Candida is a huge problem that I sadly have first hand experience with. In fact, my health journey started with the realization that I had candida. And that I had a lot of it. I'll share more later, but today I am so glad to present to you Dr. Eric Bakker, ND — a candida expert. He's here to share his thoughts on foods that might, or might not be, candida fighting foods. I think you'll all find this to be fascinating!
You’ve probably heard by now that we all have candida, and that’s true.
Candida is a naturally-occurring yeast that lives in your body in harmony with beneficial bacteria and other necessary microorganisms, primarily in your gut. When your body is healthy, these little micro-creatures play well with each other and perform important tasks for maintaining gut health, which has a direct effect on overall body health. In fact, candida is actually a food source for good bacteria, which is crucial for helping the intricate process of digestion and nutrient absorption.
However, when candida is allowed to grow out of control, things can get messy in the gut environment. It’s estimated that around 70% of the population suffers from candida overgrowth, known as candidiasis, though the mainstream medical community rarely addresses this problem.
Instead, many doctors are prone to just prescribe a pill or three to give temporary relief to the symptoms that brought the patient to their office in the first place. This “bandaid-fix” approach is great for the pharmaceutical industry, but does nothing to actually help patients correct the root problem.
Some common symptoms of candida are:
- Fatigue, general malaise
- Bloating, flatulence
- Food allergies
- Itching skin, especially scalp, ear, groin, armpit or vagina
- Carbohydrate craving, desire for sweets or alcohol
- Vaginitis (vaginal thrush) often with vaginal discharge
- Anxiety and depression
- Impaired memory, poor concentration, foggy brain
If you suspect you may have candidiasis and are looking for ways to fight it naturally AND effectively, you’re not alone. The good news is that you CAN eliminate candida overgrowth on your own with a three-pronged combination of dietary changes, lifestyle adjustments and certain natural supplements.
Keep in mind, however, that just one of these “prongs” on their own will not do the trick.
For example, if you switch to a healthy diet, yet maintain a stressful lifestyle, candida will continue to flourish because stress has an enormous impact on gut health and microflora activity. Similarly, if you just take a dietary supplement, but continue to eat junk food or drink your favorite alcoholic beverages, the candida will ignore the beneficial properties of the supplement and carry on with its rogue overgrowth.
A holistic, balanced approach is essential to regaining proper microflora balance, and thus overall good health and that includes incorporating candida fighting foods into your diet.
For now, I’d like to discuss the dietary aspect of fighting candida. With all the varying information available online about what foods are good or bad for a candida diet, many people come away confused and frustrated.
Also, please note that during your time of fighting candida, you might find it necessary to reduce your intake of candida-fighting foods to avoid too much candida die-off.
Following are 10 of the more frequently asked questions about foods and whether or not they are candida fighting foods, or if they should be on a candida diet or not.
Q1: Is apple cider vinegar good for vaginal yeast infections?
According to research by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), “Apple cider vinegar showed antifungal properties against Candida spp.,,”
High-quality organic apple cider vinegar mixed with clean water is an excellent natural douche for eliminating vaginal yeast infections. A study conducted in 2011 by The Qua Medical University showed that apple cider vinegar is more effective against vaginal infections than fluconazole. The primary reason is acetic acid, which balances the vaginal pH and also possesses antifungal properties.
Mix between two to three tablespoons of vinegar per several cups of water for this highly effective douche.
Q2. Is garlic good for fighting candida overgrowth?
Garlic is my #1 favorite out of all the candida fighting foods, as it suppresses, inhibits and destroys most every single form of detrimental fungi, bacteria, protozoan and viruses. People who eat garlic regularly see much better results in candidiasis elimination more quickly. For over 7,000 years, garlic has been incorporated into diets because it made people feel better.
What our ancestors didn’t realize was that garlic possesses powerful anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties that several scientific studies have found to be as effective as the popular anti-fungal pharmaceutical drugs Ketoconazole and Nystatin in destroying candida albicans. As opposed to taking drugs like antibiotics and anti-fungals, ingesting garlic wins because bacteria and fungi are not likely to develop a resistance to garlic.
According to NIH, “Garlic is considered a rich source of many compounds, which shows antimicrobial effects.”
A small clove every day is recommended. Just crush or cut it, then swallow it like a capsule if you like, or use it in your food. Fresh garlic is best, rather than capsules or tablets. If you’re concerned about “garlic breath”, simply chew on a sprig of fresh parsley or sprig of fresh mint, which neutralizes the smell of garlic.
Q3. Is grapefruit seed extract (GSE) effective against candida?
GSE is a remarkably powerful natural product for eradicating candida yeast infections, as well as treating various other health conditions, including colds, flu, immunodeficiencies and more. The American Research Institute has found GSE to be an effective treatment for over 800 different bacteria and viruses and over 100 yeast and fungi species, as well as inhibiting and killing many different species of parasites on contact.
NIH research says, “Our results showed that the GSE alone inhibited growth of C. albicans yeast cells…”
I’ve been using GSE in my practice over the past ten years, and consider it to be in my “top three” when it comes to fighting candida overgrowth. Why? Because it works consistently and reliably time after time.
Q4. How about coconut oil?
Coconut is an amazing superfood that happens to be one of the most effective candida fighting foods. Coconut oil is excellent for treating candida overgrowth while offering many other health benefits in the process. The oil is exceptionally effective in inhibiting the reproduction and killing of excess candida due to its extraordinary antibacterial, antiviral and anti-fungal properties. Be sure to use cold or expeller-pressed, high-grade organic coconut oil for best results. Start with small amounts, like a teaspoon per day to let your digestive system acclimate, and increase the amount over time.
