Candida Diet

Candida Diet

The Candida Diet refers to food and lifestyle choices that seek to make the body naturally less hospitable to yeast overgrowth. Candida Albicans is a type of yeast fungus that will rapidly grow out of control in places where it has conditions that feed it. First and foremost, yeasts feed on processed foods like sugar and carbohydrates. Secondly, candida yeasts flourish where there’s no competition. Believe it or not, a healthy human being is host to trillions of beneficial bacteria that live on us and inside of us. These healthy bacteria help us to do things like digest food, absorb vitamins and fight off infection. But that’s not all. These bacteria also make it harder for things like fungus and bad bacteria to overgrow. If we don’t have enough good bacteria in our digestive system, it leaves a space where things like candida can take over the empty space. Keep in mind, you may be showing signs and symptoms of candida overgrowth, but actually be having problems with Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO) instead. For this reason and to rule out other health conditions, it’s important to seek out competent medical care when making dietary changes.

The candida diet replaces things like processed foods and other ingredients that feed yeast and harm good bacteria in the body. Avoid sugar, corn syrup, excessive caffeine, alcoholic beverages and refined oils. Instead, you’ll want to eat more vegetables and natural proteins. Inflammatory foods like wheat flour, hydrogenated oils and artificial ingredients can make candida overgrowth worse because they cause inflammation of the gut that stifles the body’s natural immune response and causes harm to a number of body systems.

Eat These Foods:

Low-Sugar Fruits & Vegetables:
Spinach, Lemons & Limes, Kale, Eggplant Brussels Sprouts, Broccoli, Tomatoes, Avocados, Cucumber
Moderate Sugar Fruits & Vegetables:
You may eat these in small amounts only: Berries, Carrots, Onions etc
Grains Without Gluten:
You may eat modest portions of these grains: Oat Bran, Buckwheat, Quinoa, Millet
Healthy Fats:
Avocado oil, olive oil, unrefined coconut oil, flax seed, butter & ghee
Choose naturally raised, unprocessed versions of: Chicken, Beef, Eggs, Almonds, Turkey Salmon

Avoid These Foods:

Sugars & Sweeteners:
Sugar, corn syrup, cane syrup, maple syrup, honey, agave, aspartame, aspartame (nutrasweet)
Beware of Condiments & Sauces
Toppings, sauces & condiments are often full of sugar, corn syrup, starches, artificial ingredients and processed fats. Even basics like ketchup, barbecue sauce, teriyaki sauce & mayonnaise
Preserved Meats
Deli meats, hot dogs etc
Some Dairy
Cheese, Milk, Cream
Processed Fats/Oils:
Vegetable Oil, Canola Oil, Soybean Oil, Fried Foods,
Starchy/Sugary Fruits & Vegetables:
Potatoes, French Fries, Chips, Bananas, Raisins, Grapes, Oranges etc.
Preservatives, Additives & Fillers:
Avoid all artificial preservatives and ingredients. If you can’t pronounce it, stay away from it.
Drinks are often loaded with things like sugar, artificial sweeteners, caffeine and alcohol. Avoid all of these ingredients.

What Causes Candida Overgrowth?

ditch the standard american diet to improve endocrine function

Candida overgrowth is related to a number of factors including things like age and metabolic health. While there are a number of factors associated with fungal overgrowth in the body, one common contributing factor is consuming too much sugar and refined carbohydrates. Other health conditions that make yeast overgrowth more likely include heavy antibiotic use, hormone medications (including birth control) and steroid medications. Medical research also shows a link between Candida overgrowth and chronic inflammation. Although Candida Albicans in the GI tract is generally considered benign, a growing body of evidence suggests that inflammatory lesions in the gut promote excess colonization of opportunistic pathogen yeasts. In turn, excessive yeast colonization of candida in the intestines leads to the release of of the pro-inflammatory cytokine IL-17 that leads to new lesions and even more yeast colonization.

…Candida colonization delays healing of inflammatory lesions and that inflammation promotes colonization. These effects may create a vicious cycle in which low-level inflammation promotes fungal colonization and fungal colonization promotes further inflammation. -PubMed, National Institute of Health

antibiotics and jarisch-herxheimerResearch is ongoing, but the evidence that links chronic inflammation to a host of health conditions and GI issues is becoming increasingly compelling as our understanding of gut microbiome continues to expand. The Western Diet (Standard American Diet) has long been associated with a host of preventable health conditions such as heart disease, diabetes and autoimmune conditions. With this new research into gut microflora, researchers are beginning to understand more about why & how the Standard American Diet is harmful.

