Preventing yeast infections often requires several different changes. Maintaining strong immunity through exercise and a healthy diet is always important. But you can also give your body a helping hand by avoiding specific foods.
Your diet plays a major role in the development of yeast infections. Most infections are caused by a yeast named Candida albicans. Like any organism, Candida albicans relies on food for survival – and Candida thrives upon specific foods. These are mainly simple carbohydrates and sugars. Unfortunately, much of your everyday foods contain large amounts of these!
With this in mind, you may be wondering what helps yeast infections? Well, there are plenty of foods that can help. Let’s take a look!
Candida’s Favorite Foods
As you know, carbohydrates are an important source of fuel for the human body. When you eat foods containing carbs, your body quickly converts the carbs into glucose, which is then taken up by your cells as energy.
However, those carbohydrates are also a source of fuel for Candida yeast. It uses this fuel not only for energy to help it grow and proliferate, but also to build the biofilms that protect it from your immune system.
Candida also uses sugar to change from its normal, harmless form to its more virulent, fungal form. This fungal form uses branching filaments, known as hyphae, to spread throughout the body. Yeast infections are often seen at the same time as Candida overgrowth in the intestines and elsewhere.
It has been found that high amounts of glucose in the bloodstream can effectively ‘switch on’ the specific genes in Candida yeast that promote biofilm formation. A biofilm is a matrix that pathogens like Candida albicans build to protect themselves from your immune system.
In the case of Candida yeast, the biofilm acts like a shield that prevents your body’s immune cells from killing it. These biofilms make Candida albicans extremely resistant to anti-fungal treatment, and even more of a challenge for your immune system.
5 Foods To Avoid When Treating Candida
One of the best ways to prevent yeast infections is to prevent your blood sugar from going too high. This means avoiding sugary, carb-rich foods that will elevate or spike your blood glucose.
You may think that you don’t eat a lot of sugars – but many of them aren’t always obvious. It’s important to know which foods to avoid.
1. Simple Carbohydrates
White flour, white bread and white rice are some of the most common sources of simple carbs. These foods are broken down very quickly in the digestive system, which causes a sudden rise in blood sugar.
Higher blood sugar is a good source of fuel for Candida, which can allow it to continue spreading throughout your digestive system.
Try to replace white starches with complex carbohydrates such as quinoa or buckwheat. These contain high amounts of fiber so your body takes longer to process them, keeping your blood sugar stable. Even better, reduce your carbohydrates and eat more fats and protein.
2. Alcoholic Drinks
Alcohol is on this list because of the way in which it weakens your immune system and destabilizes your blood sugar.
Some types of alcohol can cause your blood sugar to rise in the short term, this is usually followed by a precipitous drop. Diabetics need to be very careful with alcohol due to the way it reduces blood sugar so quickly.
Low blood sugar might sound like a good thing for avoiding yeast infections, but this drop is often followed by a blood sugar surge as we over-compensate by gorging on carbohydrates. Hunger cravings, due to hypoglycemia, usually lead to poor food choices.
There is also evidence that alcohol undermines your immune system. A study at the University of Maryland measured the effects of vodka on the immune system. After drinking the vodka, participants were tested for levels of three different types of white blood cells — leukocytes, monocytes and natural killer cells. At the 2 hour and 5 hour stage, the levels of white blood cells were significantly lower, signaling a weaker immune system.
3. Fruit Juices and Dried Fruits
While we often think of fruit as healthy, this is mostly the case in its fresh or frozen form. Processed fruit juices and dried fruits are highly concentrated, which means you’re getting large amounts of sugar in a single serving. Yes, even fruit can have too much sugar!
Fruit juices may also contain added sugars which only increase your chances of Candida overgrowth.
To prevent yeast infections, eat fresh or frozen fruits and avoid fruit juices and dried fruits.
4. Sugary Condiments
Condiments are sometimes difficult to avoid because we don’t think of them as a food. However, ketchup and mayonnaise can add large amounts of sugar to an otherwise healthy meal with just a couple of teaspoons!