According to NIH, “It is noteworthy that coconut oil was active against species of Candida at 100% concentration compared to fluconazole. Coconut oil should be used in the treatment of fungal infections in view of emerging drug-resistant Candida species.”
Q5. Is oregano effective against candida?
Oregano is an incredibly potent herb for fighting candida overgrowth for multiple reasons. Oregano oil possesses excellent antibacterial, antiviral, anti-parasitic and antifungal qualities that are very effective against the majority of pathogenic bacteria and yeasts. In addition, oregano is a powerful antioxidant with anti-inflammatory properties and is wonderful for improving digestive health, reducing gas and bloating, boosting immunity and fighting various infections.
NIH studies found “Both the oregano and Mexican oregano essential oils showed high levels of anti-fungal activity against the fluconazole-susceptible C. glabrata group…”
Q6. Is clove helpful with candida overgrowth?
Clove is another one of my favorite candida fighting foods because of its highly effective antibacterial, antimicrobial, anti-fungal and anti-parasitic properties. This aromatic spice is rich in eugenol, the compound most responsible for the strong medicinal effects that have been recognized for centuries. Clove oil even kills yeast and fungal strains that have become resistant to anti-fungal drugs, as well as relieves toothache pain on contact due to its analgesic properties.
An NIH study on the anti-fungal activities of plants used in traditional Chinese and folk medicines, including eugenol, concluded, “Since Candida species represent the most common fungal pathogen of humans, these results provide more scientific evidence supporting the clinical application of these plants, and can serve as a starting point for new drug discovery from TCM and Chinese folk medicine.”
Use clove oil sparingly, and never in concentrations higher than 1%, as it’s very strong and can cause skin irritations in some people. The best ways to ingest clove are drinking clove tea, ingesting one drop of clove oil in a large tablespoon of olive oil or coconut oil, or in capsule form.
Q7. Does kefir work against candida?
Despite some misinformation currently circulating the web, kefir is very beneficial in fighting candida overgrowth, as well as SIBO, intestinal permeability, constipation and diarrhea, to name a few. Kefir is a fermented probiotic food loaded with health benefits such as improving digestive function, regulating cholesterol, blood pressure, blood sugar, immune-building, improving liver and gallbladder function, etc.
It’s also very effective in treating acne and other skin disorders, and contains anti-aging properties due to its abundance of antioxidants.
According to an NIH study, “Kefir grains originate from the Caucasus region and are used for preparing beverages using sugar solution, milk, and fruit juice. As long as they are formed by a microbial consortium useful in the intestine, the produced drinks can be called probiotics.”
Q8. Are baking soda and molasses effective candida fighting foods?
People come up with some crazy ideas! Why on earth would you want to ingest sugary molasses with candida? And while baking soda might be beneficial on rare occasion for neutralizing over-acidity in the gut, I don’t recommend using it for anything other than scrubbing cooking pots or as a deodorizer for your fridge.
People have the weird notion that if you simply neutralize the acidity in the body and adjust the pH, you can eradicate candida. It’s not going to work. A multi-stage approach including good diet, lifestyle adjustments and taking a good anti-candida supplement is the only way. Just swallowing some bizarre concoction is not going to work – there’s no “magic bullet” or “instant” cure.
I get loads of emails from people with wacky “cures” for candida. One guy even suggested using a little battery acid in water. Seriously?!
Q9. Is brown rice okay on the candida diet?
Some online “experts” claim that all grains should be eliminated from a candida-fighting diet. However, many of these so-called experts have never seen patients or had any real-world experience to actually see what does and doesn’t work for reducing candida overgrowth.
Based on my experience with thousands of patients over nearly three decades, I’ve found that brown rice is definitely a good addition to any candida diet.
White rice, however, is not. Brown rice is high in fiber and quite filling, so I highly recommend it, but advise keeping it to reasonably small amounts. In addition to its beneficial digestive properties, this “good grain” also helps stabilize blood sugar, thus aiding the fight against candida overgrowth even further.
Q10. Is caprylic acid effective?
Caprylic acid is primarily found in coconut, therefore is a fantastic approach for fighting candida for the same reasons listed above. It’s anti-fungal properties interfere with the cell wall of candida, thus inhibiting growth. If your candida is mild to moderate, caprylic acid is very effective.
However, since most patients also have unfriendly bacteria with their candida overgrowth, I recommend combining caprylic acid with grapefruit seed extract and other anti-fungals like garlic, clove, etc. for a more broad-spectrum “shotgun” effect that will insure you clean up the entire gut and restore proper balance of microflora.
Where do you stand?
Based on my extensive experience treating patients with candidiasis, I’ve created an online quiz to help you assess if you have candida overgrowth, and if so, how severe it is. Knowledge is power, so give it a go.
If you know where you stand, you’ll have a better chance of beating candidiasis and resuming a healthy, happier life.
Remember, there’s no “magic pill” or instant cure. Beating candida requires following the three-pronged diet/lifestyle/supplement approach with diligence and persistence, including the candida fighting foods that I have outlined above. If you are serious about feeling good again, then you can, and now is the best time to start. It’s up to you.
Now that you are armed with lots of great information about candida fighting foods, it's time to really get serious.
Do you think you have candida? Or you know that you have it and want to know what to do about it?
Dr. Bakker's book, Candida Crusher – Permanent Yeast Infection Solution – is a great resource.
You can find out more and purchase it here.
I've heard very good things about the plan he lays out to take care of this horrible condition.