Under normal circumstances, candida, a yeastlike fungus, is harmless and lives in harmony in your mouth, stomach and vagina. However, if candida is allowed to overgrow, it causes an infection called candidiasis. This can cause an oral infection called thrush, skin rashes or a vaginal yeast infection. Infants, elderly adults and those with weakened immune systems are particularly at risk for thrush. Taking medications such as antibiotics and certain birth control pills and having conditions such as diabetes are other causes of candidiasis. A candida diet aims to reduce the recurrence of such infections in susceptible people.
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Role of Sugar
If your immune system is healthy, the chances of developing a candida infection are typically low. Some data suggests reducing sugar in your diet may help prevent yeast infections, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center. Candida can metabolize dietary sugar and use it to fuel growth and create larger colonies, according to research published in the August 2011 issue of the journal "Fungal Genetics and Biology."
The goal when following a candida diet is to reduce the amount of dietary sugar you consume each day. Substances that convert to sugar, such as alcohol, and foods with a high concentration of yeast that may promote growth, such as breads and malt, are typically to be avoided. Milk and dairy products might be limited on this type of diet as well, with natural yogurt being an exception. Those following a candida diet commonly eliminate fruit temporarily due to its sugar content, and add it back in after a brief abstinence. Mushrooms are also avoided since they are edible fungi.
On a candida diet followers stick to foods such as lean meat, fish, poultry, eggs, vegetables of all varieties, healthy fats, nuts and seeds. You'll get carbohydrates from complex sources such as whole grains and legumes. Examples of whole grains include brown rice, wild rice, quinoa, oats, buckwheat, bulgur and amaranth. Beans, peas and lentils provide complex carbohydrates from the legume family. This includes soybeans, fava, chickpeas, mung beans, and black and red beans, to name a few. You can eat natural yogurt with live probiotic cultures as well. Avoid yogurt with fruit or added sugar. The probiotic bacteria in yogurt helps crowd out candida.
Candida Diet Menu
A candida diet is nutritious and low in sugar with an emphasis on vegetables for their antioxidants and nutrient density. A typical breakfast on a candida diet can be anything from an egg scramble with your favorite vegetables, to oatmeal with natural yogurt and nuts. For lunch and dinner you can always have lean meat with vegetables and a serving of complex carbohydrates. An example is salmon with asparagus and brown rice or skinless chicken breast with broccoli and quinoa.
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Candidiasis
- Fungal Genetics and Biology: The Metabolic Basis of Candida Albicans Morphogenesis and Quorum Sensing
- Complete Candida Yeast Guidebook 2nd Edition; Jeanne Marie Martin and Zoltan P. Rona, M.D.