The Ultimate Candida Diet Program

Ten years ago, few people knew about the significance of candida overgrowth, let alone the health benefits of embarking on a candida diet program. But today, thanks to new attitudes on the detriments of excess sugar consumption, and a growing interest in natural health and nutrition, more and more people are asking about diet as a way to cleanse candida. Here we’ll explain everything you need to know about candida and candida diets so you can determine if a candida diet is right for you.

What Is Candida?

Candida is a type of fungus (a yeast to be exact) that resides in your body’s microbiome—which includes the intestinal tract, skin, mucosa, and genitals. There are many strains of candida, but the most common is Candida albicans.

Candida is nothing new—nor is it necessarily something to be feared. Candida is not a “bad” thing in and of itself. In fact, every living person is harboring multiple strains of candida at all times. Candida becomes an issue when it overgrows and crowds out other beneficial microbes. When this happens, it disrupts the balance of beneficial bacteria, fungus, and yeasts in your gut microbiota, resulting in a slew of symptoms ranging from mild to severe.

What Causes Candida Overgrowth?

The main factors that lead to candida yeast overgrowth include:

  • A weak immune system
  • Antibiotic use
  • Steroid use
  • Chronic stress
  • Overconsumption of sugar and starches
  • Overconsumption of alcohol
  • Diabetes
  • Surgery and time spent in an intensive care unit.
  • Use of the birth control pill

Common Symptoms of Candida Overgrowth in Men and Women

Sugar cravings are the most common symptom of candida overgrowth, and the reason is that sugars and refined starches(AKA carbohydrates) are candida’s preferred source of fuel. Other common symptoms include:

  • Fungal infections of the skin, throat, esophagus, and blood
  • Leaky gut syndrome
  • Chronic yeast infections
  • Mood swings and mental health issues (due to the disturbance of the gut bacteria)
  • Weakened immune system
  • Psoriasis and eczema

The Candida Diet Plan: Your Best Defense Against Candida Overgrowth

The best natural way to overcome candida overgrowth and restore balance is to abide by a candida diet plan coupled with specific natural remedies. The candida diet is a simple, sugar elimination diet that restricts sugars, starches, and a few other foods, while still offering a great variety to choose from.

The candida diet works by “starving” the excess candida and taking away their primary food sources (namely sugars), while simultaneously rebuilding your gut microbiota with nourishing, probiotic and prebiotic-rich foods. Although you won’t go hungry on this diet, there are some foods that you’ll need to avoid. Let’s take a look at some of those foods.

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The Candida Diet Plan Part 1: Foods to Avoid

Though there is much to be said about bending the rules when it comes to traditional “dieting” (a practice I don’t recommend), in a candida diet these rules must be followed to achieve results. When you’re done with the diet and your candida is in check, you can go back enjoying a more flexible eating routine.

1. All Sugar and Artificial Sweeteners

Since sugar is candida’s preferred food source, removing sugar is the most vital key to your success. The same goes for artificial sweeteners. Artificial sweeteners are not allowed as they often contain harmful chemicals or allergens. They have been linked to a slew of health issues including weight gain, diabetes, and heart disease. The list of sugars and artificial sweeteners to avoid includes:

  • All artificial sweeteners, including sugar alcohols
  • Barley malt
  • Brown rice syrup
  • Brown sugar
  • Cane sugar
  • Coconut sugar
  • Date sugar
  • Honey (raw or otherwise, which I normally recommend, but not when it comes to candida)
  • Maple sugar
  • Maple syrup
  • Molasses
  • Muscovado sugar
  • Palm syrup
  • Panela sugar
  • Rapadura sugar
  • Sucanat
  • Sugar-containing foods including sauces, beverages, etc.
  • Tapioca syrup
  • Turbinado sugar
  • White sugar

2. Gluten and Gluten-Containing Grains

Though some experts recommend removing all grains while on a candida cleanse, I allow gluten-free grains because of their nutritional value. The gluten-containing grains to avoid include:

  • Barley
  • Bulgur
  • Durum
  • Einkorn
  • Kamut
  • Oats (unless they’re gluten-free)
  • Rye
  • Semolina
  • Spelt
  • Teff
  • Triticale
  • White and whole wheat

Some grains are approved for the candida diet, and we’ll cover those later on. Additionally, watch out for products that contain gluten, such as soy sauce, cereals, prepared and packaged sauces, and other packaged goods. Look for labels that indicate the product is gluten-free.

