The gut is often at the forefront of conversations around health and weight loss nowadays, and for good reason. A growing body of research suggests that the bacterial environment in the gut, otherwise known as the microbiome, affects everything from our brain health to our immune response. However, harmful bacteria like candida can also grow in the gut, causing a slew of health problems. Luckily, you can treat and even prevent this issue by following the candida diet.
Candida is a type of yeast bacteria that is naturally present in the mouth, digestive tract, skin, vagina, and other areas of the body. It’s normal for candida bacteria to be present without causing harm, however, different diet and lifestyle factors can cause some harmful strains of candida — namely, candida albicans — to grow uncontrollably. In high amounts, candida albicans can cause things like inflammation, UTI’s, vaginal yeast infections, skin rashes and fungal infections on the skin, oral thrush, excessive fatigue, nail fungus, and joint pain. Yikes!
Candida overgrowth can be caused by a number of factors including taking a round of antibiotics, excessive stress, alcohol, birth control pills, diabetes, and eating a diet high in sugar or refined carbs. Luckily, combating candida overgrowth in the body can be done using the candida diet.
According to the candida diet website, “The Candida diet is designed to improve gut health, reduce inflammation, and boost immunity. The principles of the diet include removing added sugars, consuming fermented foods, and avoiding pro-inflammatory triggers like gluten and processed foods.” Essentially, you’ll be eliminating processed foods, sugary foods, and refined carbs, while severely limiting alcohol and caffeine. At the same time, you’ll be adding in fermented foods, pseudo-grains like quinoa, lean proteins, and lots of fresh fruit and vegetables.
There are several elements to the candida treatment plan, and the first recommended step is a cleanse. Developers of the candida diet suggest that taking a short cleanse before you start the more long-term candida diet could help flush out toxins and prime the body for the real diet. The cleansing phase should only last a few days (less than a week), but there’s no set amount of time. During this phase, you’ll consume mostly non-starchy veggies, protein from eggs, and eliminate grains and sugars (including those in fruits). For a full list of approved foods for the cleansing period, check out this page.
Once you’re ready to start the diet, the foods you can eat grows a little larger. Again, non-starchy veggies like zucchini, broccoli, and cucumber are emphasized because they contain a ton of nutrients and have very little effect on your blood sugar levels. Other approved foods on the candida diet include low-sugar fruits like avocados, lemons, limes, and berries, gluten-free grains like quinoa and buckwheat, high-quality protein from eggs, chicken, and fish, healthy fats like avocado, olive oil, and ghee, and non-caffeinated beverages like tea, non-dairy milk, and infused water. For a full approved candida-diet food list, check out this page!
Another important element of the candida diet is taking a high-quality probiotic. On the diet, you’re encouraged to eat foods that are high in probiotic bacterias like sauerkraut and other fermented foods. It’s also recommended that you take a probiotic supplement to increase the amount of good bacteria in the gut and boost immunity.
The candida diet is meant to be a short-term solution and not a permanent lifestyle change. That being said, experts who advocate for it say that some will see improvements within a few weeks, while others will need to follow the plan for a few months before experiencing the full benefits. Even so, following the candida diet is a great way to train yourself to eat healthier in the long-term by eliminating processed foods and excess sugars, which will inevitably have major health benefits for your body.
Creators of the candida diet have put together so many resources to help you take your health into your own hands. Check out this page for a list of approved candida diet recipes, and more guidance for following the diet, reintroducing foods, and more!