Swap your condiments for sea salt or herbs and spices. There are also condiments available that are sweetened with low carbohydrate sweeteners like stevia or monk fruit extract.
5. Sweeteners (Such as Sugar and Maple Syrup)
Adding sugar to your coffee may be a habit, but it’s one you should try to break. That extra teaspoon or two of sugar is a food source for Candida albicans and may feed a yeast infection. to those Candida cells!
Alternatives such as agave and honey are a little better, as they are mostly fructose and don’t have the same effect on your blood sugar. However, in the long run, your health will be better served by adjusting to a diet of unsweetened foods.
3 Food Groups That Can Prevent Yeast Infections
Yes, there ARE foods that will help your body to fight the Candida infection. These are the best ones to include in your daily diet.
Probiotics are a type of ‘friendly’ bacteria that live throughout your digestive system. These bacteria are essential for helping your body to break down food and deliver nutrients to your body. They also help your immune cells to fight off pathogenic yeasts such as Candida albicans.
You can boost the level of probiotic bacteria in your body by taking probiotic supplements and/or eating fermented foods. Sauerkraut, kimchi, kefir, miso and yogurt all contain the live probiotic bacteria that help to promote other healthy bacteria in your gut, allowing them to overcome the ‘bad’ bacteria.
When you need a sweet fix, don’t go for candy or other treats. Natural, low-carb sweeteners such as monk fruit extract, stevia and xylitol are free from the harmful sugars that feed Candida – and yet they’re still sweet enough to satisfy your cravings.
An added bonus is that erythritol and xylitol are both able to inhibit Streptococcus mutans. Like Candida, this bacteria relies on sugar for survival.
Fats and Proteins
If you’re experiencing constant sugar cravings, it’s likely that your body really needs more fats and protein. Every one of your body’s cells requires healthy fats and lean protein in order to function properly. Around 20% to 35% of your daily calorie intake should come from good quality protein sources including lean meat, dairy, beans, or eggs.
Fat is an important fuel that is needed for the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K. Look for healthy, omega-3-rich foods such as fish, walnuts, and vegetable-based oils. Fats and protein help to stabilize your blood sugar and keep you satisfied.
3 Medicinal Foods That Can Prevent Yeast Infections
In addition to the foods mentioned above, you can give your immune system a helping hand with specific anti-fungal foods. These are medicinal foods that have powerful anti-Candida properties.
Numerous studies have shown garlic to be an effective treatment for yeast and fungal infections, particularly Candida overgrowth. The active ingredient in garlic, allicin, has been shown to inhibit the growth of Candida albicans by disrupting the cells walls of the Candida yeast cells, preventing them from functioning properly.
Garlic is a powerful immune-booster and even helps to keep blood sugar levels in balance.
Onions not only have anti-fungal and antibacterial properties, they also improve your detoxification mechanisms. Onions are a fantastic prebiotic too, which is a type of ‘food’ for the beneficial bacteria in your gut.
Virgin Coconut Oil
This incredibly versatile oil is one of nature’s best anti-fungal medicines. Coconut oil contains both lauric acid and caprylic acid, which have been found to help inhibit Candida overgrowth. At the same time, coconut oil lends a hand to your immune system in fighting off other pathogenic microorganisms.
Coconut oil is great to use in frying or cooking, but you can also give yourself a dose straight off the spoon!
The Bottom Line
As you can see, you may not need a prescription from you doctor to prevent a Candida yeast infection. What helps yeast infections may be in your kitchen cupboard!
Simply take a close look at your diet and remove any foods that may be feeding the Candida yeast. Then, strengthen your immune system further by adding plenty of anti-fungal and probiotic foods to your diet.
You’ll find that nourishing your body from within not only makes you feel better, but will diminish your sugar cravings and – best of all – put an end to those yeast infections!
More Articles About Gut Health
Featured photo credit: Shawn Fields via unsplash.com