3. Refined Vegetable Oils

Though fats do not feed candida, the following types of fat are high in pro-inflammatory omega-6 fatty acids. These fatty acids, when consumed in excess, can cause inflammation which has been shown to irritate the digestive tract and delay healing, leading to more candida overgrowth. The following processed, highly refined oils should be avoided while on the candida diet (if not all the time):

  • Canola oil
  • Corn oil
  • Cottonseed oil
  • Grapeseed oil
  • Hydrogenated fats or partially hydrogenated fats
  • Margarine or fake butter spreads
  • Peanut oil
  • Safflower oil
  • Soybean oil
  • Sunflower oil
  • Walnut oil

4. Non-Cultured Dairy Products

Dairy products, including milk, cream, and cheese, contain the milk sugar known as lactose, another food source for candida. I recommend staying away from most dairy during this cleanse, and in general. However, there are some allowable dairy products on this diet for those without dairy sensitivities which I’ll cover in another section.

5. Alcohol

Alcohol contributes to candida overgrowth and is therefore not allowed on the candida diet.

6. Peanuts, Cashews, Pecans, Walnuts, or Pistachios

Though other nuts are allowed on the program, these five are known to contain molds and fungus which can exacerbate candida.

7. Coffee

Since coffee can irritate the gut lining it is best to eliminate it from your diet. However, if one cup of coffee a day (without sugar or cream) is enough to keep you going on this diet, go ahead and have it with the goal of phasing it out week-by-week. Keep in mind that once you get through that first week or two, you will have gained back so much energy you likely won’t miss the coffee. If you’re ready to go cold-turkey, we’ll cover some alternatives in the next section.

The Candida Diet Plan Part 2: Allowed Food

Now that the “can’t” foods are out of the way, let’s get to the good news: what you can eat on the candida diet.

1. Gut-Supporting Superfoods

Success in your candida diet is as much about what you take out of your diet as what you put back in your body. The following fermented foods will help replenish your microbiome with good bacteria in the form of probiotics and prebiotics:

  • Sauerkraut
  • Cultured vegetables
  • Kimchi
  • Kombucha
  • Naturally fermented, non-alcoholic beverages
  • Yogurt
  • Kefir
  • Miso
  • Beet kvass

2. Gluten-Free Grains

As mentioned above, certain gluten-free grains are allowed because they contain nutrients, protein, and fiber, which will keep your colon moving.

Look for these gluten-free grains flours in the gluten-free aisle of the grocery store:

  • Quinoa (whole grain and flour)
  • Millet (whole grain and flour)
  • Buckwheat (whole grain and flour)
  • Tapioca flour
  • Coconut flour
  • Almond meal (though not a grain, I am listing it here as it is a great grain alternative for breading, baking, etc.)
  • Amaranth (whole grain and flour)

3. Healthy Fats and Oils

Despite their controversial reputation, new research has confirmed healthy fats are not the enemy and play an essential role in keeping us full, synthesizing key vitamins, and keeping our hormones in balance.

Thus, you may enjoy the following healthy fats on the candida diet:

  • Avocado oil
  • Avocados
  • Butter (preferably organic, pasture-raised butter)
  • Coconut oil (which contains anti-fungal properties and has been shown effective against Candida)
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Ghee
  • Omega-3 rich oils like fish oil, krill oil, and evening primrose oil

4. Vegetables

You can enjoy unlimited amounts of fresh vegetables while on the program. While some programs recommend staying away from starchy vegetables, I allow them as they contain a wealth of nutrients and fiber and are alkalizing to your system. Don’t forget about sea vegetables, which are rich in minerals and iodine.

5. Fruit

Though there is some debate over whether fruit should be included on the candida diet, I wholeheartedly recommend consuming fruit while on the candida diet, provided you eat it in conjunction with your body’s biological rhythms.

By that, I mean that fruit should be eaten by itself in its whole, fresh state (do not combine it with other non-fruit foods), and wait thirty minutes to one hour before eating anything else.

This is important because consuming fruit sugar alone causes it to alkalize your bodily fluids while providing essential nutrients, which helps kill candida overgrowth. Conversely, if fruit is consumed with other foods, such as starches or proteins, it turns to glucose which feeds candida.

