A yeast cleanse is a type of diet meant to reduce the amount of the Candida yeast in the body. Candida infections, also called yeast infections, are one of the most common complaints affecting the genitourinary tract. Treatment typically involves topical or oral medications. Some people find they feel better after making certain dietary changes, but it isn't clear whether this is because of the improved nutritional value of the new diet or because it actually affects Candida, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center. Some yeast cleanses are more restrictive than others.
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A number of supplements are available to use for yeast cleansing. These include a mix of various substances, such as propolis, probiotics, echinacea, garlic, homeopathic candida, digestive enzymes, zinc, beta-carotene, vitamin C and pau d'arco. Supplements aren't independently tested for efficacy before they hit the market, however, and they can have side effects, so don't take them without first talking to your doctor.
The simplest version of the dietary changes for a yeast cleanse involves avoiding dairy products with the possible exception of plain yogurt, sugars, peanuts and alcohol. Some versions of the diet also restrict pistachios, starchy vegetables, coffee, chocolate, any food containing yeast, fruits, vinegar, all grains or just gluten-containing grains, dried fruits, processed foods, grapes, mushrooms, tropical fruits and fermented foods. Proponents of this diet recommend you follow it strictly for at least three months.
More Restrictive Cleanse
Some versions of yeast cleanse have a more restrictive first phase meant to help detox your body. This phase typically involves eating just vegetables, sometimes only vegetable juice, and taking supplements and may also call for colon cleansing and fasting. Such a restrictive diet doesn't provide you with enough of the essential nutrients you need, as it is low in calories, protein and many vitamins and minerals, so it isn't advisable.
Speak with a doctor before taking any supplement to make sure the ingredients would be safe for you. For example, pau d'arco shouldn't be taken by pregnant women and can cause vomiting and interact with blood-thinning medications, causing uncontrolled bleeding at high doses.
Even the less restrictive versions of this diet can make it hard to get the nutrients you need in the proper amounts, and there are no guarantees it will work. The Columbia University Health Services website notes that the Candida diet claims haven't been scientifically tested to prove their effectiveness.