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Do you frequently experience headaches, itching, fatigue, yeast infection, etc. for no apparent reason? Chances are that you're suffering from a fungal infection called Candidiasis. It's not surprising if you haven't heard of it before because, more often than not, this condition remains undiagnosed or misdiagnosed in most people. This article focuses on how you can control and prevent this infection through your diet.
Candidiasis or simply Candida is a fungal infection caused due to an abnormal overgrowth of the fungus Candida albicans. Most people already have this pathogen inside their bodies but it is kept under control by certain good microbes within the body. Because of various reasons, sometimes the balance of these good microbes in the digestive tract gets disturbed. When this happens, Candida albicans makes use of the situation to spread at a rapid pace, covering a considerably huge portion of the digestive tract, which leads to the symptoms mentioned above.
What Causes Candida To Overgrow?
The most common and acknowledged causes of Candida are antibiotics! Yes, even though antibiotics are good for our body, they come with a price. This is because many a time antibiotics disrupt the balance of our immune and digestive systems as they kill even the helpful bacteria which play important roles in maintaining our bodies.
This makes it easier for Candida to spread faster and release more and more toxins. Another reason for this infection is stress - typically longer periods of stress. Most people these days are victims of stressful lives, not realising that stress has the potential to alter not just the exterior but also the interior of the body, especially by suppressing the immune system badly.
Yet another reason could be the consumption of a diet rich in unhealthy sugars for a long time. We consume a lot of sugar every day from different sources, but then again, sugar is what helps Candida grow further.
What Should A Candida Diet Essentially Include?
While you're on a Candida diet, you'll be working on avoiding the factors that cause it in the first place. Meaning, you must consume a diet low in sugar, which has anti-inflammatory properties and keeps the digestive tract healthy. It is not going to be easy, as eliminating a whole lot of microbes is going to take time and effort.
You must supplement your low sugar diet with probiotics, aka good bacteria. They not just maintain the pH balance of your stomach, they fight with Candida albicans to eliminate them and prevent them from spreading further. Along with this, you can either use natural antifungals like aloe vera, cinnamon, turmeric, cloves, garlic, ginger, etc. or you can consult a doctor to get prescription-antifungal supplements.
What Foods Should You Include In A Candida Diet?
Don't worry. You don't have to force yourself to eat tasteless food. There are lots of resources which contain proteins, non-starchy carbohydrates, probiotics, etc.
Here are the foods a Candida diet includes:
2. Dairy products
6. Herbs and spices
9. Non-caffeinated drinks
Grains that contain a high content of fibre are essential for the proper functioning of the digestive system and to eliminate the toxins produced by Candida albicans. For example, quinoa, millets, etc.
2. Dairy Products
Fermented dairy products like yoghurt contain good bacteria that fight Candida effectively. Ghee and butter are also allowed.
Choose vegetables that are low in starch that will deprive Candida of sugars on which they thrive. For example, broccoli, onions, eggplants, zucchini, etc.
Processed meat usually contains more sugars and hence, you must try to eat organic, fresh meat. Same is the case with fish. You can also include eggs.
Increase the consumption of fruits like avocados, lemons, olives and limes which are low in sugars compared to other fruits.
6. Herbs And Spices
Herbs and spices serve a lot of purposes - they're antifungal, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and they also improve circulation.
Nuts like almonds and hazelnuts and seeds like coconut (excellent option), chia, sunflower and flax can be included in your diet.
Just like coconut and olives, their oil is also great to fight Candida as they have antifungal properties. That said, heating your oil too much will strip it of these antifungal properties.
Non-caffeinated drinks and different varieties of herbal tea can be included more in your diet.
You don't have to miss your sweet. Instead of sugar, you can use xylitol or erythritol which have lower sugar levels. Use them in small amounts.
What Should You Avoid While On A Candida Diet?
Even though there are a lot of foods you can consume on this diet, unfortunately, the number of avoidable foods weighs down the scale. Here's a list of things you must keep away from.
1.) Meat - all forms of pork and processed meat
2.) Large fish - example: tuna and swordfish
3.) Grains that contain gluten
4.) Nuts and seeds - the ones that are high in mold. Example: cashews, peanuts, pistachios, etc.
5.) Fruit juice and fruits high in sugar - even the dried ones like raisins
6.) Salad dressings and condiments
7.) Dairy products - milk, cheese, whey isolates, sugared-yoghurts, etc.
8.) Sugars/sweeteners - all except the three mentioned in the "allowed" list above
9.) Oils - processed vegetable oils and refined oils
10.) Alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks - caffeine, soft drinks, energy drinks and almost all alcoholic drinks are a big NO.
Basically, you must completely avoid foods that have high sugar content or use them as little as possible or find better alternatives for them.