Which Nuts Are Allowed on the Candida Diet?

Almonds are considered low-mold nuts, but some candida diets also include pecans and walnuts. Still other candida eating plans permit all varieties of nuts.

Almonds are considered low-mold nuts, but some candida diets also include pecans and walnuts. (Image: TanyaSid/iStock/GettyImages)

Tip

The kinds of nuts allowed on candida diets vary.

Nuts and Mold

For those wondering which nut varieties are low-mold nuts, this is something of a gray area, says Lisa Richards, CNC, creator of the Candida diet. Many people on the eating plan eat plenty of nuts without experiencing any adverse effects, but the nuts that are most affected by mold include peanuts, cashews and pistachios, she states.

If you're concerned about mold in nuts, Richards suggests spraying them with grapefruit extract, which is an antifungal agent.

The National Cancer Institute states that certain mold species that grow on peanuts and tree nuts produce toxins called aflatoxins. Although the substances are associated with cancer in animals, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration permits low levels in nuts, seeds and legumes because it considers them unavoidable contaminants, notes MedlinePlus. Consuming small quantities of them presents little risk over a lifetime, according to the FDA.

Candida Diet Is Low Mold

Candidiasis is an infection caused by an overgrowth of the fungus Candida albicans, which is normally found on the skin and in the gut, vagina and mouth. Doctors treat it with antifungal medications, but natural health practitioners advocate following a candida diet, notes an article by Pennina Yasharpour, RDN, LDN, published by Dickinson College.

Because proponents say the fungus thrives on simple sugars and low-fiber carbohydrates, the eating plan recommends avoiding these foods.

The Canadian Society of Intestinal Research explains that people with candida infections are sometimes advised to avoid dietary forms of other fungi; namely, yeasts and mold. In other words, a low-mold diet is roughly synonymous with a candida diet.

Low-Mold Diet Food List

A candida diet includes nonstarchy vegetables, low-sugar fruits, healthy fats, gluten-free grains, high-quality protein, certain dairy products, nuts and seeds. The diet advocates taking probiotics because proponents say the beneficial bacteria help prevent the overgrowth of the fungus, states the Dickinson College article.

Yeast-containing foods are excluded. These include baked goods because yeast is used as a leavening agent. Sourdough bread starter is a form of yeast, so this is taboo as well. Other yeast-related foods include vinegar, beer, wine and mushrooms.

Yeast is found in supplements containing B vitamins, says the Canadian Society of Intestinal Research. Enriched flours also have vitamins that come from yeasts.

Because most baked goods aren't a part of the diet, you may wonder what a low-mold breakfast might look like. Examples include yogurt or eggs. Other options involve muffins or waffles made of gluten-free flour such as buckwheat.

Caffeine is discouraged in candida diets. Mold can grow on leftover coffee and tea, so if you choose to drink these beverages, make sure they're freshly brewed.

Mold and Yeast Allergy

Some people have an allergy to mold. Managing a mold and yeast allergy involves removal of foods or beverages containing the substances from the diet, notes a March 2013 article published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

How strictly should people avoid sources of yeast? It depends on the severity of their sensitivity, says the Canadian Society of Intestinal Research. After staying on a yeast and mold-free diet for four weeks, they can slowly reintroduce the foods to see if they can tolerate them.

People normally associate an allergy with sneezing and a runny nose, but allergies to food fungi, such as mushrooms and vinegar, usually doesn't produce such symptoms states the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America. Instead, the allergic reactions most likely are due to a direct effect on blood vessels. A doctor can diagnose a mold allergy with allergen-specific blood tests or skin tests.

While candida is a fungus and often called a yeast, some have theorized that it's also an allergen that produces an array of symptoms in sensitive individuals. This theory is unproven, asserts Science-Based Medicine.

Mold-Prevention Tips

University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources notes that nuts stay good at room temperature for several months if the environment isn't warm. When stored in a refrigerator, nuts will keep for a year or longer. Store them in moisture-free containers. To protect yourself from mold in nut butters, purchase only major brands. Throw away nuts or nut butters that appear moldy or discolored.

The Mayo Clinic gives advice on what to do about moldy cheese. If you see mold on a soft cheese, such as cottage cheese or ricotta, discard it. Mold growing on a hard cheese like cheddar can be safely cut away: Cut at least an inch beyond the moldy part.

Not all mold in cheese is harmful. Mold varieties used to make brie and Camembert cheeses are safe. However, since these cheeses are made with unpasteurized milk, people with weakened immunity should avoid them.

Aside from avoiding mold-prone foods, the University of Minnesota Extension provides a few guidelines for preventing mold in the kitchen. Every few months, clean the refrigerator with a baking soda solution, and then rinse with clean water. Keep kitchen towels and sponges clean and fresh. If you see mold on food, don't smell it: Instead, wrap it in plastic and put it in a covered trash can.

Alternatives to Candida Diet

It's unclear whether the candida diet reduces the overgrowth of the infection because it may help people feel better simply due to the improved nutrition, states the Dickinson College article. Insufficient studies indicate that the diet has value for the condition. In addition, the eating plan is very restrictive, which can lead to nutrient deficiencies.

Since the candida diet has unproven efficacy and safety, the Dickinson College article suggests several alternative therapies for dealing with candida infections. These include taking probiotics and eating sources of vitamin E, vitamin C and selenium to strengthen the immune system.

An additional method of attacking the candida problem is to adopt a diet that promotes optimal immunity. This involves eating fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, fish and yogurt. The eating plan also limits processed foods, sugar and refined grains.

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