There’s been a lot of talk about the gut as of late, especially concerning its pertinent role in your health. Largely responsible for the body’s digestive and immune systems functioning properly, your gut contains about 100 trillion beneficial bacteria that can affect your body’s vitamin and mineral absorbency, hormone regulation, digestion, vitamin production, immune response, ability to eliminate toxins, and even your mental health.
Along with the colonies of bacteria in the gut, there are also various yeast or fungus species present, including candida. This fungus aids with nutrient absorption and digestion, but when it overproduces, it becomes a microbiome dysfunction that can cause various negative and serious health problems.
What happens when you have too much candida
The fungal infection most commonly occurs in the mouth, ears, nose, toenails, fingernails, gastrointestinal tract, and vagina. Possible symptoms range from bad breath to persistent heartburn, and even arthritis. However, due to its many and varied symptoms, candida is typically ignored, diagnosed, or misdiagnosed.
What is the anti-candida diet?
Microbiome healing is often recommended for candida overgrowth. The anti-candida diet, for instance, has gained a lot of attention to combat the health issue. The diet focuses on boosting immune function while decreasing excess sugar, getting plenty of fiber, nutrients, and healthy bacteria from probiotic rich foods.
Research has found a low-sugar diet essential for treating candida overgrowth. A 2011 study analyzed how candida albicans uses sugar, and concluded that carbohydrates were “indispensable” both for cellular growth and for the transformation between the yeast and fungal forms.
Who is the anti-candida diet right for?
“I’ve had a few clients in my counseling practice come to me, saying that the anti-candida diet was recommended to them by an alternative health practitioner to ease symptoms of gastrointestinal (bloating, irregular bowel movements, etc.),” explains Nicole Osinga, RD. “Some studies suggest that reducing dietary sugar may help prevent candida infections. The diet involves avoiding carbohydrates, as supporters believe that the diet thrives on simple sugar. It also involves avoiding yeast-containing foods (beer, wine, vinegar, etc.), using probiotics to promote healthy bacteria growth, along with a candida cleanse.”
Are there any downsides of it?
But according to Osinga, the diet’s extreme restrictiveness is cause for concern, as it can lead to deficiencies in certain nutrients. “If a client wants to follow this diet, I will work hard to provide well-balanced meal and snack suggestions. However, when you are eliminating so much, it is a challenge to meet all of your micro nutrient requirements,” she says. “You may end up feeling tired, lethargic and irritable—especially if you can’t have some of your favorite carb foods once in a while!”
Osinga recommends determining the root of the cause for your candida overgrowth first and foremost. “Is it due to antibiotic use, corticosteroids, or maybe a food sensitivity? Find out the root of the cause, before adopting an extreme diet like this. I’m all for limiting processed foods and decreasing sugar, however you may not need to go to this extreme,” she says. Having gastrointestinal symptoms? “Rule out celiac disease, colitis, and Crohn’s disease—and then maybe a FODMAP elimination diet may work for you. This diet involves the restriction of certain carbohydrates that are likely to cause GI symptoms, but isn’t as restrictive of the anti-candida diet.”