Busted: Candida Myths
What is wrong with The Candida Diet?
What is wrong with the popular Candida Diet? And what is a safer, healthier solution to eliminate candida overgrowth?
You are in the right place and asking the right questions, because I have some answers for you!
Sugar is healthy? What about Candida?
Those were the common questions I received on my popular post How to Eat Sugar. “But I have candida issues,” folks commented and emailed me, “I can’t eat raw honey, fruits and maple syrup.” The popular Candida Diet takes many forms, such as the diet outlined in The Body Ecology book or The Candida Diet website. These anti-candida protocols all eliminate natural sugars like honey and fruit as well as starchy vegetables like winter squash and carrots.
I’m here to tell you that you can and should eat natural sugars, even if you have candida issues. It sounds like a scary concept. Believe me, I was also hesitant to start incorporating healthy sugars back into my diet after my short and extraordinarily unpleasant stint on The Candida Diet. I am grateful that I escaped harmful candida myths, because now I’m healing my body and addressing the root cause of my candida overgrowth.
So, without further ado, here are the three problems I have with The Candida Diet:
1. The Candida Diet doesn’t address the root cause
First, candida overgrowth results from poor digestion and a leaky gut… not simply the consumption of sugar (although a high sugar, refined food diet can lead to the leaky gut down the road). Candida diets, which allow the consumption of gluten free grains, will not correct a leaky gut and therefore will not permanently address candida overgrowth. In most cases, it requires a grain free diet to heal and seal the gut lining. Why?
Undigested food particles cause injury to the small intestine. This damages the villi and microvilli. Microvilli contain cells that produce the enzyme disaccharidase which breaks down disaccharides. But when the microvilli are damaged, disaccharidase production slows or halts. This leads to impaired digestion of disaccharides, bacterial overgrowth (and candida overgrowth), and an increase in gut-damaging bacterial by-products. It also allows undigested food particles to escape from the intestines into the bloodstream, causing food allergies or sensitivities. The cycle worsens over time (Source and source).
Removing disaccharides (which are found in things like grains, potatoes and table sugar) from the diet and supporting digestion with probiotics allows the microvilli to heal and the gut lining to seal.
To heal the root cause of candida, leaky gut must be addressed. Please read my post The Leaky Gut Guide, which includes everything I wished I knew when I first began to improve my gut health.
2. Sugar-free may equal systemic candida overgrowth
Second, eliminating natural sugars (like fruit and honey) from the diet when one has candida overgrowth can actually exacerbate the candida issue and cause systemic candida overgrowth:
Starved candida needs sugar and so will travel upwards through the intestines in search of it. If no sugar is found, candida will project invasive filaments into the intestinal wall, pass into the bloodstream, and – if not quickly destroyed by white blood cells – become systemic. (Source: I Didn’t Quit Sugar)
3. The Candida Diet impairs metabolism and hormone function
A sugar free diet will elevate stress hormones, which exhausts the adrenals, reduces thyroid hormones, and taxes the body. The first few months of a sugar free or intensely low carb diet will bring weight loss and a burst of energy due to the surging stress hormones. After the “honeymoon period” however, the toll of the stress hormones will impair the thyroid. The suppressed thyroid function will, in turn, slow the metabolism and cause the weight gain and fatigue.
I believe the GAPS diet is an extraordinary healing tool, but I have found that I reap even greater healing benefits by utilizing metabolic principles with the GAPS diet. This means favoring “warming” foods: foods that boost metabolism and support healthy hormones. These include saturated fats, healthy sugars, and generous amounts of sea salt. Candida abhors a fast metabolism – the better your metabolism, the more effectively your cells will be able to use fuel for your own health.
Yes, I know the idea that fat, sugar and salt speeds the metabolism is unorthodox and strange. But it’s true! Caloric and sugar reduction only slows metabolism – a fact recognized by doctors and health practitioners. For details on using salt and sugar to speed up your metabolism, read my post about Metabolic Hydration here.
What do I do now?
We are all bioindividuals, so there is no one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to a healing diet. I can, however, give you a few places to start. I believe a grain free diet such as the Autoimmune Paleo diet or the GAPS diet is very effective in sealing a leaky gut and addressing the root issue of candida.
