Fatigue, yeast infections and stomach troubles? You may have candida. This overgrowth of Candida albicans (C. albicans), a yeast that typically lives in the mouth, gastrointestinal tract and vagina, doesn’t cause problems at normal levels. But an overgrowth – caused by poor diet, excess alcohol intake, stress or impaired digestive function – can trigger bloating, digestive issues, rashes, yeast infections, fatigue and more.
To protect against candida overgrowth, avoid high-sugar fruits, excess carbs, alcohol and sugar in any form, including honey or maple syrup, and focus on lean meats, nonstarchy vegetables and healthy fats. These 7 foods are proven to bolster your system against candida.
Coconut oil is a traditional remedy to protect against candida and other fungal infections. It’s high in caprylic acid, capric acid and lauric acid, fatty acids with antifungal properties that help inhibit the growth of C. albicans and other pathogens. Lauric acid in coconut is also effective against mouth sores and can prevent candida infections in the mouth (thrush). Try this: Cook asparagus, slivered almonds, onions and garlic in coconut oil over low heat; add a tablespoon of coconut oil to any smoothie; combine MCT coconut oil with a few drops of peppermint essential oil and swish in your mouth to kill yeasts and other pathogens.
Turmeric contains curcumin, a powerful anti-inflammatory and antifungal agent that appears to inhibit the growth of C. albicans and protect against yeast infections. One study suggested curcumin hampered the ability of yeasts to attach to mouth cells and was actually more effective than fluconazole, an antifungal drug. Try this: Sauté shredded Brussels sprouts, red peppers, onions and minced ginger root with turmeric and black pepper; toss green beans in curry powder, black pepper and melted coconut oil and roast until crispy; simmer sliced turmeric root, sliced ginger root and black peppercorns in coconut milk then strain and sweeten with stevia.
Garlic is high in allicin — formed when garlic cloves are crushed or chopped — which has been shown to inhibit the proliferation of fungi and bacteria. Studies suggest allicin can protect against candida overgrowth and may reduce the ability of candida to attach to cells lining the mouth. Because allicin is damaged by heating, it’s best to eat garlic raw for maximum effectiveness. Try this: Crush whole garlic cloves, mix with coconut oil and minced rosemary and use instead of butter on cooked vegetables; finely mince garlic cloves and whisk together with apple cider vinegar, olive oil and minced thyme for an easy salad dressing; press garlic cloves through a garlic press and toss with cooked vegetables and olive oil.
Related: 3 Supplements That Fight Candida
Ginger contains antifungal compounds called gingerol and shagelol and anti-inflammatory agents. Studies show ginger can inhibit the growth of C. albicans. In one study, an antifungal cream with added ginger was more effective at relieving yeast infections than the antifungal cream without ginger. Try this: Simmer broccoli, cauliflower, onions, curry powder and chopped ginger root in broth and coconut milk then purée into a creamy soup; finely mince fresh ginger root and combine with white miso paste, apple cider vinegar and sesame oil for a creamy dressing; simmer grated ginger root and zucchini “noodles” in vegetable or bone broth then top with sliced green onions, bean sprouts, chopped basil and sliced jalapeño peppers for a candida-fighting pho.
Kimchi a spicy, traditionally fermented cabbage dish, is rich in a variety of probiotics to protect the gut from pathogens. Studies show probiotics reduce gut inflammation, protect against overgrowth of pathogens and candida yeast, and may alleviate symptoms of candida. Because it’s dairy-free and also contains garlic and ginger, it’s ideal for an anti-candida diet. Other probiotic-rich, dairy-free foods include coconut kefir, miso, tempeh and traditionally prepared (unpasteurized) sauerkraut. Try this: Toss shredded baby spinach leaves with kimchi, black sesame seeds and chopped tomatoes for an easy salad; finely chop kimchi and add to scrambled eggs then top with cubes of avocado.
Apple cider vinegar has long been used as a home remedy to treat candida overgrowth and protect against yeast infections and thrush. Studies show that apple cider vinegar has powerful antimicrobial activities and can inhibit the growth of C. albicans and other pathogens, and it may be more effective than nystatin, an antifungal drug, in preventing candida overgrowth in the mouth. Try this: Combine apple cider vinegar with chopped ginger, crushed garlic cloves and turmeric and let stand overnight before straining for a potent fire cider; toss shredded red and green cabbage, red onions, chopped cilantro and minced serrano peppers with apple cider vinegar and olive oil for a fast slaw.
Kale and other leafy greens are high in fiber to nourish beneficial gut bacteria and help your body protect against candida overgrowth. Kale is also a crucifer, so it’s rich in compounds that are thought to minimize the growth of C. albicans. Other nonstarchy and cruciferous vegetables for an anti-candida diet: spinach, arugula, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, broccoli, celery, green beans, cucumber, eggplant, onion and zucchini. Try this: Sauté chopped kale and sliced mushrooms in coconut oil then sprinkle with very finely minced garlic; toss quartered escarole and leeks in olive oil and grill until tender; cook eggplant, cauliflower and spinach until soft then purée with avocado, salt and pepper for a dairy-free dip.
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