Fatigue, bloating, recurrent thrush and urinary tract infections can all be symptoms of candida – but changing your diet can help fight the condition.
What is candida?
A yeast that lives in the mouth, gut and vagina, candida only causes problems if it grows out of control.
Antibiotics, stress, the contraceptive pill, HRT and a diet high in sweet foods and drinks can all trigger it to grow out of hand, causing symptoms such as persistent thrush, urinary tract infections like cystitis, fatigue, thinning hair, and bloating.
How can diet fight candida?
Your doctor may not diagnose candida, as it’s only medically recognised in people with compromised immune systems, such as those with HIV. So if you have the symptoms listed above and they’re not clearing, see a natural health expert who can diagnose candida with a saliva test.
An anti-candida diet is considered the best way to tackle the condition. It effectively starves the yeast by removing the foods that help it thrive. But be warned: the anti-candida diet is tough. There are lots of foods and drinks you have to avoid, and you need to follow it for at least three months to stop the candida growing again.
Avoid sweet foods
Candida feeds on sugar and having excess amounts in your diet may be one of the factors that caused the yeast to thrive in the first place.
You need to cut out all cakes, biscuits and sweetened foods, from breakfast cereals to ready-made sauces. Check labels and prepare food from scratch to cut your sugar intake.
Beware of natural sugars
It’s not just added sugar you need to avoid – many fruits are high in natural sugars, particularly dried fruit, and these fruit sugars can also encourage overgrowth.
Fresh apples and pears are lower in sugar so are fine to eat, but always go for the whole fruit; in juices, the sugars are concentrated. Dairy contains lactose, or milk sugar, so you’ll need to avoid most dairy products as well.
Stay away from fermented foods
Yeast in your diet can also feed candida. So avoid fermented foods, including yeast extract, bread, vinegar, blue cheeses, soy sauce and ketchup.
Watch your drinks
As alcohol is fermented and contains sugar, you need to avoid it. But you should also stay away from all sweetened drinks, including smoothies, squashes, fruit juices, and fizzy soft drinks. Instead, try herbal teas and still or sparkling water.
What can I eat on the anti-candida diet?
While it may sound a long list of foods to avoid, there’s a lot you can still eat while fighting candida.
- For breakfast, try porridge made with water, topped with chopped apple, seeds and sweet spices such as cinnamon
- You can also eat soda bread, as it isn’t made with yeast, and instead of jam or marmalade, try nut butters such as almond butter
- Plain live yoghurt is, unlike some dairy foods, low in lactose, and the friendly bacteria it contains are beneficial for fighting candida
- Lean meat, fish, eggs, lentils, all vegetables, rice and rice cakes are also on the menu
It may be tough, but remember if you’re strict for just three months, it could make a real difference to your symptoms.
Looking for more tips on women’s health? Take a look at all our articles.
This article has been adapted from longer features appearing in Healthy, the Holland & Barrett magazine. Advice is for information only and should not replace medical care. Please check with your GP before trying any remedies