Antifungal Diet | Foods That Fight Candida
Controlling candida overgrowth through diet and supplementation is essential for overall health and wellness.
Fungi is a natural part of the human body. Some kinds have the potential to cause harm, while others may actually have beneficial properties. Certain types of fungus, however, only become problematic when they begin to grow out of control. One type of fungus that functions in this way is candida. Candida albicans, the most common human fungal pathogen, can cause systemic infections. Due to the common overgrowth of this fungus, it is no surprise that candida is “the most common cause of fungal infections in humans.” Alongside its known ability to cause infections, this fungus is also responsible for a host of other unpleasant symptoms that affect the entire body.
Thankfully, the dietary choices that you make can directly control the growth of candida in your system. By following an antifungal diet, you can inhibit candida and prevent (or reverse) the symptoms of overgrowth.
Learn more about candida, the symptoms an overgrowth can cause, and how to take control of candida growth through the use of food and supplements.
What is candida (or yeast)?
Candida is officially defined by Merriam-Webster as “any of a genus of parasitic fungi that resemble yeasts.”
Above and beyond its dictionary definition, candida has a reputation of being an opportunistic yeast in the body. When healthy gut bacteria isn’t present, overgrowth can quickly become a problem. The toxins produced by candida have been shown to contribute to leaky gut syndrome, which causes challenges for the immune system. In short, it is important to keep the growth of this fungus under control at all times.
Symptoms of candida (or yeast) overgrowth
Symptoms of candida overgrowth can be experienced throughout the entire body.
Although candida garners a significant amount of attention for its ability to cause infections, it is actually responsible for a long list of symptoms. Because these symptoms can be experienced throughout the entire body, it isn’t always easy to identify candida overgrowth as the cause.
If you are experiencing any of the symptoms below, candida overgrowth could be the root cause:
- Poor digestion
- Fatigue and exhaustion (including chronic fatigue syndrome)
- Having a “sweet tooth”
- Problems with your mood (e.g. anxiety, depression)
- Candidiasis (defined by the CDC as a “fungal infection caused by yeasts that belong to the genus Candida.”)
- Having one or more autoimmune diseases (e.g. ulcerative colitis, psoriasis)
Why is it so important to get candida and yeast growth under control? A healthier body and gut depend on it! Because bacterial metabolites mediate communication between the commensal microbiota and the immune system1, preventing overgrowth is needed when trying to decrease overall inflammation.
Foods that cause candida overgrowth
Sugars and carbohydrates cause candida to thrive within the body.
One of the most frustrating parts of having a candida overgrowth within the body is that you often develop strong cravings for the foods that cause the yeast to thrive. If you suspect a potential candida overgrowth, be sure to avoid the following things while on an antifungal diet:
- Simple carbohydrates and sugar
- Overconsumption of antibiotics
- Fruit juices
- Foods that contain yeast
The Best Foods That Fight Candida?
Consuming foods and oils such as MCT oil, bone broth, and high fiber foods is a crucial part of following an antifungal diet.
In addition to avoiding food and beverage that cause candida to thrive, it is important to eat foods that fight excess candida. An effective antifungal diet should include plenty of the following foods:
- Coconut oil: Studies have shown that coconut oil is proven to have significant antifungal properties2.
- MCT oil: Contains capric acid and caprylic acid, which both effectively inhibit candida3.
- Garlic: Garlic is proven to help reduce candida growth4.
- Bone broth
- Apple cider vinegar: Highly effective in reducing candida growth5.
- Fermented foods: However, be sure to use with caution. Fermented foods can be effective in fighting candida, but they can also feed candida. Start by starving or killing existing candida for a period of time before consuming any type of fermented foods.
- Cruciferous vegetables: Cauliflower, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, kale, collards, bok choy, radishes, arugula, turnips, and cabbage. Be sure to cook broccoli, Brussels sprouts, bok choy, cabbage, kale, and collards before eating for best results.