In a nutshell: fresh, whole fruit eaten by itself in the morning is anti-candida; fruit eaten with other foods feeds candida. Be sure to avoid fruit juice, canned fruit (which typically has added sugar), and dried fruit (which have a concentrated sugar content).

6. Healthy Proteins

Protein provides the building blocks for growth and repair and is therefore important while on the candida diet. The key with protein is choosing quality over quantity. I prefer vegan sources of protein. Beans and legumes are allowed (except for peanuts, which are a legume). However, pay attention to how your body feels as the sugars found in beans can feed in some cases candida, especially in the early stages.

If this is an issue, substitute other high-protein foods like quinoa, millet, hemp protein powder, nuts and seeds, and cultured soy products like tempeh (since the culturing breaks down sugars).

If you choose to eat meat, consume only non-processed, organic, grass-fed sources, such as grass-fed red meats (beef, bison, etc.), chicken, turkey, organic eggs, and wild-caught, low-mercury fish like wild Alaskan salmon, sardines, anchovies, and herring.

7. Dairy and Milk Products

Though I recommend avoiding most dairy products while on the candida diet, cultured organic dairy products (ideally from pasture-raised cows, goats, or sheep) are allowed, as the culturing process naturally reduces the milk sugar, lactose while adding probiotic value.

Non-dairy milk products are also allowed (except cashew milk and soy milk), provided they are unsweetened:

  • Yogurt
  • Kefir
  • Cultured butter
  • Cultured cheeses
  • Unsweetened coconut milk
  • Unsweetened almond milk
  • Unsweetened hemp milk

8. Nuts and Seeds

Enjoy all nuts and seeds, preferably raw, soaked, or sprouted, except for peanuts, cashews, walnuts, and pistachios which commonly contain mold and fungus. Nut butters are fine, provided they do not contain any added sugars. Remember that chia and hemp seeds are a great source of healthy fats and protein.

9. Beverages and Coffee Substitutes

Staying hydrated is one of the key components for success when you’re following the candida diet. Aim for half your weight in ounces per day to speed elimination and promote efficient cleansing. You can also add a tablespoon of raw apple cider vinegar to the water to help alkalize the body and promote healthy detox.

Replace alcoholic beverages with probiotic-rich beverages like kombucha or kefir water. Again, water should be the main thing you consume but for a little variety, try unsweetened cranberry juice mixed with water and a bit of stevia or homemade stevia lemonade. Just mix the juice of 1 lemon or lime with 8 ounces of water and stevia to taste.

In place of coffee, try green tea or yerba mate, which contains a little caffeine and loads of antioxidants. Chicory coffee is another popular coffee substitute. A lot of people also enjoy herbal teas. Peppermint and nettle provide a natural, refreshing boost, while Pau d’arco, cinnamon, and turmeric teas will help support normal candida balance.

How Long Should You Follow the Candida Diet?

How long you should follow the candida diet depends on your symptoms, health history, the severity of the candida overgrowth and how faithfully you follow the diet and supplement recommendations.

The general recommendation is one-month minimum, then slowly reintroduce foods and see how your body reacts. If your issues flare up again, go back on the diet for another two to four weeks or consult your healthcare practitioner.

How to Maintain Candida Balance for Life

Since it exists naturally in our bodies, candida is always going to be part of our lives. The key to living with it healthfully is to prevent overgrowth from happening in the first place.

  • Avoid antibiotics as much as possible, and if you must take them go on the candida diet afterward and take plenty of probiotics and prebiotics
  • Eat a sensible diet that’s low in sugar, refined grains, and processed foods
  • Nurture your gut’s bacterial balance by eating probiotic and prebiotic-rich foods regularly
  • Enjoy alcohol in moderation, or, better yet, avoid it entirely
  • Keep your stress levels in check
  • Get enough sleep
  • Nurture your immune system

Have you used diet to remedy a candida balance? What tips and insight can you provide? Leave a comment below and share your thoughts with us.

