Exciting news for those of us who struggle to get slim: There’s growing evidence that simply treating a hidden “yeast infection” in our GI tract makes weight loss instantly easier. We’ll refer to this plan as the anti-candida diet.
“In my experience, nine out of 10 patients have an overgrowth of Candida albicans yeast, causing widespread problems,” reveals world-renowned functional medicine expert Amy Myers, M.D. “For women over 50, the most common symptoms are brain fog, fatigue, sugar cravings, digestive issues, weight gain, and an inability to lose weight.”
So how do we follow an anti-candida diet? Dr. Myers prescribes a handful of natural yeast-fighting strategies that work so well that “many, if not all, symptoms can be reversed in 30 days.” In fact, women on anti-candida regimens report being up to 18 pounds lighter and totally rejuvenated!
According to Dr. Myers, having a little Candida in our system is normal. “It actually helps break down nutrients,” she explains. But these days, Candida tends to get out of hand. 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 the doc.
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 percent 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.”
Getting Rid of Candida
To get rid of Candida, “the first thing you want to do is starve the yeast,” Dr. Myers shares. That means you’ll skip 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. And here’s how you can take it to the next level.
Adding a 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, is one of the best ways to get rid of yeast-related symptoms.
She’s also backed by scientists at New York Medical College, who found that caprylic acid was up to 30 times more effective against Candida than prescription anti-fungals. 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!
The Anti-Candida Diet Plan
While eating to beat Candida, fill up on lean protein and nonstarchy 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.
This article originally appeared in our print magazine.