The Western Diet that is high in refined carbs/sugar is the most common preventable risk factor among those with candida overgrowth. sweeteners like corn syrup and sugar alcohols like sorbitol that are found in many processed foods provide easy meals for yeast cultures that grow in the digestive tract. In fact, these simple carbohydrates are a perfect food-source for unhelpful

“Carbohydrates consumed in the diet are the primary and preferred nutrient sources for Candida albicans” -PubMed, National Institute of Health.

Anyone familiar with making bread or brewing beer will recall that these yeasts multiply quickly at warm temperatures when they have an ample food supply of simple carbohydrates. Bread yeasts are fed with carbohydrates in the form of flour or sugar, while yeast for alcohol is fed with carbohydrates like grains, sugar, fruit juice, honey, syrups/nectar etc. Given this, it makes sense that consuming large amounts of these types of foods would make one more likely to feed a candida overgrowth in the gut.

Hormone replacement drugs and hormone imbalance can also lead to increased instances of Candida overpopulation, particularly for cases of recurring female yeast infections. Hormonal changes create an environment wherein the balance between bacteria and fungus becomes imbalanced, leading to fungus (yeasts like candida) to take over. Interestingly, our food choices and gut health can have a notable influence on hormone imbalance (see: How to lose weight with Hashimoto’s). Poor gut health contributes to hormone imbalance, hormone imbalance encourages yeast overgrowth, yeast overgrowth promotes inflammation that taxes the immune system leading to even more fungal growth.

Another factor involved in properly balanced gut flora is GI motility. Overly slow digestion can encourage a number of unhealthy digestive issues including SIBO. It may be unpleasant, but when it takes too long to digest the food in our gut, that food can begin to rot inside us. This condition of food beginning to decompose inside of us can take the form of fungal proliferation.


For those experiencing flu-like candida die-off symptoms, making sustained changes including switching to the candida diet is very tempting. If you can stick with it, this way of eating will make you generally healthier. But for some people it’s not sustainable and as soon as they have a “cheat day” they’re quickly back where they started.

There’s really two answers to this dilemma. One, habitually eating bad food and leading a sedentary lifestyle will always yield bad results. Two, there are much deeper interventions that we can make to solve the root cause of candida overgrowth that go beyond the scope of a simple meal plan. Hormone imbalances, history of using antibiotic medications, gut microbiome, systemic inflammation, SIBO, metabolic syndrome (diabetes, prediabetes, insulin resistance), autoimmune conditions and even infection by parasites can all play a role in your yeast overgrowth.

If you’d like to work on these or other health conditions within the context of naturopathic primary care medicine, call us today to schedule an appointment.

Dr. Jonathan Shaffer

Dr. Jonathan Shaffer Portland Oregon
Dr. Jonathan Shaffer
If you found this article helpful, Book an appointment with us to start your healing journey. My name is Dr. Jonathan Shaffer, and I am a graduate of the National University of Natural Medicine in Portland, Oregon and licensed doctor of naturopathic medicine. I have additional training in Applied Kinesiology and Neuro-Emotional Technique as well as direct instruction from Dr Danielle Lockwood to treat chronic and complex cases. I am also receiving instruction in Ayurvedic medicine, and continue to expand my knowledge in this modality. I use these various lenses to create a comprehensive picture of any disease or disorganization in the body.

I work within the scope of practice in Oregon with full prescriptive rights. I am happy to manage prescriptions and understand their inherent value, but tend to lean more heavily on other modes of treatment. I use homeopathy, botanicals, muscle testing, and body manipulations to address most concerns. I treat patients with attention disorders, spectrum disorders, brain injury, autoimmune disorders, neuropsychiatric disorders, and gastrointestinal disorders. I especially focus on complex cases, specifically pediatric mental health/chronic conditions, and men’s health at any age. No matter who I am working with, reinstating a balance is my core focus.

I currently live and practice in Portland, Oregon. I love learning, helping people and exploring the outdoors.

Candida Diet