Treating candida overgrowth -- a yeastlike fungus -- through diet is controversial. Under normal circumstances, candida lives harmoniously in your mouth, stomach and vagina. However, certain medicines, pregnancy or having a weak immune system can allow candida to grow out of control and cause infection. Because candida can use sugar for energy, proponents of the candida cleanse diet claim dietary changes can rid your body of candida overgrowth.
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Candida and Refined Carbohydrates
Eating a diet high in refined sugar promotes candida overgrowth, according to Anna Boroch, author of "The Candida Cure." There isn't much research into this theory, but a study published in the "American Journal of Clinical Nutrition" in 1999 put the idea to the test. Researchers found that a high-sugar diet did not increase candida growth in most of the subjects. However, in a select group of participants with elevated levels of oral candida, a high-sugar diet promoted candida growth.
What to Eat
The candida cleanse diet involves restricting sugar and other forms of refined carbohydrates. People on this diet eat nonstarchy vegetables, eggs, fresh fish, lean meats, nuts and seeds, healthy oils such as olive and avocado, soy, non-aged goat cheese and coconut milk. The candida diet also includes unsweetened yogurt that contains probiotics -- friendly bacteria that help prevent yeast overgrowth -- as well as small amounts of beans and legumes.
What to Avoid
People on the candida cleanse diet avoid fruits and fruit juice since they contain sugar; milk and products, except yogurt; starchy vegetables; grains; alcohol; processed oils; processed meats; fermented foods; and all types of sugar: table sugar, high-fructose corn syrup, molasses, honey, brown rice syrup and the like. Dieters are advised to avoid mushrooms since they're fungi, as well as peanuts, cashews and pistachios, which contain fungi.
A Day on the Candida Diet
Scrambled eggs with grilled vegetables or a broccoli and goat cheese omelet is a typical breakfast on the candida diet. Lunch ideas include grilled chicken with a salad of mixed greens, salmon on a bed of spinach and ground turkey with mixed vegetables. Sweet snacks are off-limits, but dieters can snack on guacamole with sliced cucumbers as "chips," hard-boiled eggs and vegetables dipped in hummus. A typical dinner is pork loin with asparagus, ground beef and onion-stuffed peppers, or beef stew with vegetables.
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Candidiasis
- American Journal of Clinical Nutrition: Limited Effect of Refined Carbohydrate Dietary Supplementation on Colonization of the Gastrointestinal Tract of Healthy Subjects by Candida Albicans
- The Candida Cure: Yeast, Fungus & Your Health -- The 90-Day Program to Beat Candida & Restore Vibrant Health; Ann Boroch