The yeast-like fungus known as candida occurs in everyone's body. While modest amounts don't cause problems, overgrowth can lead to infections called candidiasis in the vagina, mouth, skin or digestive system. About 75 percent of women will experience at least one vaginal yeast infection, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center, and most people with HIV/AIDS will develop some form of candidiasis. Along with any necessary medical treatment, particular foods may help prevent or minimize your symptoms.
Yogurt and Kefir for Probiotics
In addition to supplying essential nutrients, such as calcium and protein, yogurt and kefir, a yogurt-like drink, provide healthy bacteria called probiotics. While research is limited, numerous clinical trials show that probiotics can help improve bacterial balance in the body, according to a "Journal of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy" report published in 2006, lowering the risk of candida overgrowth and yeast infections. Probiotics may be particularly useful if you experience more than three vaginal yeast infections per year. For best results, choose yogurt and kefir that list live, active cultures, such as lactobacillus acidophilus, as ingredients.
Fish and Flaxseeds for Omega-3s
The anti-inflammatory properties of omega-3 fats make fish and flaxseeds, top sources of the nutrients, helpful if you're prone to yeast infections. UMMC recommends consuming more fish and fewer fatty animal products, such as red meat and whole milk, for improved symptoms. Fish particularly rich in omega-3s include mackerel, lake trout, herring and salmon. Grind whole flaxseeds within 24 hours of use or purchase ground seed in Mylar packaging to keep the ingredients active. Eat ground flaxseeds alone or as a nutritious addition to other foods, such as yogurt, cereal or smoothies.
Whole Grains for B Vitamins
White flour and other refined grains may increase yeast growth in your intestines, says WomensHealth.gov. Whole grains provide a nutritious alternative and, unlike refined grains, haven't been stripped of valuable nutrients such as B vitamins -- nutrients that may lower your risk for candida infections. Swap out your morning corn flakes or pastries for 100-percent whole-grain toast or cereal, and choose whole-grain starches, such as brown rice, air-popped popcorn or quinoa, instead of white rice, potato chips or egg noodles.
Fruits and Vegetables for Antioxidants
Maintaining a strong immune system is important for keeping your candida levels in check, and colorful fruits and vegetables, leading antioxidant sources, are your best dietary friends. Eating at least 2 cups of fruit and 2-1/2 cups of vegetables per day is a good way to start meeting your basic needs, says the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Particularly antioxidant-rich varieties include citrus fruits, berries, dark, leafy greens, sweet peppers and potatoes. For added benefits, choose sweet fruits and vegetable dishes, such as natural applesauce or a baked sweet potato, instead of sugary sweets for dessert. Added sugars can stimulate candida production in your body, increasing your risk of infection.
Antifungal Garlic and Spices
Garlic and spices, including oregano, sage, cloves and cinnamon, may help guard against yeast infections, according to UMMC, because of their natural antifungal properties. Cloves and cinnamon also provide a flavorful alternative to sugar in sweeter dishes, such as baked apples, pears and winter squash. Using more garlic and less butter on fish and in sauces and other dishes can help keep your intake of inflammatory fats down.
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Candidiasis
- Journal of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy; Probiotics for Prevention of Recurrent Vulvovaginal Candidiasis: A Review
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Omega-3 Fatty Acids
- WomensHealth.gov: Vaginal Yeast Infections Fact Sheet
- American Heart Association: Whole Grains and Fiber
- Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics: Antioxidants