Also importantly, this is not an excuse to go overboard on natural carbs like fruits, honey, sweet potatoes, etc. Although healthy when balanced with fats and protein, too much can wreak havoc on your blood sugar and perpetuate inflammation and candida. For tips about eating carbs for health, read my post 10 Ways to Balance Blood Sugar Naturally.
A third resource I use to kick candida overgrowth is my raw goat milk yogurt. Interestingly, raw goat milk yogurt has anti-candida properties (source) and the probiotics help bring gut flora into a healthy balance. I also drink 1/2 to 1 tsp. of raw apple cider vinegar in a 1/2 cup of warm water 3 times per day, which can aid in suppressing candida growth.
Lastly, I recommend removing stevia from the diet. Stevia is often used in copious amounts to fulfill sugar cravings, when sugar is reduced from the diet. Unfortunately, as I explain here, it can have a negative effect on blood sugar and thereby increase hunger and cravings.
Are you struggling with candida? Do you follow The Candida Diet?
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The article makes an interesting case, but I’m still having trouble why temporarily eliminating all sugars/starches could make it worse.
If you eliminate sugars and starches entirely, and the candida travels upwards and projects filaments into the intestines in search of nutrients it can live off of, won’t it still eventually die from starvation if you continue the diet for long enough? How would the candida and its filaments remain intact indefinitely without any sugars?
Thanks for your help.
I would like an answer from the author to this VALID question.
Thank you thank you thank you. I KNEW this about my body. Candida diet sent me nowhere fast. I NEED foods to live, I exert alot of physical energy in my job and I was fading away. Again thank you- I will go forward more confidantly knowing more how to heal and thrive-truly grateful to read this (to affirm what my body has been screaming at me!! God bless you
After reading all the posts, I noticed no one mentioned the different strains of oral thrush- There’s Candida Albicans and the one that I have is called Candida Dubliniensis.
There’s almost nothing about it on the net and I wonder if the remedies and diets listed would help both types or just the more common one. I was run-down and used oral inhalers with cortisteroids (Dulera) and that’s how it developed. Mouth rinsing after use did not help. I’ve had it for over 2 years and I wake up after 3 hours because my tongue is like sandpaper. I have lost so much weight and am now down to 70 pounds. If anyone has any suggestions i would be more than grateful.
Try taking oreganol (or make your own mix with organic oregano oil and olive/coconut oil) orally. It tastes awful but there’s been conclusive evidence that it helps against all strains of candida.
What would be the ratio of oregano oil to coconut oil? Thanks
I agree, I was on the candida diet for two years, along with anti fungals etc. It just came back as soon as I had a carbohydrate or any piece of fruit. Not a long term fix. It doesn’t address the underlying cause, neither does killing the candida with antifungals which I did for months on end. I also lost a lot of weight and looked very unhealthy.
I finely got rid of candida after detoxing metals and improving the health of my body with mineral balancing. I did do a lot of gut healing but going grain free gave me constipation, I tried everything to get around this but it appears that my body is suited to some gluten free grains, I am blood type A. I don’t believe you have to be grain free to heal leaky gut. I did have a leaky gut when I tested a few years ago. I have just had a stool test done as I would like to know if my gut is still leaky or if I have healed it. If it is I will do more gut healing and cut down on grains as much as possible.
One point id like to make is that if a person has candida, copper and mercury toxicity, it is hard to maintain a healthy gut lining until these issues have been addressed as all of these factors cause leaky gut.
My experience of healing candida by doing HTMA/nutritional balancing is on my website:
Sorry I didn’t understand but what about the honey ? Is it okay or not at all ?
Thanks a lot:)
I red you can’t eat fruit and starchy veggies but you can eat buckwheat/quinoa etc.
I’m really nog feeling well at the moment, cutting out carbs but still eat the things I mentioned.
My sleep is very bad (for a long time) and i have some diseases. How do I get enough intake?