Fiber, Yeast & Candida
- More about the role of high fiber foods: Although fiber is most known for its ability to clean the intestinal walls and improve heart health, it is also useful in reducing candida. As a nutrient, the most important role of dietary fiber is that it feeds intestinal bacteria. Once gut bacteria feast on fiber, they produce a fatty acid called butyrate. In the same way that we release carbon dioxide when we inhale oxygen, butyrate is a byproduct of well-fed gut bacteria. Butyrate is a short-chain fatty acid. Short chain fatty acids help the gut by preventing leaky gut syndrome6 (that can be caused by candida).
- These acids also serve as modulators for our immune system7. Not having a sufficient supply could also predispose individuals to candida overgrowth and autoimmune disorders. Also, helping gut bacteria create short-chain fatty acids has been shown effective in reducing candida8.
- Foods high in fiber: Artichokes, avocados, asparagus, spinach, celery, carrots, and cucumbers.
- Lemon and limes: Both contain limonene, which has been found effective in killing candida9. Lemon oil also contains natural antifungal properties10.
Supplements that support
Want to kick start your antifungal diet? Make the most of your efforts by taking supporting supplements.
Following an antifungal diet protocol is easily the most powerful way to reduce candida overgrowth. As part of this diet, it is often necessary to use specific supplements for a much-needed boost.
Use the following supplements to further control the levels of candida within your body:
- Probiotics: A quality probiotic is essential for building healthy gut bacteria. As mentioned earlier, your gut bacteria is responsible for producing butyrate. If you do not have a sufficient population of healthy gut bacteria, this process will suffer.
- Clove oil and rosemary: When used by themselves or in combination are effective at reducing fungal loads11. Clove oil and rosemary have also has been shown to be effective natural antibiotics.
- Vitamin C: This vitamin in specific has been shown to fight candida overgrowth by boosting the immune system.
- Allicillin: Contains Garlicillin®, a blend of garlic oil and parsley oil with specified levels of garlic sulfides and ajoene.
- #3 Bactrex: Provides nutritional support for the immune system (more specifically, the production of white blood cells).
- #4 – FungDx: Can slow fungal growth by binding to protein channels in the mycelium.
Keys to success on an antifungal diet
What’s the best way to get started on an antifungal diet? Begin your journey to control candida overgrowth by following these three steps:
1. Starve the yeast: Achieve this by avoiding trigger foods, intermittent fasting, and through a bone broth fast. Intermittent fasting changes gut bacteria by creating an immunomoduatory effect12, which alters autoimmunity. Furthermore, the kinds of intermittent fasting that protect against obesity and metabolic diseases also affect bacteria shown to influence host metabolism13. Fasting and intermittent fasting promote better gut bacteria diversity and effective utilization of probiotics14.
2. Kill the yeast (candida) by consuming the recommended foods and supplements mentioned above: In addition to the tips listed above, you can gargle coconut oil as an effective way to reduce yeast in the mouth15.
3. Repopulate your gut’s good bacteria
Tips for starting an antifungal diet
Before starting your antifungal diet, there are a few things of which you should be aware. First, it is important to follow all three phases of an antifungal diet (as outlined in the previous section). Starving candida, eliminating the existing candida, and building back good gut bacteria are all crucial in achieving the best results.
Next, be aware of how a fungal problem can manifest itself during the diet. Many people with fungal problems may not respond well if they begin eating a lot of high fiber foods. Varying the foods consumed in your diet helps ensure microbe diversity throughout the gut.
Start your antifungal diet by using a starve or elimination regimen for 7-14 days, followed by efforts to build back the good bacteria. This is almost always an effective strategy for beginners who are just getting started. Consulting with a knowledgeable functional medicine practitioner can further help asses the right protocol for your individual needs.
If possible, resist the temptation to take anti-fungal medications to treat candida. One of the most popular anti-fungal medications is Diflucan. The caprylic acid found in MCT oil has been shown to be more effective and less expensive while providing evidence of anti-cancer, anti-aging, anti-Alzheimers, anti-Autism, anti-infection, and general circulatory improvement16.
Additionally, it is great to start intermittent fasting with antifungal foods like bone broth and bulletproof tea. You can even experiment with bone broth fasting to add even more nutrients to your diet. Finally, make sure to limit legumes and grains while on an antifungal diet. Consider following an autoimmune diet long-term to keep symptoms and yeast away.
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