Some people follow a short-term, restricted yeast diet in hopes of getting relief from yeast overgrowth. The most common cause of yeast infections in humans is a normally harmless yeast called candida. In susceptible people, it can overgrow in either your mouth, stomach or vagina and cause uncomfortable symptoms.
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The typical yeast-free, or anti-candida diet, restricts not only yeast-containing foods, but also simple sugar and white flour. Books such as the "Yeast Connection," by William Cook, M.D. and the "The Candida Cure" by Ann Boroch provide guidelines for following a yeast-free meal plan. Keep in mind that science has yet to show that a yeast-free diet suppresses candida overgrowth; right now it's just a theory. Talk it over with your healthcare provider before making changes to an already healthy diet.
Yeast-Free Bread Alternatives
The major change in a yeast-free diet is avoiding high-sugar foods and foods that contain yeast, which means finding alternatives for staples like bread and other baked goods. Alternatives include breads made from yeast-free grains such as amaranth, quinoa and buckwheat. You can often find these yeast-free breads in the gluten-free section of your local grocer. Amaranth is a grain similar to rice, while quinoa and buckwheat are called pseudograins because they're not true grains. Millet bread is another yeast-free option often found in the gluten-free section. Like the other alternatives, it's not a true grain. Instead, it's a seeded-grass, and the millet flour makes bread that's similar in taste and texture to regular yeast-containing bread.
Pasta Alternatives for a Yeast-Free Diet
You should avoid pasta while following a yeast-free diet, according to Ann Boroch, author of The Candida Cure. Because pasta is high in carbohydrates -- which break down into sugar in your body -- the theory is that temporarily restricting pasta and other high-carb foods helps combat yeast. Shirataki noodles are a good substitutes for regular pasta. They're made from the konjac plant and are naturally low in carbohydrates, and also yeast free. The noodles are typically found in the Asian food section of your local grocer. Another option is to make faux pasta from non-starchy vegetables such as zucchini. To make zucchini pasta, you can use a vegetable peeler or a spiralizer to slice the zucchini into very thin, noodle-link strands.
Low-Carb Vegetables to Combat Yeast
Yeast-free diets limit fruits initially, but you'll add them back in after a couple of weeks. In the meantime, dieters following this meal plan can enjoy a wide variety of non-starchy vegetables, because they're yeast free and low in carbs. You can choose from leafy greens, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, asparagus, onions, bell peppers and parsnips. Also allowed are tomatoes, carrots, celery, lettuce, cabbage, eggplant and string beans. Vegetables are nutrient-dense and contain fiber, so you'll eat these as you normally would in the regular recommended five or more servings per day.
Other Foods to Eat on a Yeast-Free Diet
While sugar- and yeast-containing foods are off limits, you still have plenty of nutritious foods to choose from. Lean sources of protein such as eggs, beef, chicken, tofu, turkey, wild game and seafood are yeast free. Choose fresh or frozen over processed meats, and be sure to avoid any with bread coating such as breaded chicken or fish. All unprocessed nuts, seeds and oils are yeast-free and allowed as well. When it comes to grains, stick with oats, barley, corn, brown rice, spelt, kamut and millet. In addition, dieters following this plan should eat higher-carb vegetables such as beets sparingly.
Regular milk is avoided on a yeast-free diet because of the lactose -- milk sugar -- it contains. Hard cheeses and low-fat cream cheese are suitable alternatives since they contain very small amounts of lactose. Plain, low-fat Greek yogurt is another allowed alternative. Not only is it low in lactose, but it contains beneficial bacteria that feed on the lactose and help crowd out yeast such as candida. Continue to keep nutrition in mind while following a yeast-free diet. This means choosing nutrient-dense foods most of the time and eating higher fat foods in moderation.
- Yeast Connection: What You Can Eat During the First Three Weeks
- The Candida Cure; Ann Boroch
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Candidiasis