lost 9 pounds that first week. On other diets, I was lucky to lose half a pound,” she marvels. Ultimately, Tammy shed 43 pounds. “My blood sugar, cholesterol and blood pressure are perfect. My pain is gone. I have energy all day! I’m not hungry at all. My life has completely turned around.”
Candida diet success story: Camille Pridgen, 76
When medical technologist Camille Pridgen began to suspect Candida was at the root of her health woes — weight gain, skin conditions, GI problems and more — she went to Dr. Myers. Diagnosed with a severe overgrowth (which, she learned, was exacerbated by mercury in old fillings), she got dental upgrades and started an anti-Candida regimen, including a probiotic and a low-sugar diet built around staples like grass-fed beef, veggies, berries and healthy oils.
Dr. Myers prescribed medication too, since Camille’s case was so advanced. Before long, “I had less brain fog and lost my sugar cravings,” recalls the Texas reader, then 67. “I ended up losing 132 pounds, most of it in the first nine months!” Eventually, she no longer needed meds for rosacea or acid reflux. “For so long, I was suffering and couldn’t find anyone who knew what to do.” Getting Candida under control made all the difference. Now 76, “one doctor said I have the energy of someone in her 40s!”
What to eat on a Candida diet plan
While eating to beat Candida, fill up on lean protein and non-starchy veggies with up to 1 Tbs. of coconut or MCT oil and/or olive oil at each sitting. (Too much oil may cause GI upset.) Also add 2 cups of fruit and gluten-free starch (such as a sweet potato or quinoa) daily.
To maximize results, avoid grains, sweeteners and dairy. Buy grass-fed, antibiotic-free and organic options when possible. As always, get a doctor’s okay to try any new plan.
Breakfast: Prepare eggs any style in 1 Tbs. of coconut oil with your choice of non-starchy veggies; add an optional serving of sliced seasonal fruit on the side.
Lunch: Cube 1 lb. stew meat, 2 lbs. root veggies and 1 onion; mix in slow cooker with 1 (28 oz.) can tomatoes and 5 tsp. Italian seasoning. Cook on low, 8 hrs. Serves 4
Snack: Go for assorted sliced vegetables dipped in guacamole; you can also simmer veggies in store-bought bone broth for an easy and filling snack-time soup.
Dinner: Pair roast chicken with veggies sautéed in coconut oil and an optional side of steamed cauliflower mashed with coconut milk.
Bonus recipe: Candida diet banana bread
Enjoy this comforting cake at breakfast or as a snack.
- 1 very ripe banana, mashed
- 1 egg
- 2 Tbs. coconut milk
- 2 Tbs. coconut flour
- 2 Tbs. walnuts
- ¼ tsp. cinnamon
- ¼ tsp. vanilla extract
- ¼ tsp. baking powder
- Pinch of salt
Stir all ingredients in a large microwave-safe mug until well combined. Microwave until risen and top no longer wet, about 3 min. Garnish with sliced banana and nuts, if desired. Serves 1
This content is not a substitute for professional medical advice or diagnosis. Always consult your physician before pursuing any treatment plan.
A version of this article originally appeared in our print magazine, Woman’s World.
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