As you probably already know, the Candida Diet is a specific eating plan designed to help your body overcome a Candidiasis infection, or Candida overgrowth.
Candida overgrowth is a type of fungal infection that can affects different parts of the body, but usually occurs in the mouth, ears, nose, toenails, fingernails, gastrointestinal tract, or genitals.
The symptoms of Candida overgrowth, can vary from digestive upsets to skin conditions. Left untreated, a Candida infection can spread to other parts of the body and cause serious discomfort. It can also weaken your immunity, reduce your energy levels and even affect cognitive function.
While the main aim of the Candida Diet is to reduce levels of fungal infection and prevent overgrowth of yeast, it has a huge range of other benefits for your health. It’s particularly helpful if you’ve been suffering from yeast overgrowth for a while and it has taken its toll on your body.
And unlike most other diets, the anti-Candida Diet isn’t about losing weight. It’s about improving your health.
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Many Candida sufferers put up with their symptoms for a long time without realizing the cause. They might be dealing with constant fatigue, brain fog, genital infections, headaches, frequent colds and more. The thing is – many of these symptoms have one main cause: intestinal Candida overgrowth. The overgrowth of yeast in your gut upsets every system in your body, beginning with your immune function.
But here’s the great news. When you eliminate the things that may be causing your Candida – and start replacing them with nutritious, wholesome foods – your body will begin to recover.
There are several ways in which the Candida Diet can improve your health. Let’s take a look!
1. The Candida Diet Restores Healthy Microbial Balance
Many of the symptoms of Candida are due to effects of an imbalanced gut microbiome.
Your colon and small intestine are home to many species of beneficial bacteria. Each of these species plays a special role in helping your body function properly each day.
In fact, these bacteria produce thousands of different metabolites, all of which have a major influence in your energy levels, fitness, cognitive function and immune health. These in turn will influence your digestion, absorption of nutrients, mood and cognitive function, skin health and much more.
When a pathogen like Candida albicans begins to overgrow in the gut, this delicate balance of healthy bacteria will be first to suffer.
One of the worst culprits for causing these gut imbalances is sugar. It isn’t just a sweet treat for your taste buds; it’s also a ‘food’ for the harmful bacteria and yeast in your gut.
Pathogens and opportunistic yeast such as Candida thrive on sugar as their fuel. When you’re constantly eating sugary foods, the healthy bacteria in your gut can become overwhelmed by the non-beneficial microorganisms.
This leads to an imbalance known as dysbiosis. Dysbiosis can affect your body’s ability to break down and absorb nutrients in the food you eat, which in turn will mean you’re missing out on important vitamins and minerals.
The Candida Diet can help to restore good health to your gut. By eliminating sugar from your diet, you’ll be removing the main source of fuel for pathogenic bacteria and yeast. Without fuel, these harmful species will be significantly weakened and less able to spread. This will give your healthy bacterial species a chance to regenerate and overpower those bad ones!
Simply put: less sugar and more wholesome food will feed your healthy bacteria and starve your bad bacteria. That’s the first step to recovering from Candida!
2. The Candida Diet Restores Immune Function
One of the major problems caused by imbalances like Candida overgrowth is the effect on your immune system. You may find yourself frequently coming down with coughs and colds, or picking up various skin infections.
This has a lot to do with the fact that around 70 percent of your immune system cells reside in your gut.
If your gut is overcome by bad bacteria, those immune cells will be at a significant disadvantage. When your T cells malfunction, your body is less able to fight infections. Other parts of your immune system, including antibodies, may also be slower to function, leaving you even more susceptible to other infections.
The basic principles of the Candida Diet, which include avoiding all added sugar and eating nutrient-rich foods, will support better immune system health.
For example, the Candida Diet recommends a daily intake of whole foods (as opposed to processed foods) along with quality sources of protein, healthy fats, complex carbohydrates, and fresh vegetables.
This can include lean meat, eggs, and fish, as well as non-starchy vegetables such as leafy greens, onions, artichokes, and asparagus. Fruits that are low in sugar (such as berries) and a variety of herbs and spices are also encouraged. These are all excellent sources of vitamins, minerals, and fiber, which your body needs to carry out its daily activities.
In addition, the diet includes a number of medicinal foods with antifungal properties, such as garlic, ginger, coconut oil, cloves and cinnamon. These are wholesome ways to add flavour to your food, but they also have medicinal properties to help in the fight against yeast overgrowth. Some of these antifungal foods are as potent as pharmaceutical drugs. (2)
3. Candida Diet Can Improve Digestion
Poor digestion is often the first sign of ongoing Candida infection. Many people will notice that they constantly suffer from symptoms such as bloating, gas, diarrhea or constipation.
This is often diet-related. Research shows that a high intake of sugar can slow down your bowel transit time (this is how long it takes for waste to be moved out of your body).
Slow bowel transit time can mean waste sits in your gut for longer, causing uncomfortable bloating and gas. Because the harmful toxins in your waste are spending more time sitting in your gastrointestinal tract, there’s a higher chance that these toxins can be reabsorbed into the bloodstream.