While I appreciate the good nature of this article, I find more errors in it than I can shake a stick at. And when I see that people talk about “candida” like it’s a single type of fungus, I get shivers. Here is why:
Candida is a genus of yeasts. It is a group of many different yeasts. There are many Candida types out there. Only one of them (C. albicans) is NATURALLY found in the human gut, and usually that’s the only one people talk about – often in a bad way (like it’s the ultimate evil). Candida albicans belongs in the human gut, in certain amounts. It is only bad when there is too much of it. How do we measure what is “too much”? We don’t. That’s where alternative medicine is ages ahead of conventional one where MDs often don’t even want to acknowledge the possibility that C. albicans can create problems.
But, Candida albicans, most importantly, has a protective role and we live with it just fine, until, under influence of bad food and antibiotics it takes over and goes where it should not. There is a delicate balance between hundreds of different probiotic bacteria and Candida in the human gut, and once ruined, that balance is hard to re-establish. Re-establishing that balance between fungus and bacteria in human gut is often impossible without some serious therapy, and diet adjustments are not serious therapy.
So, Candida albicans, can be a problem, but very often it is not a problem, and most often – it is not the key problem – most often it is only part of the problem; even a proven overgrowth of C. albicans is usually an effect of some other much deeper problem, such as an infection with some pathogenic Candida: C. tropicalis, C. glabrata, C. crusei, C. pseudotropicalis, and so on – all in all, some 60 different kinds of Candida, each quite different from the other and most of them can and do infect humans and NONE are good for us, only C. albicans is, and only in small amounts. Just do a search on biofilms in Hospitals – most of them contain some pathogenic type of Candida.
Most Candidas, including albicans, have no problem metabolizing sugars, glucose included. Even if one consumes a sugar that Candida cannot metabolize, our body will metabolize it into glucose, as we do with most foods we eat, and that glucose will reach candida and feed it just fine. So, no, you are NOT safe eating fruits. You are actually only safe eating things that do not raise your Glycemic index too fast, and for too long: meats and green vegetables. In that sense, even root vegetables such as potatoes, or even onions can be a problem.
And that’s just for starters. When it comes to leaky-gut, it always has a cause, but it has very little to do with Candida.
Most people who claim to improve on dubious advice, are either only marginally better, or don’t have a Candida overgrowth problem but some other issue (e.g. H. pylori or an overgrowth of any other of few hundred pathogenic bacteria that are frequently found in human digestive system).
Human digestive system is so complex that anyone even dreaming of solving it with a simple advice or two is delusional. Perhaps, staying away from high GI foods helps in some cases, but even that is not a solution, only a temporary remedy. But eating fruits is never a solution for someone who suffers from a fungal infection or Candida overgrowth. Finding the root cause, and taking care of it, and applying well thought out therapy is the only real solution (and even that may fail if the original cause of symptoms is stubborn enough to return).
On the other hand, most people want to believe that their health problems require just one simple, easily overlooked solution and they will ignore the advice that requires more serious thinking.
I agree heartily – although my only qualification to do so is that I am currently living it! I have been following my herbalists version of the diet for a little over 2 months, and although I can only offer this as anecdotal evidence, my (copious and often debilitating) symptoms have all but disappeared. However – this has not been done with diet alone and I dread to think how bad I would have felt without the support of supplements for adrenals, and help from the yeast inhibitors she prescribed. The difficulty with the diet and why, I believe, sufferers fail with it, is that the yeast die off can make you feel awful. Reading feedback on a lot of the Candida diet forums, it seems that many people give up when the yeast die off takes its toll by making sufferers feel exhausted and depressed, as well as often causing aching joints and headaches. With the correct supplements, tailored individually for your needs, this transition from die off to healing can be much less stressful. My only difference of opinion to the article above, is that I am allowed one piece of frui a day, but only an apple, an orange, a pear or a banana. It may slow the die off a little but it keeps me on track mentally as it allows a treat of a little natural sweetness every day. My advice is – get yourself a reputable practitioner with a good history of dealing with this problem, and then stick with whatever you are told to do.
from all the articles o have read,it seems i am having candida.my doctors are just treating the syptoms amd cant even diagnose a CANDIDA..i am in a 2 month candida diet and losing weight…i am delighted to hear from that i can eat fruits once in a day..sometimes i am confused of the die off syndrome,i dont know if i am healing or getting worse
What can I do for the yogurt when I can’t drink milk and I want to follow the autoimmune paleo diet