I am often asked what is the right diet for Candida infection? It is important to know that candida is a yeast but not the yeast we use in breadmaking. It is a completely different type of yeast that grows the little white stuff that can be seen where the infection is visible, such as when it infects the mouth. Yeast for bread is a different shape. Both these yeasts belong to the biological family of fungi, so that is why anti-fungal medicines can be used successfully against for candida, or any other fungal infection.
The other important way to think about diet and candida is to say you want a diet that will reduce your symptoms. It is saying that diet may have a role in many symptoms, and diet may indeed have a role. But it is probably not sugar or yeast that are the culprits. Candida has been said to be the cause of many problems. It has been said to cause symptoms such as chronic fatigue, feeling ill most of the time, headaches, problems with sleep, and behavioural or other symptoms, especially ADHD, in your child. As well, symptoms may include those that are obvious to you such as vaginal thrush or thrush in the mouth on ulcers, or in the throat. Anti-fungal medicines work against candida (which causes thrush infections) because candida and other fungal infections are closely related enough for the nystatin to control them.
Where does diet fit in? Often bread is a suggested exclusion for candida as well as yeast. But the benefit may be more due to excluding the wheat in bread than to excluding yeast. This is because wheat is one of the common foods that food sensitive people react to. Yeast is greatly diluted in bread and the hot cooking process kills all yeast in the bread dough. Then the yeast is digested and the carbohydrate and protein it contains are absorbed with other nutrients. Sugar is also seen as a problem food and reducing it means that some people may say that their symptoms are somewhat better. Another way to think about it is to remember that most foods high in sugar are also high in additive colour and flavour, and foods high in fruit sugar are high in salicylate which can cause food sensitivity symptoms. Excluding sugar in chocolate also means excluding cocoa: a problem to most food sensitive people.
After we eat sugar it is quickly absorbed from the gut and used for energy, or put into our fat stores. Additives, on the other hand, need to be absorbed into the bloodstream. They are then metabolised in body cells and the chemicals produced along the way can cause any of the individual food sensitivity symptoms you or your child have. The final chemicals, (which some would call detoxified chemicals), are excreted in the urine. It is those that may irritate the skin in that area and make it more susceptible to thrush infections in some food sensitive people. Thrush infections can also occur after antibiotics need to be used. This occurs as the usual good bacteria in the area are killed, and the usual fungal bugs always there have an opportunity to grow with no competition. See separate article on frequent vaginal infections under the heading “Symptoms” for more information on their management.
So that brings us back to the question of just which diet should you use to begin diet investigation for your particular symptoms. Excluding all sugar, yeast, wheat, and especially where milk is also excluded, is too strict when wheat and milk are such important parts of our diet. Often limiting milk and wheat may all that is necessary. [See the special tricks to do this in Are You Food Sensitive?] Yeast becomes inactive in well-cooked or toasted bread, so it cannot have an active role in symptoms. Foods that smell yeasty can be a problem as the food, whether it is doughy bread or over-ripe fruit, can cause reactions more because of the chemical changes during bread becoming stale, and natural amines, than the yeast which is inactivated and digested in the acid stomach.
Over 40 years of trying different diets, and seeing people who get some change with various diets, I have found that the best diet to start with is the Low Chemical Diet: low in additives, salicylate, amines, glutamates, and smells, in combination with information from the Family Sensitivity History, and any allergy tests. For more information see my article Which diet should you begin with?