East Indian Sandalwood Oil Improves Atopic Dermatitis in Children

Chronic inflammatory skin disorders such as psoriasis (PS) and atopic dermatitis (AD) can cause pain and irritation and significantly impact patients’ quality of life. Environmental and genetic factors contribute to PS and AD. Although they are 2 distinct disorders, differentiating them during the acute phase is difficult, as both are caused by overproduction of inflammatory cytokines. Symptomatic relief for patients with PS and AD is provided by therapies that target cytokine and chemokine signaling pathways; however, some topical and systemic medications can cause adverse effects. East Indian sandalwood (Santalum album, Santalaceae) oil (EISO) is known to have anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, and astringent activities. These authors report the results of a single-center, open-label, proof-of-concept, phase 2 trial using topical EISO formulations containing 0.1% colloidal oat (Avena sativa, Poaceae) meal (Santalis Pharmaceuticals, Inc.; San Antonio, Texas) to treat AD in pediatric patients. Additionally, the authors conducted in vitro studies to determine if EISO suppresses proinflammatory responses by inhibiting cyclic adenosine monophosphate (cAMP)-degrading phosphodiesterases (PDEs) and promoting cAMP-mediated nuclear factor kappa B (NF-ĸB) activation.

Of the 25 pediatric patients with mild, moderate, or severe AD who were enrolled in the phase 2 study,1 22 completed the treatment regimen, which combined bubble bath gel, EISO cream, and daily cleanser for 60 days. Outcome measures included changes in AD severity, as assessed by using the Eczema Area and Severity Index (EASI), with a 25% reduction in scores being the primary endpoint.

The authors report that AD improved in all but 1 patient (who had an allergic reaction to carpet cleaning solution before the final visit). EASI scores decreased by 25% in 87.5% of patients. The average reduction in overall scores was 67.8%, with reductions > 50% seen in 75% of patients. In 18.8% of patients, complete remission of symptoms was reported. No adverse effects or safety issues were reported.

For in vitro studies, human dermal fibroblast (DF), BEAS-2B immortalized human bronchial epithelial cells, A549 cells (an alveolar type II epithelium-like cell line from lung adenocarcinoma), and THP-1 human acute monocytic leukemia cells were used. Total cAMP PDE activity was assessed from cell lysates at 2 and 4 hours after stimulation with lipopolysaccharide (LPS) (1 μg/mL) and EISO (0.001% to 0.002%), or the reagents 3-isobutyl-1-methylxanthine or rolipram (10 μM) (concentrations earlier reported to saturate for PDE inhibition). Enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays for tumor necrosis factor-α, monocyte chemoattractant protein-1, interleukin (IL)-6, IL-8, and the CXCL5 chemokine were conducted on LPS-stimulated DF, BEAS-2B, A549, and THP-1 cells, with and without EISO treatment.

The authors report that “EISO directly inhibited PDE enzymatic activity in vitro. In lipopolysaccharide-stimulated human dermal fibroblast, BEAS-2B, A549, and THP-1 cells, EISO suppressed total cellular PDE activity, PDE4, and 7 transcript levels, nuclear factor kappa B (NF-ĸB) activation, and pro-inflammatory cytokines/chemokine production.” These results are consistent with EISO’s anti-inflammatory properties, they write.

The preliminary clinical trial results suggest EISO for management of AD. The in vitro results provide mechanistic support in EISO’s ability to decrease NF-ĸB activation by suppressing proinflammatory stimulation of PDE transcription and directly suppressing PDE enzymatic activity. This “provides a strong rationale for the continued study of EISO as a potential new therapeutic for the treatment of inflammatory skin conditions such as PS and AD,” conclude the authors.

Santalis Pharmaceuticals, Inc., provided EISO for experimental use and designed and sponsored the clinical trial. Laboratory studies were supported by a research agreement between author M.E. Cox and Santalis Pharmaceuticals, Inc. Authors C. Levenson, I. Clements, and P. Castella are employees of Santalis Pharmaceuticals, Inc.

Resources:

Browning JC, Rock J, Levenson C, Becker EM. Safety, tolerability, and efficacy of a novel regimen containing 0.1% colloidal oatmeal and East Indian sandalwood oil (EISO) for the treatment of mild, moderate and severe pediatric eczema (atopic dermatitis) – results of a single-center, open-label study. Poster presented at Orlando Dermatology Aesthetic and Clinical Conference; January 13-16, 2017; Doral, FL.

Sharma M, Levenson C, Browning JC, et al. East Indian sandalwood oil is a phosphodiesterase inhibitor: a new therapeutic option in the treatment of inflammatory skin disease. Front Pharmacol. 2018;9:200. doi: 10.3389/fphar.2018.00200.