Candida, or Candidiasis, is an infection caused by the growth of several types of yeast in the body. Our bodies are the perfect breeding ground for yeast to grow and multiply; in turn, an overgrowth of yeast in our bodies can cause the immune system to be weakened. Candida is not typically a dangerous infection, but when left unmonitored, it can cause major symptoms including: conjunctivitis (pinkeye), athlete’s foot, muscle and joint pain, cold-like symptoms, worsening allergies in damp or muggy weather, kidney and bladder infections, constipation and diarrhea. Luckily, researchers and health professionals have found that with a lower carbohydrate diet, Candida sufferers can have a large reduction in their symptoms.
Primarily refined carbohydrates, gluten, and sugar in your diet help fuel Candida overgrowth. Eliminating sugars and artificial sweeteners within your diet is essential in reducing your symptoms. When you have high amounts of glucose (sugar) within your cells, your body struggles to maintain its vitamin C and calcium levels; therefore, your immune system is inhibited. Decreasing your sugar intake can help increase your body’s immune function, and help control your symptoms. Here are some tips to help limit your sugar intake:
- Try to avoid fruits, with the exception of lemons, and some vegetables (sweet potatoes and beets) due to their high sugar content.
- Start reading food labels, especially for highly processed food, to find out how much sugar has been added.
- Lactose, contained in diary products, is also considered a simple sugar
- Try to avoid high carbohydrate foods such as grains, breads, potatoes and pasta
- Artificial sweeteners also need to be avoided, but can sometimes be tricky to find because of all the different names that manufacturers use. Here is a partial list of some artificial sweeteners to look out for: Aspartame, carob powder, corn starch, crystalline carbohydrate dextrin, dextrose, disaccharides, galactose, glucose, levulose, malts of any kind, maltitol, maltodextrin, maltose (malt sugar), manitol, mannitol, mono-saccharides, sucrose, Nutrasweet, polydextrose, polysaccharides, ribose, saccharin, sorghum, suamiel, succanat, xylitol.
Health professionals have also found that most Candida sufferers are gluten intolerant. Gluten is a protein composite found in wheat and related grains, including barley and rye. Gluten grains contain a protein that is difficult to digest and interferes with mineral absorption and can cause intestinal discomfort. Fortunately, gluten intolerance has gained a significant amount of awareness in the last 5 years. Most health food stores have entire sections that contain “gluten free” products. Here is a list of grains and starches that contain gluten:
- Wheat germ
- Graham flour
- Kamut Matzo
Most health professionals recommend a 6-week sugar and gluten free diet in order to give your immune system time to recuperate. After the 6 weeks, you can introduce one food item at a time, in small amounts, to discover what is causing your symptoms. For example, you may try to add back small amounts of fruits into your diet. If you are able to eat small amounts of fruit for 1 week, then you know that your body can tolerate it in small doses. You can continue on with this same process until you find out what “triggers” your Candida symptoms. With consistency and patience, many Candida sufferers have found permanent relief by following these guidelines.