Candida albicans, a yeast that typically lives in the mouth, vagina, and gastrointestinal tract, doesn’t cause problems at normal levels. But an overgrowth—caused by a variety of factors including poor diet, excessive alcohol intake, stress, and impaired digestive function—can trigger bloating, rashes, yeast infections, fatigue, and more.
To protect against candida overgrowth, avoid high-sugar fruits, carbs, alcohol, dairy products, and sugar in any form—including honey or maple syrup. Instead, focus your diet on lean meat, fish, poultry, non-starchy vegetables, and healthy fats. And try these seven foods to fight back against candida.
1. Coconut Oil
Is high in caprylic acid, capric acid, and lauric acid—fatty acids with antifungal properties that help inhibit the growth of candida and other pathogens. The lauric acid in coconut is also effective against mouth sores and can help prevent candida infections in the mouth (thrush).
Try this: Cook asparagus, slivered almonds, onions, and garlic over low heat in coconut oil; combine MCT coconut oil with a few drops of peppermint essential oil and swish in your mouth to kill pathogens.
Contains curcumin, an anti-inflammatory and antifungal agent that inhibits the growth of candida and protects against yeast infections. One study suggested that curcumin hampered the ability of yeasts to attach to mouth cells, and curcumin was also shown to be synergistic with fluconazole, an antifungal drug.
Try this: Sauté shredded Brussels sprouts, red peppers, onions, and minced ginger with turmeric and black pepper; toss green beans in curry powder, black pepper, and melted coconut oil, and roast until crispy.
Is high in allicin—formed when garlic cloves are crushed or chopped—which has been shown to inhibit the proliferation of both fungi and bacteria. Studies suggest that allicin can protect against candida overgrowth and may reduce the ability of candida to attach to cells lining the mouth. Because heating can damage allicin, it’s best to eat garlic raw for maximum effectiveness.
Try this: Crush whole garlic cloves, mix with coconut oil and minced rosemary
or thyme, and use instead of butter on cooked vegetables; finely mince garlic cloves and whisk together with apple cider vinegar, olive oil, and minced thyme for an easy salad dressing.
Contains antifungal compounds called gingerol and shagelol. Several studies show that ginger has powerful antimicrobial actions and can inhibit the growth of candida and other pathogens. In one study, an antifungal cream with added ginger was more effective at relieving yeast infections than the antifungal cream without ginger.
Try this: Finely mince fresh ginger and combine with miso paste, apple cider vinegar, and sesame oil for a creamy dressing; simmer grated ginger root and zucchini “noodles” in vegetable broth, then top with sliced green onions, bean sprouts, chopped basil, and sliced jalapeño peppers.
A fermented cabbage dish, is rich in a variety of probiotics to protect the gut from pathogens. Studies show that probiotics reduce gut inflammation, protect against an overgrowth of candida yeast, and may alleviate symptoms of candida. Because it’s dairy-free and also usually contains garlic and ginger, it’s ideal for an anti-candida diet. Other probiotic-rich, dairy-free foods include coconut kefir, miso, tempeh, and sauerkraut.
Try this: Toss shredded spinach leaves with kimchi, black sesame seeds, and chopped tomatoes for an easy salad; make turnip noodles with a spiralizer, simmer in broth till tender, then top with kimchi.
6. Apple Cider Vinegar
Has long been used to protect against yeast infections and thrush. Studies show that it has antimicrobial properties, and may be more effective than nystatin, an antifungal drug, in preventing candida overgrowth in the mouth.
Try this: Combine apple cider vinegar with chopped ginger, crushed garlic, and turmeric, and let stand overnight before straining for a potent fire cider; toss shredded red and green cabbage, red onions, chopped cilantro, and minced serrano peppers with apple cider vinegar and olive oil for a fast slaw.
And other leafy greens are high in fiber, which nourishes beneficial gut bacteria and can help protect against candida overgrowth. Kale is also a crucifer, so it’s rich in compounds that are thought to minimize the growth of candida. Other non-starchy vegetables for an anti-candida diet include spinach, escarole, arugula, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, broccoli, celery, green beans, cucumber, eggplant, onion, and zucchini.
Try this: Sauté chopped kale and thinly sliced mushrooms in coconut oil, then sprinkle with very finely minced garlic; toss quartered escarole and leeks in olive oil and grill till tender.
Try our Indian Chicken Bowl with Turmeric “Rice" recipe.