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The Candida Diet: Separating Fact from Fiction

You'll find a confusing mix of true and false information about candida diet and nutrition online. Let’s sort fact from fiction.

By
Monica Reinagel, MS, LD/N, CNS
4-minute read
Episode #481

Will avoiding yeast help prevent yeast infections?

Probably not. Again, this doesn’t appear to have been studied in controlled trials and maybe that’s because it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. The type of yeast that lives on your skin and sometimes causes infections is Candida albicans. The type of yeast used to bake bread and brew beer is called Saccharomyces cerevisiae, and it only rarely causes infections. If anything, having some S. cerevisiae around may help keep your C. albicans population in check.

People with an allergy to yeast or mold, which can readily be confirmed with allergy testing, should absolutely avoid foods made with yeast. However, yeast infections are not caused by yeast allergy.

The Quick and Dirty: Foods and beverages containing yeast are unlikely a factor in candidiasis or yeast infections.

Can probiotic foods prevent yeast infections?

There is some research showing that eating yogurt can reduce the proliferation of Candida in both the mouth and the vagina—and this seems logical. The beneficial bacteria in yogurt and other fermented foods may help keep the candida population in check. Probiotic supplementation during or after antibiotic use may also help reduce the risk of antibiotic-related yeast infections.  

Probiotic foods are a great addition to a healthy diet and may help prevent yeast infections.

Although probiotics or probiotic foods may help prevent yeast infections, they are usually not sufficient to treat one that’s already underway. Fortunately, there are anti-fungal medications (both topical and systemic) that are effective. And at least one study found that combining one of these antifungal therapies with a probiotic supplement can work even better.

The Quick and Dirty: Probiotic foods are a great addition to a healthy diet and may help prevent yeast infections.

Do We All Suffer from Candida?

Yeast infections are pretty hard to miss. The symptoms are fairly obvious, pretty unambiguous, and usually uncomfortable enough to get your attention. However, there are some practitioners who blame yeast intolerance or hypersensitivity for a long list of vague symptoms, ranging from headaches to fatigue to muscle pain to depression. Some even claim that the vast majority of the population is suffering from undiagnosed yeast overgrowth. There is little evidence to support this theory.

It’s possible that some of those symptoms might improve on an “anti-candida” diet but this probably has more to do with reducing your consumption of refined carbohydrates and other processed foods than it does with your candida counts.

So, in summary, if you suffer from frequent yeast infections, check with a doctor to rule out any underlying causes such as diabetes or immune dysfunction. After that, reducing your consumption of added sugars and increasing your intake of yogurt and other probiotic foods might help and can't hurt. In fact, it's a good strategy for improving your overall nutrition. 

Image of candida diet journal © Shutterstock

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About the Author

Monica Reinagel, MS, LD/N, CNS

Monica Reinagel is a board-certified licensed nutritionist, author, and the creator of one of iTunes' most highly ranked health and fitness podcasts. Her advice is regularly featured on the TODAY show, Dr. Oz, NPR, and in the nation's leading newspapers, magazines, and websites. Do you have a nutrition question? Call the Nutrition Diva listener line at 443-961-6206. Your question could be featured on the show.