Another effect of this slow transit time is the damage to the mucosal lining of the gut. The dysbiosis caused by Candida overgrowth can lead to an increase in the production of endotoxins, which damage the sensitive lining of the gut, triggering pro-inflammatory processes in the body.
Your gut membrane plays a vital role as a defense barrier within your intestines. When the cells that reside within the lining are damaged, the tight junctions that form the barrier can become loose or permeable. This is referred to as Leaky Gut Syndrome, and can lead to food intolerances or even allergies such as Coeliac Disease. (3)
The foods in the Candida Diet are chosen to restore proper intestinal function and also help in the repair of the gut. For example, fermented foods such as sauerkraut contain probiotics, which have been shown to improve digestive function.
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Probiotic supplements and healthy fats (such as Omega 3s) can also help to restore the lining of the gut, which will also help to reduce unpleasant digestive symptoms.
4. The Candida Diet Can Reduce Inflammation
Living with Candida overgrowth and an imbalanced gut can cause your body to be constantly battling inflammation.
Candida albicans releases a toxin called acetaldehyde. This is just of one of its many metabolic by-products. Acetaldehyde is a neurotoxin that has been linked to chronic headaches and neurological damage, and it is also the substance that causes hangovers. It causes oxidative stress, triggering inflammatory processes in the body.
When your immune system detects toxins, or pathogenic bacteria and yeast, it triggers an inflammatory reaction. Although inflammation is designed to fight off harmful pathogens, chronic inflammation can actually end up damaging your body’s sensitive tissues and even your DNA. Over time, this can increase your risk of other diseases.
A gut imbalance like Candida overgrowth can cause chronic inflammation in the gut and elsewhere. The Candida Diet is designed to reduce this inflammation. First, the food choices and supplements work to reduce the Candida albicans colonies in the gut. Then, with the help of detoxifying herbs and anti-inflammatory foods, it can help to reduce inflammation too.
When you follow the Candida Diet, you’ll be cutting out added sugars and other pro-inflammatory foods such as wheat, gluten, artificial additives and processed foods.
You’ll also be eating more probiotic-rich foods such as kefir and sauerkraut, along with anti-inflammatory herbs such as garlic and turmeric. All of these will help to reduce inflammatory processes in your body and assist in proper detoxification.
5. The Candida Diet Can Improve Your Mood
Candida overgrowth can have an enormous impact on your mood, causing you to feel depressed or simply flat. Much of this is due to the intricate connection between the gut and the brain, known that the ‘gut-brain axis’.
Research has shown that dysbiosis and inflammation in the gut – such as that caused by Candida overgrowth – is linked to the development of mental illnesses including anxiety and depression.
This can happen when an imbalanced gut microbiome causes malfunctioning in your central nervous system.
The hormones, neurotransmitters and other chemical factors that are released from your gut have been shown to send signals to your brain. These signals have a direct impact on your mood and cognitive function. (4)
When your gut microbiome is out of order due to an imbalance of healthy bacteria and inflammation, these signals are negatively affected.
Fortunately, recent research has suggested that probiotics and fermented foods may be a powerful solution to this gut-brain disharmony.
Studies on mice have shown that probiotics may be used to treat both anxiety and depression, both as standalone therapy or to assist pharmaceutical medications. In fact, probiotics have been found to effectively reduce the symptoms of both anxiety and depression in a way similar to conventional prescription medications.
The Candida Diet includes both fermented foods and high-quality probiotic supplements. By including foods such as yogurt, sauerkraut and kefir with your meals every day, you can begin restoring the microbial balance in your gut. This will help to improve your gut microbiota so that your body is once again able to produce the neurotransmitters and hormones required for healthy mood and brain function.
6. The Candida Diet Will Restore Overall Health
There’s a lot of evidence to show that a diet high in refined sugar is a major cause of not just Candida, but also chronic diseases such as obesity and diabetes.
The nutrient-dense foods on the Candida Diet can help to reverse this. You’ll find that you have more energy, a clearer head, and fewer infections. You’ll be digesting food more efficiently, which will improve your nutritional status. You’ll also find that your mood improves as your body is able to create the amino acids required for proper neurotransmitter function.
The most important thing of all is that you won’t be craving sugar! Unlike one of those fad diets for losing weight, the Candida Diet is about restoring your natural health. You’ll be supplying your body with the nutrients it needs rather than the harmful foods that the yeast is telling you to eat.
This includes fresh vegetables, probiotic foods, healthy fats and oils, and nutritious sources of protein such as poultry, fish, nuts, and eggs. Many of the foods on the Candida Diet are high in fiber, so you’ll feel more satisfied and less likely to snack.
Another bonus is that you’ll still get to enjoy sweet treats! The Candida Diet allows natural sweeteners such as stevia and monk fruit extract, which are sugar-free and zero calorie. You’ll also get to enjoy a few delicious meals such as smoothies, avocado-lime pie, curried chicken bowl, and strawberry muffins.
Oh – and best of all, you’ll FEEL GOOD again!
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If you’re looking for a more comprehensive Candida treatment plan, check out the Ultimate Candida Diet program, written by Lisa Richards and Dr Eric Wood. This plan is based on the latest research into Candida Related Complex, and contains everything you need to know to beat your Candida overgrowth.