Candida Diet: Definition, Foods, and Benefits

The Candida diet eliminates foods and drinks that may increase the risk of inflammation and Candida overgrowth. There is no scientific evidence to support this diet as a medical treatment.

The Candida diet is a specific diet meant to alleviate the symptoms of infections from the fungus Candida

The Candida diet requires people to avoid foods and drinks that could increase the risk of Candida overgrowth. These include gluten, sugar, alcohol products, and certain types of dairy.

Instead, the diet focuses on eating lean proteins, healthy fats, non-starchy vegetables, and probiotics. This article will provide an overview of the Candida diet, including its benefits and downsides.

Nadine Greeff/Stocksy United

The Candida Diet, a site that promotes the use of the diet, focuses on incorporating the following foods: 

  • protein, such as eggs, salmon, chicken, turkey, and sardines
  • gluten-free grains, such as quinoa, millet, buckwheat, and oat bran
  • cruciferous vegetables, such as broccoli, kale, and cabbage
  • other non-starchy vegetables, such as spinach, celery, cucumber, zucchini, onion, and eggplant
  • healthy fats, such as olives and extra virgin olive oil, sesame oil, flax oil, coconut oil, and avocados
  • limited dairy products, such as plain yogurt, ghee, and plain butter

Specific guidelines apply to the following foods: 

  • Fruits: You may consume fruit in small amounts, limited to low-sugar fruits, such as lemon, limes, and berries. 
  • Nuts and seeds: You may consume certain nuts and seeds in moderation, including almonds, coconut, flaxseeds, or sunflower seeds.
  • Non-caffeinated beverages: You may consume these beverages in small quantities, limited to chicory coffee, herbal teas, coconut milk without additives, and water infused with lemon. 

The Candida diet is 100% sugar-free, but you may use stevia, monk fruit extract, erythritol, or xylitol as natural sweeteners. 

What foods do you avoid on the Candida diet?

The premise of the Candida diet is to avoid foods that can increase inflammation while improving your gut microbiome. People who follow the diet believe that doing so will reduce the risk of Candida overgrowth. These foods include the following:

Foods to avoid on the Candida diet

  • sugar
  • gluten 
  • alcohol 
  • caffeine
  • carbohydrates
  • dairy products
  • foods with added preservatives and pesticides  

Candida is a fungus found in the human body, commonly in the mouth, skin, and digestive tract.

Candida fungi play an important role in the absorption of nutrients and gut health. However, a Candida overgrowth can lead to a fungal infection known as
candidiasis. This infection can affect the mouth, esophagus, and vagina. 

There are more than
350 different types of Candida species. However, only five Candida species make up 90% of fungal infections in humans.

Candida albicans is the most common type of Candida fungus that causes infection. A 2016 study reports that Candida albicans could lead to fatal infections throughout the body in up to 40% of cases.

Symptoms and conditions that may result from a Candida infection include: 

2017 study finds that a higher glucose concentration induces Candida overgrowth. A 2019 study of 30 people finds that eating increased amounts of wheat flour products may increase the amount of Candida in your digestive tract.

Following the Candida diet guidelines may be overwhelming for some people, as it includes drastic nutritional changes. 

A practical option is to gradually implement changes, such as
lowering your intake of sugars and carbohydrates. Adding whole foods and fresh vegetables can help expand your palate, allowing you to test meal choices that align with your lifestyle preferences. 

In addition to a meal plan, it is important to help your system restore healthy bacteria. Taking probiotics can help stimulate the growth of good bacteria while reducing Candida levels.

Talk with your doctor before taking any new supplements or making major changes to your diet.

Before implementing the Candida diet, some people prefer to start with a Candida cleanse for 3–4 days. The goal of this cleanse is to release toxins and ease stress on the digestive system. However, proponents of the Candida cleanse do not recommend it for more than a week.

A Candida cleanse menu may include the following foods: 

  • lemon water
  • soups and bone broth
  • steamed vegetables and salads 
  • small amounts of protein 

There is not a specific time frame to complete the Candida diet. Some people report positive changes in the first few weeks, while others take months to experience noticeable body changes. 

Always consult a doctor before making drastic dietary changes, as this can affect your nutrient intake. 

A registered dietitian can answer specific nutritional questions and make personalized recommendations to help you meet your health goals.  

What are the benefits of the Candida diet?

A healthy gut can promote general well-being, as it helps maintain a proper balance of bacteria in the digestive tract. It can also boost levels of immune cells that fight infections, viruses, and fungi. 

Although no scientific evidence supports the Candida diet, avoiding sugar and highly processed foods is beneficial for anyone. Adding whole foods to your diet can help lower the risk of developing diabetes, obesity, and heart disease. 

What are the downsides to the Candida diet? 

Following the Candida diet nutritional guidelines does not represent a risk. On the contrary, anyone can benefit from a lower intake of sugar, refined grains, processed foods, and alcohol. 

Some people experience
fatigue, nausea, and headaches during the first 2 weeks of the Candida diet. However, symptoms often improve over time. 

Doctors advise against using the Candida diet to self-diagnose or self-treat symptoms. Only a doctor or other healthcare professional can provide an accurate diagnosis if you have an infection — from Candida or other fungi or bacteria.

Together, you can develop a treatment plan that may involve dietary changes.

These are some other questions people often ask about the candida diet. Adrienne Seitz, M.S., R.D., LDN, has reviewed the answers.

How long does it take to starve Candida?

Research on the effectiveness of the Candida diet is limited. Individual responses to dietary changes will vary, including the time before you notice a change in symptoms. If you receive a Candida infection diagnosis, your doctor may prescribe antifungal medication in addition to dietary changes.

Is apple cider vinegar good for Candida?

Possibly. In a
2015 study, apple cider vinegar showed antifungal properties against Candida species. However, research in this area is limited.

How can I get rid of Candida fast? 

Everyone responds to dietary changes differently, including those on the Candida diet. Lowering your intake of refined sugars and carbs will promote a healthy gut, which helps maintain good bacteria levels and can help prevent recurring infections. If your symptoms persist or worsen, contact your doctor or another healthcare professional for an accurate diagnosis.

People widely use the Candida diet as an alternative method to prevent and treat symptoms of Candida overgrowth. 

Although no scientific evidence exists to prove the diet’s efficacy, many people favor the Candida diet to help treat health problems. The diet focuses on lean proteins, fresh vegetables, and reduced sugar intake, which are healthy eating habits for anyone.

If you have symptoms of candidiasis, an infection that can result from Candida overgrowth, talk with a doctor or other healthcare professional about a treatment plan.